“Life can be so cruel / Don’t it astound you? / So when nothing seems too certain or safe / Let it burn through you / You can keep it pure on the inside / And you know what you believe to be right / So you’re not gonna crack / No you’re never gonna crack”
Garbage, “Run Baby Run”
A week ago Sunday night, Chris took the first bump shot for this pregnancy. I jotted down some notes for my first letter to the baby that night.
I went in for my 11-week appointment the next day at 11 a.m. Max and I met Chris there. I had been feeling a little nervous after losing Lucy. I worried that I would be there alone with Max and they would tell me there was no heartbeat. Mostly, I thought I was being my normal anxious self, but I still asked that Chris be there. By that morning, however, I was in a great mood and felt that everything would be fine. I even felt a little silly for asking him to take off work.
I had felt a rather sudden decrease in my morning sickness and fatigue the day after Max’s birthday, a week before. I was a little worried, because that had never happened to me so early and I had read online that some people experienced that before a miscarriage. But I told myself all pregnancies are different and I was very close to the end of the first trimester. Symptoms started early, so maybe they tapered off early.
We met a new doctor that day. She seemed very nice. She did a pelvic exam to see how the baby was growing. She gave me an approving look. Everything felt right apparently.
Then she fired up the ultrasound machine. She said, “Oh, I don’t like this growth” at the exact moment that a fizzy feeling of panic started spreading through my body.
Chris had held Max up to see the screen. And I didn’t see a baby or a heartbeat. The panic grew with every passing second.
The doctor located the baby and pointed out that it still measured seven weeks.
“I don’t see a heartbeat.”
“But…. But there was one last time”, I faltered, knowing that that didn’t make any difference. But I kept saying it.
She turned off the machine, had me sit up. She took my hands in both of hers. She said nice things. I just kept staring at the screen.
Chris put Max down and he wandered around talking. He didn’t seem to realize anything was wrong.
They said we could come back the next day to confirm on the big ultrasound machine.
“We have to wait a whole day to be completely sure??”
The doctor looked me in the eye and said firmly, but compassionately, “I AM sure.”
We went home. I threw all of the pregnancy pamphlets from the doctor in the trash. I threw away my prenatal vitamins.
I went upstairs, gathered up every pregnancy book from the side of the bed, and put them away. I threw away a People magazine with Princess Kate and baby George on it.
I almost tore up the ultrasound photos from our first visit.
I went into Lucy’s room, shut the door, stood next to the crib where I found her lifeless body last Mother’s Day and told God I fucking hated him.
Then, I sat down in the middle of her floor and cried. I apologized to God, partly because I meant it or wanted to. Partly because I am afraid of him, even though that doesn’t really make sense, since I mostly only believe in Him out of habit these days. I want to believe for real, but wanting is not enough right now. All I know is that I said similar, terrible things to him when Lucy was in the hospital last November and, instead of getting better like they later said she would, she got worse and died. Despite my fervent prayers and apologies and efforts to do better. I said Novenas non-stop from December until May. And she still died. And despite my prayers for this pregnancy, this baby is gone now, too.
Chris knocked on the door, but I asked him to please go away.
I eventually came down. We told Max. He still seemed fine, which surprised me.
I spent the rest of the day lying on the couch and Googling “missed miscarriage”, “dilation and curettage”, and “misdiagnosed miscarriage.”
Chris took Max to Little Gym and I had him take my phone with him. I didn’t want to look at Facebook or talk to anyone or talk to the nurse when she called to schedule the followup. Then I ended up having to talk to the damn nurse anyway, because she said she couldn’t talk to my husband, even though I signed the damn paper giving them permission. So, I had to call her to tell her she could talk to him.
Then, I had to talk to them again to reschedule the appointment. They couldn’t get us in Tuesday like they promised and I refused to have Max with me on Wednesday for this repeat ordeal or go by myself. Or tell anyone so they could watch him.
I had a meltdown after taking Max to swim on Tuesday. The waiting room was filled with pregnant women, babies, and women with multiple children. I felt fine when I got there, but was a wreck when we finally left. A woman behind me kept tickling her child and making him laugh. I can’t stand the sound of a baby laughing right now. We made it out to the car, only to have a woman with a baby and a toddler show up next to us. I finally get into the car and shut them out and I look through the windshield and see a woman with a baby in a stroller frame and a toddler heading towards us. It was like I was being taunted with visions of who I was a year ago.
We went back Thursday morning. The closer the appointment got, the more panic I felt. I had a very faint hope that the baby had been hiding from the ultrasound waves, or there was a twin who had died that we didn’t know about, or my uterus was still tilted and she just didn’t get the right angle. But I knew in my heart that the doctor was right.
Of course, the waiting room was more crowded than I have ever seen it. We located a couple who looked as unhappy as we did and sat down near them. We were finally called and we headed to the ultrasound room. I insisted on an abdominal ultrasound as well as transvaginal. I knew I wouldn’t feel right about a D&C unless every nook and cranny of my uterus had been searched. The tech was very kind, but matter-of-fact. She was nice, but not gushing all over us. We liked her.
I climbed on the table, repeating over and over in my head as she fired up the machine and the baby appeared, “This is not a living baby. This is not a living baby.”
It looked better than it had on the bedside sono, but it was very clearly not alive. It was floating there peacefully, but obviously lifelessly. In one shot, I could clearly see a little round head and the tiny arm buds. I’m not sure if I was happy to see that, but I guess I felt glad I did. To have even the tiniest idea of what this child was like was comforting and heartbreaking at the same time.
I asked the doctor for that picture when we spoke to her after. It didn’t look quite as clear as it had on the screen, but I still wanted it.
The D&C was scheduled for the next morning. I had very mixed feelings. I was afraid of not waking up from the anesthesia. I was afraid of something going wrong and losing my fertility. Everything bad seems terrifyingly possible right now.
Everything went fine. And I have felt surprisingly fine physically since then. Mentally, I am having my ups and downs. The ups and downs are due to hormones, but I am very angry and sad. I feel like I have no say in my life right now. My doctor and I do not see eye-to-eye on when to try for another baby and my research does not back up what she is saying, either. It does not help that I never met her before the day she gave us this terrible news. All she has done is give us bad news and then remove my baby from my body. I don’t like her too much. Partly it’s a “shoot the messenger” thing. Partly, we just didn’t have a bond of any kind before this experience. Mostly, I do not feel like she listens to me or is treating me as an individual. She does not seem interested in collaborative care. She is very nice and seems to be a good doctor, but I am increasingly convinced she is not right for me.
I wonder if we will ever get to a place where the kids are just growing up in our house and everything is lovely and boring. It really doesn’t seem like it right now. A healthy baby feels like the most unattainable thing in the world.
If this post seems sad and bitter and angry, it’s because I am. And I want to feel that way right now. Honestly, I am afraid this post does not do justice to the depth of my sadness and bitterness and anger. Also, to my feeling that my feelings for how my reproductive future should go right now are automatically wrong. I am tired of feeling like what I want is wrong. I am tired of having what I want taken from me. I am tired of everyone else having what I want. I am just tired.