The vivacious but inexperienced physician right out of medical school, or the battle-hardened know-it-all finishing the last minutes of a twenty-hour shift—you never know what you’re gonna get.
My eyes snap away from the gray blob of the ultrasound screen to the steel-blue eyes of the emergency-room doctor. But he’s not looking at me—he’s too busy writing on his clipboard.
“Wh . . . what did you say?”
“Spontaneous abortion—miscarriage. It’s common in the first trimester.”
I make an effort to process his words, but I can’t quite manage it. “Are you . . . are you saying I’m losing my baby?”
Finally he looks up. “Yes. If you haven’t already lost it. This early in gestation, it can be difficult to tell.”
As he wipes the cool, clear gel off my abdomen, Delores squeezes my hand. We called my mother on the way to the hospital, but she hasn’t gotten here yet.
I swallow hard, but I refuse to give up. Stubborn—remember?
“Is there anything you can do? hormone therapy or bed rest?
I’ll do bed rest for the entire nine months if it’ll help.” his tone is clipped and impatient. “There’s nothing I could prescribe that could stop this. And believe me, you wouldn’t want me to. Spontaneous abortion is natural selection, the body’s way of terminating a fetus with some catastrophic deformity that would have prevented it from surviving outside the womb. You’re better off.”
The room starts to spin as the hits keep on coming. “You need to make a follow-up appointment with your regular gynecologist.
When the fetal tissue is expelled, you should scoop it out of the toilet with a strainer. Then put it in a spill-proof container—a jelly jar would work well—so your doctor can analyze the remains and ensure the uterus is empty. If all the uterine matter isn’t . . .”
I press the back of my hand against my mouth to keep the bile in. And Delores charges to the rescue. “That’s enough. Thank you, Doctor Frankenstein—we’ve got it from here.”
he’s offended. “I need to give the patient accurate instructions.
If tissue is left inside the uterus it could lead to sepsis, and possibly death. She may need a D&C to prevent infection.”
My voice is weak. “What’s . . . what’s a D&C?”
It sounds familiar. I’m sure at some point in my life I’ve learned the definition, but I just can’t remember.
Images pop into my head with his words, and I gag.
he continues, “A suction hose is inserted into the cervix—”
“Jesus Christ, would you stop talking!” Dee Dee shouts. “Can’t you see she’s upset? Were you in the f**king bathroom when they taught bedside manner in medical school?”
“Excuse me, miss, I don’t know who you think you are, but I won’t be spoken to—”
her finger points at the curtained doorway like the snap of a soldier’s salute. “Get. Out. She’ll make an appointment with her regular doctor. We’re done with you.”
A slight breeze blows past me, and I’m not sure if it’s the doctor. Because my eyes refuse to focus, and my mind is reeling.
Trying so hard to grasp this latest turn of events . . . and failing miserably.
Delores puts her hand on my arm and my head turns toward her, surprised.
Like I forgot she was there.
“Kate? We’re gonna get you dressed now, okay? I’m going to take you home.”
I nod my head numbly. It feels like I’m not even here—like an out-of-body experience. Or a nightmare. Because there’s no way this can really be happening.
After everything . . . it’s just not possible that this is how it all ends.
Delores dresses me, like I’m a child. Then she helps me off the table. And together we make our way to the car.
Back in my room, Delores sits at the foot of my bed and my mother tucks the covers in around me. her eyes shine with unfallen tears.
But not mine. Mine are as dry as the Sahara.
My mom brushes my hair back and picks lint off the bedsheets. “You want something to eat, honey?”
her voice is a little desperate, grasping for some action that will somehow make this better. I shake my head without a word.
Because all the chicken soup in the world isn’t going to help me.
Not this time.
She kisses my forehead and leaves the room, closing the door behind her. And Delores and I sit. Silently.
I should feel . . . relieved. I mean, just a short while ago, I thought this was what I wanted, right? Out of my hands.
But the only thing I feel is . . . regret. Remorse. It fills my lungs and chokes me with every breath I take. Because deep down, under all the fear and the shock and uncertainty, I wanted this baby. I loved this perfect little piece of Drew and me. So much.
I just didn’t realize it in time.
Too little, too late. You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.
All clichés—and all so f**king true. Then a thought comes to me, and I throw the covers back and jump out of bed. I open my drawers and dig through them, searching fruitlessly.
Then I drop to my knees at the closet and drag out the duffel bag I brought from New York. And I rummage through it, like a widow who’s lost her wedding ring.