It has now been six days since I learned this pregnancy was not to be and four since I went through this pregnancy’s labor pains. I’m still bleeding, feeling raw and sore. For some reason I have horrendous hemorrhoids, not unlike after BG’s birth. The sadness and anxiety of losing all those pregnancy hormones is starting to kick in. This one really is over. There really won’t be a baby in our home in 2014. Some part of me thought there would be.
But I have to admit that I didn’t trust this pregnancy. I don’t know if it was an intuitive sense that something was wrong, or whether it was the trauma of loss all over again. You see, when my son got sick, we learned that we can be the recipients of bad news, that tests can reveal the worst and often do. All through this pregnancy, people would tell give me statistics. A doctor told me, after the scary HCG level drop, that since I had seen the heartbeat, my chances of miscarrying had gone from one in ten to one in twenty, so the HCG wasn’t a huge factor. I remember thinking those were still shit odds. My son’s chance of having his type of leukemia were one in a million (actually 1.2 million), and we managed to hit that jackpot from hell. One in twenty seemed like a guarantee that I would most certainly be the “one.”
And I was. And I am.
That is what makes this so different. I met up with an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in over fifteen years during the fifth week of this pregnancy, and we were discussing assisted reproductive technologies (she had IVF), and as we talked, I revealed that I had just found out I was pregnant. She warned me not to get too excited, that anything could happen. In that moment, I had to believe that this pregnancy was possible, that I might get a baby about it, but I told her in that moment too that I knew what could happen, that there are no guarantees, not even once they are here. I know this through and through. Every test was an opportunity for the bottom to drop out, and with each one, it began to wiggle free. My first ultrasound was far from routine: my doctor couldn’t find the sac or fetal pole at all and while the tech could visualize the heartbeat, she could never capture it. She could hardly see the fetal pole. The blood tests were off. And that second ultrasound? Well, let’s just say I knew better than to go by myself, but I did anyway. As much as I love my doctor, there is a traumatized mom part of me that will always believe that my doctors are going to give me the worst news imaginable, and there they were last week, two of them nodding their heads, those worried, sad expressions, the concerned quiet voices you know they’ve used before, and the news wasn’t good. I was shocked and hurt, but there was that part of me who knew that this was exactly what I expected.
There were exactly two weeks during which I relaxed a little into this pregnancy. Ironically, it’s very likely that these are the weeks the embryo was dying, that despite my increasing pregnancy symptoms, I was rapidly becoming less and less pregnant.
I know some people mourn for their babies lost in these early stages. They join message boards and talk about their “angel babies.” And this is not to say that that loss is not truly, utterly significant, because it is, but I can’t really think of Goblin that way. Despite giving the embryo a gestational name, I never fully attached to this pregnancy. The heartbeat flickering on the ultrasound monitor for a few brief seconds could have been any fetal pole’s heartbeat. I bought baby clothes, even a couple of maternity items, but each time, it was with a nagging sense of panic, a little voice in the back of my head saying, “You ridiculous woman. You know you shouldn’t be doing this.” But I did it anyway because I had to move forward as though this was happening. I can’t let the trauma of losing my son taint every potentially joyful moment. I can’t take every breath as though that damn bottom is wiggling its way out once again. But it was.
I know for some people a miscarriage is the worst experience of their lives. I don’t discount that in the least. It’s horrible. It’s painful. It’s the death of hopes and dreams. But I obviously have a different perspective. I lost a full-sized boy, one who talked and hugged and cooked and laughed and called me Mommy. I’m suffering a loss right now, yes, and it hurts terribly, but it’s not the gaping crater sort of loss that BG’s death has been. This time, I’m not so much mourning a life that was but instead a life that isn’t.
I want so desperately to get back to the act of being a parent, to have those joys and frustrations of everyday family life. I want sleepless nights and diapers and baby laughs and raucous food-in-the-hair dinners, not endless hours and days and weeks and months to do whatever comes to mind. To some parents in the thick of it all, that may even sound like bliss, but once you’ve crossed the bridge into parenting, all that time just feels wrong. At least with a pregnancy, we were headed in the right direction. There were things to think about, to plan. But now it feels like I have been running this race back to having a family, running along and watching miles tick by only to discover I have been on a treadmill the whole time, running as fast as I can but making no progress. It’s a horrible feeling.
So now, for a couple of months, we stop running entirely. We sit in the aftermath of all that running, and we sit with the fact that we didn’t get any closer to the finish line, and we sit with the past and the pain of losing our boy and losing the hope that was Goblin, and we sit and we wait, and we make sure we have the right shoes, and when we run again, when we get the go-ahead, we try like hell to make sure we’re on the path this time and not running backwards or in place or over a cliff. What else are we going to do? All we know is to keep running.