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"Existing as Glass" by Aarron Sholar

It was nearly 7pm. I stood at the drop-off counter at the pharmacy as I waited for help from the man behind the counter. People walked all around me, shopping carts in grip and filled with dozens of items. The pharmacist turns to me.

“I’m dropping off this prescription and hoping I can get it tonight.”

“Lemme see. Yep, should be able to fill this quick.”

I smile. “Okay, good.”

The pharmacist pauses for a moment. Without looking up, he asks, “What’s the diagnosis? I need to enter one to fill it.”

I stare at his hand as it types on his keyboard. “Um—" I can’t speak. I can’t say these words. I feel stuck. I can’t talk, can’t move, can barely glance up at the man. We lock eyes as he waits for a simple and short answer to put into the computer so he can give me my Oxycodone.

It feels like we just stare at each other, our eyes locked like new lovers. But we’re not lovers. There is an absence of love within me, only a numbness. I take a breath and tell the pharmacist.

“I have to do a medicated abortion for a miscarriage. So they’re for the pain for that.”

The pharmacist only nods. “It should be ready in twenty.”

At my first prenatal appointment, my doctor told me that one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage. I found out I was pregnant only three weeks prior, and the idea of miscarriage took up no space in my mind. I focused on giving this new being inside me nutrients, love, and helping it grow. But when the doctor said that there was no baby, that it hadn’t even developed, I was empty. Empty— lonely—. Many women receive minimal empathy, acknowledgement, and support after a miscarriage. There’s a loneliness in this event that is actually so common. After that appointment, my fiancé held me in the car. Flayed over the center console in a way that couldn’t be comfortable, his arms engulfed me, engulfed the tissue within me that we now had to get out. He held me, but there was still a loneliness. My body alone had to erupt that tissue from inside. My fiancé could hold me, kiss me, and comfort me, but it was me and my body who had to physically deal with the miscarriage. There is outside support, but when you’re the only one up at 3am when your body contracts and dilates for blood and tissue to fill the toilet bowl, you realize you truly are alone.

And then you go to your emergency OBGYN appointment alone. You have to leave in the middle of the workday because you’ve been bleeding since Friday evening and now it’s Monday morning. You called the clinic’s after-hours line twice over the weekend because your body wasn’t following the steps it should’ve taken according to your doctor and Google and the after hours nurses. On Monday you go in, and it hurts to walk and turn and twist. The ultrasound shows leftover tissue and then a woman you’ve never met before numbs your cervix so she can use some sort of tweezers to pull the tissue out. Another ultrasound and everything looks good. The pain dies down. The bleeding is light. It seems like no more tissue leaves your body.

Your regular doctor checks one more time days later and tells you that there is still tissue. And you’re due to fly across the country in a plane in three days. The hospital has an opening for the next morning and you schedule your abortion. The person who checks you in, your nurse, the anesthesiologist, everyone, tells you “I’m so sorry for your loss” but the tissue never became a being and you never had a real baby inside of you.

What did you even lose?

I report the loss to my pregnancy app on my phone, and even the phone expresses sympathy. Do you want to add another baby? It asks. 41% of women who miscarry feel alone. 47% of women who miscarry feel guilt. 28% of women who miscarry feel ashamed. 41% of women who miscarry feel that they’ve done something wrong.1 My doctor told me I couldn’t have caused this, that it just happened. Yet I ask my fiancé to print out the ultrasound pictures of that tissue, the sack where our baby should’ve been. He prints them, laminates them, and leaves them on my desk without telling me. For me to stumble upon them one day, maybe after a day I apply to more jobs, or a day where I smile and wave at a baby staring at me in public. Maybe a day when I again feel a bit empty and want that tissue back inside me, or better yet, a baby. I arrange the two photos on the carpet, the two pregnancy tests on either side of them and my memoir to the left. They are artifacts of those few weeks, when I thought I carried life within me. When I did carry life within me. I take the photo and edit it to be aesthetically pleasing enough for my phone background. I keep that tissue as my background for months after.

“At [six] months following miscarriage, women are at a significantly increased risk for minor depressive episodes, and the majority developed symptoms within the first month after miscarrying,” according to a 2015 study.2 And here I am, laying naked in our bed and my fiancé laying naked nearly on top of me. He kisses me like he did before, his hands caress me like they did before, yet my body does not feel as it did before. Before all that. The constant blood has stopped, but I am still convinced that when he pulls his fingers out of me it will come with a gush of blood and tissue and whatever else. There is no blood. There is no tissue. But there is also no pleasure. I am glass. I am fragile. I didn’t really lose a baby, but I lost something that feels like a baby. I lost our lentil, blueberry, kidney bean, grape. We can make another one, an actual baby this time, but it won’t be this little one we lost. My therapist explains that to mourn this loss, no matter how small, some people plant trees, write letters, hold a funeral or service, but how do you do any of that for a thing of tissue the size of a grape?

What do I do now?

All I can do is exist as glass.

Aarron Sholar’s essays have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. His debut memoir, The Body of a Frog: A Memoir on Self-Loathing, Self-Love, and Transgender Pregnancy, is forthcoming from Atmosphere Press. He holds an MFA from MSU, Mankato and a BA from Salisbury University. He serves as the Prose Editor for Beaver Magazine.

1 “The Taboo of Miscarriage: Why We Need To Talk About It.” Dr. T Williams Fertility Center,

2 Nynas, Johnna et al. “Depression and Anxiety Following Early Pregnancy Loss: Recommendations for Primary Care Providers.” The primary care companion for CNS disorders vol. 17,1 10.4088/PCC.14r01721. 29 Jan. 2015, doi:10.4088/PCC.14r01721

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