The Stairs

These stairs and I have a tense relationship.  It’s not my fault.  Sometimes these things just happen.

We used to see each other all the time, outside the Women’s Center.  Three pregnancies in four years, I got to know them well.  We met when I was too impatient to wait for the elevator.  Please don’t ask a pregnant lady to wait for one more thing.  Soon, I could travel them by muscle memory, and chose them even when I couldn’t see my feet.

From the top of the parking garage, I’d descend them on my way to doctors’ offices and childbirth classes, an awkward spiral, all knees and elbows.  They led me to my promised land — the sacred place where I learned to count in weeks instead of months, how to clean a freshly knotted bellybutton, and that women really do have babies every day.

Worn smooth, steady and predictable, this passageway delivered comfort in the midst of constant change.  These stairs were my place of winding and unwinding, rushing and waiting, giving in and toughing out.

I’d enter in, tune out the chaos and barrel down on the reason for my visit.  Down I’d go.  Right-Left.  Dot-Dash.  Lub-Dub.  Lub-Dub.  Lub-Dub.  The letter “A” in Morse code.  The walls would echo back in complete agreement with the heartbeat of my feet.

I’d choose the stairs for my return climb too, spirits soaring from the excitement of being one step closer to my due date.  Dash-Dash, Dash-Dash, taking two at a time.  I’d grab the rail and push away the pain.  You’re almost there.  Don’t forget to breathe.  On the best days, black and white ultrasound pictures streamed from my hand, a banner raised high.

And on it went with each visit.  Down and Up.  Wind and unwind.

Even Stephen.  Or Stella.  Time would tell.

I always chose the stairs.

Until one day, I didn’t.

When something is ripped from your woman’s center can you even focus on the step right before you?

The ultrasound revealed no heartbeat, no growth.  The bundle I carried out the door babbled of steps to recovery and stages of grief, my film strip left on the cutting room floor.  I fled the place of life and death and broken wings and Please Excuse Our Dust.

They say my angel baby flew to heaven.

Angels don’t need to take the stairs.

I shuffled blindly to the parking garage, weighed down by the I’m So Sorry’s, and snubbed my trusted stairs.  The elevator doors closed in around me.  That felt wrong too.  Elevators are for mommies with babies in strollers.

This was my red button emergency.

I was raised against my will.  The doors parted and I recoiled, gasped for air.  I stepped out, turned my head and let the sun begin to dry my tears.

I never got to say goodbye.

*Inspiration sparked by the Monday writing prompts so generously provided by Amber Haines of


19 thoughts on “The Stairs

  1. thank you for baring your empty arms in this beautiful way…really beautiful and raw….I pray the Lord has seen fit to bless your arms with a babe or 2.

  2. I participate in these link ups to read posts like this. You had my full attention at “Lub-Dub.” I knew then that you were a genius. But, you are better than that. You are brave… and Lori took my word, raw, in what you relate…My goodness, Miss Allison, how can anything so horrible be so powerfully, even beautifully, rendered?

    Well, that test can go one more day ungraded. I’ll be hanging out here a while.

    • I am beyond grateful to have found Amber’s group and am truly humbled by your words, Kim. I am tempted to now list a thousand reasons why you should immediately lower your expectations. But practice, I will, and I’m so glad we’ll be doing this together.

  3. allison, i walked up stairs frequently to my ob. your post took me back to those days and to a miscarriage grieved but forgiven…thanks for sharing your hurt., it will help someone else with their healing…

  4. Oh Allison – you totally took me with you, I was rhythmically, merrily ascending and descending the stairs with you, enjoying the ride, until suddenly you weren’t, and I wasn’t either. I think I read the rest of the post without taking a breath. Thank you for your powerful honesty – I’m so glad I read this.

  5. Oh my face and my heart are flooded. I agree with Tanya. Your writing is strong. You had me in the excitement and the hard work with you, what grief to fall into. I’ve lost two. Thank you for sharing . I feel like you’re not shy at all. You are meek and bold.

    • You pour out grace, Amber. Thank you for sharing that with me. This happened over the summer and the Lord has been so near. I hope to find words for the rest of the story someday. 🙂

  6. This is the hard-beautiful. I know stairs well and the not getting to say good-bye. I’ve lost two and one of the hardest parts was walking into that maternity center everyone with their smiling faces and me coming to get blood drawn to test my levels knowing my baby was dying inside me. It’s a hard grace.

    Thank you for sharing.

  7. This is so heart-breakingly beautiful. I, too, walked these stairs with you through this piece, these rhythms, this pain. Such brave, glory pierced through story telling. Thank you for this gift, this treasure of your pain, touched.

  8. Oh, God bless. I had a miscarriage in January and got pregnant, again, during my next cycle. Our baby should be here in less than a month. Can I confess: I’ve been a crazy (literally) mess this ENTIRE pregnancy; in fact, I was just saying to my man, not five minutes ago: I know I’m not going to be able to relax until the baby’s here. He’s our last, so, Lord willing, there will be the added peace that we are ALL here. I’m so thankful that you’ve had healthy children since your loss but know: the loss never goes away, entirely.

    • Oh Brandee, thank you for sharing this. I will pray for your sweet baby, and you. I can only imagine the anxiety you are dealing with. We have two amazing children, lost our third baby this past July. I know pregnancy after miscarriage, Lord willing, will be a completely different experience. May we all be full of joyful expectation as we rest in Him. Happy to meet you. I look forward to celebrating your son’s arrival.

  9. oh Allison … I’ve grieved the loss of two. This was hard-beautiful and honest. Thank you. {and we are expecting living babe number three, a boy in June as well.} Surely God is good. {I came from the story circle, and can I just say that I am already a fan of your beautiful writing.}

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