Two weeks ago I felt Matthew move inside me for the first time. Gentle, tender thrusts. The feeling was new and came as a shock. They say it feels differently for everyone. I relished it. I had waited years to experience it, and I was greedy for more. Nothing would ever compare to this. I’d wait up every night after dinner in deep anticipation. The feeling of Matthew was remarkable. This is what life is all about, right? Intense connection. Mind, body, and heart. It was palpable; such powerful and sacred moments the likes of which I had never shared with another living soul.
As the days went on, though, our intimate moments became fewer. Apparently, he didn’t want my attention. Content and quiet in his own little universe.
“Don’t worry, Livie,” my husband assured me. “He’ll come around soon enough.”
Silent hours turned into nights. Days. I tried all the tricks they tell you about, but still I couldn’t get his attention back. My uncertainty gestated into sheer panic when I woke up with excruciating pain. I sat up only to drive the pain deeper. My cries woke up my husband. I threw the sheets aside as sweat prickled my face. I was shaking. From pain? Fright? My husband’s shouts brought me out of the fog.
“My God! Liv!” he cried, pointing to me. I looked down. My white night shirt was soaked. I had been sleeping in a pool of blood. I wasn’t supposed to be bleeding.
* * *
My head feels heavy. A pretty young nurse is asking me something, but I can’t understand what she’s saying. I wake up feeling as if I’ve been asleep for days.
“…is very rare to happen this far out.” I hear a rough, vaguely familiar voice over me. “Typically we see signs of miscarriage well before twenty weeks, and definitely before week twenty three. We’re still not sure why it happened. Your wife was healthy and the fetus looked healthy at the last scan. It’s still a mystery for now.”
Machines are bleeping and buzzing all around me. It is my husband’s troubled voice that worries me into full consciousness, “She felt the baby moving around a couple of weeks ago. We were so happy. Then she said she couldn’t feel anything. Maybe we should have…”
“Don’t think about that right now. It won’t do either of you any good. Look after each other. Love and time will get you through this,” my Doctor says before touching my shoulder and leaving my hospital room.
My hand is pricked and taped to a needle that is slowly pumping clear liquid into me. But I feel something else. Another hand is holding mine. Calloused and warm. I tug on it and my eyes meet the pink soggy eyes of my husband.
“Oh, Livie,” he cries into my hair. His large hands cradle my head and his gentle lips kiss mine. “My sweet Livie. Thank God you’re back. We lost him, sweetheart. We lost our baby boy.”
I crumble into him, my body racked with grief, and he absorbs it all. I quell his hushed sobs. Our tears mingle and soon I can’t tell which are mine and which are his. They are one and the same. We spill devastation onto one another.
Moments later, the pretty young nurse is back. Her timid voice is audible now, “Mrs. Reid. Would you like to hold it before…well…before I leave with it?”
“Not it. Him. Yes, I’d like to hold my baby boy,” I say quietly, holding out my empty arms. She mumbles an apology and hands me the limp frail body of my son, Matthew. He had been the miracle that was somersaulting inside me only weeks ago. A miracle, whose death had become a permanent thorn in my mind. No, not the mind. My heart.
Thorn of Love first appeared in The Rio Review, Fall 2014 issue.