Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Ultimate Injustice

I’m one of “those people”—the folks that like read a friend’s blog, then click a random link and end up on another blog, then click on another random link to end up on still another blog, and on and on. Call it boredom, call it lurking, call it what you will—it passes the time when I just need a break, and it allows me to see just what else is going on out there.

Recently, I’ve ended up on blogs of couples suffering through infertility. A few of the blogs have had happy stories, where the couples end up with beautiful children after years of medical intervention. Others have not been so lucky; either medical intervention hasn’t helped, or the ultimate injustice has occurred—they finally got pregnant, only to suffer through a miscarriage.

When I read some of these blogs—especially the miscarriage blogs—I’m reduced to heaving pile of sobs. There is nothing more unfair in this life than having the knowledge a miracle is taking place inside you—and then suddenly it’s gone, leaving all your hopes and dreams in a shattered pile on the ground. I know. I’ve been there.

Early last January, I went off the pill. Mike & I had not overtly decided to label ourselves TTC; we weren’t trying, but we weren’t NOT trying. So imagine our delight and surprise when only a month later, I ran downstairs with the little pee-stick in hand, saying, “Does this look positive to you?!” Mike looked it over, looked back at me and nodded. “WE’RE HAVING A BABY!!!” I yelled. I was so excited I couldn’t eat the Chinese dinner he had brought home (along with the aforementioned pregnancy test). We called the doctor the next day, and they scheduled our first appointment for the next month.

During the next few weeks, my mind would race with anticipation and excitement—was the little ball of cells multiplying inside me a boy or girl? Would he or she have Mike’s blue eyes or my frustrating curls? How were we going to afford all this? We told more folks that we probably should have, considering it was so early. In our bliss, we started researching baby names; we settled on Josephine for a girl because I’d always loved the name Josie, but were never able to agree on a boy’s name. No matter, though—for some reason I was positive that our little miracle was a girl, so I just went with it.

In early March, I started noticing some spotting. Of course I freaked out and called the doctor immediately; she said to keep an eye on it and try to stay off my feet. Doing so was not much fun; being off my feet meant thinking about nothing but something going wrong. I looked up web page after web page detailing the symptoms of miscarriage, and my heart started to sink as it seemed like I was reading a detailed explanation of what I was experiencing. We called the doctor again when the symptoms did not alleviate, and they scheduled us for an appointment the next day.

At the OB’s office the next morning, I can remember sitting in the waiting room, watching the soon-to-be mothers with their beautifully-round bellies go in and out of the office. I prayed that I was going to experience their same joy soon and tried to focus on that instead of the impending doom that seemed to be clouding my mind. Finally they called us back to the exam room, and before too long we were looking an image on the ultrasound screen. Our doctor said that our miracle was measuring about six and a half weeks, and the heartbeat was strong.

I can’t express in words how I felt at that moment; the stress and worry left me as I stared at the screen, amazed at how blessed Mike & I were to have created that fuzzy little blob. Our OB brought us back down to earth, though, saying that although things looked fine, up to 40% of first-time pregnancies end in miscarriage, and that we should just try to stay positive. We left the office feeling much better—we even had ultrasound pictures to share with the family & friends we had let in our secret. The future seemed rosy once again.

That calmness quickly dissipated not even 48 hours later. I was still spotting, but now it was brighter and more frequent. Another call to the doctor and I was at home, staying off my feet once again. They told me I shouldn’t worry unless I started to notice cramping. I prayed and prayed that the cramps wouldn’t come, but I woke up a few days later in a lot of pain. We went back to the doctor’s office, and again headed back to the ultrasound room. This time, when we looked at the screen, there was no fuzzy blob. There was no beating heart. Our little Josie, who we had been so awestruck to see only eight days before, was gone.

I tried so hard not to cry in that office (I’d never been a crier before that day), but as I turned to Mike and saw the pain in his eyes, I completely broke down on the spot. I guess I never realized how badly I’d wanted to be a mom until we discovered we were pregnant, and now my hopes had been destroyed. Luckily, Mike was there to hold me in his arms, and the OB gave me a strong embrace as well. After we’d all settled down a bit, our doctor said that a good thing we could take away from the experience was that we could get pregnant—we could even start trying again as early as the next month. Mike & I looked at each other, and I knew that wasn’t an option. We were going to need some time to heal.

The next few days after that are a bit of a blur (you always hear about how emotionally difficult a miscarriage can be, but no one tells you how physically painful they are), but I do remember the wonderful support we received from family and friends. I know a few folks felt pretty awkward—honestly, what do you say to someone who just lost a child, albeit a soon-to-be child?—but any expression of sympathy was deeply appreciated. A few weeks later we had the opportunity to escape our sorrow by going on our belated honeymoon cruise to the Bahamas, and after we returned home, things pretty much got back to normal.

A few months later, Mike & I discovered once again that we were expecting (and once again, it was immediately after I had stopped taking the pill). We didn’t tell as many folks this time as I was pretty much terrified of miscarrying again. I was counting down the days until I reached my second trimester like a convict counting his days to freedom. Not all of my fears receded when I reached that magical day, but most did. When we began to discuss names, a few folks asked if we were still considering Josie for a girl’s name. I told them no—we’d already used that name.

Miscarriage is an agony that you can’t completely understand until you experience it. It is as though someone is playing a cruel-hearted prank with your heart, tempting you with all the excitement of starting a family, and then swiping it all away with something as impersonal as a blank ultrasound screen. But it is something that you can move on from, and I’m proud to say I was able to do that. Little Josie may never have made it into the world, but she’ll always be in our thoughts and in our hearts.


  1. I thank God every day that everything went well with our pregnancy. As stressful as it can be at times, I see those posts about people who lose a baby at 15, 16, or even 20+ weeks and it absolutely breaks my heart. To get to that "safety zone" and then lose your baby is unimaginable to me. I can't imagine how Tara has been able to try so many times...she is much stronger than I am.

  2. Oh, I know EXACTLY what you mean, your post made me cry remembering mine. I felt like the world had ended when they didn't find the heartbeat of our first little angel. I still think of "her" everyday.

    I LOVE the new header Kim!!!! Did you make that? :)