Selene Lacayo

You Too?

Your girlfriend writes about the grief of miscarriage

(and what may come afterwards)



Your Awaited Pregnancy


Originally from Mexico, Selene Lacayo is a writer and translator living with her husband and three children in The Greater Philadelphia Area. She holds a master's degree in English from West Chester University of Pennsylvania, where she focused in creative writing. Her essays have been published by InCulture Magazine, Americans Resisting Overseas, and the COVID-19 Community Stories of the Grand Rapids Public Museum and Alebrijes Review where she’s now a staff writer. Her short story Amalgam forms part of The Best Short Stories of Philadelphia of 2021.

Twitter:  @LacayoSelene  
Instagram: @SeleneLacayo

The alarm goes off welcoming another day of you restraining yourself from announcing to the whole office that the constant visits to the fertility doctor have paid off: your bloodwork finally shows hCG levels that confirm your pregnancy.

Your husband reaches over to kiss you on the shoulder while he places his hand over yours, over your belly. You wish you could stay like this a few more hours but the minutes slip fast enough to rush you out the door.

You can’t believe that by the doctor’s calculations, cells have divided rapidly inside you forming an embryo who has started to move and grow a heart and lungs, and to form a head and limbs. In the drive to work, you dream of cribs, and mobiles, and the stuffed animals you’ll buy to decorate the nursery.

You walk to your desk with a smile that shines as the full moon. You greet your team with sincere “good mornings” —the kind you exchange only when you are in your best mood. There, two desks away sits your pregnant co-worker who shared the news of her pregnancy months ago and now you see her roundness as the mirror of the upcoming future for your own body. Her eyes shine brightly every time she talks about car seats and strollers. You wonder if yours have that type of luster these days too.

The morning goes by quickly, it is the afternoon that finds you exhausted, sleepy, and scattered brained. You don’t know how you are supposed to work full-time without more than a cup of coffee a day, but you do.

On your drive back home, your husband asks about your latest craving, your energy levels, and about the evening plans. He wants to look at paint colors for what will be the nursery in the house you will be moving into in a few more months.

You make your way into each other’s arms and visualize together what it would be like to push a stroller with your baby along the lake. You dream of chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, little cleats for soccer games, lullabies at all hours, dolls and trains.

The world right now is a happy place.


Your Body Empties You of Life

Voices turn into fog that dissipates inside the conference room where you are sitting, like every Friday, for the team meeting to close the work week. Except this Friday is different, you will be joining your dear friend after work for cake to celebrate. To dream together about your life as an expectant mother.

The fluorescent lights above you hum in a way that hurts your ears. The temperature around you keeps rising, rising, rising. Is it the room or is it you who is overheating?

What starts with a quiet pulsation in your lower back, grows into a nosy, sharp pain radiating to your belly in cramps that are undeniably a reason to leave that room. Your forehead populates with beads of sweat and your paleness informs everyone around you that you are not being unprofessional by excusing yourself for a moment.

Disoriented and a bit scared, you walk the approximately fifty steps to the ladies’ room where you are finally able to hold your abdomen and release a few tears onto the grey tiles. You head to the toilet where blood comes gushing out of you in clots and streams, confirming what your intuition had already made you suspect, but you didn’t want to acknowledge as a possibility.

¡Dios, no mi bebé, por favor no! You say under your breath, remembering your Catholic upbringing. You wonder if prayer now would do you any good. It stopped nothing, it appeased nothing, but it brings your mother’s language to your lips when you feel the most alone.

You check your wristwatch and confirm that there are barely ten minutes left for the staff meeting and the workday to end. Ten minutes to fake coolness before you are able to retreat to your car and make a mess of your makeup once the door is shut.

You compose yourself, clean up the tracks that the stream of tears has made through the blush on your cheeks, and reenter the conference room to occupy your place alongside your pregnant co-worker with her body full of life. No questions are asked, and nobody dares to look right into your eyes.

Once in the safety of your car you feel the pain encapsulated between steal, glass, and leather. You take note of the dampness surrounding your whole body: blood, sweat, tears.

Your pain is all liquid. It leaves no body surface untouched.

You reach for your phone and make the dreaded call to the doctor’s office. That one that your paperwork highlighted as an emergency. The call that nurse told you to make when she gave you the news of your pregnancy after more than a year of trying to conceive with the help of science. The call that you are to make if you have cramping pain in the abdominal area and are losing a lot of blood.

“I’m sorry,” they tell you. “It does sound like you are having a miscarriage. It will pass on its own. Come see the doctor first thing tomorrow morning. Until then, there is not much else we can do. Try to stay comfortable,” the calm voice of the nurse sounds as if it is atop a mountain from which you are now spiraling down, down, down.

You sob, and drive, and tell your smartphone to call your husband. “Hi baby!” he responds more in love than usual because he has been living with the knowledge of his child growing in you for the last fifteen days or so. The words come out of your body like ghosts and enter the windows of your husband’s soul to find a new place to dwell. He composes himself and tells you he’ll see you in thirty minutes at home.

Your short commute amounts to an eternity of contractions, anger, nausea, pain, and guilt. Was this my fault? –you think.

 Between cramps, you call the friend who is already waiting for you at one of your favorite local spots with the news: “There is nothing to celebrate anymore.” Your broken heart takes over your voice.

As you drive home, life continues to vacate your body leaving an empty you behind.

You find your apartment as lifeless as your womb. You make it to the bathroom where you curl into a ball of pain on the sandy linoleum floor. You are too nauseous to move. The blood continues to flow. You shake as you cry wondering when your husband will make it home.

No one tells you that about 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. No one tells you about the physical pain that comes with miscarriage along with the one for your soul.

From your spot on the cold floor, you see your balled-up hands and remember that you once learned that both your heart and your womb are about the size of your fists. You question how both, relatively small, organs inside you could contract and expand causing so much pain.

The womb squeezes to push what was life out; the heart squeezes to push what was hope out.

Your husband arrives. His eyes wear tears that cease to fall upon seeing you in your current state. He picks you up and holds your hand through your shared pain in crescendo that takes over the space between the walls around you. 

The evening proves to be the hardest that you have lived together. It is a mix of sobs, and kisses, and hugs.

You don’t sleep. The cramps emptying your womb are much stronger than the worst period cramps that you had ever suffered through. They come in waves taking over you. Keeping your attention fixated in that moment of loss.

All dreams drained out; all plans shattered. There is nothing you could do except to give in and fall into the abyss of your broken heart, as the love of your life wraps his arms around your shaking body shaped like a waxing moon.


You Deal with The World Despite Your Pain

The bad thing about living in a country different from the one in which both you and your Lebanese-born husband are from, is the lack of family around you –especially during a time of crisis. The people who hold you the closest, and who see you through the excruciating pain of the aftermath of the miscarriage of your highly wished-for baby, are plane rides away. Their voices through the phone and their text messages, are the only spaces for your tears to land on.

The culture in the U.S. is not as closely knit. While in Mexico your co-workers would have held you upon your return to the office, here that would not have been appropriate. Cards and “I’m sorrys” are exchanged with deep sympathy but you miss the touch, the long hours beside a friend who would listen and console you. Just like over the phone, but also with their touch and presence.

You are broken, homesick, and again reminded that you are a fish out of water. You navigate the formalities of corporate America along with dealing with your loss and the sense of inadequacy that not being able to conceive had left you with.

Life was sucked out of you –from your womb and from your eyes that now constantly get lost somewhere beyond your desk.

The sense of not fitting in comes back to live in your head. It isn’t just at work. A week after the miscarriage, as you recuperate from the aches and the physical exhaustion that came after your body robbed you of motherhood, you do not have a place to go, except for the couch in your living room.

Your friends, like your husband, are at work all day. Only two come to visit and when they do, one of them brings a movie as a distraction. Except the movie is Juno. Does she not understand the depths of the pain of dealing with infertility and miscarriage at age 25? You did not need to watch a movie of a teenager who gets easily pregnant but doesn’t want to be, and then gives her baby up for adoption. Your friend can’t understand your tears.

During the months after the miscarriage a ghost-like version of you walks through your office. She gets tasks done but doesn’t make any extra effort to do anything else. As you see your co-worker’s belly continue to round with life blooming inside her, you notice in your reflection how your own life withers.


You Plant a Tree to Deposit Your Sorrow

Of all the things that people tell you after they find out that you have lost your baby, like:

“You will not be the first nor the last. So many women lose babies all the time.”

“Well, at least now you know you CAN get pregnant.”

“You are acting all hormonal!”

“Don’t worry, you are still very young.”

One of the comments that actually helps you is that of your friend Allison whose sister recently had a miscarriage. She shares with you that her sister’s grief was such, that she needed to put it in a place where she could actually touch it. She tells you that she planted a young tree.

At the beginning, as you sit at the edge of your bathtub looking out the window to the woods behind your house, you think that a tree is not going to be a good receptacle for grief. But soon the idea gains traction when you share it with your husband and he shows you how if you were to plant the tree right outside your bedroom window, you could see it every day as you opened the blinds.

Together, you pick a species in the family of dwarf cherry trees, because they tell you that it changes through the seasons and will always have something on its branches. You plant the tree in Spring, two seasons after you lost the baby, and you see it bloom, blossom and grow. You put a pink and a blue ribbon every year in October to remember what once was but couldn’t be, until you move from that home seven years later.

You still think of your baby tree and hope that continues to grow and expand, like your life has, since you last touched its branches.


© The Acentos Review 2022