This month is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. (Is it just me, or is there a holiday for everything now? Seriously, look it up. August is Water Quality Month. April 4th is Hug a Newsman Day.) Anyway, like millions of others, I have some experience with pregnancy loss. I absolutely hate talking about this, so if this post suddenly disappears I probably had a stabbing sense of regret and deleted it.
My 19 year old tail wanted to get pregnant as soon as I got married, but my husband, ever the responsible one, wanted to wait. So wait we did, for one… long… year, while I whined about how I wasn’t getting any younger. (Because in ten short years I would be thirty! Thirty! How would I take care of babies while wearing Depends and walking with a cane?) Like all arguments, I eventually used my womanly ways to win.We threw away the birth control. I got pregnant, had a baby, and lived happily ever after! Oh wait, that was every other girl I knew. (I know that’s some bitter sarcasm, but that’s where I was.) I did always THINK I was pregnant. For every little pain and sickness, I took a pregnancy test. I should’ve told everyone to invest in First Response, because my purchases alone must’ve boosted their stock. I would take these tests then stare at them forever. I looked like a mad scientist standing on the bathroom counter holding that stick up to the light in every possible angle just hoping to see those two lines. Nope.
A few years passed before we entered into the miserable world of fertility clinics. It started with an exploratory surgery that accomplished nothing. Fertility treatments were next. (Do not be confused by the word treat in treatments. I can assure you, no treats were involved.) I look back now and see us in that waiting room… Him waiting for his ‘walk of shame’. Me glaring around the room, wallowing in self pity, looking miserably at some baby magazine. (Which I always thought was quite cruel reading material. Like forcing a starving person to stare at images of steaks.) We both really hated this process, but we knew it was what we had to do to get our baby. The baby just never came.
The doctor felt like I should move on to injectables. These are lovely little stomach shots I gave myself. This was on top of the monthly shot that a sweet friend came to inject in my hip. It wasn’t pleasant, but it actually worked. I got pregnant. It is very difficult for me to talk about how excited I was. Let’s just say, I was stupidly excited. I really never thought anything could go wrong. God had finally given me what I wanted. I could take a deep breath and of course tell EVERYBODY! So that’s what I did. The first few ultrasounds went well, but at 7.5 weeks there was no heartbeat. In the same way it is difficult to say how excited I was, it is equally excruciating to think of how sad I was. I can’t put it into words.
We did one more round with injectables. It didn’t work. The doctor said we should move on to in vitro, but I was done. This was it. No babies for me. I wasn’t suicidal. I didn’t want to die, but I didn’t want to live this life. I wanted to live the life I was meant to have. The life God was supposed to give me. Months passed. (Like the first Twilight book, If I could, I would be forcing you to turn through empty pages.) I felt hopeless. It was my oh so pushy mama who dragged me out of my pity party and said, “Get over it. Adopt.” So we did.
Hearing the words, “She chose you.” Still gives me goose bumps. It was surreal flying across the country to meet our sweet baby. She was and is so beautiful, perfect, amazing. It was all worth it. We eventually came home and began living our dream life as mama and daddy. Who knew at that very moment I was growing another little baby? I remember taking the pregnancy test knowing it would be negative. It wasn’t. I have never to this day been more shocked. I know everybody says, “That always happens, adopt and you get pregnant.” But there are a few things wrong with this. First, it implies that that poor mama wasn’t getting pregnant because she wasn’t relaxed enough. (Really?! A woman can get pregnant riding down a rocky road in a wagon being chased by mountain lions if the circumstances are right.) Secondly, it insinuates that adoption is second best to pregnancy. Let me tell you, it is not. My first little baby stole my heart like all babies do. And lastly, it is false. All studies on the subject say pregnancy rates after supposed infertility are the same with or without adoption. (Stepping down from soapbox now.) So, I was surprised.
Everything seemed to be going well but, just like before, at about 8 weeks, there was no heartbeat.. The doctor asked if I wanted to wait another week or go ahead with the necessary surgery. I chose to wait. When I went back there was a heartbeat. (Ok, I’m not trying to lead you on here. So let me just tell you, this doesn’t end well.) Of course there was much celebration and excitement. A week later there was “maybe a flitter of a heartbeat.” Another tortuous week… Then… no heartbeat, no heartbeat, no heartbeat. I had the surgery. The sadness was shorter lived because I had my baby, but no less sad. I still lost a baby.
The next month came and I was forced to take another pregnancy test! I know! Crazy! I was pregnant. (I swear we weren’t weirdo sex fiends. This was a one in a million thing.) The ultrasounds went well. That big strong heartbeat was an amazing sound. I couldn’t help it , I was still apprehensive. Even after feeling the baby move I could not rest. Then, at 20 weeks, I went to the bathroom and saw red. I called the doctor and was told to go to the hospital. My husband came in, the nurse put the ultrasound machine on my stomach, and nothing. She moved it around, still nothing. This went on for a while and finally she said, “I may need to get the doctor.” My legs went numb. I prayed. I looked at my husband and he had that awful look of compassion already on his face. No, no, no. Then, buh bum, buh bum, buh bum… Ahhhhhh! There it was. The nurse kind of laughed it off, the doctor saw me, and all was well.
It wasn’t until later that evening I realized maybe this wasn’t some strange ultrasound problem… maybe that little heartbeat was fading… maybe there was a battle for my family, my baby, my sanity. I just stopped where I was and thought, oh Jesus was there. I mean, I was taught as a kid that he is always there. He loves us. He cares for us…. But this was different. Jesus, with the long hair and robe, was really there. Something wanted to steal my baby, my joy, my sweet boy, but couldn’t because he was there. I could see it all clearly now. I imagined Jesus holding my hand in that first surgery. He was there when the doctor said there was no heartbeat. He wiped my tears when they wheeled me back for both D&Cs. When my daughter’s birth mother chose me, maybe he clapped with excitement. When she cried and felt alone, he was there with her. He flew with me to see my new baby. And he laughed with me when my daughter squeezed my hand. Why didn’t those other babies make it? I don’t know for sure. I do know we weren’t alone, and at no point were we living someone else’s life. This was our life, our story.