Yesterday I reached 19 weeks. Yesterday was also my 120th day (approximately) since conception, the day the soul becomes fully “connected” to the fetal body in the womb and the woman carrying the child becomes fully the mother of that child, according to Kundalini Yoga tradition. Yesterday was also the day of my ultrasound. It was an intense day.
I told a friend, “I think the ultrasound technician is trying to kill me,” when he was running more than an hour late. I think he was trying to kill a lot of people, actually… my friends and family were dying with the suspense of it all.
I had been anticipating my ultrasound with a potent mix of trepidation, excitement, and dread. People kept saying, “You already know,” or “It’s him.” My kids were already calling the baby Elijah. But I didn’t know. I hoped it was him, but I didn’t know it was him. I had heard more than enough I-thought-I-was-having-a… stories to teach me not to make any assumptions. My 9-year-old daughter said, “God wouldn’t do that to you. It has to be him.” I laughed. I’ve gotten used to blessings disguised as cruel heavenly jokes over the years.
I felt the tears welling up as soon as the ultrasound tech said the words. And then he twisted the knife in my heart, saying, “So much for intuition!” With much effort, I only allowed a few could-be-mistaken-as-normal tears to slip down my cheeks. As soon as the safety of privacy returned, the floodgates opened and a grief more powerful than I ever imagined came rushing through me. I sobbed as the images of who and what I thought was coming slipped through my fingers like precious, fleeting water. My six-year-old son asked, “Why are you crying, Mom?” The jumble inside of me felt so complex that I had no words that could adequately do it justice, but my attempt to give him the decency of a response came out: “Because I wanted to meet Elijah.”
I don’t even know how to describe all the things I felt. Was I just attached to a figment of my imagination? Was Elijah a fabrication? Was I just delusional? Who was this child in my womb that I knew nothing about?
Later, someone asked me, “What is it about a girl that upsets you?” But this is so much bigger and more complex than male or female. This is four years of anticipating a very specific soul. Four years of agonizing over whether I actually had to courage to give life again. Four years of traveling in and out of a darkness more painful than anything I have ever known. Four years of feeling my son’s presence, talking with him, learning his gifts and mission in life, and feeling his intense love for me. Four years of telling him, “I don’t know if I can do it.” Four years of him telling me, “It will be OK.” And then before I even felt ready to attempt to bring him here, I was looking at a positive pregnancy test. I had been through so much. But meeting him seemed like the perfect consolation prize… the rainbow after the terrifying storm. The thought of finally meeting him in the flesh made that surprise pregnancy so much easier to embrace.
Even as I cried, the guilt set in. Women all over the world ache with their own anguish over empty wombs that they long to be full of baby… any baby. People I love are among those waiting for a child. How could I throw my salty but-I-wanted-a-boy tears into their festering wounds? I thought of the powerful and heart-breaking film, “It’s a Girl,” and the millions of girl babies who are aborted, killed, or abandoned in places with boy-baby preference. I wailed in grief even as I felt guilt-ridden that I was upset at all. Millions of dead baby girls, and I was being offered the privilege of giving one life. It wasn’t really much different from saving a life. But as much as I wished it wouldn’t, it still hurt so much.
And then she told me her name.
Or maybe it was just my imagination fabricating a new magical story to fixate upon? Regardless of what it was, it made all the difference in the world to have a name.
I had decided before the ultrasound that I wanted to wear my Sister Tree necklace for such a special day. I put it on a longer chain so it would hang all the way to my belly. After the ultrasound, I was washing my hands and wiping my tears in my bathroom. And my eyes fell upon the reflection of my necklace in the mirror. I have looked at this necklace hundreds of times. But this time it was like seeing it for the first time. Something urged me to look closer. I kept looking… closer. And in a sudden burst, I felt my heart gasp. Oh… Her name. A name I had never considered or even liked before, but in that moment it felt like no other name in the world could have been more perfect.
A few minutes ago I had to smile as I looked up one of my blogposts about gendercide and the “It’s a Girl” film and saw this picture jumping out from the screen in front of me…
When I wrote that blogpost two years ago, I found [er… stole] the picture from someplace online because it seemed so perfect. Indeed it was.
And I think I definitely need this art print from JoanneShih on Etsy…