For the past three weeks MJ and I have been living a nightmare. But the key word in the sentence is “we.” We’ve gotten the news together, we’ve both been in the room for ultrasounds and we talk to the doctors as a team. We lean on each other and we support one another. Together.
But not anymore.
In the end this is a mother’s burden. This baby is ours, but it is dying and it is inside MJ. And it needs to come out of her. I’m not allowed in the operating room. I can’t hold her hand like I’ve done each and every time before this. I can’t tell her everything will be OK when she gets scared. I am, by definition, utterly fucking useless right now.
And I hate it.
I want to feel this pain for her. She doesn’t deserve this and she shouldn’t have to suffer this godawful shit. That doesn’t make me brave or admirable. Because to be honest, even if they let me in that room the primal fear of what I’d see and hear in there terrifies me to the core. But all of that doesn’t matter because the reality is I won’t be there. I don’t have to feel what it’s like to literally have the life ripped out of me. But MJ does. I’ll either be in a waiting room or arguing with the brain dead pro-life protesters outside (a forthcoming post for another time let me assure you). And yes I’ll be worrying and pacing and fearing…but MJ will be living it.
This is a degree of helplessness that is downright paralyzing.
Do you know that it’s law in this state to describe any potential medical procedures in detail so the patient is properly versed? The rational part of my brain understands that. You want people to know what they’re getting into. And doctors need to cover their own butts. I get it.
But perhaps, just maybe, when a woman is wailing and begging you not to describe the intricacies involving the removal of her unborn baby from her already swollen belly, you could listen. And abide. Believe me, I read through it all. Every word. And no mother (or father for that matter) should ever have to hear such things.
So I couldn’t ensure that my wife carried a healthy baby. I couldn’t protect her from fate’s fickle finger that pointed at us for a congenital defect that fused our baby’s legs together and eventually killed it, even at 1 in 100,000 odds. I couldn’t spare her the pain of having our hopes dashed again and again with each recurring ultrasound. I couldn’t spare her ears the gory details of what’s going to happen. And when she’s led away from me tomorrow by strangers to a lonely operating room where I’m not allowed, all I can do is kiss her goodbye and make half-hearted promises that everything will be OK. Which I’m no longer convinced is even true.
“Don’t take this the wrong way, but I hate you right now,” she said to me through tears. “I don’t wanna go. I wanna be the one in the waiting room.”
I know she doesn’t really hate me and I didn’t take it the wrong way. I would throw myself in front of a train for her, so needless to say I’d trade spots with her on that operating table in a heartbeat if I could. And my heart breaks for her because she is such a good person, far better than I. She doesn’t deserve this. Me maybe, but her? No. It’s not fair. Not fair at all.
That’s why the only thing I can do — the sole reason I exist for these next couple of days — is to absorb as much as her pain as possible. To literally be an emotional punching bag. You always hurt the ones you love. It’s not malicious. I release my pain through writing, so if MJ’s release is to hurl all her hurt, hate and bitterness at me then bring it on.
It’s the very least I can do.