The thing about days is that they all start out ordinary.
You don’t know. You can’t know until you are lying there, smiling, warm goo smeared across your stomach, watching your beautiful baby play across the black and white screen and she starts to talk.
“… some things that are concerning … incompatible with life outside the womb … indications of fatal chromosome abnormalities …” You turn to silk-thin glass with shock and awe at the power of a few simple words and you are finally, truly, exquisitely aware that these things are always happening, every second of every day, “we’re so sorry … an accident … so sudden … we did everything we could … only turned my back for a moment … the car came so fast … it’s inoperable … .”
It’s just that until that moment it hadn’t happened to you.
Her lips are still moving and her words are very technical. There are terms for these things, but it doesn’t matter, she could skip them all and say it straight out.
Your baby, that baby that you see right there with the beating heart and the perfect tiny hands and feet, is going to die and no amount of wishing me dead or mute or skipping your appointment or begging for a do-over is going to change that. Off you go now, the dog needs to be let out. There are dishes in the sink. You can’t leave the kids with your friend forever.
You want to hate them all, their matter-of-factness, their compassion. You want to smack them for being able to go on to the next happy mother with her healthy baby growing inside her, but you know differently in your heart.
It’s okay. It’s true. It is not okay and it is okay and they are both true. The dog does need to go out. The dishes are gross. Some mothers are happy today and some are devastated. The kids are mine and they need me. I can stop and scream and cry and rail that it’s unfair. It is. And cruel. There are unfairer things, but not in my life. There are crueler things, but I haven’t experienced them. Cry. Let the dog back in. Lean against Matt. Call the perinatologist. Look at the costume magazine with Nate for the five hundredth time. Cry. Change the laundry. Make huckleberry pancakes. Read stories, put the kids to bed.
Finally, it is dark and quiet. Wrapped in Matt’s arms, my head pounding with the aftermath of so many tears, I cling tightly to what I have: our love, which already knows how to weather grief and can find that path on its own without me having to look down or watch my step, our babies, friends who love me, who bring me sunshine in a vase in my worst moment, my writing, the strength to be where I am, dark as it is, and the confidence that ordinary days will come, whether we want them or not.