22 Nov Uteruses Too Loyal – An Essay by Ann Cheng
We drove twelve hours across four states and stopped to pee seven times. We smiled secretly at each other when I turned down champagne at the wedding and sucked it in for photos. When my brother-in-law threw up because he drank too much I felt angry, because I was throwing up for real.
But the doctor said she was sorry, that she didn’t have good news. There was no heartbeat, it stopped growing at 8 weeks and 2 days, and didn’t I have any bleeding?
Uteruses too loyal are a curse of my family.
My mother’s uterus, ever faithful to her failing body, showed no sign. It should just mean a hysterectomy, the doctor said. If it was worse, you would have had bleeding. But then it was worse and no one knows why she didn’t bleed as her quiet, loyal uterus killed her without saying a thing.
My uterus was, for a long time, loyal to childhood. Skinny and hungry, it didn’t want to leave hammocks and white girl farm stories and eraser collections. Finally it joined me, a cyclical adult. Not hungry any more, and seemingly ready to incubate. But the fetus was dead for a week and a half only it never came out, and I never bled, and it never told. Even now with the birth underwear and the mammoth pads from the hospital after they cleaned it out under anesthesia, my uterus is shy, barely painting the quilted whiteness with its stringy red-brown, hesitant to betray.