My Baby: A Retrospective
Nisa - 34
Los Angeles, CA
1 child (unborn)
It was just a dream. That’s what I say as I force myself to wake up. Both the small of my back and my pillow are damp. I sit straight up in bed and repeat that it was just a dream, but why? Why did she have to ask me about my baby?
It was one of those dreams categorized as a “thug” in Women Who Run with Wolves. A dream where some nameless, faceless man, is chasing me and I don’t know why, but I run. I run like my life is dependant on it. I run past train tracks and thru dark allies. I need help. I need someone to help me get away.
I see a familiar face; a girl I went to high school with. I run up to the window of her car and explain that I need a ride. It’s raining and she’s looking at me funny but she let’s me in. She remembers me from school.
“You used to go out with Bobby didn’t you?” she asks in the same way she used to; like she already knew the answer. “Yes” I reply, still looking over my shoulder, unsure if I’m really safe yet. This doesn’t feel like a dream. I can hear her car engine purring and the rain pouring from outside. I shiver slightly.
“Didn’t you get pregnant by Bobby right after school?” she asks. All of a sudden I cannot breathe, I cannot move. Is this some type of a sick joke, I wonder. I cannot respond, I cannot find the words. “You did, I know you did. You got pregnant right after you graduated,” and I am clawing for breath, for life, for hope. I must say something, but the words are stuck in my throat like fish bones, and I am chocking and I am dying.
“Yes I did.” I respond in an almost whisper.
She stops the car and looks at me square on. “Let me see a picture. I know you have a picture. What did you have a boy or a girl?” Her words are fast and hot like bullets. I have no armor. Slowly and deliberately I say, “I was pregnant, but we didn’t have a baby.”
I am fully awake now and crying. Remembering my maroon cable knit sweater, the one I bought to wear in college. He, driving his father’s car. Us holding hands as he took me for what he thought was a routine appointment. He didn’t notice my solemn face when he returned to get me. We were just kids, our whole lives ahead of us. Far too young to have a baby, that’s what I told myself. He was too fragile and couldn’t handle the truth. It wasn’t a lie. It was just a decision that I had to make on my own. I exercised my choice.
It would be five years before I told him the truth of that day. He broke down and cried as I’d never seem him do. Not when his mother gave him over to his father to raise; not when his father would stay in his bedroom and smoke crack all weekend; not when he had to sleep in his car to stay in college. He cried all over me in my bare New York apartment. I just held him, let him cry. My tears wouldn’t come for another ten years.
I woke up from this dream in tears because my baby would have been as old today as I was when I walked into that clinic. I cry because I’ve never cried for the girl in the cable knit sweater on her way to college, or the baby that only had four weeks of life inside her. I cry because only in a dream would anybody ever ask me about my baby.