Hearing the News
I often wonder what I was doing at the moment my baby's heart stopped beating inside of me. Was I folding laundry? Sleeping? Helping the kids with homework? Perhaps it happened during one of my adrenaline highs when I'd suddenly remember I was pregnant. In those moments, I was at absolute peace.
"Are you crazy?" people had asked. "Why would you want more kids?" I let them make me feel greedy. After all, raising children is expensive. Starting over with a new baby in the house would set us back. It would mean Caroline, almost 8, might not get gymnastics lessons or Luke, 6, might not get to play baseball. Never mind going to Disney World!
Although part of me obsessed about what my family might be sacrificing, I couldn't help but be overjoyed when I saw two pink lines on the pregnancy test. And I remained overjoyed for the next several weeks, even through the vomiting and fatigue my 38-year-old body was experiencing. With each overwhelming wave of nausea, I'd think, At least I know I'm still pregnant!
It was all worth it because in a few more months, I would be able to breathe in the sweet smell of a new life.
Then I saw the drop of blood. No! A shock of panic raced through me. This can't be happening! But it was. And over the next 24 hours, my heart slowly broke.
"Nope, this isn't a viable pregnancy," said the ultrasound technician, as if she were chatting to me about the weather. "But look on the bright side. At least you weren't further along."
For a moment, I considered strangling her with the ultrasound cord, but I knew I'd never last in jail. So, instead, I took out my anger on a roll of toilet paper that was jammed in its holder in the hospital bathroom. I clawed at it, yanked at it, and swore at it until I had enough wadded-up shreds of tissue to wipe my eyes. (Please God, make this not be real. I promise I'll eat better. I'll start exercising. I'll....)
"We'll need to schedule a D&C," my doctor said, trying his best to be discreet despite the staring eyes in the waiting room.
Mind your own business! I wanted to shout at these strangers who were scrutinizing me. Instead, I fought the lump in my throat and pretended I was fine. Yet I wasn't fine. I was a puffy-eyed, mascara-stained, devastated woman "of advanced maternal age" who had just lost her dream of having another baby.
"I'll call you tomorrow," I told my doctor, in my bravest voice. Then I wandered the halls of the hospital maze and desperately searched for the right exit sign. I wanted to be home, yet I dreaded going there. I didn't want to face Caroline, who was elated with the news she would be a big sister again. She had repeatedly kissed my belly and squeezed me with the delight that only a child can possess. I didn't want to face Luke, who had overheard our baby news and put in an order for a brother ("Remember, not a sister!") And I didn't want to face my husband, Jeff, because I knew that he wanted this baby too. "Would you be horrified if we had another child?" I had asked him when I found out.
"I'm horrified by the two we have now," he replied, with a chuckle.
And though there may have been some truth to his statement, my worries were lessened when I saw him dusting off the crib in the basement the next day.