I was nearly 13 weeks along. Exultant that I was past the first trimester mark, feeling less sick and more energetic, and relaxing into the joyous knowledge that we were going to make it this time. Then the spotting began. My doctor isn't in, they squeeze me into the schedule, until finally late in the afternoon a doctor I've never seen before administers a sonogram. He begins with cheerful assurances, then gets quiet once he looks at the screen. Long pause, turns the screen away. Squints, studies for a long time. Then finally cuts his eyes over to me, grimaces, and just shakes his head.
I find it hard to even speak the words to people.
I text them instead. Cowardly, but whenever I try to say it, grief clenches its bony fingers around my throat, crushing the words. I must not say it, because I can barely manage to push the emotions far enough below that I can function through my day. Saying the words opens the gate into the anguish and I am drowning.
"I lost the baby."
Not even sure how best to say it. It seems, absurdly, as if for a moment I'm saying I left the baby at the mall, and am just waiting to claim her.
"Miscarriage" sounds too clinical and abstract and vaguely strollerish.
But "The baby died" is so harsh. So literal. Almost as if I am blaming the baby for this turn of events, as if it's his fault, a choice he made to abandon me.
Friends and family call, text, pour out their love and support, and I steadily ignore it all, eyes focused on just the moment in front of me. I lost the baby, but I'm the one who is lost.
The human reaction is to try to make it mean something. To know why. To make sense of something that is beyond reason.
People say all sorts of things, and they are all the wrong thing to say. No matter how sensitive or well-meant, everything sounds wrong.
Here is what it means.....
- It means that she turns out to be an Outstanding Idea.
|From Bad Idea to Third Child|
- It means that we are going to get our money's worth out of that cobra insurance payment.
- It means that I can have wine and sushi for dinner, and hot dogs and diet coke for lunch tomorrow.
- It means that when the girls launch into epic misbehavior, I can look at it as them secretly trying to convince me I don't actually want another child.
- It means that I can sign up for those tennis lessons.
- It means we don't have to worry about whether the girls will have to share a bedroom or if we have to convert the guest room into a baby room.
- It means we don't have to buy a new car that will fit 3 carseats.
- It means I can get back into yoga without worrying about lying flat on my back.
- It means I fill 3 trashbags full of the baby clothes I've been saving for 4 years and take them to Goodwill in a rush of irritable efficiency.
- It means I wake up the morning after the procedure determined to distract myself, launching myself into a packed schedule of touring preschools, charity drop-offs, and shopping at Sam's with the girls in tow; I am so successfully distracted that I drive by the turnoff twice and then slam my thumb in the car door.
- It means that my rage volcanoes up unexpectedly and gets directed unfairly at the dog or the girls, and that my throat is raw from yelling and from regret.
- It means that if I wear maternity pants now, it's just because I'm fat.
- It means that when the woman at the prechool tour offhandedly mentions that she has 4 children I feel an irrational rush of jealousy and resentment.
- It means that I am cleaning out my purse, find my positive pregnancy test from months ago, and immediately dump it in the trash, clobbered with sorrow.
- It means we are a family of four.
- It means we are done.
Something in me broke in the moment that I realized this child was gone. I'm not broken as a person, I am aware of the blessings in my life and I appreciate them more keenly than ever. But in this loss, part of me has been emptied out and I am not going to try again.
I'd like to wrap up with a note of hope, or to pithily tie this all into creativity and life lessons.
But my baby died and I can't.