The Waiting Room

I am just here to have my blood drawn. An in and out procedure. Yet I wait for an hour. The doctor is running behind, the receptionist apologizes.

I think about what I need to get done at school that day, all the things I could be doing if I were not sitting in a waiting room. I think about nothing.

“‘Cause baby, now we got bad blood,” Taylor Swift anthems over the speakers, and I think cynically, ironically, that I’ve got bad blood and no baby. My blood sends the message to my body that I’m still pregnant when in reality, I’m not pregnant anymore, and why am I still sitting in this stupid waiting room trying not to cry and trying harder not to cuss, I sigh.

This is a good thing, I scold myself. You’re here in hopes that your levels are low enough to try again soon. Taking blood is helpful information, and this person said they became pregnant a month after their miscarriage, and that could be you, too. I try not to think about the other person who said they had four miscarriages before their first successful pregnancy.

I am not very good at convincing myself it’s a good thing. This number will also confirm the truth I’ve known so acutely in the past two weeks–I’m not pregnant anymore. No more dreaming of a baby in June. No more excited secret chatter with JD. No more pictures of my growing belly–I only took one. Now we must wait while life continues around us. Just like this waiting room.

I think about the phone call from the birthing center, wanting to know if I’m ready to schedule a prenatal appointment. I need to call them back, I think, and tell them the news. Say the word. Miscarriage. I hate that word. It sounds too much like mistake, misstep. One of my haikus from the Sad Tuesday:

Looking for new word:
Miscarry sounds like mistake.
I didn’t make one.

But I don’t want to say I lost the baby, either. Because the language of losing implies irresponsibility on my part, inattentiveness. Who came up with this language for a woman’s body terminating an unviable pregnancy? Why does it put the blame on the mother? I can feel heat rising in my cheeks as I consider this question.

I am an English teacher. I am a feminist. These are my thoughts in an OBGYN waiting room.

I check my watch and think again to my class starting in 30 minutes. Call me back soon, I plead silently. All of this time waiting is leaving me alone with my thoughts, and they are tormenting me. Give me small talk, polite conversation, the buzz of activity in the back, anything to distract me from the burning tears threatening to embarrass me.

You came too early
Your heart was supposed to beat
Instead, my heart grieves.

And then I scold myself for being embarrassed. I’ve learned the past two weeks just how prevalent miscarriages are. I am comforted by a community of women and their significant others who have been there. But I am also angry it’s impolite to talk about it. That it’s considered a private matter. That it’s deemed inappropriate by some to share.

Even though statistically, many of the young girls I work with, the women I have dinner with on Monday nights, the women in this waiting room will experience this tragedy. The worst thing to do with grief is keep it a secret. The best thing is for someone to see it and offer a hand, a fuzzy blanket, their own tears. What an opportunity this miscarriage has turned out to be for the most beautiful phrase in my life right now: “Me, too.” Me, too, I had a miscarriage. Me, too, I cried when I found out. Me, too, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Me, too, I want to help you. Me, too, I hate to see you go through this.

I have felt grief, I have felt pain, I have felt numbness, but I have not felt alone. My anger toward the lack of language has subsided for now.

I tap my foot as I continue to sit in the waiting room, 20 minutes to go until my class begins. I watch another woman waddle in, a big grin on her face, her hand resting protectively on her belly. I am sad that is not me. But maybe someday soon, I pray, hoping my blood will hear.

The nurse calls me back, asks me how I’m doing, and I say okay because I don’t know what else to say. This has been a problem for the past two weeks: so much to say and nothing to say.

I can still hear the music playing in the back. Adele is singing hello from the other side.

Here I am on the other side of pregnancy, I think. On the other side of grief. On the other side of loss. On the other side of the waiting room.

Me, too.