Originally posted on July 7, 2006 at 9:57 PM.
Wednesday, July 5, 2006, there we were. It was beautiful, sunny and warm.
Dave took the day off and we were driving East on I-80. I turned on our CD player and instead of listening to Kyle’s Magic Treehouse CD, I randomly switched to something else. Immediately I recognized that it was one of the CDs that has been in the car for at least six months. You see, between NPR and children’s CD books, it is hard to fit in the occasional Mommy-Mixed-CD. And out of the speakers I heard Coldplay’s Chris Martin sing,
“When you try your best but you don’t succeed
When you get what you want but not what you need
When you feel so tired but you can’t sleep
Stuck in reverse
And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can’t replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
could it be worse?”
I could not stop them. Through heaving sobs, I shook my fist in the air and yelled,
Damn You, Chris Martin! Damn you Coldplay!
Just the night before, I mean, just hours before, Dave and I were talking about how much we enjoy sex when I am pregnant. Dave joked about how much better the love-making would be as my belly grew. We felt close and I was finally letting myself be excited about this little baby. As Dave touched the tiny beginnings of my pregnant belly, we decided that we were probably having a boy . . .
I sat in the passenger seat choking. I could not breathe. Snot covered my face.
“Lights will guide you home
and ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you.”
I thought my head was going to explode. For the past two days I have remained the strong mother and stoic MidWesterner that I am supposed to be. Then the blindside: a silly, love song’s profound words completely knock me off center.
Right now it is happening now. I am sniffing away the wet, tear drips that cover my face. I know I cannot hide anymore. (I have been hiding since Wednesday.)
Another blindside happened earlier. I saw something sitting on our back doorstep. It was a bouquet of flowers. My friend left them after she received Dave’s phone message. She knew that I could not speak, so she left the flowers in a safe place for me to find. When I found them, my tears found me. I needed those flowers. And I needed (still need) the phone calls. I needed the chocolate wheat-free, dairy-free cookies. I needed the tea. I needed those beautiful pink nutmeg-smelling irises. I needed the gentle phone call warning me that they were coming and that I didn’t have to come to the door if I didn’t want to. I needed the card hidden in our secret mailbox. I needed my sister’s email and my other sisters’ caring words. I needed little Zeke’s pink Gerber Daisy. I needed the hugs. I needed my friend Marianne, who was visiting from Minneapolis to grab me and say,
“I know you can’t talk right now, but Beth, I love you.”
I needed my kind doctor to choke up and lower his head as he, Dave, and I viewed my ultrasound. I needed Dave to quietly hold my hand. I am sure I will continue to need while I struggle through this. But honestly, I don’t know how to say,
“I need you.” I usually don’t need.
I was about to take Marianne and her two beautiful children, Makeda and Dima to the airport as I stood at the back of our car fighting with her double stroller. In a flash, all the angry pain I was holding in came crashing out. And then I really began to fight with that stupid, gigantic, awkward, idiotic, four-wheeled, piece of shit (a child’s stroller).
Marianne physically grabbed a hold of me, encouraged me to stop long enough so she could say,
“Beth, I am here to help. I know you want to do it all by yourself, but you can’t. I understand. I do the same thing.”
I needed to hear that. I needed her to stop me.
I know you know where this is going. I have to say it anyway. See, Wednesday I was headed for my ultrasound. Before leaving for my appointment, all the calm I had felt this past month was washed away when Eli completely freaked out while I attempted to get him into his car seat.
[screaming] “MOM! I CAN’T GET INTO THE CAR! KYLE’S POPSICLE IS BIGGER THAN MINE!”
“What? You can’t be serious? Eli, those Popsicles are precisely measured by a machine. They are ALL the same size. Now stop it and get in the car!”
Of course I was nervous about being late. I needed to drop the boys off at the park first where My mom was waiting to watch them.
[crying] “Mom, I can’t buckle my seat belt.”
“Eli, just do it! Please. We are going to be late.”
Immediately I felt bad for yelling. I felt bad for letting my nerves take over.
“Eli, I am sorry. I love you.”
“Mommy, I love you too.”
I think Eli knew. I think he knew something was wrong.
Now at the appointment things seemed weird. Instead of waiting the usual forty-five minutes, my doctor was on time. He, not a nurse, whisked us back. I stepped away to empty my bladder, undressed from the waist down and hopped on the table. Quickly he inserted the ultra-sound device. It didn’t take seconds, or even a breath. Immediately I knew. So did my doctor. Desperately he fiddled with the device trying to see if somehow he had done something wrong. He hadn’t. We both saw it: There was no baby, just an empty egg sac. In the last few days my body had absorbed the baby. Sick! And why the hell did I ever have to see an embryo and a heartbeat? Seriously, why?
Instantly I was positive and pragmatic. I sat up on the hospital bed and assured both Dave and the doctor that everything would be ok. Then I reassured. My doctor lowered his head. I watched him intently. He was so quiet and still. He was honoring our moment. He knew our journey well. He knew that this wasn’t just a miscarriage. He knew about our years of trying, years of doctors, treatments, x-rays, blood tests, I.U.I, laparoscopies, hysteroscopys, and huge disappointments. Then I stopped reassuring. I breathed in his wise silence. Kindly, he raised his head and said.
Beth, if you don’t let yourself grieve, you will not heal.
Those simple words broke through and the tears began sneaking out. I tried to hold them back. I urgently tried to force them back in. I needed to be alone. I felt humiliated.
Dave and I spent the next few hours alone while my wonderful mom entertained my boys, Marianne, and her children.
“What will I tell people? Just yesterday I was telling people how safe I thought I was because I had made it to my twelfth week. I can’t . . .”
See, my body still thought there was a little baby growing inside. It did not want to let go either. And there I was dealing with my miscarriage at home. I do not handle anesthesia very well so my doctor opted to give me pills to start the process. Though the embryo was gone, all of the tissue that supports the embryo’s growth remained. My body did not want to let go.
It was time. We put the kids to bed. Next we went over our back-up plan of what we should do in case there were complications and I needed to be rushed to the hospital. Then Dave helped me with the little pills. I had to insert six of them vaginally. It was supposed to happen fast. We started watching the movie, Must Love Dogs, because that was what was on. As the movie ended, I felt the cramping and we decided we would try to sleep.
As I lay there, I felt just like I did when I went into labor with Kyle. This time, instead of having a big belly, I was small and completely alone — no doctors, no nurses, no excited well-wishers, just stillness. In our dark room, I was tense. My fists were clenched and I felt the contractions. They hurt so much more than I had anticipated. They progressed, as any labor should. The process went on for hours. That is when I realized there was a problem. Because I was so tense, nothing was happening. I knew that nothing was happening because I was not letting go. Dave was now sleeping. Alone, I talked myself through what needed to happen. I unclenched my hands. I let my body relax and finally let myself feel this sad, sad heartache. I said good-bye to this new little part of me, and then I lay there until I could not handle the pain any longer. I ran to the bathroom. As I sat on the toilet, I felt a huge gush of blood. I felt the passing of a large mass. Then I heard a loud thud as the mass dropped into the already very bloody toilet bowl. I stood up and turned toward the toilet bowl. I saw enough without turning on the light. I knew if the room was any brighter that I would have to face my reality. I had faced enough. I repeated the process of running to the bathroom for hours until I could not bear the intense contractions any longer. Then I literally passed out.
Today at the doctor’s office I had another ultrasound. He wanted to make sure all pieces were gone, and they were. We talked about my options. We decided that I would continue seeing him and that I would also see a miscarriage specialist. We even made an appointment with the other specialist, who will be squeezing me into his schedule. I was actually feeling hopeful. And then Dave and I went to dinner. As I watched the parents with their babies and thought about what I lost, I realized that this is just not going to be that easy to get over. I am still barely letting myself touch the devastation. I mean, come on, I have not even been able to tell most of my friends and family about this. Dave and my mom have been speaking for me. And if you are finding out now, it is not a slight. I just don’t know how to say it in person. What do you say?
I feel all of it. I like shit.I feel lucky and grateful. I feel blessed to be alive. I am also devastated.I know many women cannot have children of their own. I am very aware that I have two beautiful boys. I am grateful for friends, friends who keep calling me, even when I cannot talk. I am grateful because as alone as I feel, I know I am not. I am grateful for those who have approached me even when I am not approachable. While simultaneously being filled with love, it also sucks. When people actually reach me with their kind words, I am reminded of what I have lost. When I actually feel their love, I cannot escape the pain. And right now, the pain is almost too much.
I want to run away, but really, where would I go?