I read Le Petit Prince to our baby as I miscarried. I read it in French, my tongue awkward with a language that I once studied so closely but now seems to be part of another life. Pétales, I say it in English, pronouncing the s and everything, before I stop and reread it with the accent aigu. I smile. Maybe my French is not so bad after all, I just have to fall into it. Besides, the baby doesn't mind. I'm just trying to let the baby know how much we love it, even though it was only with us eight weeks.
This is the first time I have read to our baby. I have known five weeks of the eight, but I did not really believe it. Even with the transvaginal sonograms--- I certainly felt what the doctor was doing to my body, but I thought I was looking into someone else's uterus, at someone else's baby. I was never sick, though I was tired, and I kept thinking the whole time that this was too good to be true. We had tried and tried to have a baby for over a year, and then finally around Christmas we conceived. We found out right before I was supposed to have surgery for endometriosis, and were ecstatic we could have a baby on our own. The due date was right before my 29th birthday, which also happened to be a good time to take maternity leave from church. It was perfect. But still, I was nervous. I did not touch my belly, did not read to the baby.
Now I believe it, now I whisper names when I am alone, try to figure out a way to make Sullivan-Harrington not seem like the world's longest last name, but it is too late. So I touch my abdomen tentatively as I read, until a cramp collapses my pelvis again. I continue plodding along in French, until my dog, who has been weirded out that I am talking so much but not to her, comes and sits in my lap. Her weight against my aching body feels good, the cramps haven't gotten too strong yet, so I reach over and hold her while I look out the window, letting the book fall to the floor.
I did not read the whole book before I let it fall to the floor. I skipped around, reading about unimaginative grandes personnes, and baobab trees that the Petit Prince does not like but I am obsessed with, and roses to fall in love with, and foxes in need of taming. That's when I start to cry--- reading about the renard:
So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near--The next day, once we were home from the hospital, once we heard out of the mouths of doctors what my body had already known, Aaron and I held each other. We were angry and frustrated, but we also felt this strange peace. Because even though we never got to really meet our baby, this pregnancy still did us good. Because of the color of the wheat fields--- or, in my case, because of the way Aaron held me so tightly when I woke him up at 3am to show him the positive pregnancy test, and how he held me tightly again weeks later when I woke him up at 3am to take me to the hospital as blood poured out of me. Because of how green Aaron's eyes were when we lay in bed late in the morning and imagined what this baby would be like, and how I couldn't see what color they were when they were filled with tears beside my hospital bed. Because of how easy it was for us to pick our names for the baby, but when we knew we were losing it the only name that came was our Christmas baby. Because of how much we loved this baby, which was only a fetus after all, even when we knew its departure drew near.
"Ah," said the fox, "I shall cry."
"It is your own fault," said the little prince. "I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you . . ."
"Yes, that is so," said the fox.
"But now you are going to cry!" said the little prince.
"Yes, that is so," said the fox.
"Then it has done you no good at all!"
"It has done me good," said the fox, "because of the color of the wheat fields.”
Because this baby made us parents.This baby tamed us, not in the sense of stomped out the wild within us, but in the sense that it taught us not to be skittish around possibility. In fact, this baby taught us how to fall in love with possibility the size of a kidney bean, even at the last possible moment. So while we do cry, and will cry harder on the September due date, we are at peace. For this baby has done us good. And, if there is another baby, we will read earlier, believe earlier, and we will not be afraid (at least not too afraid). Because of the color of the wheat fields.