It’s Really Difficult to Write About Miscarriage
The other night we drove by one of our favorite sushi restaurants. Clint said, “Imagine. In just a few months we’ll be in there eating sushi, and you can have your martini. It’s been so long. Almost a year, really.”
Yes, a year. Because I was pregnant last December. I miscarried in March. Then I got pregnant again in April with the girl I’m carrying now. The girl who’s due in January.
I can’t believe how hard it was to write that.
In fact, I meant to write about it last month—October—when the baby we conceived last December was due. For whatever reason, I couldn’t. But I wanted to. For me, for anyone else who’s gone through a miscarriage, and for that little would-be baby we created and couldn’t wait to meet. I wanted to. But I couldn’t.
I’m feeling like maybe I can now. But what to say? That it is common? You know that. I know that. I suppose it helps a little, knowing you’re not alone.
I didn’t expect it. Why would I? With Roy, everything happened just as it should. Actually, better than “they” say it should, given my advanced maternal age of 37. Clint and I joke that we talked about the possibility of having a kid, then held hands, and bam! I was pregnant. That pregnancy went relatively smoothly, ending in a birth that went pretty much as I’d hoped. Lucky all around.
Pregnancy #2 started out the same way. We had a conversation about trying for another, then we looked at each other, and there I was, pregnant again. We had all the usual worries about money and space and time, but really none about the health of the baby. Of course everything would move forward as before. Deep down, it felt right. Meant to be. Our wedding anniversary is in September, Clint’s birthday in November, mine in December, Roy’s in January. October was the open slot in our run of family celebrations. Now it would be filled by our second child’s birthday. And it would all happen mere months before I turned 40. A meaningless deadline, but still. It felt like the logical conclusion to my 30s. Perfect, even.
I didn’t worry when the doctor couldn’t pick up a heartbeat at eight weeks, either. It was still so early.
I didn’t worry when my morning sickness waned much earlier than it had with Roy. Why go there? I chose instead to feel thankful for being nausea-free.
It was the spotting that got me worrying. Light, but spotting nonetheless. “Common in early pregnancy,” the nurse told me over the phone. “If it gets worse, let us know.”
Within days, the flu descended upon our home with a vengeance. After chili-dog night, no less. It was the first time all three of us had gotten knocked down in such a way, and it was rough. Between the spotting and the throwing up, I decided to see the doctor. My vague “bad feeling” grew after discovering I’d lost a few pounds. The doctor still couldn’t pick up a heartbeat. I was 11 weeks along, with a nuchal scan scheduled the following week. Did I want to wait until then, he asked, or would I rather get an ultrasound now? Just to put my mind at ease.
“Now,” I answered, without hesitation. “Definitely now.”
Clint was at home with Roy, throwing up, as I reclined in that dark room, hopefully inspecting the ultrasound screen, conspicuously lacking movement. The technician remained silent.
“Can you see anything?” I asked.
“There’s no pole,” she said.
“What’s a pole?”
Development had stopped weeks earlier.
So yes, I know this is common. That These Things Happen. That most likely, there was some sort of chromosomal abnormality and that Nature took its course. Still, we mourned the loss. And the guilt came. Were my workouts too vigorous? What about that decaf tea that apparently wasn’t? Or maybe it was a matter of me taking my pregnant state for granted. Can development stop simply due to under-appreciation?
My head says no. My heart still wonders.
Then, there was waiting for the inevitable. This is an awful time, knowing what is—isn’t?—inside you. Not knowing what to expect. Not knowing when to expect it. This is not something you want to happen during a meeting, or at a restaurant, or at Target. This is not something you want to happen.
It happened the following day, as I was working at home, alone. So quick and painless it didn’t seem right. At first. Then came cramping. And blood. Both worsened considerably as the hours passed. I wanted my body to take care of things naturally. Apparently, my body wasn’t so sure it could handle this on its own.
So. I could tell you it was horrible. Maybe we should have gone to the hospital. At the point when that decision needed to be made I was teetering on the edge of consciousness and may not have been exercising the best judgement. We didn’t go. And just when both Clint and I knew things could not get any worse, they didn’t. And that was that.
Common. Horrible. But mostly, heartbreaking. An experience that I’m not better for having had. An experience I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. An experience that if you’ve gone through it, I am so sorry. I want to hug you and cry for you and tell you that I understand. Because I do. I know that doesn’t really help much.
I’ll settle for a little.
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