How are you?
It is a simple question. One routinely asked when you run into someone you haven’t yet seen that day. It is a question that follows you when you are pregnant – the only time you can feel good about the nausea, exhaustion, sleeplessness, or acid reflux that you are experiencing. Everyone grins knowing that these symptoms are signs of life, evidence of hope.
It is also a question of grief. How are you? The kind, concerned voices ask, pausing for a real response. They care. They want to know how they can help. And I feel clueless. I’ve begun answering honestly—“I don’t know.”
This morning I was drinking a single-sized bottle of apple juice before going in for my two hours of work. Once I got to work, I couldn’t remember what I had done with the bottle. Before leaving, I’d considered bringing it with me. But I had simply put my keys and phone in my pockets before leaving the apartment and walking across the street. Had I finished the juice? Did I leave it on the bed when searching through clothes to wear? I didn’t know.
When I returned home, I checked the usual spots—the recycling bin, the trash can, the kitchen counter, the bedroom, desk, chair. I looked in the refrigerator. I even looked in a dresser drawer, wondering if I had absently placed it there when grabbing a T-shirt. Have I completely lost my mind? Later I found the bottle in a place I had already checked twice—the top of the recycling pile, in plain sight.
At work I sit at my desk knowing there is a whole list of things I should be doing. But aside from paying the bills and figuring out the week’s bulletin, I can’t remember what they are. I leave early because I can’t figure out how to fill my time in a productive manner and don’t know how to make my brain function again.
I go to bed early and wake up not knowing what to do with myself. Allyn’s work schedule has shifted to mornings, so he left the house around 4 a.m. and will return somewhere around noon. I find myself counting the hours till he gets home, simply to stare at him and ask “now what?”
The appropriate terminology seems to be “I/We lost the baby.” But I know where she is. I’m the one who is lost.
Friday morning on the drive to the birthing center, I commented to Allyn “hey, it is almost June, what should we do for our anniversary?” We were still happy then in our ignorance. I was fingering in my purse for the mp3 recorder to be able to capture the sounds of heartbeat and joy. My biggest concern was the car we were leaving at the shop and whether or not this was the proper time to trade the car in. At this point I can no longer remember if we came up with any ideas for our anniversary.
On June 5, we will cross the threshold of three married years, and I’m feeling guilty because celebrating seems so far from my mind. I want the two of us to run away, to find a dream world where everything is still okay. This was to be our last anniversary as a two-person family. If we are to believe the predictions being made by friends, family, and ultrasound technicians, it still may be—but next year seems impossibly far away. And I’m still pregnant with the child I want, the one I can’t have.
How are you?
I’m missing. My body is here going through the motions, occasionally crying or laughing. My days are no longer saturated in my own tears, but are instead devoid of anything. I’m empty . . . except for the twinges in my lower abdomen that remind me that parts still have emptying to do.
Author’s note: This is the third in a series on pregnancy loss/miscarriage. Read the first post, “First ultrasound,” here.