Fear: What scares you a little? What do you feel when scared? How do you react?
They say that if you write about it, it doesn’t come true. That’s what was going through my mind that Sunday morning as I walked out of the hotel room, notebook in hand, to the beach. I had lost everything once, so that didn’t really matter, it was the horrible way in which I’d lost it that made it that much scarier, that much harder. Baby G was still sleeping in the crib next to her father. I had insisted that we bring a crib instead of the pack and play just because it was better for Baby G. Rodrigo had rolled his eyes, annoyed at the evidence that, yes, his wife was one of those mothers. But he didn’t know.
At the beach, I found a quiet spot right by the water. There were a couple of runners but nothing more, the sun wasn’t fully up yet. I took a look at my notebook, page by page. Some stuff that I had to buy, a phone number or two, nothing special. It had been long since I’d last kept a diary, and I knew exactly why. I hadn’t because it was cumbersome, it was a waste of time. Right? What could someone store in a diary? And what interesting things could I possibly write about? I started writing, just words first, then sentences. Then I was back there again, back in that dream that had woke me up in a cold sweat in the middle of my vacation. The dream that had brought me here.
Is it possible, even, to lose two children in one lifetime? I’m just saying, there should be a cap for that. Something like how lighting doesn’t hit twice in the same place. Because that’s what it feels like, after all—like being hit by lightning. I wasn’t that person anymore, though, the person I’d been when I’d lost Bella. Rodrigo didn’t know either, who I had been, and that made it harder because I had no one to share my pain with. No one to talk to, no one I could tell that, for me, the nightmare had once been real.
I woke up three days later and Bella was cold and blue. In the dream, I’d woken up to find Baby G dead in her crib, her body limp. It was happening again. That time with Bella, though, I was waking up from a drug binge. I needed it after being sober for about seven months, ever since I’d found out that Bella was healthy in my womb, and I had taken it as a call to sobriety. When she was four months old, though, it became too much for me. Yes, they had warned me that maternity was hard, they said I’d crack. I wanted to prove them wrong and show them that I could beat this, that I was stronger than they gave me credit for. And I did, eventually, but it cost me my baby.
There had to be a way for me to pay for all the suffering I put my parents through, right? After all, they gave me everything they couldn’t have and then some, and all I did was become a junkie and a dropout. I straightened out afterward, and I like to think they’d be proud of my new life, if only guilt hadn’t driven them off the cliff, quite literally.
The thing, see, is that when I found out I was pregnant and that Bella was fine, I went crying back to my mommy’s arms. That was, after all, what you were supposed to do, right? But she turned me away, though love that they call it. It hurt me, of course, because after all, I wouldn’t have gone to her if I didn’t need her. My dad even egged her on—a fun expression, that one—and in the end, I was on my own. It would’ve cost them nothing to open their house to me, to be there for me, helping me get better. They did pay for the rehab, though, and I thought that if I made it through, that if I stayed sober, then that’d prove to them that this time it was for real. This time I was going to clean up my act and become a better person.
Mom was with me at the delivery room; at that point, I was sober already. She held my hand through the whole thing and then scrubbed up and went with me to the OR when they decided to do an emergency C-section. And when I woke up, there she was, with Bella in her arms, perfectly healthy.
Mom, I told her, I need to go back home with you and dad. I need a place to stay until I can at least get a job.
Mom didn’t look at me or give me an answer. Her silence spoke for her, and it became clearer when dad came in followed by a social worker. They thought it’d be best if I gave Bella up for adoption. Once that was done, they said, they’d let me go live with them for as long as I needed to. I said no, of course, and at the time I thought I could do it on my own. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t and when they learned what had happened they couldn’t handle it. They understood that if only they had let me stay with them, if they had welcomed me, us, no strings attached, then maybe Bella wouldn’t have died choked in her own vomit. They ended their lives by driving their car off a cliff. A weird way of dying, if you ask me. A guilty way of dying.
I never intended for it to happen again, I didn’t want to. But then last night I saw Baby G in my dream, pale and blue and limp. And I just knew it had happened again. But how? I have been sober for so long now, years. A nice career, a car and a house later, I met the man of my dreams, and that’s how Baby G came to be—after a big fat wedding, of course, where my boss was the one to walk me down the aisle. But then, how could it be? If I had done everything right, how come she was still dead?