And that's why I've decided to share my story, as best as I can tell it, even though the pain is still fresh. It is a long story, but please be patient.
On September 7 of this year, Troy and I got a positive home pregnancy test. [The plus sign means positive.]
We had it confirmed the next day with a blood test. My estimated due date was May 15, 2009.
Troy and I were over the moon excited. We couldn't wait and told our families a few days later. Troy told his coworkers and students by the end of the week. I made a scrapbook page:
We told Kyle he was going to be a big brother. He had been asking for a baby brother named Tyler, just like his friend Blake's new baby brother. Every once in a while, he'd work the topic into conversations--"I'm going to be a big brother! I'm going to have a baby brother! Or a baby sister!" He loves babies so much.
But I didn't tell everybody. I wanted the news to leak out slowly. My plan was to wait for my first appointment on October 9. Once I heard the heartbeat, once I saw that little bean on an ultrasound, then I would feel safe announcing my news to the world. I was counting down the days until that appointment.
I felt wonderful. Tired. Occasionally queasy, but none of the horrible "morning" sickness I experienced with Kyle. Instead, I was starving constantly. I craved vegetables, especially tomatoes, McDonald's cheeseburgers, macaroni and cheese, and cottage cheese.
I felt so good that I even commented that I barely felt pregnant. Again, I was anxiously awaiting that first appointment to prove that it wasn't all just a dream.
Troy called me at work one day. He asked if I was feeling okay, if my pregnancy felt okay. He'd had a dream that I miscarried, a dream that was sickeningly realistic. I assured him that everything was fine. I was fine. The baby was fine. And in one week, we'd get to see it for the first time.
We made plans. We talked about names. We started arranging the guest bedroom to become Kyle's new bedroom.
Each day, I carried my little secret with me at work, looking forward to the afternoon of October 9, when I could finally share it with all my coworkers. Knowing my little secret, my happy news, made me smile.
On Monday, October 6, I began to spot. Just a little. Barely enough to call it spotting. I know spotting can be normal, so I tried not to worry. I stayed off my feet that night and tried to relax. In the middle of the night, it got a little worse. I called the nurse help line and talked to the OB on call. She assured me that it was quite possible that everything was still fine, but to call first thing in the morning to set up an ultrasound to be sure.
At 10:00 Tuesday morning, we went to get our ultrasound. I was scared, preparing myself for the worst. I expected the baby to be gone. Maybe it wasn't ever there in the first place. Suddenly, we heard the heartbeat. The technician turned the screen toward me, and I saw that little bean. I could see the head, the little arms and legs. The baby was there, measuring 8 weeks and 6 days and right on track. And most importantly, the heart was beating. It was alive. The heart rate was 194. Much higher than I remembered Kyle's ever being. Is it too fast? I wondered. We were given a picture of the baby, then sent to the clinic to follow up with a doctor. I left the ultrasound clinic clutching that picture as tightly as I could. I didn't want to let go. There was a baby, and it was alive. [In the picture, the head is on the right. You can see the little arm buds and legs (I think, or maybe it's the umbilical cord).]
At the clinic, we spoke with a nurse. She said the heart rate was a little high, but it could be that the baby was moving around, doing some cardio, causing the rate to spike. She said to just take it easy, try not to worry, and come in on Thursday for my regularly scheduled appointment.
We picked up cheeseburgers for lunch. Exhausted from worry, I took a nap. But I went to sleep full of hope. The spotting seemed to have stopped. I had a picture of the baby. I had heard the heart beating away.
When I woke up, the spotting was back, a little heavier than before. I spoke with the on call doctor, who tried to reassure me that as long as I wasn't bleeding heavily, there was still hope that the baby would be okay. And even if it wasn't, there was nothing I could do by this point to change the course of events.
Within half an hour, the bleeding became horrible. I sat in the bathroom and cried. When Troy found me there and saw what was happening, he knew we needed to go to the emergency room.
We dropped Kyle off at my mom and dad's and went to the ER. It was so hard for me to say the words, "I think I'm having a miscarriage."
The ER doctor saw me. She confirmed that it was a miscarriage. She tried to help with the bleeding. She thought she saw the sac pass. By 8:30, she sent us home.
It was October 7, just one month after seeing that beautiful plus sign on the home pregnancy test. One month, and the journey was ending. It was also Kyle's birthday. Exactly four years ago, I had given birth to my beautiful, healthy baby boy. Now, four years later, I sat in the bathroom, begging my body to let go of the rest of the tissue from this failed pregnancy.
That night, I slept for awhile on the floor in Kyle's room. I listened to his sleepy breathing and tried to focus on my gratitude for having one healthy child who fills my world with joy.
October 9, that day I was waiting for with such hope and anticipation, finally came. I went to my appointment as scheduled. But instead of finally getting to see and celebrate the new life growing within me, this appointment was just to confirm the end. I cried in the lobby, surrounded by all those happy, pregnant women. My doctor, who had been on vacation while all this was happening, hadn't even been updated about the miscarriage. I had to explain it all to him.
My doctor was concerned that there was still some tissue that hadn't passed. He gave me medicine to help my body expel it, but if it didn't work, he said I would need a D&C. It didn't work. On Friday, I had a D&C. It was truly the end.
My heart is broken. I cry myself to sleep every night. I know we can try again. I know it wasn't my fault. I know it was probably for the best, that there was probably something very wrong with the baby. I know all this, but I'm not sure I believe it. Not yet. I still have more healing to do, physically and emotionally. Writing this has helped.
One out of every four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. So many other women have gone through this same heartbreak. In a small way, that's comforting, but at the same time, I really didn't want to join their club.
And so, on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, if you are also a member of this club, please know my heart, broken though it is, is with you.
May all our angel babies bring us comfort today and always.