The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood

Chelsea Reiter – Poetry

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Chelsea Reiter

 

Pregnancy Loss in a Pandemic Is Just Like You’d Imagine

In a pandemic, you’re privileged to move from a place where the numbers are high to a place where the numbers are low.

In a pandemic, you’re privileged to get pregnant after 10 seconds of trying, and even more so when your best friend is pregnant too.

In a pandemic, you’re privileged to have Nick, a husband with a steady gaze, strong hands, and beautiful blue eyes, who is offended by the “10 seconds of trying” remark. Oops!

In a pandemic, your co-workers don’t get suspicious when you wear that one stretchy shirt three times a week, or say things like “no sushi for me!”

In a pandemic, you get no congratulations hugs.

In a pandemic, at 16 weeks, when you are bone-tired and vomiting from migraines, you don’t get to come in for an ultrasound. Instead, in a pandemic, you have a cheerful, 15 minute telemedicine appointment. Since they’re not checking your body or the baby, you talk about delivery and birthing plans like they’re foregone conclusions.

In a pandemic, when your best friend loses her pregnancy right after it starts, you don’t get to hug and cry and watch Bravo and eat Chinese food together. Instead you just share a series of whimpering FaceTimes.

In a pandemic, at 19 weeks, if you’ve had a weeklong steady trickle of blood, you do get an ultrasound appointment. For that, Nick stays back home with your toddler. Only the patient is allowed in the room.

In a pandemic, when you assume that the ultrasound tech is quiet because of a suspicious spot, maybe even a smallish head, you ask, “well at least you can still hear the heartbeat, right?”

In a pandemic, when she responds with “that’s what I’m trying to find” you and Nick don’t get to look into each other’s eyes and know that whatever is going on here, you’ll get through it if you just have each other. Instead, you have your iPhone 6S.

“This is not good,” you text to your husband, in a pandemic.

In a pandemic, when the doctor puts his hand on your knee and lets you know the baby’s gone, you can’t crumble into Nick’s arms. You can only close your eyes and wish that you did not just hear the worst news of your life from a man with a neatly manicured line of goatee peeking just beneath his KN-95.

In a pandemic, Nick finds out that his second baby is gone over text then FaceTime. Compared to saying goodbye to a person dying in a COVID ward over FaceTime, this feels like chump change.

In a pandemic, you FaceTime Nick from the room, bottomless, laying on the exam table, and openly weeping together. A woman whose name is probably Deborah stands next to you, hand with the ultrasound thingie frozen in the air, weeping too.

In a pandemic, you don’t get induced to birth your dead baby until you pass your COVID test and your drug test. High on coke and highly infectious is no way for a stillborn fetus to enter this world, you think.

In a pandemic, you go home with hospital discharge instructions reminding you not to lift anything heavier than the baby. “Let me go dig it up so I can weigh it against these groceries,” you think.

In a pandemic, you share the news over the internet and over the phone, the same way you shared the news of being pregnant. This pregnancy existed only on the internet and phone, just like life does now.

In a pandemic, you don’t have to run into people in the hallway who either know or aren’t saying anything, or don’t know at all. But you want to tell them. But you don’t want to talk about it. But it’s all you want to talk about.

In a pandemic, the scale screams new numbers you’ve never seen before. Health at any size. Loving your body. But what the F is that number?! Go easy on yourself – no one’s measuring your ass over Zoom.

In a pandemic, you look for non-triggering hobbies, like shopping in stores that don’t have baby aisles, or gardening. If you can just grow one seed into a plant or something, you can hope again.

In a pandemic, you take up smoking for 5 cigarettes since that’s the meanest thing you can think of doing to your body right now. But it grosses you out. So you put the pack back in the rubber band and chopsticks drawer for another year.

In a pandemic, you can’t work a 16-hour day like you used to. It turns out a pit of despair will really slow down your customary schedule of sucking corporate dick.

In a pandemic, you share your sorrow on the internet and everyone else shares their sorrow too.

In a pandemic, your baseline is a new level of sad. You realize that hundreds of thousands of people are dying from the pandemic, and you’re not even one of them.

In a pandemic, you realize that all you have to give is love. That your pain, hidden behind a computer screen, is only a fraction of the pain that exists in whatever community you inhabit.

In a pandemic you realize that you’ve been holding out on just loving everyone who deserves it, and looking under every rock you can for ways to be compassionate to others.

In a pandemic, after burying the baby on top of your husband’s parents in the tiniest container the funeral home could offer along with a letter that says “Hi I’m your mommy and I’m sorry that this happened to you,” you need to be alone.

You need five minutes to not be a grieving mother and victim of unspeakable tragedy, and instead, just some random lady doing errands.

In a pandemic, you leave your parents, Nick, and the toddler back home to deal with post-funeral weirdness without you, and you go to Dick’s Sporting Goods to buy a sports bra.

 


Chelsea Reiter is a writer currently living far from her native land of New York City, with her husband, toddler, and dog. She is learning that sharing her darkest truths makes them feel a little lighter.

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