On the calendar, the day was marked with a red box, surrounded by arrows and hearts. The beginning of week ten. Jay was supposed to meet her. They would go to the ultrasound together. Lisa knew what she would see: a tiny black bean, nestled in the skirt shape of her womb, a bright pulsing point right at the curve. The heartbeat. She’d imagined it so many times. Grabbing Jay’s hand, saying, “See, there it is.”
To him, the pregnancy was still only nausea and exhaustion. A kind of extended stomach flu.
When she said, baby, he said he couldn’t imagine it.
Every morning, after heaving up the little that was left in her stomach, she marked off another day. Less than two weeks to go till she saw her baby.
But there were a few drops of brackish black when she got to work. On the phone, the OBGYN said that light bleeding was common. Embedding, that’s what it was called.
Yet three hours later, she found herself at the clinic, saying that she was bleeding, saying she was nervous, and before she knew what was happening, they were taking her to a dark room with a bed and a curtain and telling her to undress.
They were going to do the ultrasound in week eight. And Jay wasn’t there.
She texted him quickly. Some bleeding. They want to do the ultrasound now. A ping as she pressed send.
“Are you ready?” the technician asked, impatient.
She climbed on the bed, feeling awkward and exposed.
“Lie back,” said the woman. She had slashing dark hair and disarmingly large glasses. Lisa couldn’t make out her eyes.
Ice cold penetration. She hadn’t expected that. In all the pictures and movies, the gel was spread over the abdomen, like a gentle caress of the womb. Her hand reached out. There was no one to take it.
She blinked away the tears, focused on the screen. The baby. Soon she’d see the baby.
There was the familiar dark trapezoid, with weird floating shapes. The woman shoved. Stirring her innards. Tearing her guts. “Sorry,” she murmured.
Then: “Are you sure you’re pregnant?”
Lisa stared at her.
“Sorry,” she said again.
No bean shape. No pulsing spot. Just blank black.
The technician stayed silent until Lisa finally asked, “What’s going on?”
“Slight swelling in your right ovary,” the woman muttered. “You’ll talk to the doctor afterwards.”
She pressed print.
There was blood on the wand when she took it out, blood on the paper covering the bed.
The doctor said it was too soon to tell. “The blood tests say you’re definitely pregnant, but it’s hard to know the precise age. Maybe in a week it will embed and we’ll see it.”
He wouldn’t meet her eyes. Lisa couldn’t tell if he was trying to be kind, or just to get rid of her.
He told her to come back in a week’s time. “Call if the bleeding gets worse.” Bustled her out before she could think of any questions.
Numbly, she texted Jay. Ultrasound done. Please come.
The trapezoid windshield showed the darkening highway.
Jay focused on weaving through traffic.
“So, no telling my parents?” he said.
Lisa looked away.
An hour drive, to sit for dinner and pretend to be happy.
She had initiated, and Jay’s mother had prepared. No way they could cancel now.
Lisa patted her pocket, where the ultrasound photos were hidden. Shot after shot of blank black womb, with careful measurements. She imagined opening it.
We’d like to introduce you to your grandchild. The invisible baby. He’s quite a wonder. Hear his silent heartbeat.