Updated: Mar 26, 2020
Uma espécie de ante-neurose do que serei quando já não for gela-me o corpo e alma. Uma como que lembrança da minha morte futura arrepia-me dentro.
Fernando Pessoa- Livro do Desassossego: Composto por Bernardo Soares
A kind of ante-neurosis of what I will be when I no longer am chills my body and soul.
A semblance that foreshadows my death shudders inside me.
Fernando Pessoa - The Book of Disquietude
*content warning: abortion, miscarriage, drug use, and suicidal thoughts.
After my first abortion at the age of eighteen, I fretted as to whether I’d ever be able to bear a child. When I was nineteen years old, I met with a palm reader. I wanted to know how many children I was going to have. She read the many lines on the base of my little finger and told me that I was going to have seven. She never clarified whether these lines referred to pregnancies or actual children but, I jotted down all the notes of her predictions, journaling all as I’ve done for the entirety of my life.
She was right. I became pregnant seven times. At eighteen, my first abortion, and at twenty-two, my second. Two early miscarriages at the seven and eight weeks of my first two pregnancies with Federico at thirty-one. Then Cielito, when she was about to become viable, albeit with the aid of incubators as I lost her at her fifth and a half-month of development in my womb when I turned thirty-two. Then I birthed Magaluna Amanda after a nine-month high-risk pregnancy at thirty-four. Then I lost Sebastian Yamandú or Seraphim Yamandú, on the starting of the third month of his life inside my uterus shy to my thirty-six birthday while Federico was touring in Japan. Seven pregnancies—indeed, the palm reader was right. My blood type, RH Negative, could have been one of the causes, though I fretted it had been a blunt hit on my crotch when I was a child, a rape at sixteen, or the application of a DIU during my first marriage at twenty-five, or maybe the abortions. But the final diagnosis was an incompetent cervix. I was incompetent in the eyes of society.
On the 11th of February of 1998, at 5:00 pm, I clocked in at Shutters on the Beach Hotel to begin my shift as a cocktail server to the famous five-star hotel lobby so frequented by Hollywood celebrities. I picked up my uniform freshly cleaned and impeccably ironed at the housing desk: a light blue shirt and a long pleated dark blue skirt. As I was changing in the locker room, I struggled to zip up and fasten the button of my skirt to no avail, so I returned to the housing desk to request a larger size of a skirt. My pregnant belly had widened my waist, and the smile in my face showed zero regrets for the gained weight. I received a blue jumper, and back in the locker room, I stretched my arms up, and the garment smoothly glided me into—the maternity dress impregnated with life. My baby moved as though grateful for the release of constrains, and I whispered something motherly, even to my surprise. I went upstairs to begin setting up China plates with potato chips, light candles, fluff pillows on the cozy sofas by the fireplace, straighten up crooked frames, and learn the special dishes and the fancy wines offered by the sommelier. I remember walking with absolute pride bearing my pregnancy with sheer joy. I remember feeling in complete awe, in gratitude, moving graciously. I remember the experience of myself in a place transpiring in a permanent smile, a visible golden aura, and diamond-like sparkles shining in my eyes. Federico and I had just listened to the heartbeat of our baby, and the doctor had told us that it was a girl. Just a few days before, we had decided that we were going to name her Cielito Celeste (Sky Baby-Blue) like the sky and the symbol of Uruguay. Despite the previous two early miscarriages, however, as painful and as complicated as they had been, the prospects of this pregnancy that had slightly passed its fifth month meant the world to us. The gestation was progressing fruitfully, filling our hearts with joy and with renewed hope.
Two hours and a half into my shift and the lobby were swiftly crowded, even on a Wednesday night. Although I was young and felt strong, I moved aware that I was carrying a precious gift in the center of my body that needed care and thoughtfulness. I picked up a round tray and placed two glasses of Kendall Jackson cabernet, and as I was walking towards the table where the order had been placed, I felt suddenly dizzy. A spasm followed, and my eyes seemed to draw into a spiral of dark grays. Immediately after, I felt a spilling of warm liquid wetting my underwear. I turned around searching for a coworker, seeking help, and instead, my eyes met Seth’s, my manager, who seemed as pale as my countenance probably projected, as though he was reading my mind, and sensed what I was living through then and there. I stood immobile, though my legs shook uncontrollably, and a shiver moved down my spine, to land in my bottom, and remained there, burning my sphincter in the most primal symptom of fear and dread, making me tremble even more. Seth came to me and held me by my arm, and I said, stuttering, that I needed to go to the bathroom, and asked him, I don’t know how, if he could call Federico to come to pick me up. In the bathroom, I raised my jumper and lowered my panties, repeating, “please God, no, please God, no, no, please God, don’t let me lose her.”
Fede arrived a few minutes later. I was afraid to sit on the seat of the car, pushing forward my bottom, trying to place the lower part of my trunk, my genitalia, in the air, not wanting anything to come in contact with it, so frightened to do anything that could drain my insides. I arrived home, and Fede called my doctor, the hospital, over the phone. He told me we were going to the Emergency Room. I felt so much pressure on my lower abdomen that I removed my undergarments. I needed to go to the bathroom. I walked towards it, afraid, crying, desperately about getting there. A bubble came out of my vagina, a thin transparent balloon, that lingered there, half suspended, its end still as though tethered to my vaginal canal, just like a balloon, held invisible from my inside for an eternal instant. And then it burst out proceeded by a shower of the warm fluid where my baby had swum in what I thought had been the safety of my womb. I will never forget Federico’s eyes, fighting back the tears and touching me with his gaze still filled with love and sheer impotence, the confusion of not knowing what to do, how to sustain me.
The nurses rolled the stretcher through the corridors of the hospital. At the same time, I lay there, almost inert, only able to see the ceiling and those horrid lights, a cold whiteness illuminating the tunnel that was not nevertheless, to lead me to a physical after-death. Both my arms were pricked multiple times, to connect wires and tubes to receive IV and medicine, or to draw blood. Monitors controlled my heartbeat, my pressure, and a belt around my belly sensed Cielito. Cielito’s heartbeat kept on running faster than mine, which was natural for her age in gestation, but then it gave me hope, or so I clung to this idea out of utter despair. And then we waited and waited.
By the night of Friday, the 13th, I knew that even if my body regenerated amniotic fluid, her chances of completing gestation to the ninth month would not grant a healthy body or an able brain. Two days without amniotic fluid in the uterus would have had placed a grave risk harming her growth, and even hurt her skin, her soft bones, brushing or bouncing against the walls of my dried uterus. She was shy of a viable state that could have enabled her to survive in an incubator, but the perils would have been even vaster, not allowing her to thrive. We had to wait even more, but time dragged its feet, heavily. We had no choice but to wait and leave nature to decide or to act accordingly. I trusted that it was going to be what it needed to be and surrendered to a fate still unbeknownst to us three. I was numb and so unequivocally sad that I seemed to have lost a connection with reality. I started to sing lullabies, and The Beatles' songs, but my voice would break down, and then I fell asleep, just a few minutes before midnight—before the beginning of my 32nd birthday.
A day after my hospital release, I came back home, and I went to bed with a box of pictures that I have accumulated throughout my over-a-decade of traveling. I asked Federico to buy a board and glue, and I embarked on a quest for my lost identity. I wanted to remind myself that I had lived, and that I had been happy, and that I had survived many a time before this painful breaking. I've been to places, I've known people, and I had loved many, have been loved by many. I put myself back together as pieces of a puzzle. Or so I thought that I did before going to sleep and having my first nightmare. I started to scream, and when Fede woke me up, or so he thought he did, I mumbled gibberish and words disconnected. Eventually, he began to write what I'd tell him. Sometimes, in a second of lucidity, I would see him jotting down notes, him biting his lip, nodding as he swallowed tears that he'd held back in his eyes, but spilled over his tongue, filling his mouth with salty water.
The nightmares were terrifying. They unearthed painful memories that I had hidden in the basements of my mind. Many monsters from my past came to life looking at me in the mirror. I was them, and I feared so much sleeping at night that I started to sleep during the day most of the days, and at sunset, my days would start, and they'd finish at sunrise. Especially on weekends doing cocaine, pacing the inhaling of seven lines through the night, which I would draw with my ID from Uruguay, mi cédula de identidad, over the plastic cover of three cassettes, one by Miles Davis' A Kind of Blue, one by "Death Can Dance," The Summoning of the Muse and The Promised Womb, and the third by "Pink Floyd," and I'd played the most Comfortably Numb, on relentless repeat. And this became my ritual, while I'd write poems on Being Angry, on Being Sad, On Being, on Not Being, filled with orthographic errors that I couldn't care less to correct today, and semblances of those dark and bloody nights at the hospital in a multi genre manuscript: The Bliss (so called) Madness.