The morning of my first 2nd trimester appointment, I pulled on the maternity skirt my friend had lent me and a shirt that sort of masked the barely there bump of belly. It was amazing how my belly went up and down; poofed out then popped back in as flat as it had been before. I told my husband, as he got dressed, that sometimes it didn’t even seem like I was pregnant.
As I lay on the bed with my legs in the stirrups, he held my hand as we watched and listened to our doctor maneuver an ultrasound wand over my belly. All we heard were crackles and pops, like the cereal. [I could almost imagine those silly little elves pressing their pointy ears against my skin.] She had me turn on the main ultrasound machine, just in case she didn’t have the right spot. We watched her face, her efficient face, normally so business-like and multi-tasking with a purpose, we watched the face that we trusted to give us the straight shit on things get a little quiet and a little less business-like. We watched her eyes, eyes that were normally efficient and quick to dart to her next task, get a little sad and slow. And we listened as she told us that we were having a miscarriage.
Our baby, it seems, had stopped growing sometime between the 8 week ultrasound when we saw the heartbeat, and the time the 12.5 week ultrasound rolled around. Our baby, it seemed, was one of the less than 5% to go away after the heartbeat. Our baby, it seemed, was dead.
We saw a blob where there should have been a head and a body. The heart that had beat so well only a month ago, had stopped. There were no leg or arm buds, no resemblance to anything. Our little zygote was no more.
My body had begun to confuse itself about whether it was pregnant or not. We had noticed a few nights prior that my breasts were a bit smaller than when they had swelled up huge. My stomach ebbed and flowed like the tide, sometimes looking pregnant, sometimes looking as flat as before. My diet varied, my sweet tooth sometimes disappeared. I hadn’t gained any weight since the day we started. They were, we realized later, signs.
To be honest, I used to think about what it would be like to miscarry, and what I would feel. To be honest, I always think I’m too practical to let this stuff affect me – regardless of the fact that I cry at commercials. In truth, tears flowed like crazy. As I calmly asked her questions about the D&C procedure and my husband held my hand, hard, my tears flowed down my face. As she explained that there was a chromosomal abnormality that occurred between egg and sperm, tears flowed down my face. And as I got dressed, I looked at my husband through tears flowing down my face.
He was in shock. It hadn’t hit him yet, that this child that we both wanted so badly, was gone. He was worried about me, but not even sure about what he felt yet. It was how he dealt with grief, and I knew that it would hit him when he got home that night from work. Grief always did.
We scheduled the D&C. I sobbed in his arms in the waiting room of the doctor’s office, and in the parking lot before we went our separate ways. He told me he loved me, and I told him I loved him. I called off of work. I called my mother, and asked her to tell the rest of the family. I drove home and ripped off the maternity skirt I was wearing. It seemed almost sacrilegious to wear it when I was no longer pregnant. I collected all the pregnancy books and borrowed clothes and put them into a bag, into a corner; somewhere I didn’t have to see them until I was ready. Until I was pregnant again. I poured myself a large shot of vodka. And then another. And another.
And I cried. I cried for this little thing that was never meant to be. I cried for this thing that was never mine, was never ours. I had never felt we were ready to be parents, but somehow losing it made me realize we were. I cried for this baby that had taken up shop in my womb but was never going to grow up and see the world from the outside. It may have felt like ours for a little while, but it never was truly ours. We were only the temporary guardians of it, and while we may have felt proud of the way we housed it, proud of the way we fed and nourished and loved it, it never had really been ours. And we had to let it go. Some things, it seemed, were never meant to be.
It was time to start over. It was time to go back to the beginning, back to the hope minefield, and back to the limbo that we had started in. It was time to go back to pregnancy tests and periods. It was time to go back to start. We had rolled the dice and it did not have us pass go and collect $200, it made us go back to start with nothing except the reminder of the love we had for the tiny ram-peanut that had taken up shop in my womb, only to disappear without ever saying goodbye.
How do you say goodbye to something that disappeared one night, without ever knowing it had gone?