It’s bed time for the ocean. That expanse of quivering liquid doesn’t really sleep, but the sun kisses it goodnight anyways. That’s what I think as I watch it set and the cold quickly burrows into my bones.
There’s this song by Mason Jennings that croons “I miss the ocean when I go to sleep”. Years back, I lay between crisp summer sheets in the blue light of the moon thinking the same thing as I fell asleep staring at surf posters on the walls of my childhood bedroom. I was in on this secret—I knew something that knew everything. And now, I miss not just the ocean when I drift to that unpredictable land filled with endless skateparks and tests I never seem to have studied for, but I miss my daughter and husband too.
The holidays have been all we want them to be so far, and yet I’m not pregnant even though I thought I was.
That sentence contains such conflicting feelings that they nearly cancel each other out. On one hand, I am happy I will not be pregnant during a season accented by so many warm alcoholic beverages and conversations with curious family-strangers. I will not have two babies in cribs and diapers and strollers come August. I will go to Basia and Phil’s wedding in Poland because I will not be in my third trimester in July. And still, there was love for someone who isn’t here now.
Taking a pregnancy test is an intense situation no matter how you look at it. So many people are involved, even if they don’t know it.
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving the test said +Pregnant. Thanksgiving seemed the perfect day to tell everyone we saw including my cousin in Connecticut via FaceTime. The Friday night after, three other tests said “Not pregnant” “No” and “—” . That Saturday I went into a public restroom amid the hope and good cheer of small business Saturday and heard a man in the handicap stall just as I realized there would definitely be no baby next August. I ran out, called 911, and reported that a man was in the women’s restroom sounding sick. He left the bathroom just as I was trying to describe his scattered urine-soaked belongings.
The following Monday a blood test confirmed that I was never pregnant. There was never any HCG, the pregnancy hormone, in my system. No baby was lost, just a digital one overridden by other pregnancy tests and quietly erased from a pregnancy app before taking the first baby to swimming.
Obviously, I’m not exactly happy about any of this—but I’m not avalanching towards emptiness either. For a group of people whose lives are pretty definably imperfect, we do have an awful lot to be thankful for and that is almost all I can notice lately. Avalon can’t seem to sit through a whole meal at a restaurant recently, but we have all these grand adventures dancing on metal sewer grates and gazing into empty fountains. We’ve watched Christmas parades, her tiny waving hands, both for the first time. I kiss her all day long. “Mama” she says the minute she wakes up.
There is a wholeness to my heart that wasn’t here last year. Back then it was like my heart was still the same shape, but it was composed of that fuzzy black and white chaos that appears when the cable goes out. Now it’s like I can see all the great things that are cemented in place in some mushy heart-glue, bound to stay there for eternity: Avalon, Avalon, Avalon. Scott, Scott, Scott. My Family, his family, our family.
That song about the ocean captures a longing for something that ultimately doesn’t belong to us and is out of our control. But when the night paints our room with that deep, mysterious blue I watch it grow across the ceiling and I miss the ocean, Scott as he snores and Avalon as she pips softly in the adjacent room. I miss the maybe baby whose presence was here for minute. I think about the imperfections of this life, but I can fall asleep because I know of something that knows everything.