Even my miscarriage was beautiful.
Of course, it was engorged with terror and pain, but still beautiful.
Utterly the opposite of that easy beauty, when you lay in a soft field and watch illuminated clouds migrate. Tantamount in the overload that trying to conceive had already demanded, that miscarriage buckled me with the beauty of an unprecedented, colossal reverence.
My own little body, like the wisest of Great Gods, knew exactly and exquisitely what to do.
Most likely, I had conceived on a camel.
That is to say – my egg must have dropped that day, that one day I spent in Cairo after landing mid-night from Morocco and then heading just after dark to board the all-night bus to Sinai.
While on a pyramid-ward camel is when I trusted my monthly egg was released from it’s ovarian storage, the needed seeds for their auspicious coupling were gifted me the last evening in Morocco via that regular old-fashioned way. I was 41 and single. I was hell-bent on getting pregnant. A good buddy signed up to be my “known-donor” and bought me the ticket to Marakkesh. I would have gone anywhere.
On a tall white camel approaching the infamous Gyiza, my pelvis was rocking in this swimmy double-dip way, that I reckon only a camel could compel. In a sun-drenched daze that the wilds of third world travel had swept me into, I felt mythical: Regal with fecundity.
How could I know so precisely that conception cinched on that camelback? You see, I had become a self-appointed fertility expert in my exhaustive efforts for pregnancy, for now a hard-pressed year. I knew when ovulation was imminent, how to determine the best times to inseminate, and I knew pretty precisely when my egg was dropping.
Tall white camel, unfathomable stone structures, setting sun on cheeks, I was certain I was conceiving.
Trouble is, I never imagined that it wouldn’t stick.
No one had prepared me for miscarriage, which is a probably only a good thing. I would have worried in knots through those first weeks. But I did not. Arriving in Israel 3 days later, I was both snotty, coughing sick and quietly elated. I was exhausted. I was shining inside, knowing, my child had begun to arrive.
Ten days later, the little pink lines revealed what I had trusted. I was pregnant.
Within 4 days, my stubborn push on logistics landed me my prayed-for ultra-sound. The Doc snapped a shot of that little embryo sac within me and labeled it in bold type: “Mazal Tov”. The world shined inside my eyes. I slept with that pic under my pillow. My hips swayed wider in pronounced stride. I was a mom.
December 12 at 12pm, was two weeks later. We set that date to hear the first heartbeat. Spread again on his bench, instead, I fiercely scanned a screen of sketchy light and mostly darkness, then heard murmurs from the turned face of the Doctor, “I am so sorry.”
The chasm of horror – in one gulp, it swallowed me.
I sunk, dragged under a blasting sand storm. Regal was gone.
On the other side of his desk, he sat stoic and task-oriented. Without looking up, he skipped along through windows of time.
“Here is the order, the clinic is on (such and such) corner, you will need to get blood drawn prior, probably take cash since you are not insured…and you will need a ride home that day.”
He handed me a multi check-marked, and signed page.
“What day? What are you speaking of…?” I am not able to skip with him. I am stayed.
“D&C”, he states plainly. He is as frank as the fast-food kid telling me that the ketchup is just over there.
I demand of myself one full breath in order to grab a bit of precision: My body does not need this invasion. “How much time do I have?” I ask with mama-bird eyes on him.
“What?” He peals his eyes off the papers and seems to start listening.
If I speak up, I fear I will howl in pain, so I whisper my words slowly: “How much time do I have… to let my body… do this…itself?”
“Oh, maybe two, three weeks”, he says, and continues listing the likely dangers to my plan, to ensure my fear.
“I can do it. My body can do it.” I look right at him, state just that, then I really need to leave.
Crossing my arms over my chest, I scurry through the waiting room, out the door, with clenched breath. I grab hold of the cinderblock wall by my waist. The sky is cave-diving into me.
I’ve left with no papers, no prescription, no idea, and no composition. Just spinning. I have no baby, no other sperm donor, no job, no health insurance, no partner in this. I’m shaking…
Despite that I know: I, with my body, will somehow take care of this.
* * * * *
About 5 days later, it started out of nowhere. It was evening. The pains were searing.
Both the Doctor and a few friends had encouraged me to understand that this would just be like a heavy period. I was so far from prepared. It was pain unprecedented. I could only cower and gasp.
An hour later, I am sitting bedside looking down at my palm. What appears as a bloody clump of raw chicken now filling it, I’m stunned. Silenced. And also now free of pain.
Sliding in slippers, I pack up my drum, flashlight, the flesh, a lighter and candle, and drive in the dark. Finding slim focus to act through pervasive numbness, I was going to do a burial.
* * * *
At the base of a three-story date palm, amidst thousands that stand swaying in this desert oasis, I rock. The scene is entirely dark.
I hold in my own palm the absolute wisdom of my body. Here, in raw flesh, I behold the cusp of life and death. Stark. Gross. Gorgeous. Shattering. I am stopped. I am reduced to the size of sand – as I look at the contents of my palm- at the foot of what is Grand.
I beat the drum. I sing the songs. I howl out all that had been held. I dig into, and then bang onto, the soil.
In the days prior, I had been most often in pain-filled prayers, also dropped in puddles of near incessant tears. In good moments, I enlisted friends who are also healers and we arranged sessions to help my body and soul understand. We brought clear-sight consciousness to affirm that it was time for my uterus to release its contents. We brought full trust to this.
This, the most terrible of all self-help I had walked through to date, I did do.
And so it was. That: in this hand-in-hand walk, of me with my body’s unequivocal intelligence, I can honestly say I saw beauty. And I bowed reverently. This was the most humbled feeling I can as yet recall. IT was big, I was small.
* * * * *
What did this terrible beauty give me?
Through a small crack embedded in the gate that keeps hold of all I desire, my squinted eye could see just a sliver, in a pitch-dark desert night. I saw the perfect poise of Life. – Of death. The ebb and flow constant between those poles, they are doing perfectly what they know. In orchestrated intelligence, that perfection despites both me, and all those I know.
* * * * * *
In precisely 14 days, I tracked ovulation again, perfectly on time. My body felt cleansed and healthy, though my spirits were still below sea level. While I could feel the weight of how this life had disappointed me, it had also shown me its own unwaivering wisdom. I chose to focus there.
I went to town and bought knee-hi leather boots. Uncertain of so much, I devoted again: I will make some good choices, think of some new plans. At 42, I now knew the beautiful intelligence of this body, with fierce certainty. I would walk forward in both these boots, and that.