This is part I in the three part story of the miscarriage of our third baby; here is part II.
When I was younger, I didn’t understand the concept of miscarriage. How can you miss and mourn something that you’ve never held? As someone who believes that life begins at conception, it wasn’t that I didn’t believe those pregnancies were people. It was that I didn’t see how the loss of something so small could cause such huge pain.
Fast forward a decade to March of 2010. J. and I had just bought our first home, in Oregon, and he was back in Mississippi visiting family. It had occurred to me while at work that I was two weeks late. I was never late. So, after work, I stopped by the grocery store to buy a pregnancy test. I was so sure the test would be negative that I even bought tampons, too.
I went straight home and took the test. I hoped I was pregnant. J. and I had been trying for a couple of months. In those two minutes, as I paced the hallway outside the bathroom with our pony-sized black lab following anxiously behind, I dreamed. I imagined calling J. to share the news. I thought about my body growing and changing and the joy and anticipation of preparing for the baby. I pictured us as a family of three, with me falling in love with J. all over again while watching him be a dad.
It was then, in those agonizingly slow two minutes as I waited for the test results to show, that the mystery of miscarriage began to make sense to me. If I could build a lifetime of hopes and dreams in my mind for a baby that I wasn’t even sure we’d conceived, how much more planning and anticipating would I do in two weeks? Six? Ten? I understood then that miscarriage is as much about the loss of the tiny life inside of you as it is about the loss of a future, the unanswered what-ifs and if onlys.
We were blessed to get a positive test that day, and to carry to term a healthy baby boy who is now four. He’s our G.
Less than two years later, we welcomed our second child, a daughter. B., who is now two, was also born after a healthy, full-term, uneventful pregnancy. She was conceived the second month we tried.
When we decided to try for a third baby in the Fall of 2014, we were thrilled to get a positive pregnancy test the first month. We immediately told family and our boss, but did our best to keep the pregnancy a secret from everyone else, especially social media. After all, we knew the stories; the last thing we wanted in the event of a miscarriage was to have our pain be just another update on someone’s newsfeed.
My eight week appointment was normal. I had an ultrasound and was able to see and hear the baby’s heartbeat and watch the baby wiggle around on the screen. My blood work looked good and I left the appointment with no concerns.
With G. and B., I didn’t go to many appointments alone. J. and I didn’t orchestrate it that way, it was just that our schedules coordinated so that he was able to go with me. With pregnancy #3, since we’re both teachers- and to be honest, because after two healthy pregnancies, we naively assumed we were in the clear- I went to appointments alone. It just seemed to make sense to not “waste” our sick days by having us both attend what we thought would be routine appointments.
My 12 week appointment was Monday, December 8. Two days before that appointment, the day after my 28th birthday, I shared our news on Facebook. We’d just entered our 12th week and I felt comfortable letting people know. I thought we were out of the woods.
Leading up to the appointment, I’d experienced no bleeding, cramping, or other symptoms. In the exam room, my doctor explained that they were going to listen for the heartbeat, but that it isn’t uncommon to not be able to hear it at 12 weeks. The nurse couldn’t find it and neither could the doctor. No one thought that was disturbing.
My doctor herded me out of the exam room and toward the ultrasound room to make sure everything was okay. It was all routine. He wasn’t the least bit concerned about the pregnancy at that point; he asked me if I had enough vitamins and suggested that I stop and make my next appointment before heading to the ultrasound room.
On the walk to the ultrasound, I had the strangest thought. It was something like if it turns out that I’ve miscarried, I won’t have seen it coming. It was bizarre and came from out of nowhere, and even after thinking it, I wasn’t worried.
The ultrasound tech took her time getting to the baby’s heartbeat; I guess she wasn’t concerned, either. She took all the measurements first, recording numbers as she went. Then she moved to the heart.
I knew as soon as the image came into focus on the monitor that something was wrong. Gone was the quick fluttery heartbeat from four weeks earlier; this time all was still. The tech knew, too. She dropped the ultrasound wand and muttered “I’ll be right back”. Her cell phone was pressed to her ear before the door closed behind her.
I pressed the heels of my hands over the tears welling in my eyes and prayed.
Because of the length of this post, it will be continued in part II.
Note: if you have experienced miscarriage, please feel free to share your story- or a link to your story- in the comments. I continue to gain strength from hearing and reading about other women’s journeys. Also, feel free to leave links to any articles, tips, or posts on miscarriage that you’ve found helpful.