(Note: Out of respect to my friends at Lost and Found, many of whom have suffered many losses and heartbreaks, please know that this post deals with both pregnancy and multiple miscarriages. Please feel free to visit me with a comment)
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
I suppose it’s time to tell the story. I have time, if you do. I am in bed, after all, and heck, I might as well, since I can’t go tonight to the church Valentine’s dance that I planned and organized (that’s me, pouting a little. I mean, who doesn’t want to dance cheek to cheek with their sweetie the whole night to a playlist they made themselves? Exactly.) .
I waited to tell this, because it has been so uncertain. And still is, but I have decided to come at all of this from a place of profound and undying hope. It has taken me a while to get here, and “here” is only part of the way.
After our first miscarriage 8 years ago, we had accepted the fact that a loss was a likely event for anyone having several children, statistically speaking, and this was our “one in four”. It was devastating, but I never thought “why me?”.
Why not? One in four, right?
We had two more healthy children, and felt blessed and complete. Guy said four was perfect for going to Dinseyland- no one rides alone. Then when our baby girl was 6 months old, I began having feelings that there was this child, this other child, waiting for me. I kept this in my heart for some time, and finally began to talk to my husband about it casually. He said he felt quite content with four children, and so I left it alone for a while, but soon, it was all I could think about. In the past I had needed at least two years between children to even begin thinking about trying again, but here I was with a babe on my hip, and feeling a weight on my spirit I can’t explain. Guy began to seriously question his own heart and eventually came to the place where he was also wanting to welcome a little soul.
We surprised ourselves by achieving a pregnancy immediately, and then 2 months later on our 13th anniversary, I began to bleed. We did all we could to save it, but the loss was inevitable, and 2 days later on New Year’s Eve we had the miscarriage. We waited to heal a few months, and then tried again. After several months of trying we were blessed with that little pink line and embarked timidly on another pregnancy. Eight weeks later my dad fell and broke his hip, became lost in dementia and I took up vigil at the hospital and then at the nursing home. While there, I began to bleed. It took 10 days for that one to be over.
It was a year of trying after that, but finally there it was, our little pink line, and my symptoms were strong. Dad was now living with us, and I grew too sick to care for him anymore. My sis came and got him and for one week we rested. Then I thought I saw faint blood. An ultrasound proved the worst, and I asked for the medicine to make it go fast. I couldn’t do this for 10 days again. It did, go fast, I mean. By the next day, I was no longer pregnant.
“I don’t want to do this anymore.” Guy said. I agreed. But in a few days we were talking to the fertility clinic and getting tests-- (I thought)-- just to find out some answers to the aching “why?” in us. But in my heart, though I didn’t want it to, a flicker of hope remained. The nurse-practitioner we met with was kind and tender as she went over our test results, telling us that the tests showed no problems. “You are 40” she reminded me. “Only for four days!” I said a bit frazzled having just had the birthday that pushed me out of the “maybe” age group into the “not likely” one. How had the shelf life on my eggs suddenly expired? Just three years ago I had a healthy baby!
“Clomid.” she recommended. My ovaries were a little slow on the draw, which explained the huge gaps between our kiddos, and this would help.
We had gone in thinking we just wanted closure, we came out with a little baggie of pills.
They worked, but then the struggle began again in earnest. From the moment I saw that terrifying little pink line three months ago, I began to mourn the immanent loss. It was “the fetus” and “the pregnancy”. We told no one, and only spoke of it to each other vaguely if at all. When we did, the word “if” began every sentence, and no statements were permitted to venture any further into the future than the next week. “If we make it through this week, maybe we can still go to the snow. If it happens this week, you still take the kids…” I kept a vigil looking for blood. Guy stood by the bathroom door often to wait for the tears. Sometimes if a child began crying softly down the hall while I was in the bathroom, he came running thinking it was me.
At 8 weeks we were to go in to check for a heartbeat. “How about the 24th?” asked the nurse on the phone. “Day before Christmas? I don’t want to find out its dead the day before Christmas.” “The 28th?” “Day before our anniversary, we already lost one on that day.” “Nurse Kathy is out for a week after that, how about the 6th?” It was the closest date she had. I took it, disturbed to have to wait that long.
On the 27th I began feeling crampy. It persisted through the next day, and by our anniversary I didn’t care what day it was, I had to know if this was it. I called. They plugged me in with “some doctor”. We went.
There was a strange little part of me on the way to the office that was being defiant of my plans to be stoic about losing this one. I felt, I don’t know, slightly hopeful. I let the feeling stay, like you do pigeons around your picnic table.
By the time we got in for our appointment, my blood pressure was 153/102 and my pulse was 137. I can’t remember a time in my life when I have been more terrified. “Are you nervous?” asked a nurse as though it was a silly thing. “We have lost four babies. We are here to look for a heartbeat” was all my trembling voice could force out. “Well let’s get you in there” she said, a new weight in her voice.
We sat for an eternity in a small purple and yellow room. I had far too much time to memorize the place; a screaming red bio-hazard sticker, pap-smear pamphlets in a rack, my paper gown, the ultrasound screen with my name misspelled on it that would soon be the mechanism to determine my fate. I felt ambivalent toward the threatening beast, not wanting to hate it yet in case it would let me have the news I was hoping for both faintly and earnestly in waves. There was a startling knock.
A tall blond doctor came in smiling and introduced herself. I got the impression the nurse had spoken with her about my nerves because she moved quickly through a few questions and then said, “Well, I know you are anxious to know, so let’s do this.” I lay back as she placed the internal ultrasound wand, with Guy right there by my head, as he had been all the times before.
She looked. She moved the wand. She looked. She was taking too long, we knew from past experience. I looked at Guy and shook my head.
She spoke, turning the screen to us in a way that seemed anything but grave, and with a pleasant expression, very matter-of-factly said,
“Well, your uterus appears to be empty.”
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