She would have been 22 years old, but I never mourned her until now. Life gets in the way, you know? I’ve been busy raising my son Rocco, who is now 26, and helped to raise two of my stepchildren, Sasha and Toby, although they were nearly adults when I married their father. Five other step-children came into my life, Fleetwood, Starr, Louisa, Heather and Chantal but we only visit once or twice a year. This morning when I Googled “how to do music.ly” a social media site that marries lip sync and dance, I found a tutorial of a young girl teaching her mother. And I cried. Through the awkwardness and the banter, it is obvious the mother and daughter are very close. Thirty seconds into the eight minute video, the mom cannot contain her pride and hugs the young girl, while her daughter pushes away, smiling. The mother says “I love her. I love her so much! This is my only chance to get to hug her…” Although likely embarrassed, as any teenager teaching a parent how to lip-sync to a rap video would be, it is clear they have fun together. They giggle, and playfully tease each other as the mom tries to learn this new technology and be “hip”. I know…., my son will be embarrassed I used that archaic word.
It was then that suddenly, after more than two decades, I realized I missed her and I never even knew her. I missed having a close sibling for Rocco, and another child of my own. I would have named her Coco, because, yes, I like Chanel, but also because it rhymes with Rocco. I wonder what they would have been like as brother and sister. I wonder what it would have been like to have a daughter I could tease and learn from, and hug. Would she be embarrassed by my selfies, clothing choices and attempts to lip sync and dance? What would she teach me, I wondered.
On those crazy-long information sheets required to fill out at the doctor’s, I have to acknowledge that I have been pregnant twice, but only delivered one child. I have to check the box for ectopic, or tubal pregnancy. It never, ever bothered me until now.
Like many women who’ve had miscarriages, I felt all the symptoms of pregnancy for weeks. It’s hard to deny the hormonal changes that occur in the body; breast tenderness, fatigue, and a sudden aversion to certain foods. I’d endured it all before when I was pregnant with my son. The most important symptom was, of course, my intuition. I knew that there was a tiny human growing inside me. And I knew it was a girl.
On a ski trip with my father, son and husband, Ted, I woke up one morning with incredible pain in my abdomen. I immediately wondered if I had food poisoning. An hour after the initial cramping started, I was bent over in pain. I knocked on my dad’s hotel room door and told him I wasn’t feeling well. My husband was going to drive my son and I home. We had a couple of good ski days already. Maybe I was over-doing it and needed some rest.
It was only thirty minutes into the four-hour drive home that I realized the pain was becoming extraordinarily severe. In fact, I thought I was going to die.
We found a nearby hospital and I was admitted immediately. “I’m pregnant,” I said through sobs. At that moment, I started to realize what was at stake: a life. Maybe two. Hundreds of women still die during pregnancy-related deaths every year in the United States.
The ER doctor said surgery was imminent and urgent and that I would lose one of my fallopian tubes and the fetus, the baby. The human. The soul. While I was being wheeled into the operating room, as if in a movie, Ted and Rocco told me they loved me and they’d be waiting for me.
Was this really happening? The pain subverted my attention from the fact that I would no longer be pregnant. What does that mean? Where does she go? Perhaps I’d never be able to have another child. Maybe I will die.
After the surgery, I woke up in the maternity ward. Couldn’t they find another place for me? I heard women screaming during childbirth, and then..babies crying… The pain prevented me from thinking about it too much.
The phone in my room rang. Although I was still groggy from the procedure, I struggled to answer it. “Is Ted there?” A woman asked. She said she heard that Ted Nugent’s wife was in surgery there and that she was a big fan. I hung up. Seriously?
And then it was over. Life got in the way.
I returned home and went through the motions of raising Rocco, going to Toby’s basketball games and Sasha’s volleyball games, and being my husband’s wife. Years passed and I continued to write the number “2” in the doctor forms inquiring about how many pregnancies I’d had.
I never sulked. I never cried about the life that was lost.
Now, I wonder what kind of video tutorials I would have done with Coco. What career path she would have taken.
I miss her.
And I never had a chance to hug her.