A Miscarriage, a Morning After, and a Melody | by Tony Galbier, M.Sc., MBA | The Memoirist | Mar, 2024

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On life and loss and finding new songs

Author’s photo: Family portrait Fall 2023

A Miscarriage

The heart rate was too low, the doctor told us, and the weight gain not significant enough.

These were bad signs, indicators, and precursors. Still, we held onto that foreign benign hope that accompanies the ill-experienced and the young. The doctors and nurses were artisans and experts with their linguistic evasiveness. Nothing is definitive. That is, not until it must be.

A late-stage miscarriage, the attending told us.

The Sonographer, a young woman a year or two out of school, had those fresh eyes, like us, eyes that had not yet born the necessary hardships to navigate this delicate form of communication. The back-and-forth of vagaries. After she finished scanning and drawing measurements and rolling that little circular ball — the typing of letters as rhythmic and medicinal as the menthol-scented ultrasound gel that clung to the air — she left momentarily to fetch the attending. The doctor’s eyes were sharp and quick with discernment. The sonographer kept her gaze low, glancing between my wife, the screen, and the tiled floor.

Our first two visits were different in every way. A lofty dream-like haze of optimism and newness. We were going to be parents. The miracle of life. The scans were filled with chatter and excitement, platitudes and plans — should we wait to find out the gender, who should we tell first, should we set up a registry, what colors should we decorate the nursery?

A name. If it was a boy? A girl? A juxtaposition of hers and mine or a revered relative? Something strong and bold, like him or her, we would tell them as we recalled the harrowing events of the birthing day.

The third visit, this one, was different. A truer juxtaposition of names: life and loss; probability and reality. An egg-white room with soft accents and cheerful pictures of empty beaches, plated fruits, and drifting birds against a rebellion of hopefulness and helplessness. The chatter that helped pass the time gave way to furrowed brows and a quiet flexed consternation. The sonographer’s aversion to questions about the future of our child was obvious enough. The statistical likelihood was high…

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