|May 30, 2013|
A secret club exists in this world, one of which you may or may not know some members. Nobody really intends to be initiated into this club, it’s not one that you readily sign up for. And once you find yourself submerged in the club, you feel confused and angry and guilty. You did not ask to be here, at least, you don’t remember asking to join. You momentarily feel isolated and alone and scared but when you open the door to the meeting room, you find friends and neighbors and family members greeting you at the door. You had no idea they were members, afterall, this secret club is rarely discussed. They rush to you, surround you, wrap their arms around you. They tell you everything will be all right. They tell you this is not your fault. They tell you you are a great mama. And you cling to these words, though they feel as hollow as a rotted tree. You know they sincerely mean them, but you don’t believe them. You know. You know.
I joined this secret club in January, about two weeks after our sweet Maddy died. We had just returned from an amazing family vacation and were so excited for a fresh start. The winter had already been long and 2013 was not off to a great start. We couldn’t wait to share the news that Charlie was going to be a big brother in July. Because of our travel plans, my twelve-week appointment was pushed back a couple weeks, but I was feeling fine and had no risk factors that we were aware of. Three days before the heartbeat appointment, I started spotting… and though my midwives assured me this was sometimes normal (whatever that means), I knew. I knew.
And so began the longest weekend in my entire life: knowing, comprehending, processing, asking, grieving, crying. Lots and lots of crying. I asked the Universe Why Me? Why US? But of course, there were no answers. I asked Why those people? Why that baby? But again, there were no answers. But through it all, there was hope. I had hope. I knew we would try again. I knew Charlie would be a big brother. He’ll be an amazing big brother. I knew I’d be a mama to two. I knew we’d have a fourth family member at the table. And so, I tried not to dwell on the loss, and focused my energy on the future.
Slowly, over the next few months, the emotional pain subsided and was gradually replaced with some kind of acceptance. We focused on Charlie, we focused on work, we focused on the never-ending snow. We focused on getting through winter. Something “they” never tell you about miscarriage is that your body is tricked into thinking you just had a baby so you get the joy of experiencing all the crazy hormonal bouts—without a baby at the end of the day. They don’t tell you that it’s physically painful and an incredibly emotional process. They don’t tell you that your entire physical cycle is completely out of whack for months to a year--- and that’s normal. So on top of the winter that never ended, I was dealing with the aftermath of this loss, and trying to focus on the future.
I questioned everything and was easily infuriated. Everywhere I looked, people were pregnant. Everywhere we went, we saw babies and siblings. My desire to have a baby was increased by ten thousand, and yet, so was my amazement with the child we have. Every single day, I have looked at Charlie and wondered how each of his cells divided so perfectly into the little boy that he is. How did we escape any problems the first time around?
Work was particularly difficult for me as parents would come into my office and complain about their children, their living situations, their babies on the way. One particular expectant mother came into my office complaining about her pregnancy, explained that it was unwanted and was going to put such a damper on their lives. The next day, I drove by and saw her standing outside her house, seven months pregnant, smoking her cigarette and screaming at her other two children. I drove on as tears streamed down my face. There are no reasons. It just is.
But through the spring, I continued to try to focus on the future. I wearily believed the snow would melt and that someday we would be proud parents to two chidren. And on Mother’s Day, 2013, we focused on the beautiful HCG numbers we received from the lab. How appropriate that on that day, I learned that I got to be a mama again!
Things were different the second time. I was cautious about everything, even giving up my morning coffee and never ever missing a prenatal vitamin. I put off getting highlights in my hair, never ate cold sandwich meat, bought latex gloves for cleaning, and even tried to eat a few more green veggies. After having a miscarriage, I was privy to extra ultrasounds and early testing. On May 30th, we saw the flicker of a perfect little heartbeat at seven weeks, and my anxieties lessened but were not completely gone. In January, the baby had stopped developing around nine or ten weeks, so for me, I needed to see a heartbeat flickering at twelve weeks.
On Monday, we went in for a second ultrasound—just to get a more accurate idea of a size and due date. This was a routine check—there were no indications that anything was wrong. However, as with the previous pregnancy, I had the tiniest inkling that something wasn’t right. My nausea had all but disappeared, my exhaustion had significantly lessened, and I hadn’t had the urge to eat a bagful of gummy worms for weeks. My previously tight shorts were not as tight, and I had lost a pound or two over the last week. Something wasn’t right. I hesitantly mentioned this to Mason on Sunday night, but yet, I still believed everything would be okay.
But Monday, I became a two-time member of the secret club. The mood was light and casual as our doctor began the ultrasound, but within seconds I knew something was wrong. There was no movement on the screen. No beautiful flickering heartbeat. The air suddenly became still, all chatter ceased. My breathing became irregular and I caught Mason’s eye as he shook his head.
The rest is sort of a blur. Confirmation. Questions. Lack of answers, and lack of reasons. Realization. More realization. Tears. And more tears.
And now we’re home. The exact same place we were 48 hours ago, yet our place has shifted dramatically. Everything surrounding us is the same, yet nothing is the same.
This time, I fooled myself into believing that if I stayed just a little disconnected from the pregnancy, if I didn’t quite believe it, then I’d be spared from any emotional toll if there a problem occurred. Mason said things like, “when the baby comes” and “in January”, but my vocabulary sounded more like, “if the baby comes” and “maybe in January”. I never could make myself believe.
Now, I find myself thinking that had I just stayed positive, had I really connected to the pregnancy, had I rubbed my belly every morning, things would have turned out differently. Maybe if I had been more relaxed, maybe if I had created more positive energy, maybe if I was less anxious, maybe if I had said a few prayers, maybe if I hadn’t had terrible thoughts about my inability to parent two children, maybe if I hadn’t specifically asked the Universe to make this decision for me, maybe maybe maybe…. things would have been different.
This time around, my grief is so different. It’s so much more confusing and also more straight-forward. Not only am I grieving the loss of this baby, but I’m grieving the look of my future family. At one time, we thought about having only one child, but we eventually came to the conclusion that we really wanted a sibling for Charlie. We wanted him to have that relationship, to share his childhood with someone else. We wanted him to experience the lessons that come with having a brother or sister. Not to mention the fact that Charlie adores babies, and dotes on them like crazy. But now, the hope of having a sibling for Charlie is not present. Both Mason and I are getting older, and while Hollywood minimizes this fact, it’s a very real issue for us. And honestly, I’m not sure that I could physically and emotionally deal with this again.
So many people have texted me messages of kindness and support. I’ve been sent virtual hugs and I feel those arms from friends and family wrapped tightly around me right now. Deep down, in my heart of hearts, I know that things will be all right. But right now, my heart is breaking into little pieces and I’m desperately trying to piece it back together. Poor Charlie is asking why I’m sad and the best answer I can give him is that I lost something that I loved a lot. He’s showered me with hugs and kisses and hasn’t left my side this morning. I feel deeply guilty for not being able to bring this baby into the world for him to love with us. I know that it is irrational to feel responsible, yet I will always wonder if my thoughts and doubts somehow affected this pregnancy. Rationally, I understand that there are no answers and that whatever our family ends up looking like, it will be perfect for us. But in the meantime, I’ll be hanging out with my irrational brain while I try to move on, a little more day by day.