Diapers, Then Dinner
By Maleka Fruean
Even after a miscarriage you can gain weight. Your body builds up for birth and it never happens. It stores the extra fat for protection and then the little being that was supposed to live off of it for months dies. After the third miscarriage in a row, I started eating a new kind of cookie I found at the corner store for 99 cents. The first three ingredients were high fructose corn syrup, sugar, and maltodextrin. Three different forms of sugar. I would walk the half block to the corner store and eat three packages of them between breakfast and lunch. A small roll of fat steadily grew around my middle, and I would look at it and pretend it was baby fat. At three in the morning, I would look at diaper delivery sites online and I would eat my third package of cookies, my stomach scrunched up against my chest, wrinkled and warm, but never in a comforting way. Those bulk packages of diapers gleamed so shiny white and the boxes of wipes looked like little treasure chests.
Matthew would find me upstairs crying, dozens of different websites bookmarked. How to be comfortable during your last three months of pregnancy. The cookie crumbs would still be on my grey T-shirt. How to choose a baby name—and be the first one on the block to have it! He’d turn off the computer and hug me, and I would look at the wall. Some days he even cried. But he didn’t know what to do anymore. He had stopped talking about it months ago. I started wishing I would gain so much weight that my thin golden wedding band would not even fit on my finger. But it continued to fit, stretching as I typed on the keyboard.
The night was contrived, aiming at creating a golden moment in our marriage. After months of my crying, my husband was wearing thin. He saw the invitation to this hipster supper club party, featuring all locally grown foods, as a way to integrate us back into reality. I really did love locally grown foods. I put on the only dress in my closet that still fit, a rather loosely draped silver bag, glittering with the hope of hundreds of women that haven’t yet lost the twenty pounds they had planned to in the last six months. I dug around in the medicine cabinet over the sink for a lipstick I remember wearing at least three years ago at some Madonna-themed party. I was Madonna in her “Dress Me Up” phase—sideways ponytail, lots of bangles, a little baby fat (that didn’t hurt anybody), and bright lipstick. Found an unused condom from the year 2000, three Q-tips, and a three-quarters full tincture bottle of Valerian Root—used against sleeping disorders, restlessness, and anxiety. Underneath an old package of tissues I found the small tube of bright red lipstick. I spread it quickly on my lips and dabbed it with a tissue.
I didn’t mean to be attractive. I just wanted to be somebody else. Some woman who wore lipstick every day and went out with her husband on dates, who had two cute little babies. She would return home and tip the sitter a little extra because she was tipsy from the sparkling wine. She loved getting dressed up.