short stories

anatomy.

Anala laid still in her bed, with her hand placed lightly on her stomach as she listened to the hustle and bustle of the city below her. A smile broke out on her face as she felt a light kick just above her bellybutton.

“Good morning, little one”, she said as she caressed the area where her baby’s body seemed to be snuggled into a tiny ball.

“I finally get to see you today”. Anala’s pregnancy had not been an easy one; aside from the fatigue and morning sickness, she had been prescribed additional medications to regulate her blood flow. Family and friends closest to her had urged Anala to terminate the pregnancy, concerned for her well-being if she decided to see the pregnancy through until the end. She had been pregnant before and had experienced complications that only seemed to increase tenfold this time around. Still, Anala wanted to meet her baby, and she was willing to do whatever she needed to make sure she got to hold her offspring.

Sitting up slightly on the bed and resting her back against the pillows on the headboard, she began to trace her fingers along her stomach and watched as the baby followed her movements. She had learned a few weeks before that babies can see shadows through the womb of the outside world, with enough light provided, and couldn’t help but imagine that her baby could see her fingers as they played along.

“You’re a smart little one, just like your mommy”, she said with a smile wider than the one before.

“I can’t wait to see you, my sweet baby”, and she played with the baby a little bit longer before rolling out of bed. At nineteen weeks and three days, her belly protruded several inches from her abdomen, and she had officially acquired the ‘pregnancy waddle’. With the baby’s weight sitting directly on her bladder as she stood upright, she walked hurriedly to the bathroom to relieve herself. Sitting there with her eyes closed, she let out a sigh of relief.

Anala made her way carefully down the stairs and headed into the kitchen to make some breakfast. As she pulled the eggs, cheese, peppers, and turkey sausage from the refrigerator, she thought about how difficult it was to keep food down during her first pregnancy. The baby boy, she had found out after the procedure, had not liked much of anything that she ate. It had taken months to figure out exactly what made him happy, she had always imagined that his appetite would be as picky after birth as he was in the womb. She had started a food journal so that she could remember all his likes and dislikes when it was time to move from the formula into pureed and solid foods.

It had been bittersweet to add the new baby’s likes and dislikes to that same food journal this time around. She had expected their likes and dislikes to be similar at the very least but instead they were almost exact opposites. During her first pregnancy, it was rare that she was able to make it through prepping meal, much less have the opportunity to enjoy it. Now, the baby would dance around as the smells of Anala’s cooking filled the air; even that was nothing compared to how much she wiggled around when Anala ate. True to form, once the kitchen was filled with the aromas of the breakfast scramble Anala was cooking, the baby turned over in her stomach kicking her lightly.

“I feel you little one, it’s almost ready”, she said as she placed her hand on the spot she felt the baby last. A few minutes later, she dumped the scramble onto a plate and sat down at her kitchen nook. When she was done, it was hard to tell who had enjoyed the meal more— even as she wiggled into jeans and sheer top to get ready for her appointment, the baby was moving around inside of her.

The snow had finally melted from the ground, but the temperatures were still very low. Anala crossed her arms tightly in front of her as she sat in the car waiting for the heat to crank up in her ‘97 Lexus SC300. Her body shivered and the slight movements caused the baby to do a little dance in her tummy.

“I know sweet baby, it’ll be warm in here soon”, she said while she rubbed her tummy in the hopes of giving the baby some warmth. The thought crossed her mind if the baby could even feel the cold through all those layers of skin and liquid, and then quickly shook the thought from her mind as the heat started to blow. She put the car in drive and headed to the hospital for her anatomy scan.

Anala had been telling her family and friends for weeks that she would be having a girl this time. Most of her them had laughed and told her not to jump to conclusions and the other made jokes about her being pregnant with twins. She had laughed off the twin accusations and insisted that there was only one baby inside her according to past ultrasounds where she had caught glimpse of the fetus. Today, she would get to see every single body part that made up her baby girl and she could not wait to prove them all wrong.  She had never told anyone with this, but she had finally decided on a name just a few days before the miscarriage. Growing up, as many young girls did, she had her whole life planned out. Although very little that happened since graduation followed that idea she dreamt as a kid, there were still some things she could check off her list – her baby’s name was completely in her control.

As she pulled into the garage, she noticed the hospital was rather busy and made her way to the fourth floor before finding an empty parking spot. She put the car in park and closed her eyes as she remembered the precious minutes the doctors let her hold her son. She saw every detail of his face as clearly now as the day she had seen it for the first and last time. Anala let her mind wander back to that moment in time, when she stared down at her baby boy and whispered, I will always love you, Jayden. The teardrop sliding down her face stirred Anala from the memory. She pulled down the mirror, wiped her face and gave herself one final look before grabbing her purse and keys and locking her doors as she crossed the garage and stepped into the elevator.

On the ground floor she entered the lobby of the hospital and walked halfway down the hall to the elevator that took her directly to the maternity ward. She was always filled with the most genuine bit of happiness that she didn’t have to remember what floor Labor and Delivery was on – this elevator only made stops in the lobby and L&D. When she stepped out of the elevator and into the waiting room, there was one couple waiting to be seen.

“Hey, Ms. Sharon”, she said as she greeted the woman at the desk and signed in.

“Hello Anala, how are you and baby doing today?”, the receptionist asked before handing over the consent form Anala was used to signing at this point.

“We’re doing okay, she’s been busy this morning. At least, I think it’s a ‘she’, I just feel it, ya know?”, exchanging smiles with the receptionist as she handed back the paperwork. “I’ll let you know for sure after our appointment”, and with that she made her way to a seat in the middle of the waiting room. While she waited, she sent a text to her mom and sister to let them know she was waiting to be seen, they both replied within minutes, demanding pictures and the sex of the baby as soon as the appointment was over. “Anala Wright”, the receptionist called out into the waiting room, and she slid her phone in her pocket as she stood and was led back to the sonography room.

She slid her coat off and laid it across one of the chairs by the door before climbing onto the table/chair. A few minutes passed before the sonographer entered the room.

“Hello Ms. Wright, how are you feeling today?”, she asked as she pulled on blue latex gloves and turned on the ultrasound machine.

“I’m so excited! I’m the only who thinks it’s a girl”, Anala said with a chuckle, “I’m really hoping I’m right or I’m in for a world of I told you so’s!” She watched as the sonographer covered the wand with gel fresh from the warmer; she liked it this way, the cold gel always felt thick and sticky. She placed the wand against Anala’s stomach, and the screen was filled with the top half of her baby’s body. That was her baby, laying on its side with one hand nestled under its chin. Her lips were shaped exactly like Anala’s , down to the slight imperfection on her top lip. She watched carefully as the sonographer scanned the body parts of her baby, measuring the bones to confirm the fetus was growing appropriately. She listened as the sonographer held the wand over the baby’s heart, checking to make sure the atrium and ventricles were clear of defects badump-badump-badump she heard as the baby’s heart beat at a speed almost two times as fast as her own. It wasn’t until the tear fell from her face and hit her arm that she realized she’d begun to cry.

 “I hope those are happy tears, because this baby is doing beautifully!”, said the sonographer as she moved the wand down towards the baby’s pelvis and typed the world girl.

The biggest smile spread across Anala’s face as she looked at the screen. A girl, she thought happily. The smile stayed on her face as the sonographer moved on from the baby and began to check Anala’s organs.

“Kidneys look great, the placenta is nice and clear. These are the kind of things we like to see!” She moved the wand to the base of Anala’s stomach and checked the ovaries before honing in on the cervix. There she paused, and in the moment a sense of worry planted itself into Anala’s mind. The sonographer hovered over the cervix for a few moments longer before continuing with her scan. When she was done, she handed Anala the pictures she had printed throughout the anatomy scan, then placed the wand back on the machine and took off her gloves. Usually, this was when the sonographer would grab a towel and wipe the remaining gel from her stomach. Instead, she said, “Hang tight, I’m going to go grab the doctor on call. There’s nothing to worry about, I just noticed something small I’d like to get a second opinion on before I let you go.”

“Okay”, Anala replied.

Before she could say anything else, the sonographer was closing the door behind her, leaving Anala alone in the silence with all of her worrisome thoughts. The minutes seemed to pass slowly as she waited for the sonographer to return with the doctor, so she spent that time trying to convince herself nothing was wrong.

“We’re going to be okay, little one. I know we will”, Anala said to her baby girl as she caressed a dry spot on her tummy. When the sonographer and the doctor arrived, she took a deep breath and tried once more to calm herself down in preparation for what news was to come.

“Hello Ms. Wright, I’m Dr. Milton. I hear we are expecting a beautiful baby girl in a few months, is that right?”

“Yes”, Anala answered, the small talk easing her mind just a little.

“Great! I’m just going to double check a few things quickly and then we’ll get you out of here,” Dr. Milton replied. He reached for the gel from the warmer and applied another layer to the wand before moving it around Anala’s stomach. He scanned the baby, the placenta and the sac before swiftly moving the wand to the base of Anala’s stomach once more. He examined the top of the cervix closely, and Anala watched as a look of worry crossed his face.

“If it’s okay with you, I’m going to switch wands for just a moment, I want to get a good look at the inside of your cervix. It might be a bit uncomfortable at first, but if you can make it through a pap smear you should be just fine.”

“Okay,” said Anala, and she watched as the doctor grabbed a long thin wand from the side of the ultrasound machine and applied a layer of cold gel to the tip.  

The sonographer had lifted the stirrups and Anala placed a foot on each one, lifted her gown, and took a deep breath as the doctor inserted the wand inside of her. With a closer look at her cervix, Anala could see that there was a gaping hole where her cervix should be, and something that looked like amniotic fluid was hovering around the opening.

Dr. Milton took a deep breath, then said, “Ms. Wright, I am sorry to have to tell you this, but your cervix is about four centimeters dilated. You’re in the middle of a miscarriage.”

Silence had never been so loud as it was in that moment. Dr. Milton and the sonographer watched Anala in the minutes that passed, waiting for a response. It wasn’t until a soft cry escaped her mouth that Anala realized she’d been holding her breath. The tears poured down her face as comprehension crept in, and she uttered the only thought that lingered in her mind, “I was going to name her Jayda, after her brother.”

**disclaimer: this is an original piece of work written by me. do not copy and paste or I will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law

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