Where does one begin? It’s been a rough year for my husband and I. We’d already experienced a major upheaval in our lives – he’s been on long term disability from his job since April, diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety. We met and married later in life, and although he established early on that he never wanted children, I kept thinking he’d change his mind or maybe we’d have a “mistake” that he would accept and grow to love. As life and luck would have it, it did happen, but not in the way I’d expected. Once I hit the age of 40, I made peace with the fact that no little “accident” would happen, I would not have a child, I would have no one to carry on our family genes, no one to tell our family stories to, no offspring to share my life with, to love and grow together with. And I was ok with it. Eventually. Honest.
And then one day in November, one week after my period was due, I decided to ease my panic by taking a pregnancy test. Nothing to worry about I assured myself. I’ve had a few periods that were at least two weeks late, and the pregnancy test would always be negative and my period would start a few days later. But this time it was different. This time, two pink lines appeared. And they appeared again on the second test I purchased the next day. And again on the test at the doctor’s office a day after that. My heart sunk. I had always wished secretly for this, but this was the absolute worst time it could happen with an ill husband and a very uncertain financial future.
Next step: how do you tell your already depressed husband who had never wanted children that he’s going to be a father? I rehearsed what I was going to say in my head over and over. I knew nothing I’d say could lessen the shock so I just blurted it out. He actually handled it quite well when I first told him. And then it sunk in, he wanted to terminate the pregnancy. I knew deep down that I could not do that, I could not do that and live with myself unless I knew the baby had a genetic abnormality. I did waiver on occasion, when I thought about how much life was going to change by having a baby after the age of 40, how we would now never have any extra money to do the renovations or travelling that we dreamed about doing one day, how uncertain our economic future was already by having a husband that was unable to work and may not be able to work for an extended period of time, by having a husband that was wrapped up battling his own personal demons and not available to support me emotionally, never mind a baby.
No doubt about it, we were scared and confused, but our perspective changed once we had some time to think about it. I told him that I would not terminate. At first, we disagreed. Then a funny thing happened, he began to look forward to being a dad. He started planning what life could be like when the baby arrived. We knew it would be hard, but we were being handed a gift – we could handle it together. We grew closer. We’d get through it. We loved each other and supported each other. We knew we’d be great parents.
We decided to go through genetic counselling since I was a “mature” mother at the ripe old age of 41. A baby was going to be enough of a change, we knew that we would not be able to handle the extra challenge of a physically or mentally disabled child. I had already had an ultrasound at 6 weeks of gestation, just to confirm pregnancy as well as to establish how far along I was in case we did decide to terminate. We went for another ultrasound just prior to booking the CVS procedure, I should have been about 10-11 weeks along. I was getting excited about the pregnancy, couldn’t wait to share it with family and friends, couldn’t wait to see how our baby was developing, couldn’t wait to find out the sex, to choose a name. I knew that miscarriage was always a significant possibility at my age so I tried to remain rational about the pregnancy until after the first trimester. I tried to quell the panic and unease. Still, I never expected that I would hear that the baby was dead, had died at 7 weeks 5 days. How could my body not know that it was carry a dead baby? Why was it still hanging on to it, to this lost cause, this lost hope, our lost future? I was bonding with and loving a baby that was already gone.
This unfortunately occurred right before Christmas as we headed home to visit my parents. I had hoped to share some good news with them. Instead, I waited to get back home to begin the process of medical miscarriage using Misoprostol. An ultrasound a week later revealed that the treatment had not worked. I was a wreck emotionally when I found out that I had to go through it again. A second dose of the drug was prescribed at a higher dose. The effects were much more intense and uncomfortable than the first time around. I knew it was successful this time and it was confirmed via ultrasound a few days later.
No one can really explain to you what your body goes through, what to expect, what you’ll be experiencing from an emotional standpoint, unless they’ve gone through it themselves. I wanted and needed to move on. I needed to be able to grieve. To feel like I had the right to grieve a baby only a few weeks old and not meant to live. In effect, I had been carrying a dead baby longer than I had known that I was pregnant. And no one else had known I was pregnant except for a few close friends. All gave words of support when I told them, some mistakenly tried to provide comfort by stating that “it was for the best” or “God has his reasons.” They were well-meaning. I knew that they just couldn’t understand what I felt.
My husband has been very supportive and has grieved right along with me. The last few weeks were extremely difficult to get through, I felt very tired physically, very weighed down by grief, there were many crying bouts, many escapes to the bathroom at work where I could hide and compose myself. Tears would appear for no apparent reason. Thankfully, this has lessened as time has gone on, but I continue to think about it every day, several times a day. I happen to work in a mostly all female environment where pregnancy is common place. Everyday I face a co-worker who is as many weeks along as I should have been. I get to see her growing belly and imagine what I would have looked like if my baby hadn’t died.
Now, I am faced with many questions and decisions that I had given up thinking about long ago. My heart and my head are sending me in two different directions. My head tells me that it’s crazy to want to try again, we are too old to be parents, our chances of miscarrying or having a disabled child are high, we are already struggling with the stress of my husband’s illness. But my heart tells me to try again. Just once more. Maybe things will end up differently. Maybe we can begin to dream again about what our life could be like with a new one to love and cherish. I fear that my miscarriage was my one and only chance of having a baby. That the door has closed and that I’ve missed out. That it’s my own fault and I should have tried harder sooner. That I should just count my blessings, get over it, and move on with life.
I found a quote on another blogger’s website concerning her own miscarriage. She stated that “some people’s lives are very long. Some people’s lives are very, very short . But all make their mark.” I think about that a lot and it gives me some peace.