Disclaimer: The writer in me would like to note that much of this was written piecemeal over several days. To keep the emotion, I have not overly edited, so it may be choppy.
Miscarriage. What a horrible word. I did not trip. This isn’t about my posture (atrocious though it may be). I lost my baby. My baby died. Miscarriage doesn’t really cover it.
When you see that pink line you know that the baby inside of you is perfect. Before your child is ever born you have held her, sung to her, dressed her, watched her sleep, played with her, and every other thing you can think of. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been pregnant five minutes or five months, it’s all there—an entire life—in your heart.
This is why it is so inconceivable that anything could possibly be wrong with your baby. Statistics of how many pregnancies end in miscarriage (almost half) mean absolutely nothing. How could it possibly happen to me? My child is perfect. My heart told me so.
There are many causes of spontaneous miscarriage. I’ll never know what reason caused mine (I was 10 weeks, five days). While logic tells me that there was a good reason, that something must have been gravely wrong, my heart tells me that’s not good enough. In high school science class they called it a “genetic defect incompatible with life.” At the time those words were funny. Now their coldness fills me with rage.
It happened without warning last Sunday evening. The first sign was the blood. Yet after we knew what was happening, I look back and wonder if maybe my body knew. When I conceived H, I knew right away. I was positive I was pregnant. This time I was very doubtful. When I finally saw the positive test, I was thrilled, but I remained very nervous. When I had to get a blood test for my OB referral, I stressed over the result even though I was several weeks pregnant. I chalked up most of my anxiety to Josh’s absence. Once he got back, I told myself, everything would be fine. Relatively speaking, I told very few people. Some people knew we were trying and others guessed. I was tempted several times to shout it out, but I always stopped because I wanted to wait until I heard a heartbeat. I was never very sick with H, but even less so this time. I wasn’t sick for more than two weeks. I just thought I was really lucky.
Did I know? No. Does looking back on the “signs” help? Not really. Realizing after the fact that a week earlier my come-and-go belly stopped appearing doesn’t make anything that happened afterward any easier to bear.
My only comfort, small though it is, is that the baby never really developed. Something prevented it from developing, though it did implant and an egg sac formed. If I had heard the heartbeat before this happened, I know what it would make everything so much harder. For whatever reason, the timing just wasn’t right for this baby. It would have been too sick to live. That doesn’t mean that I mourn the loss any less.
I find myself again and again curled in a fetal-position ball on my bed. Not crying, just numb. I am supposed to be doing something—getting dressed, taking a shower—but outside the buoying presence of my parents and daughter, the bed calls to me. It says, “Come lay down your troubles with me. Just for a little while.” I’m so exhausted in these first days that I usually fall asleep. A few hours spent in blissful ignorance of the fact that my already cherished baby will never be born.
Occasionally I wish that I had the luxury of just wallowing the way I would if I didn’t have any kids. The rest of the time I am fiercely relieved to have my beautiful daughter here to remind me that it will all be OK. Of course, the worst ear infection with the highest, longest lasting fever ever has coincided with my loss. For a while we both suffered together.
But I am not a person prone to depression. This time with my bed must stop soon. I know it. But not today. Today it’s OK to lie down and let my mind drift. I just can’t stay. H is downstairs waiting.
I am officially on bed rest while my body recovers. I am not supposed to pick H up. Thankfully I have some of the best neighbors on the planet who came and helped until my parents arrived Monday morning. I could not have handled losing a child and caring for another very sick one at the same time. On Monday, while I was having the ultrasound that would fail to find my baby’s heartbeat, my dad was taking H to the pediatrician. Neither of those appointments could have been delayed. I could never have done both. Not that day.
Meanwhile Facebook is atwitter with announced pregnancies. I am unreservedly happy for each couple. I also wish I didn’t know. I wish I didn’t have to hear. If I hear them, I can’t stop my mind from comparing, being jealous, and being sad. It isn’t fair to those couples. But there it is. I imagine it’s like when you break up with someone. You’re not exactly overjoyed to have other girls run up to you and gush on their new romance. The feeling will pass. I hope it passes quickly.
On Friday I received a beautiful flower arrangement from my brother- and sister-in-law. I love them both, and I appreciate their thoughtfulness to send something because they are far away. The arrangement was all white—carnations and gladiolus. It looked like a funeral arrangement. I couldn’t keep it. I took it next door to my neighbor.
The rest of the day I felt fine. Josh got here very late Thursday night, and I didn’t even cry then. I thought seeing him would cause me to fall apart anew. We had a really normal “Saturday,” just hanging out and running errands. The flowers did me in. I tried to put them on the counter in the kitchen where we put flowers. They lasted 45 seconds before I had to get them out of the house. They screamed, “Loss!” at me.
I suppose this is how life will be for a while. I’ll be fine, and something will happen, and I won’t be fine. Maybe not just a while. Maybe it’ll be like this forever. I think that’s normal.
Every day from now on is a chance to be torn apart by grief or to trust that life will go on somehow. More because of H than anything, I cannot fall apart. I can and I will be sad. I’ll probably be sad for a long time. My grief, however, is soothed every time those chubby arms wrap round my neck and those pink lips kiss any little boo-boo.
Certainly, pregnancy has taken on new dimensions for me. Something that was never scary to me at all now seems like a perilous undertaking. I am sure like every woman who has lost a child, I fear that I will lose another. Statistics are in my favor. But I will never feel confident until I hear a heartbeat. I can’t let that stop me, no matter how scary it seems. Hopefully next time the timing will be right.