It’s Mine Now

I have a version of this picture as a tattoo. The original has different proportions (much longer legs) and isn’t nearly as refined and colorful as this image but it has similar elements. Like the trail leading from somewhere else and she’s holding a penguin.

In the case of my tattoo, the trail leads away from an ice float carrying two other penguins. Another tattoo, for my kids.

I got this tattoo because I like the character and my own art. I don’t associate it to a story but… because of the placement of the tattoo, the way she’s stealing this penguin away, I think about one story. A sad story. A scary story. One of the worst moments of my life, kind of story.

It was many years ago when my partner and I decided to have a second child. I guess the first one was going so well we thought, “Hey, wouldn’t it be nice to hold a baby again?” Agreement in place, we set out to have that second child.

Time passes, adult things happen, pregnancy occurs as it should. We’re in the first trimester, no one knows yet but our first child overheard and at a family holiday gathering, he let it slip. Happy Thanksgiving Grandparents!

Everything was going well.

Until the cramping started a few days later. And then the bleeding.

Obviously, something’s wrong but shouldn’t the bleeding stop at some point? It’s a different level of wrong. The kind of wrong that seems like it isn’t going to fix itself. So, we made a midnight trip to one of those standalone emergency clinics.

They confirmed: it’s a miscarriage. Their instructions? Go back home and wait it out.

So we did. But nothing changed.

I don’t know how long we waited exactly but I’ll fast forward a little. We called a grandparent, asked they watch Thing 1, and we went to the hospital emergency room.

When we arrive, there’s paperwork. There’s a long wait time. There’s no bed available.

Now, I’m not the type to take my frustrations out on the front desk people. I understand their position a bit. But, in this case, I tried to explain: “Listen, she’s lost a lot of blood. I’ve seen it. We were at an emergency clinic last night. I don’t think we can wait.”

The nurse continues to talk without looking at us and that’s when I look over at my partner and she’s passed out. Pale. Sort of green. Not okay.

The nurse jumped into action at that point. Well, she jumped into action after I said, Uhh, hey, I’m pretty sure she just passed out.

We got moved to a room, she got hooked up to machines, paperwork was filed, insurance checked, and… then, we waited. A lot. For a really, really long time.


Because of the time of day, it turns out, everyone necessary had just gone home and had to be called back in. I guess we needed to plan our emergency better.

The doctor shows up. The anesthesiologist arrives. More people come in. Procedures are performed, a life is saved, et cetera.

They tried to discharge us soon after but my partner went and passed out again while trying to leave the hospital. So, they kindly let us stay a few more hours despite the inconvenience.

For my part, what I remember is a strong feeling of worry and fear. I was scared that we wouldn’t make it out of that hospital together. What would I tell my first child when I got home? What could I say to her parents? All those thoughts were passing through my mind especially when she was in the operating room, where I couldn’t be. All of these thoughts were happening because I had zero control over the situation.

There was nothing I could do but sit there and wait. And fill out paperwork. Of course.

We did walk out of that hospital. And my feelings shifted from fear to thankfulness. I am happy to live in a time where an incomplete miscarriage isn’t a death sentence. Because not too long ago, it definitely would have been.

But, in this modern time? We just had to wait.

It’s been many years since that happened and I still think about it sometimes. Nothing has happened to us that I would compare to that experience. We did have a second child and our life moved on. Everything is great. Our children are great.

Still, I think of this story. The third child that never was. The third child that nearly killed my partner. That one day when I was worried that my partner would bleed to death while I watched her and there was nothing I could do to save her.

Well… nothing except paperwork.


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