In the summer of 2021 I learned that I was pregnant. My husband and I were excited as we headed to my first doctor’s appointment. There, in the examination room, we stared at the ultrasound screen, searching for an embryo, almost-fetus, but instead saw an empty womb. The doctor expressed her condolences and took what felt like an eternal pause. She continued the ultrasound, and we discovered the pregnancy in a fallopian tube. I had an ectopic pregnancy. We heard the heartbeat, we saw the tiny figure, but from what seemed like a distance I heard the words: “The pregnancy is not viable,” “this is a dangerous situation,” “we will need to operate today.” The doctor explained that the fallopian tube could rupture at any moment, putting me at risk of bleeding to death; she said that though the embryo had a heartbeat it would not survive. I thought about the faint heartbeat and the image of the tiny figure, but also felt terrible for my husband, who wore a look of worry, sadness, and shock. I felt terrible for the two of us. I felt sorrow for the little embryo who never had a chance. Last Sunday would have been my due date, and I found myself grieving the loss all over again. But I was also relieved that the date had passed, after having so long been stuck in my mind, just like the sound and images from the ultrasound.
This week also marked the two-year anniversary of the Covid-19 lockdowns in Los Angeles. Two years ago, I had a very different idea of what my life would be. My husband and I had been married only a year and we never imagined that come 2022 we’d have lived most of our marriage in a global pandemic, unable to do many things we had hoped for and bombarded by images of packed hospitals and of people on respirators struggling to breathe.
Now there is also the deep sadness I feel for the people of Ukraine, and for Russians who’ve been led to believe Vladimir Putin’s propaganda. The images out of Kyiv, Kharkiv, and other cities have been devastating. A photo by Ukrainian Associated Press journalist Evgeniy Maloletka captured first responders and volunteers carrying an injured pregnant woman from a Mariupol maternity hospital damaged by Russian shelling; it was reported that when the woman realized she was losing her child she cried out to medics, “Kill me now!” Both she and her baby died.