Goodbye Poppy

An honest, heart-wrenching story about loss and the unexpected traumas of life that functions as an ode to those that lift us up in our darkest hours…

by: Allie Burke

I’m in a single public restroom. 

I’m naked, except for the hospital gown that doesn’t close in the back. I have to remove my headwrap and replace it with a weird, stretchy disposable hospital cap. I look down at the package of the brown socks with the grips on the bottom. 

I inhale a deep breath. 

This is not a psychiatric hospital, I tell myself. It’s just a surgical center. You get to leave today, after the operation. You get to leave in three hours. 

I put on the dumb socks. 

I come out and a nurse named Jessica leads me to my hospital bed. It is warm. She wraps my legs in these compression things that feel like a massage chair. She puts the finger, pulse reader on and attaches sticky things to my chest with wires coming out of them. She warns me that they are cold. They are not that cold. 

A nurse named Ian comes. “I’m sorry for your loss,” he says. “You can try again in about two months.”

“Thank you,” I say. 

Before setting up the IV, he sprays a numbing agent on my hand. Why don’t they all have this when they take blood? My arm is still swollen from the lab the day prior. 

“Not too bad?” Ian asks me after the IV is in. 

“Not too bad,” I agree. 

The anesthesiologist walks in and asks me the same damn questions he asked me on the phone this morning. I don’t complain. I answer his questions. 

The doctor enters and explains the procedure. “The bab — the fetus,” she says between stutters, “is measuring about six weeks. I know you’re eight weeks now, right?” I nod. She continues. “Once you are asleep, we’ll do an ultrasound to confirm and then do the procedure. We’ll do another ultrasound — while you’re still asleep, don’t worry — to make sure the tissue is removed. I’ll see you in another week to make sure everything is going okay.”

“Okay,” I say. 

She asks me if I have any questions. I don’t. After she leaves, I rub my stomach with my hand. I know Poppy is already dead in there, but it’s the only thing I can think to do to say goodbye. 

Jessica comes back. “Okay, I’m going to take you to the OR now.”

Another nurse comes. I don’t know her name. They wheel me into the OR and help me hop from one bed to the other. The nurse says she likes my tattoos. I say thank you. The anesthesiologist says to me, “okay, you’re going to fall asleep now.” Several seconds pass and I don’t fall asleep. I’m staring at the bright white light on the ceiling. I start to feel woozy, and my heart starts beating really fast. I’m panicking. I’m so scared. 

Hands from behind remove my mask and put a big black circular rubber object over my face. I close my eyes. 

One of the nurses — I can’t remember who — says, “Allie, you’re waking up now.”

I blink. I’m out of the OR and in the same corner where Ian had set up the IV. 

Ian comes back. “Would you like some water, or juice?” 

“Water, please,” I crack out. My throat is so dry. I haven’t had anything to drink in almost twelve hours. 

I drink the bottle of water very quickly. My throat hurts like hell, and water isn’t helping. 

The doctor returns about thirty minutes later. She says everything went well. I want to ask if there is any tissue left — I really don’t want to go through this again — but I am too loopy. She says she’ll see me in a week. I’ll ask her then. I assume there isn’t, or they would have just removed it while I was under, but I need to know. I really need to know. 

Sometime later, Ian says, “your boyfriend is here,” and in my drugged-out state, I say excitedly, “yayyyyyyy.”

I go back to the bathroom and change into my clothes. Outside the door Ian has a wheelchair ready. He rolls me outside and Delon is standing by his car. He helps me into the car, and I thank Ian. 

There is a little stuffed pink kitty on the center console. “Is this for meeeee?” I ask, and he says no, it is for him. I laugh. 

“How are you feeling?” he asks me, and I say I am very tired. And my throat hurts from the anesthesia. 

“I love you so much,” he says, and we go to Target. 

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