I’m not sure how to start this post. I know that even though I’m writing it now, I won’t be posting it for a while yet. I’m keeping a secret and it’s been a hard thing to do. But I still feel the need to “talk” about it, so I thought I’d write this now, while my feelings are fresh, and still pent up, and maybe this will be cathartic for me. And once I’ve shared my news, I can publish this. Or maybe I won’t. Maybe this will end up being just for me.
In October, I happily announced on Facebook (after calling my family) that I was expecting my third child, due in early June. I was so excited that I told everyone who would listen about our happy news. Mike and I started arguing about baby names, we told the kids, Caylie’s nursery school teacher…. And then, suddenly, I wasn’t pregnant anymore. My pregnancy had ended and I was left with confused children, sympathetic family and friends, the awkwardness of telling people when they asked about how I was feeling, and a sense of loss that, even now, I’m not sure I’ve dealt with thoroughly. I did not announce my miscarriage on Facebook. Instead, I called my parents and asked them to tell the family. I called a local friend and asked her to share it with our friends in our mother’s group. I emailed the friends I could think of off the top of my head, while still numb with it all, and asked that no one talk about it. I didn’t want to relive the event over and over again until it had become some news report I could recite, by heart, with no feeling. I spoke with my midwives and they prepared me with information about what to expect and offered to come and be with me. Mike came home and we took the kids for a drive. We ran some errands and I tried to pretend that my life was exactly the way it should be.
It took 6 days for my body to physically end the pregnancy. It took me about the same time for my brain to emotionally grasp what was happening. I took a really good look at my life at the time. And I liked what I saw. I married someone I love with my whole being. We have a solid, loving marriage. We have 2 beautiful, bright, happy children. We don’t have a lot of money, but we have everything we need. I love my house. My family lives comfortably and we have a supportive, loving family, and some really amazing friends. The grief I felt at my loss of a pregnancy was overwhelmed with the happiness I felt at how great my life is. I am truly content in this life. And for me to say that is a big deal. I’m not certain I have ever felt such contentment in my lifetime.
The big question I faced was, should we try again? I felt blessed with the 2 children I have. Was I being selfish, or greedy, wanting another baby? I didn’t want to give up hope that we would have another baby. So we decided to wait and see what would happen.
As it turns out, we didn’t have to wait very long at all. At the end of December, we learned that I was pregnant again. But this time, we kept it a secret. As I write this, I am 10 weeks along. Close to the end of the first trimester, when the risk of miscarriage drops considerably. I am hoping to meet with my midwives next week to hear the baby’s heartbeat for the first time. I’m excited, but also nervous now. I’ve read that once you’ve gotten far enough along that you hear the baby’s heartbeat, your risk of miscarriage is very low. I desperately want to hear that little heartbeat. The rushing whir of a tiny beating heart. I need it. I want to share my happy news with my family and friends. I want to be able to be happy about this baby without the fear of loss. I want to be able to share my pregnancy symptoms with my friends and laugh and complain and just live within this moment, enjoying it. Right now, I feel like I’ve cut myself off, in a way. I’m not good at keeping my own secrets. I like to be open and honest with people. And so I’ve isolated myself so I can keep my secret until the time comes when I can finally let my emotional guard down.
(I wrote the previous paragraphs in early February and never posted them; I was still keeping my pregnancy a secret. Now we are in the end of March, and I am dealing with much more than sadness and secrets.)
Two weeks ago today, at barely 15 weeks pregnant, my water broke. Having had 2 babies already, I knew the feeling well. And I knew immediately what it meant. This was the end of another pregnancy. But even as I cried, I still had a shred of hope. Maybe it was that irrational feeling we get when our brains can’t wrap themselves around the emotions of something so big; I don’t know. I called my midwife and she told me that I was going to deliver – that this wouldn’t be the same as last time when I would just bleed and take some Tylenol for the cramping. I was going to deliver. A. Baby. Holy shit.
I panicked. I couldn’t do this at home. I wasn’t going to deliver my baby in the toilet. So I had a friend drive me to the ER while Mike put the kids to bed and called my brother to come watch them. The hospital is a 10 minute ride from my house. But halfway there, my contractions started and by the time they got me out of the car and into a wheelchair, I was sitting in a pool of blood, my pants saturated. We checked into the ER at a little before 7 p.m.
I delivered the baby at 8 p.m. while I cried into my friend’s hair. Mike hadn’t even made it to the hospital yet. It all happened so quickly: the bleeding, the contractions, the bleeding, the delivery. And then it was over and I was left on a pile of bloody chucks, feeling hollow and confused, and completely devastated. Any hope I had was bled right out of me, pouring down my thighs and running, like bloody tears, down my calves to stain my bright white socks.
At 9:15 p.m., I was discharged from the ER and sent home with a pack of pain pills and an “I’m sorry for your loss; you have a $100 co-pay and can you pay that all now?” I never saw the baby. I was never told if I had had a boy or a girl. They couldn’t tell me why this had happened. They told me there were no tests they could run to give me any answers. And so I went home, with my stunned husband, my drugged body, numb brain and empty womb.
I am still grieving. I am at a loss for words about how I feel. I am surviving, and that is all I can say at this point. I am going through the motions of my life to keep my children from experiencing any upset in their lives. I can finally talk about my loss of this child. Because that is what this is. I have lost a baby. My baby is dead. My body is still reminding me that I gave birth. My milk came in last week – another reminder that there is no baby for me to feed, to hold. It was like a swift kick in the gut after you feel like you’ve just caught your breath again. But I’m surviving.
I will survive. I have to.