No real contractions yesterday (hurray!), just a few spells of tightening that tried to rile me but were unsuccessful. I wish I could feel the baby move so that it could tell me it is okay, but I will have to just keep hoping that all is well till my next prenatal.
Below is the continuation of the post called "Hope". Click here to read the beginning of this story if you missed it, before trying to read this post.
I sat stunned, trying to make sense of it. No baby? No placenta, even? Nothing? I saw the screen myself. It looked like it had on all of the fertility visits, a long solid line indicating the cavity of the uterus was empty, the two walls of the interior touching one another like a flat balloon.
She began talking about a chemical pregnancy like she was teaching a science class, in an isn’t-this-so-interesting voice. All the while there was a strange upbeat smile on her face. The sounds of her voice began to blur together into echo-y tones. I caught words here and there, “tubal pregnancy”, “blood test”, “follow up”, and soon stopped even trying to pay attention. I just kept looking at her long white teeth and wondering why she kept smiling. I stopped her and said, “Then give me the cytotec so I can be done with this.”
Her voice came in more clearly as she denied my request. Something about making sure we had all the information and not being hasty. “So I’ll order up that test. You should hear back in two days.” said Dr. Teeth, and she suddenly walked out the door. She never came back. No goodbye, no I’m sorry for your loss, no nothing.
I got dressed robotically. Guy wrapped his arms around me and led me out to the noisy medical offices corridor. We walked and my eyes blurred. I saw faces pass me and locked on to each one that looked empty or sad, trying to see my reflection, wondering what had brought them to this horrible place today. I walked right out the doors and found myself outside.
“Honey,” Guy said, “we’re supposed to get the blood test.”
“Why?” I said faintly. “What’s the point? There's no baby.”
He held me and looked into my face with moist eyes. “Because I don’t want to lose you, too, if there is something wrong.”
I turned around and walked, and he guided me back to the lab. I sat with tears quietly pouring down my cheeks while the woman drew my blood, never looking at me. “You’re done” she said, and walked away.
By the time we reached the car, the familiarity of the space inside helped me pull myself together. I knew this had been likely. The hope of a real, live, healthy baby had been a long shot. I had to pull myself together for the kids, who did not know anything about the pregnancy, such as it was.
We took an hour to rest before getting the kids. They were none the wiser. And honestly, since I had been grieving for 8 weeks already, I slid right back into that space, and it, too, was familiar. So familiar that I could hide it well.
We went to dinner that night because it was, after all, our anniversary. We talked of new phases in life. Tessa would start school in a year, and I could begin painting intensively. We avoided talk about what the next few days would bring, and we knew the routine so well that there would have been little to discuss. I lay in bed that night pondering if there would be anything at all to bury when it all finally happened. And if there was something to bury, how would we fit it into the pot of the tree where all of the other babies were buried?
The next morning the phone rang, and a nurse practitioner we were supposed to have seen on the 6th spoke with some intensity. “Your HCG levels are extremely high. We would not expect to see this in a chemical pregnancy. I have made an appointment for you at the hospital in an hour. We need to rule out a tubal pregnancy right away.”
When I told Guy about it I was almost annoyed. What next? Did it have to go like this? We made calls to have someone watch the kids, with the understanding that it may be overnight if I were to wind up in surgery that afternoon.
We left for the hospital. As we drove, an amazing sensation washed over me. I felt abounding peace. I thought for a moment and decided that it must be from all the people who were, in those moments, praying for us. I felt thankful and even strengthened. I thought of telling Guy that everything was going to be ok, but instead I said, “We’re going to get through this.” I began hoping that the baby was somehow in the neck of the fallopian tube, so close to the uterus that it might be saved, or that perhaps they could tuck my tube into my uterus and open the side to allow the baby to occupy the womb. I had even heard of women with babies growing in their abdomen that had gone almost to term and had survived. What a strange time to begin feeling hopeful.
When we sat in the waiting room, I watched two little girls playing and found myself able to smile at them. When our turn came, the ultrasound tech came out and called me back. When Guy walked up with me, she tried to stop him. “Just her,” she said.
“I want him with me.” I said.
“I’m just going to take my pictures and I am not going to be able to tell you anything. He can come back when the doctor comes to talk to you.”
“No.” I said firmly. “I need him there. This is about our baby, and he has every right to be with me.”
“Well,” she said in annoyance, “He’ll just be sitting there. I can’t tell you or show you anything.”
“Fine.” I said. She dropped her arm in exasperation, and sighed like an annoyed teenager.
We began, and she made no attempts to even let me see the screen as she slid the ultrasound wand across my belly. I talked to her, telling her that we knew my uterus was empty and that she would be looking for the baby somewhere else. “If you see it, dead or alive, please, please let us see it. It will be our only chance to see our baby.”
She repeated her script about not being allowed to say anything and that the doctor would talk to us. She clicked and scanned and I searched Guy’s face for information on what he might be able to see. He looked grim and gave me no response. I begged her, explaining that we had lost so many, and that for us this would be hello and goodbye.
Then she suddenly turned the screen to me. Pointing, she said softly and carefully, “Do you see that? Do you see...that?” A little form was on the screen, and below her finger, a rapid flicker. The heart.
“Oh! Hi baby!” I said through instant tears, and I heard a sob well up in Guy’s chest. My heart was thrilled and broken. We finally had a heartbeat. After all the losses, a beautiful little flickering heartbeat.
She pulled the screen back and instructed me to empty my bladder while she went to talk to the doctor. She would come back in a moment to do the internal ultrasound. I went, and while in the bathroom I smiled. “I’m pregnant,” I thought. “with a live baby.” I tried to experience a whole pregnancy’s worth of joy in a few moments, not knowing how long it would be before they hurried us into surgery.
When I came out I smiled at Guy. He looked tragically sad. “We have a heart beat.” I said. “The baby is alive.”
“And now we have to kill it,” he said through angry tears. I felt so strangely strong. “Yes, but for right now, for this moment, I have a live baby inside me, and I want to enjoy it for as long as it lasts.” But then I cried too. Of course I did.
The tech came back in and began the internal scan. Now I was more insistent about getting a picture, and finding out what I could. “Please, I know you aren’t supposed to tell us anything, but whatever you are able to let us see would be such a blessing to us. Since we will never be able to raise this baby, this will be our only way to know it.” She said something about the doctor, and I said, “Can you even tell us, is it in my abdomen or fallopian tube?”
She looked baffled. “It’s in your uterus. That’s what I was showing you.”
“What?!” I nearly screamed. “You mean, it’s alive, I mean, it’s gonna make it? I mean, maybe, we’ll get to have this baby?!” Guy’s voice raised in excitement with mine and the tech began to nervously shush us.
Our baby was alive. Our baby was fine. We were reeling.
She explained to us that my uterus was very tipped, and that with the internal wand she could barely find the baby. “I can see why she missed it.” She said in defense of Dr. Teeth. I didn't care about her. I had a baby inside of me. And it was alive.
I don’t remember much of the rest. We cried happy tears for the first time in months, maybe years. We walked out into the sunshine and it covered us. We smiled and smiled, nervous to even speak of it. For weeks we had hoped and now we were being told our hope might become a little life that would join our family in a few months.
I guess I will have to add a third installment to this post. Writing it kind of takes a lot out of me as you can imagine, but I am glad to finally tell it. Check here to read the rest of our experience.