Monday, March 25, 2013

a story of loss

I wasn't sure how to start this post.

Does the story start when we found out we were pregnant eight days post conception? Does it start the day we didn't hear the heartbeat? Or is it when my little baby was surgically removed from the womb?

It's a story with no beginning and certainly no end. In the gap there were 64 days of prenatal vitamins. A dozen positive pregnancy tests. Morning sickness. Lots of apples and ginger candy. Half cups of coffee. Preparation for a fun pregnancy announcement along with some actual announcements. Prayers of safety and healing.

Images of a baby. A baby without a heartbeat. Tears of despair. The telling and the untelling. Shock. Hope. Pain. Fear. Soul-swallowing grief.

3/11 - Today the cashier at the grocery store asked if I was having a good day. All I wanted to do was scream. "NO! My baby is dead inside of me. I am not anywhere near OK." Instead I said I was fine and swiped my credit card. The bag boy packaged my groceries as if the world was just continuing to go on. I got into my car and sobbed with my whole body.

It's a chapter in many women's stories. But I never thought I'd get my name picked. That happened to other people. Until I became one of the 25 percent. Who feel the grief no one else seems to understand. Who have the joy of pregnancy ripped away. Who look at family pictures years later and always look for that missing face. Who wonder about a life that could have been.

3/11 - Henry pointed to my belly and said baby today. Crying, I told him yes, the baby was still there. Because it is. That's his brother or sister in there. We just may not get to meet this side of heaven.

I know it's not my fault. They say it was the baby. It just wasn't knit together in the ways that allowed it to live on earth. Instead, it will go to live with a God that can love it even more than its own mother.

3/12 - People at work keep asking if I feel better. They think I was just sick. I say I am OK. I am not OK. I feel like I weigh 600 pounds and there is a bowling ball in  my chest. I have to remind myself to breathe. But I still have to smile in the hallway and do work like it matters.

We waited a week from the initial ultrasound. There were prayers for a miracle. For some sort of mistake. The longest, worst week of my life. With a husband who was out of town. And morning sickness, exhaustion and all the signs of a healthy pregnancy.

3/14 - Today is the day we get confirmation. I feel nothing. We walked to our appointment. Through the busy Plaza of Big 12 tournament fans and shoppers. They smiled as they passed. They had no idea the destination we were walking to. The things we were about to be told. The way our world is being shaken as they bought new lipstick.

We got the confirmation. Not of a miracle but of a baby without a beating heart. With a sac that measured where it should be and a baby measuring less than it did a week before. And my body that was showing no signs of letting it go.

3/15 - We went to the zoo today. God didn't give me my baby but he did give me an 80-degree day. It felt calming to eat ice cream, look at polar bears swimming in circles, feel the sun on my skin, watch Henry's face light up. His world is so innocent. He doesn't notice all the pregnant moms with alive babies in their bellies. He doesn't immediately think of the ultrasound picture of his baby brother or sister. The baby that's still there. Sucking the oxygen out of every room.

On Monday, that baby left my body, the place that's supposed to be safest. Our baby left in a way I care not to think about and thanks to anesthesia I will never remember.

3/18 - I had to sign a paper releasing the remains of my baby to the hospital. Incineration they called it. The little body, which had fingers and toes, out with the other "medical waste."  

The medical appointments are done. Physically I feel unpregnant. I had 48 hours where my body still miscarried the rest of the tissue and blood. Rhythmic contractions, two minutes apart. Pain that left my knuckles white while gripping the steering wheel.

But now, there is little to remind me any of this even happened. Like maybe the last three weeks were just a fog.

Instead, nothingness. With no clear next step. Except attending class. Going to the store. Giving Henry a bath. Making dinner. Smiling at church. Vacuuming up cat hair. Doing laundry.

Like it all never happened.