March 16, 2011 by The Citron Review
by Talya Jankovits
I lost track of how many of them I lost before I conceived her in a sterilized room, legs spread, body strapped to a tilted bed frame with sets of eyes peering inside me. Three fertilized eggs were injected into me, swelling me up with hope. Afterward, when she was growing inside me, from peanut to walnut to fuzzy peach and finally small watermelon size, I wouldn’t think about the others. With each pair of bloody underpants and a negative pregnancy test, I knew I had not only lost something, but I lost someone who could have grown fingernails and learned to say mama. I mopped up the mess every time with a sanitary napkin, crying over something I hadn’t known. I roamed through department stores, staring longingly at tiny socks or little pinafore dresses or pin striped miniature slacks and I felt all those defeated eggs piling up at my feet in ugly red clumps. I made lunch dates with friends, their new babies in tow, warmly tucked inside a stroller, a model I considered while perusing through various baby websites, even though I had no reason to. I had nothing to push around in it except some expensive fertility pills and later even more expensive discarded needle points that found their way into my thighs, my stomach or my fleshy backside. And each month, I was surer than the last that it would happen. This time I wouldn’t lose anything. I would gain something, find someone securely attached to my uterus but then again, tears so hot they could have burned holes in my ovaries, uncovering the problem, explaining my unexplained.
I didn’t cry each time, I mourned: tore my clothes and sat low on the ground as if shiva had begun. I had a name on the tip of my tongue every time my ovaries let me down. I collected bloody, belly aching losses and carried each of them on my shoulders. When I walked around, going about my daily business, one would slip off, fall down and I would have to carefully bend down and pick it up, place it back on the load and move forward while carrying all my lost children in a bloody sack instead of inside my belly. People couldn’t see the load I carried and didn’t understand why I looked so pained all the time, but I knew why: knew it from the inside out.
I forgot about them all as I pushed her out of me, thinking only of loving her. Her cheek was so soft when I kissed it, it made me forget all the sharpness, and the pain of the tests and procedures it took for me to get her in my arms. Now, instead of counting menstrual cycles, I count toes and tiny fingers. Instead of wiping blood, I wipe a soft round bottom. Instead of losing something every month, I find something new to love every day.
Talya Jankovits became a proud mother to a beautiful little girl in December of 2009. In between the chaos of motherhood and of working full time at an unsatisfying private university position she finds the time to work on her novel and honor her MFA degree from Antioch University by proudly announcing to all that she is a writer.