In the parking lot, a child cries. I’ve locked her away in my head, about seven years old, hair stringy from the pool. A bead of sweat makes its way down my face and I slam the window, startling the cat. Everything goes red, then black. I let myself fall back on the bed and all the while the clock hums, its second hand chasing itself in dumb circles. All is not well–my home has no heart.
When I came back to Olympia, there was no one here. The faces of my former friends flash before me; they smiled until Molly but are now either absent or contemptuous of my choice to terminate. Since then, I’ve adapted to life on the fringes. I stay inside, avoiding the damp mist of morning and the junkies on the streets. They might feel guilty when they think of me, a sister abandoned to her misery. I take a breath, hot with the wrath of a powerless victim of circumstance, look down at my brown arms and sob. I’m paralyzed by indecision and am not quite sure how to move on.
It’s a drag to come home to a town that doesn’t give a shit about me. I’m infected to the bone. Despite best intentions, I did not go out today. The weather is gloomy; I pray only for light.
My trip was wonderful and I never even had a panic attack. The in-laws were warm and welcoming. I had a glimpse of another life where maybe I wouldn’t have to spend every. waking. moment. fighting. alone. I’m pretty sure I ovulated and I know this is not my month. Oh well. The angels shrug their shoulders. I am stupid to think I could stay here and be blessed.
And I think I pulled it off. I think I acted fairly normal, even though my head was spinning crazy. The last time I saw my husband’s family, they were visiting Olympia. We took them to a friend’s wedding and I became hysterical when one of our friends showed up with a new baby that he never told us about. I had to leave in shame. This time, I didn’t even cry.
If I have a healthy baby, will the world take me back? What happens if I don’t?
Airports always make me feel so anonymous, like I could disappear forever and no one would be the wiser. I annoy myself by clinging to my husband. I used to fly alone all the time, but I really don’t think I could do so now. The panic attacks have become so much more frequent.
I am nervous to see my in-laws. I tried to clean myself up a bit yesterday, lopping off a bunch of my hair (it was down to my ass) and touching up my bangs. I look like someone hacked it off with a pocket knife–really, it’s that bad. I’m not as vain as I was in my 20s, but this makes me self conscious as it is so extreme. Ah, c’est la vie. I cannot go to a regular hair salon; social anxiety makes it impossible to keep up the idle chit-chat that the hairdresser expects you to indulge her in.
California, the place of dreams. I’m only there a couple of days and my expectations may be too grandiose but I have been feeling suffocated in Olympia, where every little aspect of my life reminds me of Molly. I need this break.
It’s a quietly sunny morning. I sip my coffee, trying desperately to ignore the fever-pitch anxiety that richochets around inside my skull. It’s always like this. I can never just rest.
Tomorrow we travel, to visit my in-laws. We leave early, so it will be a scramble but that’s okay. I am armed to the teeth with tranquilizers, I’ll breathe deep. I don’t actually know my husband’s family well, seeing as they’re a plane trip away.
I bring baggage as well as luggage. Bipolar I. Panic disorder. Female infertility. Recurrent pregnancy loss. These words are glued to my face, providing a real disadvantage when trying to bond with new people. Whatever. I’ll do my best.
Of course, our trip coincides with predicted ovulation time–the logistics of trying to catch my egg are mind-boggling. We can do this. This month, I am determined. But I know no matter how hard we try, the cycle will end with blood.
Wish me bon voyage.
There are no words that can encapsulate the rage that flared in my heart immediately following Molly’s birth and death. I woke up every morning like a warrior, vowing to fight inexorably when I went out in the world. I couldn’t recall why I was fighting so I would reach for my husband, hand on my belly–for that fleeting blissful second I believed things were still copacetic and that moment was sacred because so soon after the memories came crashing down.
That was the worst part of my grief. As I healed physically, my emotions churned and the surface boiled. The only solace I could find was in that split second of ignorance as I exited my nightmares and struggled for consciousness. Sleep erases pain but upon awakening it returns with vengeance, and I would see a red hand pass over my eyes. I started staying up through the nights because slumber ceased to offer respite. Insomnia hit like cancer, permeating my soul.
Today I am restless and uneasy. I am still waiting for my rainbow baby, but it is very likely it will never come. The thought of facing life childless is terrifying and unfathomable. This is my reality. Two years since losing Molly and nothing but negative home pregnancy tests, and two more losses both at nine weeks. I am still angry and have become bitter and hard. A woman like me–I can never be soft again.
I am aging, fast. In one month, I will be 39 and I have lines on my face to prove it. I’m convinced that the stress of recurrent pregnancy loss and unmitigated depression is accelerating the process and I am not happy about it. Mostly though, it’s the anger. I spit fire and have become vitriolic and cruel.
My therapist says I need to learn to be happy for new mothers; I demurred. I haven’t spoken to my best friend since my tfmr. We were pregnant together–she actually set up her nursery before going off birth control. I can’t forgive her that innocence. I know I’m an awful person but I’ve just lost too much. I’ve not much use for friends these days. Alone, I can fight inexorably and apologize to none.
I wonder, if I have a healthy baby, will the world take me back? Or am I irrevocably damaged? The uncertainty of the future makes me quiver with panic. I want to be okay again. And young–I long to be young.
I’m full-speed, can’t stop. It feels like the inevitable conclusion is me crashing, burning alive; the events of the last 2.5 years will culminate in a cataclysm unprecedented in scope by anything I’ve experienced to date. I imagine I’ll end up crazy and dramatic, locked away somewhere and forgotten for my own safety. Then again, maybe it will end quietly, with a whisper and a wistful sigh…
All I know is that I’m scared to find out.
I’m on CD (cycle day) 10, waiting to see if my body can pull itself together and ovulate this month. It’s been 2.5 months since my last miscarriage. All of my dreams are of gynecological surgery, of having my babies scraped and suctioned violently out of the wasteland of my aging body and heart. I keep going, even though my breath is shallow and short.
I’m not brave, not on days like today when the skies send water sluicing down my dirty windows and the fury inside me sets the panic racing in my heart. I try to take care of myself: clean my teeth meticulously, eat three times a day, take my medication and supplements, wander the streets until I am exhausted and can sleep. My life is chopped up into month-long cycles that begin and end with a bleed.
It’s been this way since Molly died. Juggling pregnancy loss, infertility, and mental illness is no easy feat for a hysterical child-woman such as myself. I always told myself that after I had a baby (for I was once somewhat optimistic), I would get back on my therapeutic medication doses and be my old self again. I mean, I went years and years without having any sort of episode and had a life full of loving people to pull me through my short-lived bouts of anxiety, or infrequent mild hypomanias and depressions. Two years since losing her and with the help of a psychiatrist/ obstetrician and I’m practically back to the same medications I was on during this golden age. But this time it’s not working. Somehow I’ve ended up fucked.
It’s the grief, I know it is. This burden crushing down on my shoulders as I find solace in the rhythm of my feet on pavement and feel the rain on my face. I hear her name on the wind, Molly, Molly, Molly, and not even for a single second can I ever forget.
…and when I do go out, I hide in plain sight.
Days stretch out ahead of me like highways, interminable weeks, all the years of solitude. I sulk on damp streets, safe behind dark plastic lenses. I keep my hair tucked into my shirt. There was a time when I forced my grief on the world, made them see me wrapped in the rage of all things lost–these days I opt to remain transparent, nothing save a ghost of a girl in the wind.
I am sick with missing my babies. I tell no one about the patterns only I can sense. A leaf twitches and signals a man to round the corner. He makes a secret sign and a red car proceeds down the road. They’ll hurt you bad, whispers an unfamiliar voice. And it all fits together like a puzzle and I know that when I get this way it means things are not going well. I frighten my friends. And I don’t know anyone like me.
I haven’t felt like talking. The world is strange and violent so I stay in my house. I’m familiar with the cold grip of agoraphobia and I know from experience that the longer you sequester yourself in the perceived safety of home and head, the harder it is to step back out onto the streets of an town plagued with indifference towards you. The more time you take on your break from humanity, the harder it is to forge new connections. But right now, idgaf. Right now, I’m not leaving.