By Rebecca Demarest
At four weeks, I knew I was pregnant. At five weeks, the ultrasound technician could find no trace of the child in my womb and asked if I could be mistaken. But the blood test proved I was pregnant and the tech was forced to think outside the uterus. Eventually we found him, attached to the muscle wall of my abdomen, over by my liver. It’s ectopic, Ms. Mason, they kept saying. Dangerous. It probably wouldn’t last. I’d miscarry in a few weeks. They could try to move the fetus, but it was too close to my vital organs. Besides, the chance of it adhering properly to my uterine wall was so small... Leave it, I told them.
I scheduled a c-section for March 15th because I didn’t want him to share his birthday with St. Patricks day, plus it was a Friday, it would give me the entire weekend to start recovering. I planned to go back to work as soon as possible. I worked from home anyway, writing freelance, while my partner had a job in a financial building downtown. I’d wish I could have said husband, but he had this thing against marriage.
Six weeks, and I was starting to feel quite a bit of pain. They offered to remove it, even tried to tell me it was in my best interest to abort the pregnancy. Kill my baby, they meant. Kill the child I thought I’d never have because
After that, the pregnancy seemed almost normal, except that I started to walk hunched over from the pain, favoring my right side where my baby was growing. Most prospective mothers guard their wombs; I guarded my side, wrapping my arms protectively around my ribcage, leading with my left side down grocery aisles and through crowds.
At week sixteen, we couldn’t hear the heartbeat. Transvaginally, topically, no ultrasound could pick it up; they couldn’t hear it with a stethoscope or telephone or glass cup placed on my side like a child’s string phone. I cried when they told me it had died. They weren’t sure when,
I put the surgery off for a week, and then two. And I noticed little things, like how I was still
Especially when it moved. At first I wasn’t sure, but then there it was again, a solid kick to the kidneys.
At week 24, they still couldn’t find a heartbeat and they became quiet at the impression of a foot pressed against my skin. They couldn’t explain the fact that all their equipment said he was dead, yet I knew he was alive. I could tell because I was still craving, still
At week 30, they asked if I had ever been diagnosed with pica as I snacked on whiteboard chalk. I asked them what that was and they said never mind, but I should probably stick to cheese sticks.
I could feel my baby growing heavier and I couldn’t really walk anymore. The bulge in my side had become so large I couldn’t sit in a chair with arms. I had to lay on my left side in bed; even my back was too painful. They insisted I stay in the hospital for the last six weeks of the pregnancy, until they were ready to cut the child out.
At week 34, I got out of bed to use the restroom, and I felt something tear inside me. The nurses ran in as I fell and they called for a crash cart, wheeling me to an operating room, sterile, white, out of focus.
At week 34, they cut my baby out of me, shoving him at a nurse before they dove back into my abdomen, desperate to find the bleeding. When they stopped one gushing stream of blood, another appeared.
At week 34, the little stone prince had lacerated my organs with all his kicking. Finally they closed me up and I demanded to see my son, my beautiful son, and at a their nod the nurse brought him over, wrapped in a shroud of blue cotton. I pulled the fabric away from his face, waiting
He was perfect. His skin was cooler than I expected, and hard. They were explaining how the body protects itself when it thinks a child is dead, how it calcifies the tissues to prevent damage to the mother. A lithopedion, they called him.
I’ll name him Winston, I told them.
About The Author
Rebecca A. Demarest is an award-winning author, book designer, and technical illustrator living in Seattle, WA with her husband. Together, they maintain a household jungle, cater to a dog-like cat named Cat and a Portuguese Water Dog named Teal’c. When she isn’t writing, you can find her at the Bureau of Fearless Ideas teaching the youth of Seattle how to get their ideas onto the page, crocheting, embroidering, and playing lots of Dungeons and Dragons. She is currently working on the sequels for everything, so, before you ask, yes, you’ll find out what happened to Benny, Sophia will keep sticking her nose in dangerous places, and Thea will find the seedy underbelly of Oz.
Rebecca’s website: http://www.