When I miscarried for the second time, I was in a convenience store bathroom. We were on our way to Maine for a little summer getaway and we stopped at our usual spot just over the New Hampshire border. The days before I had been dealing with bleeding and cramping but an ultrasound showed a heartbeat and we were told to wait. The morning of our trip I woke up to no bleeding and no cramping. I took this as a sign that the worst was over and that everything was going to be okay.
It was not okay.
I had just finished using the bathroom when I felt the sensation of something passing through my vaginal canal. Instinctively, I grabbed a piece of toilet paper and caught what felt like a gelatinous blob in my hand. I quickly cleaned up and looked down at what I was holding. I wanted it to be a clot, but I knew what was there. I had just passed my baby. I had miscarried.
It’s really hard for me to talk about that miscarriage. Not just because miscarriages are devastating, but because of where it happened. I hate that it happened THERE. I hate that I miscarried in a convenience store bathroom. I know I can’t go back and change WHAT happened, so why do I wish so much that I could change WHERE it happened.
This is the way I feel about the day we received Dorothy’s ashes. This is a day that I would choose never to have in my life, but it is. I have accepted that. What I can’t accept is where it happened. It’s hard enough to be handed the remains of your baby in an urn that is too tiny. But, to have it happen in a reading room off of the hospital library? I hate that it happened there.
I remember how it felt to be brought into that room. I knew that we were there to collect Dorothy’s ashes, but I pictured us being in a much gentler space when we did so. Instead, the hospital social worker beckoned for us to sit down in two uncomfortable chairs in a windowless room while she sat perched across from us clutching the remains of our baby. The walls were painted in that shade of white that is sterile and overstimulating all at once. There was not a single piece of artwork to break up the monotonous drab of that room.
I remember thinking “Here? This is where they do this sort of thing?” I don’t know if a different room would have made that day any easier, but I always imagine that being in a more comfortable space may have helped.
Why do the places matter so much? The moments themselves inspire enough heartache so why does it matter where they happened? I think it’s because when I revisit the heartbreaking moments in my life, I am also revisiting the places where they occurred. I am not only reliving these moments but I am being forced to relive them THERE.
I spend my time in those memories scanning my mind’s eye for something to bring me comfort. And in these moments, I come up empty. There’s nowhere comforting for my eyes to rest. There is no respite for my aching heart.