A Son Like a Grain of Rice
Anne Louise Pair
Dear Little One:
I’ll never know what made you stop. You began like everyone else: sperm meets egg and starts their ecstatic doubling, two, four, eight. Even before I took the pregnancy test, I knew you were floating in me. Things felt different. How? I can’t recall. Headaches? Nausea? Something. Something exciting. You were a son, I imagined, red-headed and left-handed like your father. Like my grandmother.
But at my first checkup, we found out you were far too small, only the size of a grain of rice. You had stopped growing weeks ago. The doctor took a picture: you had a little head and a heart, but she could hear nothing. Your heart wasn’t beating. They rushed me to the specialty ultrasound, and it was confirmed. No heart tones.
I was sure it was something I had done. Maybe I had taken too hot of a bath or exercised too hard. Hurt you somehow.
The doctor said this wasn’t true. Most likely, it was a genetic flaw or error in the division process.
My mother said nearly the same thing. “It wasn’t perfect. We only want perfect babies.”
She was wrong, though. I did want you. I wanted you so much it ached.
I took a sick day and spent it huddled with your father. When I looked at things logically, it was hard to say where my loss was. You were a collection of cells, not a baby. I had never held you - never even heard your heartbeat. I didn’t know you, not really. And yet I couldn’t stop crying. On that day and the days that followed, I learned truths about love I had never really understood before. That love is stubborn and illogical. That we cannot always control where we attach. That sometimes we miss what we never had.
Your father and I wanted to try again, but you were still in me. It meant I wouldn’t ovulate. The doctor gave me a pill that would cause my uterus to empty. As much as I loved you, I accepted you were not alive, and I cleared the space of tiny you.
Did it hurt, being born this way? Most babies cry at their births. Your sisters did, but you — no pain, I suppose.
Yes, you have sisters now. Two strong girls. I took only showers through both pregnancies. And I walked, always, to keep the heart rate low. I had nightmares but healthy babies.
I am sorry for what happened to you, my son like a grain of rice. It wasn’t fair. It´s been ten years, but I think of you and love you still. Stubborn, illogical love.