In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Paper Nests
  • TaraShea Nesbit (bio)

My partner saw the papery nest first, under the roof of our garage, and understood it to be abandoned. After bringing the nest into the house to observe more closely, he noticed the nest was not abandoned, but rather still alive with small incubating wasps.

Their vulnerable, squirming, blind bodies. They would find a home in our home and our own back porch. We both knew what decision we were to make but did not say it aloud. He took the nest away.

A week before, I was eight months pregnant. I arrived at the hospital concerned my daughter was not moving. Don’t you feel this? the nurse asked, placing her hand on my stomach when the monitor told her my daughter was kicking. Believe me, the doctor said, she’s safer in there—and at this pause she pointed to my belly—than out here. Out here in the world she would have difficulty nursing, she would not sleep well, she could get sick. They monitored me for two hours, and likely concluded that I was one of those overly concerned pregnant women. I must not know my own body, I worried. We went home.

Two days later my stomach began cramping. I called my partner. A snowstorm was approaching and it would be an hour or more to travel from our town to the city, the doctor’s office. I made a calculation, feeling badly for making us travel. The snow piled up—a one-hour drive turned into three.

I took the stairs first to the office, running as much as an eight-month pregnant woman can. We waited. The midwife arrived—she had been on call that day—and scolded us for not telling her over the phone that our daughter was breech. We apologized. She placed cold gel on my stomach with the confidence of a woman ready to return to her day off. The wand hovered [End Page 121] back and forth. There was my daughter, her fingers long, her body curled. I observed the screen, peering inside myself to see my sleeping daughter. But we all—my partner, the midwife, myself—could not deny one single, glaring absence. Her heart was no longer beating.

In a black cotton dress—too thin for the snow—and running shoes (in my haste, I had not worn socks) I walked out of the office. My partner removed the car seat and put it in the trunk. My partner, the midwife, and I got in. I sat in the back where the car seat had been.

I walked through the hospital to the waiting room of a doctor’s office. Every seat was taken with pregnant mothers, but I thought of them as mothers whose babies are not dead. Some were with toddlers, who stacked blocks or hung off their shoulders. I held my sobs in for twenty minutes. At twenty-five minutes, they got me to a room, quarantining my sadness.

The doctor arrived and confirmed her death. I was given an option. I could wait for my body to go into labor naturally and hold my child dead inside me for as long as two weeks, or they could begin induction that evening. We told the midwife we did not need her. We were admitted to the hospital two hours later. In the interim, my partner and I walked across the street to a restaurant. I asked him to order a beer so that I could, after eight months without, finally have a drink. But the presence of the off-duty doctors and nurses who crowded the restaurant stopped me from taking a sip. To them, I would be an expectant mother coming from a wellness visit, hazarding a life by having a beer.

Our hospital room was away from others, and a single silk white rose taped to the outside of our door told the staff that our daughter was not alive. We waited. Outside the hospital, an April blizzard covered and quieted the city, and in another city, two bombs exploded at a marathon finish line.

In the evening I shook. The blankets were thin cotton, the...