By Julie Zack Yaste
In an alternate world, today would be different. It wouldn’t just be a day that I took off work. It would be a day when I was carefully driven to Tripler hospital, to give birth to my first child.
I imagined using a special water-birthing chamber. It sounded so much calmer than a typical frenetic hospital ward. It would be warm and peaceful, and by the end of the day I’d have a sleeping baby. Pink cheeks. Ten fingers, ten toes.
We aren’t in an alternate world. We are here. Today. And even though it’s my due date, there is no baby. I lost it months ago.
It’s been hard knowing that everything I do right now would be so drastically different in that alternate world. Last week I went to the Big Island for work. I hiked around Volcanoes National Park, walking more than 20,000 steps each day. It was beautiful and amazing, and there’s no way I could have done it if I had been nine months pregnant. It’s hard to hold both truths in my mind. Then I remember there is only one truth, the one where that baby, my first, was never destined to be.
I thought about driving up to the North Shore today and buying a lei, then throwing it into the sea. A symbolic goodbye. I took a nap instead.
Part of my apathy is for survival. I can’t feel it all again right now. It was too much when it happened. I can’t go through that again. Not today. In a more hopeful way, I feel I’ve already said goodbye.
It happened maybe a month ago. Right after the miscarriage, I commissioned a bracelet stamped with the initials of the baby, had it been a girl. ALY. Amelia Leilani Yaste. Our Aly girl. We never picked a boy name.
I wore it always. It was something that was part of me. That and my wedding band I never took off. I was afraid that without it, I would forget, and do some disservice to the child that would have been.
Then one day, I was wearing the bracelet, and suddenly I wasn’t. It broke.
I remembered that a friend told me once that when a bracelet breaks off, it’s good luck. I texted her asking if that was true. She told me that when a bracelet breaks off, it’s a sign of completion or closure.
It felt right. I’d spent so many months focusing only on loss. This was an opportunity to move forward. Not to forget — I’ll never forget. But to find a path where I can remember without being totally undone.
When my mom stayed with me after the miscarriage, she suggested I should have a mantra. Something I could say to myself to feel better in some way. I never found a mantra, but I did find a prayer: Please grant me strength and shepherd the spirit of my child.
I don’t know exactly what I believe in. But I say this to myself throughout the day, every day.
Somewhere, I’m sure, ALY is safe.
Julie Zack Yaste has moved around the country with her husband, a naval officer. Currently, she’s a writer, musician and yoga enthusiast in Honolulu.
“A SHARED SPACE” is an ongoing reader-submitted column. To share your story, email firstname.lastname@example.org