|By Margaret Davis|
|At the hospital everything happened so quickly. Lying under the bright disc in the operating room, strapped and swaddled, the fast dive into a little death, the struggle back to the surface. “Am I alive?” I asked over and over. Later there were tubes and needles,
slow distance and forgetting, nurses with quiet shoes. There wasn’t time to feel the loss.
At home, recovering, I found the episode of Nova I had taped months earlier. It showed, miraculously, the filmed conception, growth, and birth of a baby. Sometimes, alone on dark mornings, I fed it into the machine and watched the transition from egg to embryo, alive and hugely magnified. I wanted to see you. The female reproductive organs looked like flowers. I saw them as mine, iridescent orchids, soft fronds sweeping you on your blind journey. You were a comma, a fluted shell, then at six weeks a curved shape, tailed like a seahorse, your beautiful spine shining through your translucent skin. You wore the hopeful outline of your eyes, not my blue ones yet, or your father’s green, but still your eyes. I watched the buds of arms and legs blooming, fingers unfurling, saw the pulsing of your shadowy heart. There it is, I thought. Six weeks. That’s what you looked like.
That was another woman’s baby on the film. I saw it born, the mother’s parted legs, the crowning head, the tender father’s tattooed arm reaching for his newborn child. It wasn’t really you. I know that. But it’s all I know of you before you slipped away, a pearly glimmer in a wash of blood; red blossoms on the bathroom floor.
I didn’t even know that I was pregnant. So much easier that way, everyone agreed. But I wish I had known you were there before you were gone. I think I would embrace the pain of losing you for the joy of having known for just a day that you were inside me, swimming, spinning, unfolding in the crimson darkness to the sound of my heartbeat.