The Thing About Triggers

The thing about triggers is that you don’t know them.  They are lying in wait until the trap is sprung and you are caught gasping for breath in a swirling, rising tide of emotion.

I did not know that the ultrasound would be more than I could handle.  I went to the appointment alone, thinking it was routine.

I did not consider the mental challenges of all that is wrapped up in those parts of me: my womanhood, my motherhood, my sexuality, my identity, cradled low in my body, warm and undisturbed.

She says the wand will be ‘inserted like a tampon,’ but I wonder what kind of tampon she’s ever seen that is a foot long and requires lubricating jelly?

I watch the screen in the dark, my legs spread and eyes searching for any familiar shape in the static grey.  I see the IUD, there in place, signaling the end of my journey and desire in motherhood.

I recognize the c-shape of the walls of my uterus, the nursery my body prepares month after month.  Last time I saw a picture of it, there was a baby swimming there and despite the lack of wanting to ever see that again there is a specific, longing melancholy to knowing I don’t grow babies anymore.

She presses the wand around the curves and bends of my insides, my organs grudgingly make way for this intrusion as a sharp pang of pressure travels down my leg.

I am frozen in space as I try to remember to breathe.  

I see the familiar darkness I’d become so well acquainted with in another life.  I watch as the mouse moves, dotted lines measuring the empty space where eggs mature and release, top to bottom, side to side, empirically judging normalcy.  I am time traveling; each blink brings flashes of multiple ripe follicles clustered like grapes, shots given to force the release of microscopic eggs, tiny syringes full of the best swimmers manually inserted through a minuscule tube.  I hear whispers of prayer after prayer after prayer for that magical binding and division of cells that would make me a mother at last.

There was a time when this was routine.  But that was a different time, and I have not considered that I am a different person now.  I have not considered that in finding myself mentally and physically, in opening my heart and embracing my nature, there is a new discomfort with this invasion.

I have not considered that now I am dealing with new possibilities, demands and recommendations, unsure and sad and still figuring things out.  That right now I don't trust my body, my hope wanes and my love for it has been hiding. 

In the dark, I watch, unaware of the filling of my mind with the past; infertility, longing, marriage, a life that is dead and buried but somehow moving and writhing beneath my surface.  

Nostalgia is not always sweet.  Bitterness creeps and winds, choking out happiness and okay-ness, invasive vines on the life I’ve built.

Finally, she pulls the wand out.  I wipe the foul smelling jelly from my pubic hair and put my pants back on.  I wash my hands in hot water and soap, but hours later it will creep into my nose when I move them too close.

It takes a few minutes for me to realize I’ve been caught.  I walk to my car and get inside, and as I begin the text I am fine, but by the time I’ve finished typing, the tears have come.  The sky is grey and dripping and my eyes open, emotions pour from me like a flash flood.

My heart cries out in confusion, pain, and longing.  The sobs are primal but familiar, and there is a voice inside me that wonders how I can ever possibly stop.  I think maybe I will just cry forever.

The thing about triggers is that you don’t know them.

I would have gone with you, he says, and held your hand.

I didn’t know it was going to be upsetting, I reply.