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The Un-Baby: Why I'm Really the Fourth Child
“No more Baby.”
My hand froze mid-page-flip, my mind went blank as those three words sliced through like a cold knife of emotion – of senseless pain. I stared blankly, wordlessly comprehending the words, but – I was stiff, frozen [in time], unable to even blink. My eyes eventually widened their focus on the page and I saw a heartrending sidenote:
“I’d even bought new baby socks. L ”
What were these words, these awful phrases, doing in my mother’s journal? She’d never told us – me – no one had. I broke out of my reverie and frantically flipped the stiff pages back to try to shed light on their contents. There it was, conception night (one of more than a few possibilities for that one). Followed by daily life for a few weeks, monotonous. Then – “…something didn’t feel right. I felt sad all week for some reason.” A visit to the doctor confirmed it – it was a miscarriage. Nothing she did, just cruel nature.
She was upset, of course, but apparently my father wasn’t as disappointed – heartbroken, lost – as she was. She got mopey and depressed; he wasn’t; she got angry with him for it; he yelled. She yelled back, “Of course I’m depressed, I’m carrying a dead baby inside me!”
Another doctor visit a few days later as a check up. My mother was very blunt in her writing: “I don’t want it scraped out of me. I just want it out!” A few more days later. She disturbingly describes “a grey gooey glob falling out” in the shower – her miscarried child, my would-be sibling.
But if that Baby had survived, I wouldn’t exist. Almost impossible for me, a teenager, to comprehend.
It had only been six weeks into the pregnancy; my parents hadn’t told anyone yet. Now, my mom couldn’t bear to tell even her own parents when they visited a week later, after she’d gathered the remains (baby and placenta) and given them to the hospital.
The thought of my mother bearing that burden alone all these years sickens and saddens me. I don’t know if she ever told her parents or her sisters – anyone. And I certainly can’t ask if she has, because obviously she’s chosen not to tell us, her three children – two teenagers and one official Young Adult (20 this July). But I wonder.
At the end of these entries, she writes, “I love you, Baby, and I’ll see you in heaven. I’ll never forget you.”
While I may not share her devout religious convictions, I can sincerely say this to Baby: I’ll never forget you now either.