Thursday, May 26, 2005

Honest, Officer, I Never Saw No Signs

When you have your first miscarriage, you think, “Who me? Sorry, officer, but you’ve got the wrong woman. No really. Look at your profiles—we know you like those profiles—I’m much too young and cute for this to be happening. I’m only 30. And my hair is shiny.” The officer appears unmoved by the shiny hair. He probably prefers blonds. With curls. “I’m sorry, Ma’am,” he says, “but we got you red handed, er, red padded, er anyway, you’re definitely having a miscarriage.” Then he writes you up a warning ticket for some Percocet and sends you on your way.

For a while you’re too stunned to get back in the car. This can’t be real you think. Eventually, the evidence around you is too great to be ignored. “Fine,” you think, “OK, fine. I had a miscarriage. But it was an accident, a slip up. Could have happened to anyone, honest, and I barely had anything to drink.” Friends and family reassure you that it happens all the time. People you hardly know come out of the woodwork to tell you about the time it happened to them. And look at them now: three kids, six step kids, from two different marriages, more grandkids and step grandkids than they can count. “Right,” you think, “I’m gonna get my life back on track. I’m gonna turn over a new leaf. No drinking. No late nights. No tuna fish.” This happened once, but it ain’t gonna happen again and that’s a promise.

When you get pulled over for your second miscarriage, the officer cocks an eyebrow. “What seems to be the problem, officer?” you ask, sure that if you just bat your lashes and visibly blink away tears, he’ll have to take pity. “Do you know what the speed is supposed to be?” he asks. You search your brain frantically, trying to remember what the normal beat per minute range is for fetal heartbeats…”Um no, officer, I don’t,” you say as innocently as possible. “Well, this one’s too slow,” he tells you. Days later, he says the words you’ve been dreading: “you’re having a miscarriage.”

You accept the news quickly this time, but what does it mean? “Are they going to put points on my license?” you ask. “Yes,” says the officer grimly, making notes on his pad, “we give you 40 points.” FORTY points? A forty percent chance of a third miscarriage? Shit. Oh, and this time there’s a fine. You’ll have to pay up front for a D&C. Oh, you can go to traffic court and protest. Maybe eve get the fine reduced. But even if health insurance covers 80%, that’s still a hefty chunk of change. Once in court, you realize your life has changed forever. The judge tells you you’re going to be on probation through your next pregnancy. Furthermore, this is going down on your permanent record.

Come the time of your third miscarriage, the officer rolls his eyes, gives his siren a quick burp, and pulls you over to the curb. “All right lady, let’s see it, open up the trunk,” he demands. You wonder if you should tell him to get a warrant, but you’re too scared to protest. He slaps you around with the nightstick, shoves his flashlight in your trunk then says, “this is going down about like I thought it would.” Shit, shit, shit, you think. I cannot get this monkey off my back. His radio crackles as he speaks into it, “this is unit 666 to base, unit 666 to base. We got ourselves an NFHB.” No Fetal Heartbeat.

This time, the judge is not amused. “Type a situation ya got here, we call it habitual spontaneous abortion,” he says. Now you’re really ashamed. Everyone knows about your nasty habit. Once you have your third miscarriage, they label you a hopeless recidivist. They lock you in the airless cell of infertility where you meet your fellow prisoners, Rage, Grief, and Disbelief. The cruelest joke of all hits when you realize your own body is site of your incarceration. “Fuck,” you think, “am I in here for life?”