Lying on the uncomfortable mattress while the nurse fixed the hospital gown and the thin, heated blanket, I didn’t say anything as the doctor wheeled away from the end of the bed, the snapping elastic sound of her tugging off latex gloves cracking like thunder. Water was turned on. I wasn’t waiting for her to speak, because I already knew what she was going to say.
I didn’t remember driving to the hospital, which probably meant I shouldn’t have driven myself, but I did remember all the bright red blood that had soaked my pajama bottoms, and the bright red blood that started to bleed through the sweats I’d changed into. I remembered the clots when I sat down on the toilet, and I remembered . . .
I bit down on my lip as the cramping returned. My hand curled along the top of the blanket. The nurse’s shadow fell over me and her cool hand covered mine. I wanted to pull my hand away. I didn’t want her or anyone touching me right now, but I didn’t move.
My gaze drifted to the doctor. She looked young. Like she could be my age. Her brow creased as she pushed the stool over to the bed, near my waist, and sat down. Her serious gaze met mine. Her gaze reminded me of the ultrasound technician who’d been in the tiny curtained off room before the doctor. That nurse had introduced himself, but once he started moving the handle around, he stopped looking at me. When he left the room, I hadn’t even known if he had spoken. I thought he did. And I thought those words might’ve been meaningless.
“I’m sorry,” the doctor said.
I inhaled through my nose as I shifted my attention to the ceiling again. My jaw ached from how tight I was clenching it, but I couldn’t force it to let up. The doctor—what was her name? Williams? Williamson?—was talking again, and I missed some of it.
“ . . . the ultrasound confirmed what we suspected with the symptoms you’re presenting right now,” she was saying, and I heard paper moving, as if she were flipping through a chart. “When you came in, you said you were nearing your thirteenth week?”
My mouth was dry as I spoke. “Friday is . . . would be thirteen weeks.”
The nurse squeezed my hand.
“And you’ve just had your initial appointment with your OB/GYN?”
“About a month ago,” I said.
The papers ruffled again, and when she spoke this time, her words were slow and careful. “Based on the ultrasound and the blood tests we ordered, it appears that the fetus has already been miscarried and what is happening right now, with the bleeding—”
“Wait.” I wet my lips. “What do you—what do you mean I’ve already miscarried?”
“The ultrasound and the exam revealed there is no fetus. When you started bleeding, did you notice any large clots?” she asked.
Of course, the clots . . . I knew that. I’d read about the warning signs on one of the various mommy board splurges, but I hadn’t thought . . .
I hadn’t thought it would happen.
I squeezed my eyes shut. Those clots had come when I was . . . I couldn’t even finish the thought. How had I not known it was happening at that exact moment?
What if I had come to the hospital the very second I’d felt that pain?
The doctor was talking again. “It’s very common at this stage in a pregnancy for the fetus to stop developing without you knowing. Sometimes it can happen days or weeks before the body starts to heal itself. That’s what’s happening right now.”
My eyes flickered open. Had the baby been . . . gone for days? Weeks? And I didn’t even know?
She was talking to me about options and what to expect, the follow-up appointments I needed to make and symptoms I needed to watch for in case everything didn’t . . . didn’t come out. She was rattling off all this information, and that damn nurse was still squeezing my hand, and I wanted . . .
I wanted my mom.
“Why?” I asked hoarsely.
Out of the corners of my eyes, I saw the doctor stand. “This isn’t ever easy to hear or to understand, but sometimes, there is no reason, Ms. Keith. It just happens. It doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to carry a baby, but I do suggest that when you see your doctor, to talk to him or her about your concerns. . . .”
There was no reason? No. That couldn’t make sense, could it? My thoughts whirled around the things I’d read, and yes, the logical part of me realized that the body was a crazy thing that did insane things, but I wanted a reason. Pain as sharp and as real as what was cutting across my stomach expanded in my chest. I wanted to know what I did or didn’t do—
The ache expanded and tears climbed up my throat, swelling in my eyes. The pregnancy hadn’t been planned, but I’d wanted it. And Nick hadn’t expected it, but he wanted it. We were going to make the best out of it, and within a few short weeks we were going to try to find out the gender. The hurting welled up, burning through every cell. And if the baby had been a boy, we—
I cut those thoughts off, and I shut it down, all of it down. Locked myself right up. Pushed all of it down, because I couldn’t . . . couldn’t deal with this right now. I just couldn’t.
“Do you have anyone you can call?” the nurse asked.
“What?” I looked at her, and realized that the doctor wasn’t in the room anymore. It was just us. When had she left? A cramp seized up my insides, and I fought the urge to roll onto my side.
Sympathy poured out of the nurse’s expression. “I asked if you have someone you can call?”
Yes. That was what my head said over and over again. Yes. There were people to call. There was a person to call, but that wasn’t what I did.
I didn’t even know why.
That’s just not what I did.
Per the doctor’s suggestion, I called off work early the following morning, and with her excuse, I was able to take the rest of the week off. I told Deanna that I had the flu, but if Marcus needed anything worked on immediately, I could do it from home. All he needed to do was call or e-mail. After what had gone down yesterday with Rick, I wasn’t sure how Marcus would feel about me missing work, but I didn’t have any choice.
It was a very smart idea not to attempt to go to work like nothing had happened. The cramps and the bleeding were like nothing I’d ever experienced before. For a good hour after I spoke to Deanna, I was curled up on the couch, my hands flattened against my stomach and my knees curled up after I changed the sheets on the bed, removing whatever traces of the . . . incident that I could.
I didn’t think about anything.
Hours ticked by, and any moment my brain started to drift toward what was happening, I quickly forced my attention to the TV. Around lunch my phone went off, and pressure clamped around my chest. It was Nick.
I froze, a second away from answering it. What . . . what was I going to tell him? Then I reached for the phone and, sitting up, brought it close to my chest and closed my eyes. God, he’d already lost so much in life, and he was going to be so disappointed, and I—
Without answering the call, I dropped the phone on the couch and pressed my palms against my forehead. “Stop it.”
I knew there was nothing I could do about any of this. It had already happened. Lurching to my feet, I went to the kitchen to grab a glass of water. I passed the fridge and stumbled to a halt.