I am standing in line at my local grocery store, a very small, very organic specialty market less than a mile down the road from my house. It is the kind of place where every single ingredient in every single product has been vetted for purity by vegans, virgins and monks, and as such, nothing comes cheap. I am in line to buy two items: a gallon of milk for $7.79 (which is what it costs at just about any store in the Bay Area, just in case you were wondering), and a package of giant-sized organic cotton maxi pads. Jonah is seated in the stroller in front of me, sipping a smoothie of house-made almond milk, dates, chia seeds, and Peruvian maca powder purchased only moments before at the store’s Smoothie Bar. A woman in line behind me has a large glass plate piled so high with greens that I have to look around it in order to see her face when she chooses to strike up a conversation with me.
She asks, “Have you ever tried the Diva Cup?”
Only in Marin County. Only at The Good Earth Market would a complete stranger in a grocery line choose to engage me in a conversation about menstrual blood. “Yes, actually. I love mine.”
“You shouldn’t need to wear those with one.” She points to the maxi-pads fit for a bleeding sea elephant on the conveyor belt. “Maybe you need a different size.”
Is she for real? “I wouldn’t be buying these unless I needed them.”
“No, I mean the Diva Cup. Sometimes, like after you’ve had a baby,” she gestures toward the stroller, “you need a different size.”
I smile and turn away slightly, willing my two year old to suddenly act out. Please shriek. Please pitch a fit. Please hurl your smoothie at the nice man bagging groceries. But no. He’s perfectly quiet. Perfectly content, swinging his feet and gnawing at the paper straw. “Are you enjoying your smoothie, Jonah?” I ask.
“Yeah,” he squeaks, looks up at me, smiles. I smile in return.
“I pair mine with cloth pads.”
I nod. “Me too.”
“So much more comfortable than those things.”
I nod again.
“Really. You should size up. Ditch the disposables. So much better for the environment.”
The good Dana would simply have nodded one last time and turned her back, humored this young woman with her clanging bangle bracelets, twenty pounds of kale on a plate, and judgey-good intentions. But I am not the good Dana right now. I am Hormona, queen of plummeting progesterone, and Hormona suddenly has something to prove. I turn around fully to face her. “I’m in the middle of a miscarriage.”
Her mouth forms a perfect “O”.
“I can’t put anything inside of me. I have bled through every piece of cloth in my stash, and I can’t possibly do one more load of laundry today, but thank you for your informed opinion.” I turn to face the check-out girl and the bagger, who appear to have missed the drama entirely, or are feigning ignorance well. “How are you two doing today?”
“Great, thanks! And you?” The check-out girl declares.
“I’m great, too.”
Sotto voce from behind. “I’m so sorry,”
I say nothing, buy my milk and pads and roll out the door without ever looking back.
8 weeks, 6 days.
I was hoping for better news, but alas, it was not to be. I knew from the beginning that things were not right–first an empty sac where there should have been a baby, then a yolk sac where there should have been a baby and a heartbeat, then finally a baby measuring impossibly small. And then it was over.
I am at peace.