"I don't want her to have to cry her heart out as I have for almost every day of my adult life. I want her to be happy, always."
Scarlett Haye, No Tears (2015)
When Scarlett Haye asks her doctor to ensure that her baby never has to suffer the pain and sorrow she has gone through herself, she thinks she's just doing what's best for her child. Fast forward sixteen years, and her daughter's bright happy world starts to fall apart. But how does someone who can't express sadness cope with their grief?
Inspired by the heartache that followed the loss of a friend, "No Tears" questions how far a mother would go to protect her child from the pain and torment that comes with the human condition, and whether the best of intentions are that, or if they are just self-serving.
“Stop pacing, and sit down.” Ricky’s voice cut through the silence of the room as Scarlett Haye walked back and forth in front of the window of the third floor office of the doctor who had promised to help them to have a baby. They had been waiting for this appointment for months, and now that she was finally here, she could hardly believe that the doctor was so insensitive as to keep them waiting like this.
“What’s he doing?” she asked her husband. “Why is he keeping us sitting in here, with no information as to how long he’s going to be?”
“Scarlett, I’m sure he’s just busy. You know doctors, they’re always held up by patients, especially in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. You do know that obstetricians are involved with babies, so I can’t see why you would think it unreasonable to expect him to be slightly delayed. It’s not as if he’s hours late, it’s only fifteen minutes. Give the guy a break.”
“But it’s not fair!”
“Just sit down, Scar.”
“Don’t call me that.” Scarlett slumped into the seat beside her husband and continued to mope. She tapped her foot impatiently, her open toed sandals displaying her perfect pedicure. She admired the workmanship and knew that if this doctor were everything he claimed to be, she would have little time for pedicures in the future.
“I can’t help it. You’re not the one who has to go through the pain every time.”
“No, I just have to watch you go through it.” Ricky stared out of the window onto the unfamiliar scenery. It had been a journey of three thousand miles to get here, and a lot more emotionally. He knew he should not be so hard on Scarlett, but she did have a tendency to make out that she was the only one who hurt every time they lost a child. With each passing pregnancy, he felt a little piece of the closeness between them was slipping away. It broke his heart a little more each time he had to drive her to the hospital in the dead of night, only to find out that the child they so longed for had died in utero.
“I’m so sorry to have kept you waiting.” The door slammed open and a thick mid-western drawl greeted them. “There was a birth, I had to be there, and you know how it is.”
“It’s not a problem,” Ricky told him.
“So you’re Richard and Scarlett Haye, right?” the doctor asked.
“It’s great to meet you. I’m Doctor Nicholas Fullerton. Please feel free to call me Nick. I’m going to help you have a baby.”
Scarlett grunted. She had heard it all before, the promises that the doctors could help her conceive, to carry the baby to term, to give birth to a live baby at the end of it. Therefore, it made no sense that after all the promises she had had to endure three miscarriages and two stillbirths. She was twenty-five years old and had been pregnant five times with nothing to show for it but a closet full of baby keepsakes, and tiny clothes that would remain unworn.
“I promise you I’ll help you, Scarlett. I know it seems scary to consider putting your faith in an American. I know you probably don’t trust us, and think we’re all gun-toting redneck hicks. But I went to college, I studied my ass off to get where I am today, and I know that I can help you have the baby you deserve.”
“I’ll hold you to that when I’m pushing a dead baby out of my body again.” Scarlett’s eyes filled with tears. “Do you know what it’s like to have to go through that, time and time again? It’s agony. You think you’re going to have this beautiful little baby and then it all goes wrong. You find yourself in a hospital delivery room, cold and in pain, your body tearing apart only to hold the body of your lifeless infant. It’s the worst feeling in the world, and I don’t want to have to go through that again. We shouldn’t have come here. I don’t want to do this.”
“I know you’re scared.” Nick sat on the edge of the desk in front of her. “I know what you’ve been through and I know how much you must be hurting. Hell, if I’d had to go through it even once I wouldn’t have even dreamed about trying again. But then I’m a guy, so I wouldn’t want to be pushing a baby through my dick anyway, right?”
Scarlett stared at him for a moment. He was a little unconventional, but he seemed genuine. He had a nice smile and a jolly demeanour. He wanted to help, that much she could tell, but she just did not know what made him different to the countless other doctors who had promised her miracles only to let her down when she needed them the most.
“Listen, I want to show you something.” He reached backwards over his desk and took a photo album from the drawer. He handed the album to Scarlett and encouraged her to look through it. “These are all women just like you, Scarlett.”
She looked up at him.
“All of these women had been through the same thing as you. All of them have had miscarriage after stillbirth after infant mortality and lost their confidence. Some of them were ready to end it all. A couple of them were so desperate to have a baby and so disillusioned every time they lost the baby they had carried, sometimes almost to term, sometimes with stillbirths just like you, that they were actually ready to kill themselves. Now look at the photos again.”
She flicked through the album, at least a dozen women with newborn babies, and then sequences of photos as the babies grew through their first year. It was impossible to believe, and she looked to Ricky for reassurance.
“It’s amazing, isn’t it, Scar?” Ricky smiled at her. “Can’t you just imagine what it’ll be like knowing that some other poor couple in the future could be looking at our photos in there?”
“But it’s just photos,” she replied flatly. “There’s no proof that he hasn’t just taken photos of any random women he’s helped to deliver. For all I know, they could be his children.”
“I can’t lie to you and tell you that you’re entirely wrong.” Nick flipped back to the first page of the album and pointed to a tiny newborn baby girl in a knitted pink hat and a purple onesie. “That’s Helen. She’s four years old now. That’s my wife, Nora, holding her. I know you don’t want to believe me, hell I wouldn’t believe me either if I was in your position, but I do know what you guys are going through, because I’ve been through it too. I watched Nora go through six miscarriages at various stages of pregnancy. The last one she was only a month from term and she cried herself to sleep every night for a year. She was inconsolable for the longest time and I couldn’t bear it. All of the doctors we saw told her she should give up trying because her womb just couldn’t hold a baby for long enough to have a successful pregnancy, but she was so desperate, I would have done anything to help her. I looked up every study on miscarriage, and there was no conclusive evidence to suggest that she would never be able to carry a child.”
“So is that why you decided to help people like this?” Scarlett asked guiltily. “Because of your wife?”
“Yes. That and the fact that I had a degree in genetics, and McDonald's told me I was over qualified to work there.” Nick laughed a rich, hearty laugh. It made Scarlett smile despite her apathy, and he grinned at her. “So do you want me to help you have a baby? Do you want to be on the pages of my little victory book here? I’ll reserve a space just for you.”
“I’d love that.” Scarlett smiled at him. “We’d love that,” she corrected herself and grabbed Ricky’s hand. He squeezed her fingers and when she turned to him, he smiled at her. There was a sadness in his smile, and Scarlett could tell that he wasn’t quite convinced of this new doctor’s claims. It was understandable. There were a dozen women who he had helped, but there was no way of knowing how many women he had let down. For every smiling mother in the photo album, there could have been a dozen more who had gone home without a baby after paying him to help her.
“Well let’s get to work then.” Nick jumped down from the desk and walked to his file cabinet. “Now you know this is going to be some pretty intensive treatment. You’re going to have to stay in the States for a while, so I hope you have work or some other way of supporting yourselves while you’re here.”
“Ricky’s been transferred over here for the next six months, so we’re good to go,” Scarlett assured him. “And we have the money for the treatment.”
“That’s great.” Nick pulled some papers from the cabinet and handed them to Ricky. “I just need you to fill out your work details on here for me, just so that everything is above board and you know that I’m not some hack who’s just out for your money. I’ll contact your employer if that’s okay with you and let them know that the two of you are undergoing treatment with me. Most employers around here are flexible enough to let you have paid time off to come here, so you don’t have to worry about missing work.”
He took another bundle of papers and handed them to Scarlett. “You on the other hand, have a lot of decisions to make. There isn’t just the conception to consider, there’s the form of medication that you’ll take while you’re pregnant, your antenatal care, whether you want to be cared for by the local midwives or by my team. You know the sort of decisions you normally have to make.”
“I’ve been there before. I know the drill by heart now, Nick,” Scarlett told him.
“What you don’t normally get to decide is the gender of your child.” Nick smiled. “Have you thought about whether you want a boy or a girl? I know that most prospective parents don’t really mind, but some have a preference.”
“A girl.” Scarlett blurted out. “I want a girl.”
“Wait a minute, when did we decide that?” Ricky looked up from the papers in his lap. “We never talked about wanting one over the other. When did you decide a boy wasn’t good enough?”
“It’s not that a boy wouldn’t be good enough, Ricky.” Scarlett told him. “It’s just that both of our babies were boys, and I really want to be able to hold a girl in my arms, even if it’s only for as long as I held Joe and Lucas.”
“Scar, this is madness. How can you possibly think like that? Surely the best thing is just to have a healthy baby.”
“I want a girl, Ricky. You don’t know what it’s like. You never had to push a dead body out of you, so you couldn’t possibly know what it feels like to have to make this decision.”
“For fuck’s sake, Scarlett, would you listen to yourself?” Ricky threw the paperwork onto the desk. “What’s gotten into your head? Do you think I don’t hurt every bit as much as you do? Don’t you think I have just as much of a say in our child’s life as you?”
“Of course you do, but I want a girl. You can’t take that away from me, so don’t even try. I want a girl.”
“There is one other thing.” Nick interrupted. “The gender can wait for now. I want to know if there’s any other requirement you have for this baby.”
“I’m sorry, but what?” Ricky asked him.
“I can help you engineer the perfect baby.”
“Sorry. Maybe I’m being thick, but what do you mean?”
“I mean I can help you create the perfect baby,” Nick told him. “I know it’s a lot to take in, especially since you’ve obviously got some personal conflict you need to sort out between yourselves, but if there’s anything you want your child to have, or to not have, I can help with that. Say there’s a genetic illness in your family that you don’t want little baby Haye to have. Just tell me what it is, and I can manipulate the gene sequence that causes it, and hey presto, your baby is free of the disease.”
“That’s insane.” Ricky snorted. “You’re working in one of the most God-fearing nations on the planet, and you stand there telling me that you’re willing to play God? And you think people are just going to let that happen?”
“Is it anymore playing God than, say, giving your wife medication to strengthen the endometrium in order to stop her miscarrying the baby? Or in utero monitoring so that we know immediately if there’s anything wrong with the foetus?”
“Is it not then, a little ironic to be paying me to ensure a healthy pregnancy for your wife, while accusing me of unethical behaviour by offering to ensure the child you’re paying a substantial amount of money for doesn’t die of a debilitating childhood cancer?”
“It’s not the point.”
“Of course it’s the point. You can’t tell me not to God while paying me to play God. It’s just crazy.”
“Jesus, Ricky, would you please just drop it? He’s doing what we’re paying him to do, so just let him do his damn job.” Scarlett turned to Nick. “How long do we have to let you know?”
“Take as long as you need.” Nick said. “I’ll be here when you’ve made up your mind. Just call Tamzin and she’ll make you an appointment.”
“Thank you, Doctor Nick.” Scarlett got to her feet and shook his hand. “I’m sorry my husband’s being such a, what word would you use here, ‘bonehead?’”
“That or ‘stubborn son of a bitch.’”
Scarlett laughed for the first time in years. She did not mean to make jokes at her husband’s expense, but it had been so long since she had had a reason to be happy that it just happened. She found herself so overcome by laughter that she found it hard to breathe, and even when she stopped laughing, the thought of it made her laugh even more.
“Thank you, Doctor,” Ricky said, taking his coat from the back of his chair and helping Scarlett to her feet. “You’ve given us a lot to think about.”
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