Caitlin Vestal

In the bathroom of the doctor’s office you stare at the pad in your underwear, slick red but not soaked through. You wonder if you should change it.

A nurse leads you to the exam room, where you climb onto the table. You wrinkle the paper that will tear when you lay back, shift forward into the stirrups.

Your husband smiles at you from a chair where he is reading emails on his phone.

The doctor enters, announces that you’re having a miscarriage.

You nod.

You knew this last night, when a thud in your belly woke you once, twice. Dragged you to the toilet where you sat for hours, watching the dog watching you, her head cocked, pacing back and forth in the doorway.

The doctor steps out, tells you to undress from the waist down and cover yourself with a sheet.

You lump your jeans and underwear on the floor, and the pad sits, exposed, raw.

A knock and the doctor is back, snapping on gloves, checking for latex allergies. Sliding between your legs, saying, You’re going to feel my hand, you’re going to feel my hand, you’re going to feel my fingers.

Caitlin Vestal is a writer of lyric essays and poetry. In some former life she was a birth doula and yoga teacher, but now she's pursuing her MFA at Oregon State University-Cascades and answering phones in a schmancy office. She lives in Portland, OR with her rad husband and two neurotic dogs.


  1. Shelley Shackelford says

    Achingly poignant, well-titled piece. Thank you for giving this heartbreaking part of life a voice, cousin.

  2. Actually, I have had a spontaneous abortion–lost the twin to our son
    My doctor did not examine me manually because my hormones registered still pregnant so to be safe he sent me for
    a cat scan which showed our son still zipping about in his own little amniotic sac (fraternal twins evidently)
    Placenta previa kept me in bed for eight months–while caring for our daughter–my husband worked ten hour days

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