A lot has changed in a month. I want to remember and I don't want to remember, but I guess the desire to get all the thoughts out of my head wins. One month ago I decided to pick up the cheapest pregnancy test they sell at Walmart. I was so sure it would be negative that I didn't want to splurge on the fancy digital test. I almost fell in the toilet when I realized the first line meant I was reallyreallyreally pregnant.
I reacted as I always have in the past with a, "Thank You, Jesus," only this time I also threw in an, "Oh, shit." That's just me being honest. Judge away if you must, but this baby took us by surprise. Big, big surprise.
I told everybody. I can't keep a secret. However, I had no replies for, "How far along are you?" Not one clue.
As far as pregnancies go, this one was the easiest so far. Not even a hint of morning sickness. I was a hungry, hungry hippo, already starting to puff out in the baby pouch eliciting cheers of, "Twins!" Turns out, it was just one baby and I'm fat.
Everything seemed fine, we were all getting used to the idea. I bought a few baby outfits while we were in South Carolina. Sean and I jokingly looked at passenger vans-don't knock it til you've priced it. I had names picked out. We were sketching out plans to add a bedroom. Every day brought conversation of the new baby. As much of a circus as I knew it would be, I was thrilled. I'm a sucker for babies, what can I say?
Sunday morning, we decided to play hooky from church and head for the beach. I wanted to run into Whole Foods before we came home. I visited the restroom before I started shopping and it was the first hint that something was wrong. I did what every other American does: I googled. I found much reassurance on message boards. I kept telling myself it wasn't that much blood and it was normal. I told myself that right up until Monday afternoon. Sean was at work and his coworker said I should probably go to the ER, "just in case."
I got in pretty quickly. A Radiology tech did a very thorough ultrasound, but didn't have the sound on, wouldn't let me see the screen, and gave nothing away in his expression. At that point I started to feel a bit foolish. I thought maybe they would think I was overreacting and just wanted an ultrasound. "Can you tell how far along I am?" I asked, trying to get something out of him. "The doctor will go over all that with you once he gets a chance to look at the ultrasound."
Once again I found myself in the waiting room with my family. All was normal. I was a bit antsy, but I was sure everything would be fine. They called me back, I chatted it up with the nurse, and settled in for a long wait. I was horrified to hear the lady in the next triage room had a hole in her bladder received via c-section. "Geez, maybe I don't want to continue with this OB group," I thought.
Finally, an ER Doc came in. "So, you had an ultrasound," he said. "Yep, can you tell how far along I am?" I asked. "It doesn't look good," he said, patting my leg, getting right to the point. My heart dropped, "It doesn't?"
How could it not? This doesn't happen to me. He was supposed to say, "Everything looks good. Baby is fine. You're not as far along as you thought, that's just implantation bleeding. See you at your next appointment." But he didn't say that. He said they couldn't find a heartbeat. He implied that it was just a sack, no baby. They ran some tests, we came home thinking I was more than likely having a miscarriage. They did speak of highly unlikely circumstances that gave us the tiniest iota of hope.
Sean had left the ER a little bit ahead of me to get the boys fed and home. As I walked out of the ER alone, I noticed a child standing where Sean and the boys had waited for me earlier. I noticed, but it didn't hit me until she turned around. She had the brightest, reddest, curliest afro that I've ever seen on a child. She had these super thick glasses that seemed to make her giant eyeballs peer right into my soul. She was absolutely the cutest kid ever. So cute that I couldn't help but smile. And then sob as I passed her by. I did have a, "Why, God?" moment at that. Of alllllllllll the people in the world, why was she the one standing in my path in the ER on Langley AFB at 8:45 pm on June 15, 2015?
The next morning a nurse called and reiterated that I was more than likely having a miscarriage. She gave me a list of grief counselors and an appt for that afternoon. Sean had already cut out of work the day before for my ER visit, so I was scared to call him out early again. Thankfully, his coworkers picked up the pieces and sent him to me. We met with the one OB doctor he did not want me having. Despite the doctor's terrible bedside manner, he at least let me watch the ultrasound screen.
By God's grace, we got to see our little baby. The Doctor the day before apparently had seen a baby, he just didn't convey that message very clearly. She was perfectly formed. Her head and body and, yep, girl parts, were perfectly clear. I'm pretty amazed by how clear the ultrasound was for a baby so very tiny. Other than the fact that her heart was not beating, she was perfect.
This doctor also confirmed that I was "more than likely having a miscarriage." I'm not entirely sure why not one person would say, "You're definitely having a miscarriage." He gave me a list of options and told me the pros and cons of each. I opted to let my body do what it's designed to do as we had the luxury of time and that the baby was small enough that my body would be able to...I don't know the word...handle? Process? Deliver? Either way, I didn't want surgery and I didn't want the side effects of the meds. Doc said my body seemed to be doing what it needed to do.
WARNING: TMI ahead. Read at your own caution.
The next morning, Wednesday, I couldn't sleep. I got up with Sean and got him off to work around 5am. The bleeding had picked up a little, but was manageable. I had been warned to get to the ER if I was soaking a pad and hour. I laid down with Jude and drifted back to sleep. Within minutes, I was up. I had two quick, sharp pains and a gush that didn't stop for a couple of hours. I immediately called my dad and got my mom en route. I called my brother at work to come get me. I gave kids warnings of what to do if I passed out. I called Sean at work.
I wasn't soaking a pad an hour, I was soaking bath towels instantaneously. I was soaking everything. It was the first time I thought about me instead of the baby. It was the first time I thought, "Women bleed to death during childbirth. Is this the same thing?"
My brother made a 45 minute drive in 20 minutes. I don't exactly know how fast he was going, but he got here. I actually thought the bleeding had let up a little by then, but by the time we got to the ER, I had bled through all of my clothes(with the typical female blood barriers of epic proportions) and a towel. Jim had the forethought to tell Simon to walk with me into the ER while he parked and got the rest of the troops rallied. Silly me, I picked the entrance of the hospital that is on the exact opposite side from the ER. No welcome desk, no staff, no wheelchairs...The one time I was not happy to see a Starbucks. I had no options. I left a trail of blood the entire way through the hospital. I finally found a family bathroom and got to it as quickly as I could. It looked like a freakin' crime scene by the time I was done with it. As I headed for the ER once again, someone finally noticed the trail(not drops...a river) of blood. "OMG! Is that...blood?" You'd think they'd never seen blood in a hospital before.
The ER staff was awesome. Apparently if you say, "I'm bleeding like crazy," you get to skip the paperwork, the waiting room, and the vital signs station. The ER Doc I saw the second time was a tad annoying. At first. He kept referring to my dead baby as "matter of conception" as I sobbed my way through the exam. I had a tech come in to draw blood, "I'm such and such James." Of course. Of course your name is James. "That's what we were going to name the baby if he was a boy," I said. "Oh, I'm sorry. Have you been trying long?" I had to laugh, "We actually already have four."
Within an hour or two of getting to the ER, the bleeding had lessened significantly. The doctor confirmed that I'd probably lost the baby at home during the first wave of hemorrhaging. He became more human at that point.
"Do people think you're crazy for having four kids?" he asked. "I have four and I kinda like most of 'em." He then went on the explain that his wife had had three miscarriages. We talked, he explained some things about chromosomal abnormalities. "I hate to put it this way, but 1 in 6 pregnancies end in miscarriage, so it was kind of your turn." The discharge paperwork put the statistics as high as 1 in 5.
I didn't understand miscarriage before. Maybe in theory, but the reality is very different from what I thought. I definitely think this would be much harder to work through or get beyond or whatever the correct term may be if I didn't already have four kids. I have found that no one knows what to say. I have found that even in the hospital, where they surely deal with this on a regular basis, people don't know what to say. And, really, there isn't anything to say. I want to forget, I don't want to forget. I keep having moments of, "Last time I wore this shirt, I was pregnant. Last time I spoke to so and so, I was pregnant. Last Monday, I was pregnant. Last Tuesday, I was pregnant."
I do know that my baby was not insignificant. We had plans and dreams and a whole future in mind that revolved around this little one joining our family.
That said, I completely trust the Giver of Life. He gave us this baby and if, in His wisdom, she wasn't part of a longer story, I have to be okay with it. I am so thankful that we were able to see the true life pros and cons of adding to our family. I am not implying that a human life ever has cons, but sometimes the circumstances of adding to an already large family can create cons. Such as: not having enough bedrooms, not having enough seats in the car, grocery shopping with five kids, deployments, etc etc etc.
I am thankful that we were able to see the baby. Five minutes with her little body up on the screen solidified that she was not just an idea, she was a real life human being.
I am thankful that I miscarried early, rather than late. I'm thankful that I did not have to experience a still birth. I am thankful that Sean was by my side every step of the way, except when I thought I was bleeding to death, but that wasn't his fault. :)
It's shocking how many people have been through this. Just in my little circle more have had a miscarriage than have not. I met a lady yesterday that had lost three babies. Sean has to ask when he's dealing with an OB patient and he said more patients have had miscarriages than have not. I said at one point, trying to lighten myself up, "It's happened to a lot of people." Sean shot back, "That just means there's a lot of sad people out there."
Every pregnancy, I've avoided stories like this one. As if miscarriage is contagious. It is a bit odd that three people in my circle who all found out we're pregnant within days of each other, all miscarried within days of each other.
I am okay, most of the time. The kids are handling it okay. Sean is okay. We're just okay. Not good, not terrible. Sean told me I have to process what happened. I told him I'm okay as long as I'm distracted. He said that's not processing it. That's not dealing with it. I don't like calling it...it. I don't know what else to call it.
Yesterday I broke down because my stomach was twitching uncontrollably. Like kicks from a baby. Only my baby isn't there anymore.
The day before I broke down when Jude patted my belly and said, "Baby."
This morning I broke down when I saw a dad playing peekaboo with his daughter in a restaurant.
Two days ago, I broke down when the nurse asked if I was having pain anywhere. Just in my heart.
Yesterday I broke down when Felix said, "I hope the doctors were wrong."
The day before I broke down when Titus said, "Can I show Grandma the picture? The one with the baby whose heart won't beat."
Thankfully, the little break downs don't last long. I assume this is something that will get better with time. I know there are a lot of people who have lost babies. I know there are people who have had experiences worse than mine. But it doesn't diminish my experience. It doesn't diminish my pain. I'm going to own this piece of our history. My baby's life will not be forgotten.
I guess that means as much as I don't want to remember, I can't choose that option. I won't choose that option, because even when things don't turn out how we want them to or how we hope they will, the details still deserve a place in our story.