One of Those Days

October 26, 2018

By Sanda Rathamone

“I was waiting for the longest time, she said. I thought you forgot. It is hard to forget, I said, when there is such an empty space when you are gone.” ― Brian Andreas, Story People: Selected Stories & Drawings of Brian Andreas.

I am sitting on the toilet, quietly scrolling through Facebook. Another day of school and work, but it’s Friday. It’s Friday!

I hear someone leaving a stall and walking towards a sink (Girl 1). The faucet runs, then shuts off. I hear another person leaving another stall (Girl 2). 

Girl 2: “Oh, hey!” 

Girl 1: “Hey! Aren’t you in Group (forgot the number), right? 

Girl 2: “Yeah!” 

The girls talk about the demo from yesterday’s class. I could hear Girl 1 brushing her teeth. Me? I am trying to stay silent as a mouse. I hoped that they would leave before I left my stall... 

Girl 1: “I wish I could get massaged!” 

Girl 2: “What do you mean? You can!” 

Girl 1: “It’s because I’m PREGNANT (she puts an emphasis on that word), they won’t let me be a demo.” 

My heart sinks. 

Girl 2: “Ohhhhh. So how far along are you?” 

Girl 1: With excitement in her voice, “Six months.” 

My back stiffens. I am not mindlessly scrolling through Facebook anymore. I could picture Girl 1 nodding, smiling, and rubbing her belly. 

Girl 2: “Aww. So are you going to have girl or boy?” 

Girl 1: “A BOY! I wanted a boy first, so this is nice. I think girls are too much. For me, it’s just better to have a boy first. Do you have any kids?” 

This conversation is sounding familiar... my heart sinks even lower. I want so bad to join in and say, “I have one!” But I don’t say anything. 

Girl 2: “No, but my sister has kids. One of them is 4 and the other is 1. They’re like at that age when they’re like... bad. But they’re so cute!” 

They both giggle and carry on with their conversation. I pull on the toilet paper loudly and their conversation quiets down. I brace myself. I need to leave this bathroom before I start crying. When I open my stall, wash and dry my hands, it is as if I am alone. Awkwardly alone. 

They probably resumed their conversation after I quickly sped-walked out the door. And I continued walking until I was across the street from school. 

I sat at the park and just wanted to cry. 

The first time I saw Girl 1 was yesterday, right before starting work. I saw her sitting on a chair in the student lounge, getting a shoulder massage from another student, while she was looking down and rubbing her bulging belly. It wasn’t gigantic, but it was noticeably big enough to make me panic. I forgot all about Girl 1 and didn’t expect to see her again the next day.

And now, I just realized that she is the second pregnant girl (that I know of) that I will run into at school, which makes school unbearable.

My school is such a small world that you are bound to notice or recognize a few faces, even if you don’t personally know them. Yet, it is a big world for such a small building with so many groups of students with a plethora of personalities. It’s easy to spot those who are “different,” especially if they are pregnant with a belly. Or, maybe, it’s just me and I have these dumb superpowers that could spot a pregnant woman a mile away. 

One of the symptoms of infertility is a heightened sense of awareness of pregnant women and unborn babies. My broken womb is a magnet to pregnant women. And I hate it. It feels like the world is further shoving me below the depths of grief and discouraging me; making life with grief harder than it needs to be.

(Related Read: New Moon)

To hear that she is six months pregnant reminds me of how close I was to making it there. And then, to see her belly, I realized how small I was compared to her. I wished I got to see my belly in that size. I wish I knew what it was like to be pregnant with Elijah for another month. Just one more month, I would have felt him kick. I would have felt him move. I would have seen him tap and sway through my skin. Just one more month and I wouldn't have been able to use a rubber-band to keep my jeans on anymore.

I sat at the park and didn’t cry. All I knew was that I wanted to cry and didn’t want to be anywhere near school or work. I just wanted to go. I asked for a sign, what do I do? 

I went through my phone one more time. I opened Pinterest (my latest distraction) and then heard a crow. Right across from me, high above on tree was a crow and it sounded a couple of calls. It was my sign. I looked back down onto the screen and there was this quote that seemed to be sitting there, waiting just for me. I didn’t remember clicking on it and probably did so - unknowingly - when I was in the bathroom. 

The quote said: 

“It is not selfish to do what is best for you.” 

I smiled and my heart was at ease. 

And that’s what I did. I did what was best for me. I took off, I left. Of course, not without notifying school and work that I would be gone for the day. I had had enough. Enough of carrying this dead weight of unfinished dreams. 

Speaking of dreams, I had a dream a couple of days ago. 

I dreamt that I had forgotten how Elijah had looked like after birth. I wanted to take another picture of him. 

Inside of this big burlap sack was Elijah. On the outside, it looked and felt like a sack of potatoes; it had bulges and was heavy, like a 15 pound turkey. I held it up high as much as I could, but it was too heavy to carry alone with one hand. 

My husband held the end of the sack and ever so slowly, I was pulling out a very large baby that was about the size of a 15 pound turkey. I don’t know how I knew, but this baby was Elijah. At the same time, it didn’t make sense because the real Elijah was born less than a pound, he was only 9.9 ounces. 

As I pulled Elijah out of the sack, I could see what was happening on the inside at the same time. It was like I was in two places at once or if I had two screens of two different perspectives of the same scene, right in front of me. I could see myself pulling out his head with both of my hands. His head was quite large and sticky with birth and blood, while at the same time, I could see his body moving upwards and outwards from the sack. 

His legs looped in this bent position at the bottom of the sack, as if his body was folded in half. Instead of curled in a fetal position, his body was curled the opposite way. His knees were not solid bone, but rather cartilage-like and flexible. I could see more birth and blood all over his body. 

I never fully pulled him out of the sac; he was too heavy. But even with his head out, I had already seen his whole body. The thing that captured my attention the most was how plump he was. I could see “baby fat” in his arms and legs. The color of his skin was a perfect yellow tone. Without having to touch his skin, I could feel its softness and newness. 

It was as if he was alive and nothing about him had any signs of death. Aside from the way he was positioned in the sac, he was perfect. He was beautiful. 

I don't remember if he opened his eyes or actually opened his mouth, but a voice came from his body. He was talking to my husband and it was as if I was not privy to the conversation. I could hear a muffled speech and make out some words, like 'alive' and 'not dead.' Elijah was telling his daddy about how he was alive. 

I remember my husband telling me how fearful he was to watch the birth. Elijah's birth was not a typical birth with a happy ending. He vaguely remembers seeing Elijah's chest rising, taking a breath.

I don't know if Elijah was alive or dead right at birth, but do know that his heart was still beating even days after the rupture and during those late hours of labor. Those gloomy days and nights in the hospital were lightened every time a nurse came by to check on his heartbeat. It is now impossible to remember the sound of his heart.

I wish I had the courage to tell Girl 1 that I thought the same thing about having a boy and that it doesn't really matter. It doesn't matter whether you have a girl or boy first. Having girls are not "too much" and having boys are not "easier." What really matters is that whichever you are given, your child is a blessing. If your baby is healthy and happy, you're beyond blessed.

And if you're lucky, you get to take them home. 

Earlier this week, one of the clients at school was pregnant. I was happy that I was able to stay at the front desk and not worry about doing body work that day. I was more happy that I wouldn't have had to take a pregnant client.

I never asked her how far along she was, but if I had to guess, she was somewhere around 6-7 months. She was a guest of another client and at the end of their session, said that she enjoyed her massage. Her friend later told us that she really needed it and that the baby liked it. The massage made the baby kick (which was a good thing).

My heart was full of pain and envy, watching her rub on her stomach. There was really no way I could avoid pregnant clients even when I wasn't working with them...

Later, the subject about pregnancy came up between my co-workers and I. One of them said that if she and her fiance were expecting and started a family (while she is in school), it would be hard. But, they would both be over-the-moon happy. I felt the same way; it would be a challenge, but a challenge I am willing to take.

My other co-worker then said that there is no such thing as "being ready." You could never be fully ready for the unexpected twists and turns of motherhood. More so after death.

With love,

Must Read:
Read the full story about Elijah:
Elijah's Story: From Gender Reveal To A Spontaneous Delivery

Photo: maxpixel

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