Mother’s intuition is a funny thing. When I discovered I was pregnant on Mother’s Day of this year I was beyond excited. We’ve wanted to add to our family for some time now but nursing a toddler has made things a bit irregular and I’ve not really been my usual fertile self. Either that or it has something to do with 34 having come knocking on my door this past birthday. I was thrilled when we finally got the positive pregnancy test but from the beginning I was more worried than usual. I didn’t feel quite right. I had the same symptoms I always have. Crushing exhaustion. Weird food aversions. A sea sick feeling. But there was something else. And I didn’t know quite what it was.
I convinced myself I was just being paranoid after my 9 week midwife appointment when it was confirmed that everything was going well. No problems on the horizon. Everything looked good. I let myself breathe a sigh of relief and began to really embrace this new little life. I started planning what cloth diapers to make. And room scenarios. I settled in for 9 months of nesting and I was thrilled.
But, this Monday I went in for a routine dating ultrasound and I had that bad feeling again. My mom, my husband, everyone I told thought I was just being paranoid. So I took a breath and believed them. And then as I was lying on the cold ultrasound table in the darkness of the room the tech seemed to get a bit nervous. She suggested we switch from abdominal to vaginal ultrasound and I knew what was wrong. I knew that very second. I looked at the screen and watched as she discovered my small precious perfectly formed baby hover silently with no heartbeat. She turned on the doppler and I closed my eyes because I knew. When she asked if I would like her to tell me what she saw or if I would rather wait for the doctor to tell me I began to cry and my heart nearly buckled with the weight of my sadness. She didn’t have to tell me. I didn’t need a doctor to show me. I already knew what I had known the whole time. This baby was not going to be born into my arms. It was gone. And I was left feeling that terrible fullness of pregnancy with the knowledge that this baby was no longer living inside me.
The next hour was filled with information about how long ago the baby had passed (less than a week) and what to expect next. There were tissues and hugs from strangers and knowing looks from the women in the waiting room whose swollen bellies were the indisputable evidence of the life growing inside of them. And I smiled while I cried and thanked everyone for their kindness and went out to my car and wept. Because it was over.
I’ve been pregnant 7 times in the last 10 years. And this is my third miscarriage. Each of them is heartbreaking and sad. The first two were so early that nothing ever even had a chance to grow. They were gone nearly as soon as they had started. And with both I mourned the loss of what had never been. This time it’s a new mourning. A new and fresh sadness. This time I got to see my baby on screen. So small. So alone in the darkness of my womb and having died without me ever noticing he or she was gone. A silent, unseen, unheard tragedy. And I find myself wrestling with the guilt of knowing a child of mine died without me feeling it. And I feel sad. And at fault. And lonely. And crushed by the weight of it.
So now I wait. I wait for my body to process the loss that my heart is in the throes of feeling. I wait for the inevitable. And it hurts.
When you’re 9 months pregnant and waiting for labor every day you waking up scrutinizing each pang or twinge wondering if that is the feeling that will bring you to the moment you meet your little one face to face. And waiting to miscarry is a lot like that. Each minute I’m wondering is this the feeling? Is this it? Will this be the moment? Was that a cramp? Is it happening? And in the meantime I carry inside me the small and tender body of the baby that, had life moved differently, would have been another quirky member of the Loving clan. Would he or she have the same mischievous grin as Juni? Would this baby grow to be as stoic and tough as our Ivy? Would he or she share Traveler’s kooky sense of humor? Or Kai’s knack for philosophizing? I don’t know. And I won’t in this life. And the reality of it hits me every time I look into the dark brown eyes of one of my children. This, their brother or sister, will not sing silly songs with the rest of them. He or she will never snuggle up on the couch in my lap and ask to stay up past bedtime. There will be no family vacations or memories with this littlest member of our family. The memories begin and end here. Too brief. Too fleeting.
I wish I had a neat and perfect way to wrap up my post. Something about having peace in the midst of the storm. Or knowing there is a reason for everything. I do have moments of peace and I do believe there is a reason for everything, but it seems too simple to put that on top of this grief like a nice shiny Christian bow. I don’t doubt my God in this. I truly don’t. When my children ask why God would give us this baby only to let it die my only answer to them is an honest one. I don’t know. I likely never will. And sometimes having faith means terrible things will happen that will never make sense but that you choose to believe God is present through them. And that’s where I am today. And for now that’s as good as it gets.