Learning How To Suffer

Ever since I remember I suffered for one reason or another, yet my life was beautiful because I was surrounded by my family and I ignored the pain. When I turned 25 I got pregnant, but I was not married. I knew my parents would be disappointed and I knew my boyfriend might be too, but I did not care — the moment I found out I was going to be a mother I thought everything was going to be alright. I did not care about the past, about the recent death of my baby niece, my favorite aunt and my grandma. I did not even care to know my boyfriend was unfaithful. All I cared about was that baby inside my womb.

I always wanted to be a mom. I was the favorite aunt to four nieces and a nephew, and almost a mother to my niece who was comatose for almost a year until she passed. I knew I was going to be a good mom and I thanked God for sending him at the most awkward time, I knew he was going to be my everything. I told my parents and my boyfriend and just as expected — everyone was disappointed. I felt sad and jealous because my sister was also expecting and no one outside the family new of my pregnancy– only hers. I was also oh so happy and I cared less about everything, but my joy did not last long.

I went to my first ultrasound and I still remember him on the screen — the most beautiful little dot and the sound of his tiny heartbeat. Yet that very same day my heart was shattered and as I left the clinic my own heartbeat was slowed down I know. I heard the doctor telling a nurse right outside the room that the “fetus” was too small for my stage and I started to feel scared. I told my boyfriend to go listen, but he ignored me and said they would tell us if something was wrong. When the doctor came back I asked her and she lied, she said everything was normal and scheduled the next appointment.

Everything thereafter seems unreal, I can only recall everything when I sleep. All I can remember is rushing to my ultrasound so eager to hear that heart beat again, luckily just a few days from Christmas. I brought my best friend that day whom I had not seen in years and I remember that moment prior to the ultrasound, my friend and boyfriend snapping photos of me, and just like a picture The world stayed still when the nurse said my baby had a problem and that the doctor would come in to confirm. I will never forget his face as he explained my baby could have gastroschisis, or worse, omphalocele. We agreed to do all the tests for the well-being of my baby.

There is not a day that goes by that I do not regret those tests because I blame the amniocentesis for the death of my baby. The only part I do not regret was finding out the gender of my baby through them, I knew I was expecting a boy and they confirmed that to my boyfriend when they called him with the results. I told him not to tell me and keep it a secret because I believed everything was going to be alright, even if my boy was born with a “defect” like they called it, I was going to love him just the same. He was excited and said the results were fine that the baby did not have anything wrong and I was so thankful, my faith grew and I tried to ignore the fear that remained. I recall being in the emergency room at least twice because I could not keep food in my stomach at all. Then the Thanksgiving family trip in an RV was the only thing my family mentions about my pregnancy. I was so sick and when we arrived, things got worse because the relatives kept congratulating my sister for her pregnancy. Suddenly I burst in tears when an aunt gave her a pair of earrings for her baby. The rest of the trip was spoiled because of me. When we got back home, my mom gave me a footie for my baby, it was blue, I guess she also felt I was expecting a boy.

Ever since the ultrasound I was having a strong pain in my back, but I thought it was normal I even went to get checked a couple days before Christmas and the doctor told me it was my rib cage expanding to accommodate the baby. She let me hear his heartbeat and that was my Christmas present, the best one ever. I recorded it and I listen to it every once in a while. Then the week after, I had my first nutrition class and I recall the other women’s bellies being noticeable unlike mine. That day I bought my first pregnancy shirt, one I never used and might never will and a device to hear his heartbeat that never seemed to work.

The following days were bitter sweet. The holidays were awkward because my family was disappointed and my sister had her baby girl on Christmas day. A few day after my favorite aunt passed away, and I decided I was going to be a single mother. My nieces and nephew had found out I was pregnant and they were so happy, specially my nephew because he wanted a boy to play with. Work was hectic and I will never forget a customer who said to me I had a glow, I never thought that was real until then.

Then that Sunday, I want to erase from my memory. I thought I felt the baby move inside me and I was the happiest woman in the world. I called the father and told him and I even told my dad and everyone at home. At that point everyone was better and they even seemed happy for me. I was very moody and I cried a lot those days. Eager to go to my ultrasound the following Wednesday, I started a journal for my baby explaining to him all my decisions and why I could not be with his dad and I started a keepsake box for him and a piggy bank. That night, I was on the phone with his dad for hours, we were going to try to work things out and we talked about baby names, but could not agree on one. Also he wanted to make the crib on his own. I, on the other hand wanted to go shopping for everything. I felt something was wrong with me because I felt a real sharp pain in my lower back but I did not want to over exaggerate.

So finally it was the day of my ultrasound. I was so desperate to see my baby and get his pictures that I did not wait for my boyfriend to arrive and left on my own. He was very late and they started the ultrasound, but I recall my baby looking weird, not like before and the nurse was taking many more screenshots. Like a fool I started asking if I could have some pictures, and I asked why he seemed like that, laying on the bottom of the screen looking like a fish. I could not tell where his hands were, and I could not even see the shape of his head unlike before that he seemed like he was holding a ball. The nurse said the doctor would come to continue and it was then that finally my boyfriend arrived just before the doctor came into the room. He put more gel on my tummy and I started to ask again if I was getting pictures afterwards.

He looked at me and said those words, “I’m sorry there is no heartbeat,” just like that, as though they were rehearsed. Again, that moment comes back to my memory like a photo, I got off the bed and wiped the gel and tried to leave the room, but they held me, my boyfriend fainted and the doctor seemed mad instead of sorry. I still hate him to this day. He grasped my arm so hard and did not let me leave the room. I saw the nurse on the hallway and asked her to do the ultrasound again that the doctor was wrong and she just stood there staring at me. For the longest time I cried and cried and then I was home, I did not know how I got there, then I was told I went into shock for a long time. My mom kept saying not to worry that they could be wrong that he was probably asleep. She gave me a cup of iced water and asked my boyfriend to drive us back to the clinic. We arrived and she ordered the receptionist to call doctor and everyone was upset, but they finally put me in a room and did the ultrasound again, just to let me see that the baby was lifeless, his heartbeat was nowhere on the screen. My mom kept telling the doctor to keep looking and after what seemed hours they confirmed he was dead.

It was then I knew he had passed away probably the day I thought I felt him move. They left us there until a counselor came in to explain that in fact the baby had gastroschisis and that I needed a D&E. They scheduled me for a week from then. They dared to leave my lifeless baby in me for days. We came back home and my mom took me to the ER, but yet again they confirmed there was no heartbeat. Ever since that day I have anger towards every medical staff.

The day of the D&E I was told they would do general anesthesia, but they lied. I was only asleep for a few minutes. I had an ultrasound and the doctor did not even know my baby had been dead, she asked how far along I was and my reason to interrupt my pregnancy. I looked I her and asked if my baby was alive and she said no. She started reading my file and apologized. I was then put in a room full of women that were aborting their live children. As we waited to have the IVs put in our arms they started telling each other their reasons to do it. One said she was newly-wed and could not enjoy her honeymoon like that, another had two other children and they were “too expensive,” another was “just not ready,” others looked sad, but careless. I sat there and before they dared to ask me I got up and called them pigs and called the nurse to take me out of there. They all looked at me as though I was crazy I kept crying and no one cared. I was put in a room alone until a nurse came and brought me to another room. She put something in my IV and a heavy blanket on me, I did not want them to take my baby from me. I felt sleepy and there was that one doctor holding my hand and telling me to stay calm and closed my eyes. I lied too and said the baby was moving, I asked him to wait and call my mom from the waiting room. He said okay and they waited but I fell asleep fast.

I woke up in a sort of chair and the nurse handed me a cracker and a cup of water. All the girls from the other room were there chatting about dumb things, I knew my baby was not in my womb anymore and I just cried and cried, but they put me to sleep again and when I woke up my mom was there and my boyfriend. The receptionist made me sign stuff and kept talking, but I did not care what she had to say. They gave me a brown paper bag with medication and condoms. How dare they thought I would have sex after losing my baby?

On the way home, I asked if he was a boy and I was told he was — I knew it always. What I will never know is why it happened. I have been told so many times that I am young and could have another baby, but I do not want another baby, I want my baby. They say he is an angel, but I do not want an angel I cannot hold. All I have of my baby are prints of his pictures from my second ultrasound, not the kind of pictures they give everyone, just printouts in normal paper. I have his footie my mom gave me, the recording of his heartbeat and like 3 pictures of the screen from cellphones. I did not even choose a name for him.

For a long time I did not talk about this, but then I started reading stories of other women on Avery’s Angels, Still Standing Magazine, and Faces of Loss. I do not care that people did not know I once was pregnant. I know I was a mother, the mom of a baby with no heartbeat. I do not know the reason why I had given the gift of becoming pregnant only to lose him. No one at home talks about my baby, it hurts to see my niece grow up but I have to learn to deal with my feelings. It has been over a year and supposedly I should have over-come the grief, but I do not think I ever will.

Just recently, my dad caught me crying because my niece called me mama. He said I have to understand that God knows what he does, that He would not send something He knew I was not able to take, that if my baby would have been born sick not only would I had suffered, but that he would too. I know it is kind of true, but none the less it hurts.

Writing my story helps me recall details. I just remember how worried I was of how I was going to look during labor as soon as I found out I was pregnant. I planned on getting fake lashes because I wanted to look pretty, I had been looking for a cute large purse, not a diaper bag, for when he was born. I wondered if he was going to be born hairy or bald if he was going to like cars like my father. I even decided I was not going to buy him many toys to not make him spoiled. Then everything else happened so suddenly that I had not recalled many of the things I’m writing until now that I think back and it hurts to know those things will never happen.

I think I am healing by writing my baby’s story. It makes him seem real although he was not born. I want to get to the point where I can smile genuinely when I hear news about others being pregnant. I want to not feel anger towards the doctors and staff that were part of my journey. I want to let go of the desire of seeing my baby play along with my nieces and nephew. I do not want to feel jealousy when my family remembers my niece who passed away tragically, because they never remember my baby and I feel they never loved him.

I often blame myself for his death because I cried so much, and I wish I could have given birth to him and I would not care how I looked. I could continue to write and write, but I know nothing will bring him back. I do not want to forget my son, but I want to learn to suffer because maybe knowing how to suffer his loss will hurt less.

 

Karina

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