“You look like my mommy,” she said, looking up at me from the little computer chair with an excited little-girl smile. “Will you stay here with me? I want you to stay here with me.” She latches onto my arm and starts inspecting my fingers and hands with a child’s intensity.
I am on duty at The Day Job and her innocent, sweet words feel like a stake in my heart. I don’t want to cry in front of her, and so I politely extricate myself so I can go bawl in the bathroom in peace.
It has been a couple months since I have cowered among the porcelain toilets, using toilet paper and my shirt sleeve to wipe my sniffly nose because the only box of kleenexes are out behind the front counter in full view. I thought I was over this shit. Well, over the crying-in-the-bathroom-like-a-teen-dumped-at-prom shit. I had been doing so well, exerting the strength and willpower to only let the tears fall when no one else could see. And thankfully, since I had my God Experience, I simply haven’t felt like crying. Not like this.
But this little girl’s happy insistence that I remind her of her mother feels like nails on a chalkboard and I am unstable. I am in tears before I ever make it to the door.
I feel torn in two. I feel we should try again, that I especially must try to fulfill this new-found need to be a parent. I ache to hold and raise a child and yet I am plain scared. If I thought my fears about being a parent were ever bad before, the thought of going through it all again — the joy of the positive test, the elation of the little aspects of pregnancy, the anticipation… only to leave the hospital again with empty arms — far outstrips any doubts I may have had about “life after baby.” I want it so bad I can taste it, but I fear it, too.
If the choice were laid out on a table — two neat cards, one for “pregnant” and one for “barren” — I wouldn’t have the strength to choose. Not knowing what I have been through. Not knowing how you can go the entire 9 months, how everything can be charmed and everyone says it’s a done deal, and you can still watch your child die in the doctor’s hands. If it were so easy as to just pick a card for the outcome, I would beg someone else — God, or my husband — to make the decision for me because I am so cowardly that I can’t knowingly set myself up for hurt like this. In my world, there is no such thing as blind faith because I have been blessed with vision for all potential consequences. Once the decision is made, however, I could deal with it and the ways it could play out — steadfastly, bravely, calmly — because I am that type of girl. I was raised to grit my teeth and carry on, regardless of what shit was hitting the fan.
Instead, I’m standing in front of the table staring at the cards like I’ve been staring at them ever since the doctors told us they couldn’t save our son. Instead I’m here bawling in the bathroom because a little girl compared me to her mother and I don’t know that I’ll ever be that for anyone except a ghost.