So, a few weeks ago it was time for me to pay my twice annual visit to the dentist's office. Upon sitting in the recliner my dental hygienist says, "Sooooo, do we have any good news?!"
You see, one of the asinine aspects of trying to conceive is that you have to fill in otherwise insignificant people as to the intimate details of your reproductive life. Apparently, their ability to wield X-rays like light-sabers gives them a certain level of privilege.
"No. No good news." I reply, believing that my tone and dry response should be enough to intimate that I'm not willing to discuss things further. But no...
"Oh, really? Nothing good to report?"
What? You mean you'd like to know all about how I began to bleed out in the middle of the night with my entire family in town for Thanksgiving? Would you like to know about the harrowing trip to the ER? The baby I lost the week before in my third D&C procedure that apparently didn't go too well? Or would you rather hear about how all of this coincided with the anniversary of my first baby's death on Thanksgiving Day when I was six months pregnant?!!!!
"No, we just suffered another loss."
"Oh, I'm so sorry," she says. Well, at least she gets credit for knowing an acceptable response. "Is this your second loss?"
"No, third," I clarify.
"I've had two miscarriages myself," she says. Then she begins asking about specifics.
"I lost my first baby at 24 weeks," I explain, "and then I had two first trimester miscarriages since."
"Oh! Both of mine were early. I didn't even know you could lose a baby at that point!"
Is this the right time to fill her in on the other horrors of loss? Do I tell her about my good friend whose baby was stillborn the day after her due date? Is she going to stop with the probing at some point and get to her dentistry?! On cue, she picks up a sharp instrument and begins attacking my mouth. I opt to explain my particular situation rather than to enlighten her about the other various and atrocious forms of loss.
"Well, our first son wasn't miscarried. We discovered that he was very, very sick at a later ultrasound. He was suffering from numerous deformities and the doctors didn't expect him to make it to term. So, after a long and heartbreaking process, we decided to save him from suffering anymore and induced delivery."
There. I've stunned her. She's actually going to be quiet now as she pokes around my gums.
But wait! No, there's a frown... and now a sentence forming... and...
"Well, what would have been wrong with him if he were born, other than a few abnormalities?"
What?! Is my dental hygienist actually asking me to justify the most personal, far-reaching decision my husband and I will ever face in the whole of our lives? And am I supposed to do this whilst she scrapes the plaque off my teeth?! Now I'm pissed. Does she honestly think that anyone - especially me - would say, gee, this kid’s got a few minor issues. Let's chunk him and go for a new one. What the fuck?!
So despite my best efforts, I'm now in a defensive mode. "Well, it wasn't just a few abnormalities. He had clubbed hands, clubbed feet, 25% of the muscle he should have, swelling in his joints which indicated he wasn't thriving, he couldn't extend his legs or bend his arms, his abdominal walls were so weak he couldn't have held himself upright, he couldn't have ever held a writing instrument, walked, used a wheel chair, or even suck his own thumb. He had a cleft palate, a receded chin, and (shall I remind you) the doctors were highly doubtful I could carry him to term. If he'd been okay mentally, he would have been trapped in a body that had the equivalent of charley horses in each and every major muscle for the entirety of his life. We just couldn't take those risks for him. We couldn't allow him to suffer so much just because we selfishly wanted a baby so badly."
There. Maybe that's done it.
Oh, but now she wants to tell me about how God is the only thing that's kept her going through her loses. Obviously she's feeling she's in the presence of sin. It's time for my final retort:
"I know what you mean. God's kept me going too. I'm so thankful he put such great doctors in our path to tell us about Thomas's suffering so that we could help him. After all, if anyone could understand the love it takes to sacrifice your only begotten son in the name of mercy, it would be him, wouldn't it?"
Now, get your Goddamn fingers out of my mouth.