The nurse flung open the curtain. She introduced herself (I don’t remember her name) and then quickly ducked her head back out into the hallway to hack up a lung. She reminded me a bit of The Albino from The Princess Bride. This exact, iconic moment:
If you haven’t seen this movie, shame on you. Watch it. Be enlightened. Thank me later.
Once she settled her respiratory business, she made her way over to the side of my hospital bed. I couldn’t help but notice her long, gray hair tangled around her shoulders was in much need of a deep conditioning. Focus, Libby.
The Albino: “I’m here to take you for your CT scan.”
She cleared her throat, again.
Me: Why am I getting a CT?
I knew I didn’t need a CT. I knew what CT’s were for. This wasn’t my first ER rodeo. I didn’t need a CT.
The Albino: Well, what are you in here for?
So condescending. Don’t put me in the same category as The Regular down the hall who you told to stop yelling for help, because that’s not how you do things here and he’s been here enough to know that.
The Albino: Well…
Me: Nothing that requires a CT scan….
Deep breath. Could I say it?
Me: I’m nine weeks pregnant and I’m bleeding.
Turns out I didn’t need a CT scan. I needed an ultrasound. An ultrasound that would be the longest 25 minutes of my life. An ultrasound that would show no heartbeat. An ultrasound that would indicate no growth since Week Seven. An ultrasound that would confirm my fears and the truth I already knew deep down. I was, for the first time in my life, genuinely hoping I would be wrong.
If I’m being honest with myself, I’d known for 24 hours at that point.
There’s a moment, or rather a series of moments, when you know. You just know.
Call it a mother’s intuition.
You know what this is. You know what is happening. They say not to think it’s inevitable. They say this could be normal. But you know. You don’t want to know. But you do. And you want to rewind to 10 seconds ago when you didn’t know. When you weren’t sure. But there is no rewind. There is no restart. There is just that moment. And the nightmare begins.
These are the moments that shape us. They weave themselves into our DNA. They imprint themselves on our souls. They don’t define us but they are part of our being.
I miscarried. Wow. Those words suck to type just as much as they suck to say. It’s a sad, sucky word.
I’ve decided “suck” is really the best word to describe this reality. I know it’s not eloquent. Some may even call it crass. I know other writers would say, “come up with a better word.” Well, for them I would come up with another four-letter word, but I’m a lady. And my mom reads this.
I miscarried. It sucks.
It was my first pregnancy. And this is now my only context, feeling, thought I associate with me being pregnant. That sucks.
P was in London for work, the first weekend in September, when it happened. We knew before he left this was a possible outcome of what my body was already starting. We made a decision together he should still go. But it still sucks he wasn’t here. Majorly sucks.
So, we’ve established it triple sucks.
There’s an emptiness about it. A void. A complete lack of control. There is nothing about this situation I can control. I love control. I’m really good at controlling things.
Well, there was one thing I controlled. I talked to P while he was on his layover in Chicago before he would be unavailable for eight hours flying across the Atlantic. We agreed I should go to the ER with my mom. But before we went, I told her I needed a few minutes. No, not to collect myself. No, not to go over the pros and cons of going into the ER for the umpteenth time. But to shave my legs. I couldn’t control what my body was doing. I couldn’t control the outcome. But I could damn well control whether or not I had silky, smooth legs. I think The Albino really appreciated it.
I lay in that hospital bed for four hours. Three hours of knowing and no one giving me a straight answer. Three hours of angst. Three hours of an emotional roller coaster nightmare.
And then there was one hour of truth. Finally an angel of a Resident stepped into the room. She told me point blank. She told me she was 100% sure. She explained my options. She was patient. She was kind. Oh, how she blessed my soul that night. I give her an A+ for bedside manner.
After a few days, eventually, physically, the worst was over. There was closure. If only the emotional part could work the same way.
How am I doing? I don’t know what to say when people ask. “No, I’m not ok” isn’t usually the answer they want to hear. I know people mean well. But I have no answer for their question. How do I answer it when I don’t even know myself? Physically, I can tell you. Emotionally, there is no clear answer. At least not a short one.
I know they’re unsure of what to say to me. When you aren’t in the club, you just don’t know. Yes, it’s a club. A membership I never wanted and now a membership from which I will never be released.
Here is the long, but honest truth.
I’m sad. We lost a child. A precious child. A child we prayed for. A child we hoped for. A child we dreamed of. A sweet baby whose toes we couldn’t wait to count. Whose cheeks we couldn’t wait to smother in kisses. Whose cries we couldn’t wait to soothe. We’ve established this sucks.
I’m angry. Obviously at what happened, but also why it happened. There was nothing I could do. I know that. I’m angry that I couldn’t control it. I’m angry I couldn’t prevent losing this baby. Part of what I do for a living is fix things. I solve problems for people. I couldn’t fix this. I couldn’t solve this problem.
I’m at peace. Don’t roll your eyes. I am. It wasn’t meant to be. I believe everything happens for a reason. I believe God has a plan. I know there was something not right with this baby. No, the baby was right. That isn’t what I mean. Oh, how the baby was right. I mean something else was wrong. I know God has this sweet baby’s life in His hands. I know this was a pain now to save heartache later. I know this. I do.
I’m vulnerable. I hate being vulnerable. It’s a flaw. I don’t open up well. I don’t like talking about my feelings. That’s all anyone wants to talk about right now. Feelings. Name a feeling. Bet I’m experiencing it. It’s not just a chink in my armor. I have been stripped of my armor. I am naked. I am vulnerable. And I hate it.
I’m nervous. I’m nervous for other people. I don’t want people to be weird. I’ve instituted a “No Awkwardness” rule at my house. No one is allowed to come over and be awkward. If you come over, we are going to talk about your baby, we are going to talk about your upcoming wedding, and we are going to talk about your terrible day at work. We are going to talk about life. And we will talk about my baby. And we will not be awkward. We will be real. Please be real.
I’m scared. I’m scared for the day when something randomly triggers my grief. I’m scared for my baby’s due date, April 10, 2015 and how I will feel that day. I’m scared for the day where it doesn’t consume my thoughts. I’m scared for the day when I forget for just a moment. I’m scared of how much I want to get pregnant again. I’m scared to get pregnant again. I know the statistics. I know they are in my favor. I’m still scared. I’m scared for the day when someone else I know goes through this. I’m scared this will serve a purpose on that day. I’m scared to be the one comforting another.
I’m thankful. Thankful beyond what words can express. Thankful we shared our news and celebrated this little life with a handful of our friends and family during the five weeks we knew. Thankful this happened now. Before we knew if our baby was a boy or a girl. Before we chose a name specifically for her or him. Before I could feel my baby moving. I’m thankful this happened to us and not our other three couple friends who are currently pregnant. I love their babies already and thank God this didn’t happen to them. I’m thankful for my friends who know what to say. “Can we come be with you? We want to join you in life.” Who knows to say that? My friends. It’s life. And it’s hard. But I’m thankful for this life.
When we first found out I was pregnant, P and I went for a walk. We basked in the unfathomable joy, disbelief and fear of the unknown that comes with a positive pregnancy test. Holding my hand, he looked over at me and said, “Beginning today, we will be parents for the rest of our lives.”
Oh, my love. That we are. And that we always will be.