***(This post contains sensitive subjects that can be triggering for some.)***
This past month has been an absolute rollercoaster of a ride. I have been at the highest high I’ve ever experienced in life, to one of the lowest lows I didn’t know I could reach. All within a matter of literally 30 days. A month that flew by, but nevertheless completely altered my life in a way that can never be undone.
On December 27, I found out I was pregnant. It was early morning and I took the test while C was in the shower (in case it was negative, as I was sure it was going to be, he wouldn’t even know I had taken one). I burst out laughing when I saw the plus sign then stared in the mirror whispering “oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck.” I was elated to be carrying a baby again, but scheduled to start school (for the first time in 7 years) in less than 2 weeks time! I told C as he was brushing his teeth and the look on his face is one I will never forget. We were both over the moon happy and absolutely terrified. According to my cycle tracking app, I was still pretty early along- about 6 weeks-so we kept our joyous secret quiet for awhile. I walked around for about two straight days with a permanent dorky grin on my face. It was just unbelievable, in the best way possible.
On January 8, I rode the MAX to downtown, hiked uphill for half a mile and walked into my first college classroom in nearly a decade. Well…actually I had a panic attack at the doorway and bolted, so I technically skipped my first class. But still. I did the biggest, scariest thing I had been dreaming about for years. All while harboring a tiny secret in my womb, wondering how the HELL I was going to manage pregnancy, mothering a 6 year old, working, AND my studies. I had my doubts, but this was pretty much everything I had ever wanted, so I knew I could do it. I wanted to do it.
A week later on January 14, C decided we should take an impromptu drive to the coast to enjoy an abnormally mild and sunny day. I jumped at the chance to go to my favorite place on earth and away we went. As we walked along the shoreline, he dropped to a knee, pulled out a blingy-ass ring and PROPOSED TO ME. I was taken completely by surprise–so much so that I yelled “SHUT UP!!!” before realizing it was not a joke and answering with a tearful “yes”!! In a matter of 2 weeks, every dream I had been quietly (or not so quietly) harboring in my heart came true. I was floating on Cloud 9. I smiled all the time, I spent my hours daydreaming of baby names and wedding gowns. I happily gave up my wine and cut back on my coffee. I chewed disgusting prenatal vitamins and obsessively checked and rechecked the list of “no-no foods”. We were nervous about how we were going to manage everything, but we were SO ready for the challenge! We decided on a wedding after the baby came and starting throwing out potential names. Little Bee was getting excited to be a big brother and teach him (we were all certain the baby was a boy) football. The fairytale that I didn’t used to believe in was all of a sudden a reality. I was planning the perfect wedding with the man of my dreams, and carrying our baby.
And then, a month after seeing that plus sign, my world came crashing down. We went in for a routine ultrasound on January 31. After waiting an agonizing HOUR to get our results, an OB walked in and said the words that I will never, ever forget:
“Unfortunately it looks like it is a miscarriage. We couldn’t find a heartbeat.”
I heard C sigh long and low behind me. I got cold, then hot and dizzy. I dropped the f-bomb and then the floor fell out from underneath me. I sat on the paper covered exam table, listening to the roar of my heartbeat and choking on disbelief and tears. To make the heartache even worse, he told us there was a second sac. Twins. I had been carrying, and lost, twins. We listened numbly to the OB go on about the causes of miscarriages, the next steps to take, the resources offered to us. He left after giving us condolences and I fell apart. I have known heartache, but I have never quite felt a hurt like that. I had never even seen the baby, but I was so in love with it. I had a name secretly picked out. It was my dream baby and now, he…THEY…were gone. Just like that. In a cruel, horrible twist of fate.
The following days were a fog of grief. My mom came, I called out of work day after day. I missed a lot of classes. Nothing happened on it’s own, so I scheduled a D&C a week after the ultrasound. C went with me, my mom stayed home to pickup Little Bee and shower attention on that sweet, nervous boy. The procedure went without any complications, but I wasn’t all the way awake from sedation before I started crying. I could tell my womb was empty. I felt like they had scraped out my soul along with my dead baby. I was a shell. I tried to return to work, but called out more than I showed up. I had to postpone a midterm and delete my Facebook. I spent a lot of time in bed, and a lot of time crying when nobody was around. Post surgery was harder emotionally than the week before it. The reality of all that had happened was impossible to ignore every time I saw blood in the toilet or in my underwear. The sharp, contraction-like cramps were a harsh reminder of what my body was expelling. It seemed everywhere I looked, there were babies or pregnant bellies. I had once, just recently, been part of that glowing club. Now I was part of the club nobody talks about, lurking in the dark shadows, trying to smile through the pain. Trying to show up for our family when all we want to do is disappear into a hole as deep as our pain.
Some days I feel on top of my game: I take my vitamins to help heal my body, I made it to a week of classes, and two full work shifts. My attention has swung from nurseries and baby names to guest lists and wedding venues. I found my wedding dress, set a date and nailed down my colors. But a breakdown is never far away. A picture, an announcement, a newborn strapped to his mother’s chest as they walk past me in the city…all have sent me to my knees. My hands still sometimes wander absentmindedly to my stomach, and then my heart clenches when I remember. My boobs have shrunk back to their normal size, my stomach has flattened again. I can tell my hormones are trying to catch up because I swing from very high, to very low, and am breaking out like a teenager. My eating has been horrendous and my vow of no drinking broken many times. I know healing will take time, but I’m ready for that time to be now. It feels like an eternity since January 31, but it hasn’t even been a month. We will try again, but there needs to be time first.
And yet through this horrible darkness, I have learned a lot about love. I have learned that sometimes love is literally the only thing to keep you moving…my love for my living child, my love for C. That is what gets me out of bed in the morning. The text messages from long-distance friends making sure you are okay. A perfectly timed care package showing up on your doorstep during one of the darkest days. C taking off work just to sit beside me and hold my hand when my pain is too great to speak. My mother dropping literally EVERYTHING and flying across the country in less than 24 hours after picking up my tearful phone call. The gleeful shouts and hugs around the knees from my kiddos when I finally drag myself to work. Love. We as humans can experience the deepest, strongest love during our darkest, most painful of storms. The people who show up without you asking are the people who care the most. Even if you haven’t seen them in years, or talked to them in months….THOSE are the ones you need to surround yourself with. In the good days and the bad.
I thought I loved C before this nightmare. But I have realized HOW MUCH his love can move me, how much I need him around. He is an absolute rock during the chaos, the most selfless person I have met outside of my own parents. I honestly don’t think I could have clawed my way out of that tunnel without him beside me, encouraging me to rest, taking care of dinners, letting me cry when I couldn’t hold it back. I know this too: we can survive anything. We have been thrown a very cruel test that not all couples experience. It’s only been 3 weeks since the nightmare started, but already I can tell we are going to be okay. We will rise above this hand in hand, steadfast in our love, and brave as we face the future together. We can’t erase this pain, but we won’t let it break us either. It has shown us that yes, this IS what we want. We want a family, a life together, regardless of the what-ifs and the how-the-hells. If we can survive this, I’m confident we can survive whatever else the universe wants to throw at us. But Sweet Baby Jesus, please nothing else. Just because we can survive it, doesn’t mean we want to try, okay??
I knew the statistic. 1 in 4 women miscarry. I just never knew I’d be part of that statistic. My mother is. Two of my best friends and several co-workers are. And now, me. It’s not a fun “club.” It’s not something I’d wish on anybody. I know it does no good to ask why, or blame myself or scour the internet looking for answers. But regardless, I’ve done all that. It’s just part of the process. I know I tried everything I could to keep those babies healthy. For some unknown reason, they were not meant to stay with me. I wish I knew why, I really do. I wish I knew what “lesson” I was supposed to learn from this. But I probably never will. The phrase “everything happens for a reason” doesn’t sit well with me for this particular experience (or ever really). Things happen that are beyond our reasoning. The only thing I know for sure is that for the entire 11 weeks I carried those babies, I loved them. I will always love them. But this isn’t the end of my story.
To any parents out there who have lost babies too….I see you in your shadows. I hear your heart breaking. I see the tears you just cried in the car on our way home but hastily wiped away as you pulled into your neighborhood. You are not alone. I am here. We are here. There are so many of us.
“Love is deep as the road is long/it moves my feet to carry on/It beats my heart when you are gone/love is deep as the road is long.” ~The Lumineers