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The Things They Said

“This is not your fault,” they said.
“You did nothing wrong,” they said.
“You are completely healthy,” they said.
“You did everything right,” they said.
“This wasn’t because of work stress,” they said.
“You can try again,” they said.
“This happens to lots of women,” they said.

Well, what about all the things they didn’t say?
The things that no one speaks of?
The taboo
The unmentionable.

It’s not PC to talk about it.

We must keep it hush-hush.
Yet the statistics are high stakes
I’m over 35 years old.
I’m the 1 of the 4.

They didn’t tell me
About how much blood I’d see.
Or about the questions, the fear
that come with each clot.
The pain.
Those weren’t just cramps. Those were contractions.
I felt. Labor pains
of more than just my own blood.

They didn’t tell me
how long this would persist.
I get it, we’re all individuals
Each of us 1 in 4s.

But why didn’t they warn us
about what we were really,
going to go through?
Is this something we are to be ashamed of, too?

They didn’t tell me
about the guilt.
I get it, it’s not my fault. They said that already.
In that monotone voice
The kind that gives you tunnel vision
Because none of this feels real.
I hate to say it
But I never thought this would happen to me.

Kam, the PA
Aggressively took the mouse curser
dragged a tiny neon green line
on the screen,
in a motion of haste,
next to our faint little lima bean.
“Your baby is only measuring at six weeks,” she said.
detached from all tone.
“It should be at nine and a half weeks,” she said.

She didn’t listen
to our desperate cries. Our frantic questions.
Our hopeful voices.
Six weeks, she said.
Is this possible? Is this true?
“There was never a heartbeat,” she said. apathetically.
I can’t breathe. More tunnel vision.
Do I even have a pulse?
No words. only fear and desperation.
I watched her
as she tore the 3×3 printout from the machine. Of what should have been our first ultrasound.
My husband squeezed my hand. With all his might. We were doing our best to hold on.
I’m gasping for words but there were none.
And she took it.
My only ultrasound.
To discard, as if it were not worthy.
My only photo.
As if it were an image of disgrace.
It was my only one and I did not get to have it. I did not get to hold it.

The guilt
is relentless.
I was just starting to comprehend the magnitude
Of what was growing inside me.
I was just starting to get excited
About what all these bodily changes really meant.
I even embraced the acne. Ugh that pregnancy acne.
Because it was caused by something so beautiful.
I was just starting to love you.
I’m sorry it took me so long.
I’m sorry I didn’t seize your photo.
I’m sorry we didn’t sing you more songs.
You were our first
And even if we didn’t get to hold you,
You will always be loved.

To the other 1 in 4s –  I’m with you.
I see you.
I hear you.
And I’m so very sorry.
For all the things they said
And more so
All the things they didn’t say.

We are not alone in this.

By Natalie


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