I feel embarrassed that we are planning a small ceremony and burial for our baby boy. I feel embarrassed that we named him. I can hear the jeering, mocking comments in my head. I didn’t know him. How can I feel this way over someone I never knew?
And I don’t like that I’m embarrassed. When will I stop feeling embarrassed for who I am, for what I care about, for how I live my life?
The shooting pains down my legs are normal, the midwife said. I’ve been bleeding for four days. At times, only a little. At others, I can barely stand the pain, lying down with a hot water bottle on my belly, my back.
This is what I want, what needs to happen. I need every trace of you gone. My uterus shrinking to the size of my fist – or smaller? I do not know the proper size. All I know is that it grew, rounded and firm. The day before you emerged tiny and perfect in my hands, the midwives had felt my belly, found the top of my uterus and told me, this is exactly the size you should be. Exactly the size, but something was wrong, despite my high, firm, rounded belly, despite the perfection of your hands, your slender legs. Something went terribly wrong and for this, I bleed. For this, I cry at moments I least expect.
And I feel so silly for being so sad. I never knew you, you tiny creature, my little son. But even now, writing this, I feel a catch in my throat. Before your arrival, any time I wrote or thought the word, “son,” I meant only one: my firstborn. But on that day, I held in my hands a small baby boy who came from my body, my blood. Is not the word for a male child I have birthed, “son?” So, now there are two. I have had two sons, one of whom came early and died.