Today, I should have been 18 weeks pregnant. My baby should have been growing, thriving, building. My baby should have been making her way to me.
Instead, less than a week ago, I started spotting.
After a trip to the ER, the doctor couldn’t find a heart beat on the doppler. The next day, I was sent for an urgent ultrasound. The tech is the mother of a friend of mine, I’ve known her since I was a little girl. She told me the truth, and it broke my heart, “I don’t have good news for you, hon….I don’t see a heartbeat“.
I should have been getting ready to find out the gender of my baby. I should have been shopping for onesies. I should have been crying tears of joy. There should have been a flicker, there should have been life where there was only silence. Where there was only stillness.
We saw the Emergency doctor. She told us that our baby had died at 11.5 weeks. Almost six weeks ago, and I was carrying ‘her’ around with me, not knowing, not feeling that she was gone. Looking back, there were some signs that something wasn’t right, and I was afraid, but they were shrugged off by our doctor.
At our last appointment, I had lost weight instead of gaining. At our last appointment, there was no heartbeat on the doppler — he passed it off as an old machine, told us everything was fine, not to worry. There should have been a tiny heartbeat, where there was only silence. My severe morning sickness had stopped abruptly at 11 weeks. My breasts weren’t hurting anymore. I feel like I should have known.
The emergency doctor sent us home with medication to induce contractions. She told me to expect bad cramps and a ‘heavy period’ with blood clots and tissue. What I got was excruciating body wrenching pain, my water suddenly breaking, and looking down and seeing a tiny baby in the toilet. There was a tiny baby, my baby, where there ‘should have been’ blood clots. I didn’t know what to do, I wasn’t prepared for this. I was devastated and afraid. I couldn’t bring myself to touch ‘her’. She was so tiny, and lifeless and sad. I was afraid picking ‘her’ up would mean never being able to let her go. There should have been more information. How could I be expected to make a choice under this trauma? My husband couldn’t look. He didn’t want to see. I sobbed, and cried to ears that couldn’t hear me, ‘I’m so sorry’, as I flushed my little baby away from me forever. I can’t let go of this, I think about it every day. I feel wracked with guilt. I feel like there should have been time to hold her, but would that haunt me more?
I sobbed for days, I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t eat. I dreamed that our baby was a girl. And her name was Lily. I woke up to my husband staring out the window at fireflies fading away into the trees. I’ve never seen fireflies in the area we lived in before.
Several days later, I woke with severe bleeding. We went to the emergency room, where I was examined and sent for an urgent D&C to remove ‘residual product’. I knew she was already gone. I had seen her, but bits and pieces of her life were left behind. I felt, while I was in the hospital, in my gown, with my bracelet and IV, that somehow maybe this was better. Now people could see how much I hurt. I am sick, You can see that, right?
I spent the next day at home recovering physically, my body writhing with aches and pains from the last few days. My heart sunk, my soul crushed. The life I was building had been taken from me. I didn’t think things could get worse, but almost on cue, when I woke the next morning with little to no physical pain, the reality of what I have lost hit me full force, like a truck, like a freight train, like a sledgehammer. I feel crippled by this loss. I feel empty. I feel blank. I feel like I can never regain what I had. I don’t know how to feel better. My emotions are thrashing about and taking me with them, I have no control. One moment I feel like I will never be able to face people at work again. The coworkers who knew I was expecting, the coworker who is due on the same date I was. How will I be able to see her grow, carrying a child where mine was ripped from me? The next minute I feel guilty. “Get up”, I tell myself, “how can you ever get better if you don’t get up? Your husband needs you too, he can’t do this by himself. Do the dishes! Get up!” And I do get up. I fight my way through menial tasks, triggered when I see a bottle of multivitamins, or imagine myself in the yard holding the baby I never got to have.
How does this ever heal? I have moments where I feel almost normal. They don’t last long, but my brain and my heart sabotage me, and I feel guilt for not crying. I feel like I’m forgetting her and how much she means every second that I smile. I constantly remind myself of every moment of losing her. From the second the tech showed me this still little image of a lost child, to the moment I realized that I was physically losing her, she was leaving me, even though she was already gone. I can’t help but imagine where I was at 11.5 weeks. What was I doing, saying, eating drinking? How did this happen? Was I the reason she stopped living? What did I do?
I am consumed with guilt. With Loss. I feel broken. There should have been excitement, happiness, growth. Hope. Instead, there are tears. Tears that make my whole body shake, make my heart race, and confine me to my shell of a bed. Instead, there is guilt. Anger at myself, for failing my child. Anger at my doctor, for letting me carry this poor baby who had already slipped away for 6 weeks!
Maybe there’s a glimmer of hope. Maybe I can heal. Maybe I can regain some control of my world. Maybe I can think of my tiny child, the little one I didn’t get to meet, who knew only me as a home, as a mother, and maybe I can think I was lucky to have her for the few minutes I did. Maybe I can focus on the support. How my husband has been so strong and amazing, not pushing me too hard, but gently nudging me that it’s ok to smile. Maybe I can remember how wonderful the hospital staff was to me on the day of my D&C, how each and every person went out of their way to come and say a few kind healing words. Maybe I can have another baby. But will I be able to recover from this one that I couldn’t have?