The Missing Pieces of Life by Kristin Nichols

About four in the afternoon, my friend and I were at a bar playing with these little plastic toys left in a basket for drunk kids like us. She had set up a wall of fencing with soldiers and cowboys, defending it from my wall of teepees and Indians that pointed their little bows and arrows at the guns. My toy horse was adorned with a hot pink cocktail umbrella.
It was Sunday and I was spending it doing what I always did - Bloody Mary's over Brunch, shopping at consignment stores, and happy hour. I loved life as a cocktail waitress, a life of 5am bedtimes and tequila and bar-hopping fun. I loved it, but all this was about to change. With bourbon in hand, I laid out my plans for the future.
"What the hell? Seriously?" My friend almost spit her gin and tonic out of her mouth.
"Yep. We're moving to Hawaii to start a family." I finished my bourbon and ordered two shots of Patron. Shots were a good way for people to absorb information. We cheered silently, clinking our shots before they went down respective gullets.
"Wow. What a decision," she said.
I walked outside to light up a cigarette. I took a long drag and looked down the hill, a beautiful view of downtown Seattle. I stepped back to let a couple of hipsters pass by, and pulled another drag. My stilettos clipped the sidewalk as I paced. The day was chilly, and I wrapped my scarf around my neck shivering a little as I inhaled the crisp air through my nose. I loved the smell of Fall. Laughter and music poured out of the bar down the street as the door swung open, and I waved at two friends exiting that bar. They turned and headed up the street to join us, and I stubbed my cigarette out on the ground, walked back inside and ordered another bourbon. Our friends immediately ordered a round of shots. It was four in the afternoon, I was drunk, I smelled of smoke, and I loved my life. And I was leaving to become a mommy.
What a decision indeed.
Fast forward one year. I am pregnant about 11 weeks along. I no longer smoke, no longer drink. Smelling wine has now become the closest to deviance I can manage. A couple weeks ago I sipped some wine so I could see just how similar to Smucker’s Strawberry Jam it tasted, but the wine was spit into the sink as soon as it touched my tongue. My tongue missed drinking the most, the taste of wine, of tequila. Of bourbon.
My beautiful collection of designer stilettos, bought mainly at Goodwill’s in rich parts of the city where wealthy women are known to toss rarely worn but out-of-style $700 shoes, sit unused in my closet. My $50 Dolce and Gabbana miniskirt keep them company. My feet live in ballet flats, and I don’t know if I’ll say hi to my shoe collection any time in the near future. I think not. My back says no. Sciatica.
I don’t wait tables anymore, don’t bartend. I work at a desk on a 7am-5pm schedule. I can’t smell Fall because there are no seasons in Hawaii. I can't stay awake long enough to finish watching Saturday Night Live before I’m snoring on the couch. I miss stumbling down the street drunk. I miss my friends. And I miss my old life.
Fast forward another three months and I have to have a D&C to scrape the remnants of my first baby out of my uterus. My husband and I found out it had died when we went in to hear the heartbeat at 13 weeks. Our two happy faces fell faster than I could have imagined at the news of our missed miscarriage, a pregnancy gone wrong without my body even being aware of it. Two faces cried at a surgery we never expected and cried at the first sadness we experienced as parents. I knew it wouldn’t be our last.
I miss a lot of things on our journey to parenthood. I miss the lives we left behind, the easy freedom that came with living on our own sans our watchful parents and siblings. I miss our friends, the bars we loved, and the restaurants we adored. I miss my shoes, my dresses, my skirts. I miss the smell of Fall. But most of all, I miss our little lost zygote.
Yesterday morning we went in for another appointment. This time around we weren’t bouncing with excitement, giant smug smiles on our faces. This time around we were wary, looking around each corner carefully before we stepped, just to make sure there was no tragedy ahead and always ready in case it struck suddenly. We had been hit hard and now our guards were constantly up in case we were hit again.
This time around, though, when the doctor pulled out the little Doppler machine to hear the heartbeat, we heard the whirring sound of my heart like before, but we also heard the drumming of a little heartbeat echoing in my uterus, thumping away, a strong little thing. My husband laughed and I smiled. We heard it. We hadn’t missed it. It was perfect.
When I went home that night, I went on Facebook and looked at the updates of some friends. They were headed out to the hottest new clubs, underground venues where you needed passwords to get in and special maps to find the entrance. They were talking about parties that I used to go to and bars I used to frequent. Names that were no longer a mainstay of my life were thrown around casually: Patron, Makers, Jaeger. Things I missed along with my old life. I felt old and matronly. I was missing out on parties, new trendy drinks and new trends in footwear.
And for a minute I mourned my old life and the things I was missing. But not for a second did I wish for my life back. I continued to browse Facebook, and the pangs of jealously nibbled at me. I really wanted to go to the Prohibition Party where everyone was dressed to the nines, the party that you needed a password to attend. I knew I could get a password, but I knew I would miss that party. There was nothing in the world I wouldn’t miss in order to make the life I was growing as perfect as possible. When my first pregnancy was gone, I had missed it desperately. Now that we were given another shot, I refused to miss a second.
I wouldn’t give up the experience of being pregnant for the newest, full-price shoes. I wouldn’t trade my inflated body for the tight, thin one I owned only a few months ago. I wouldn't sacrifice my Friday nights snoring on the sofa for the most epic of underground parties. While I miss my friends dearly, I know that the ones that are true will stick, no matter how far away we are. And no matter how hard it hurt, I wouldn’t give up the pain and hurt of the miscarriage for anything, because it made us realize just how much we loved.
There was nothing I wouldn’t give up in order to hear the sound of the little guy in my belly. We heard it and we cherished it. We hadn’t missed it this second time around. It sounded like I had a butterfly caught inside me, its wings beating against the walls. Patience, little one. You’re not big enough to come out yet.
Kristin Nichols is a writer and daydreamer who lives on a rock in the middle of the sea. She writes on the intertubes at