Foreward: This is an article I wrote that was cross-published on ScaryMommy.com.
We lost our first baby about six months before I got the pregnancy test with that second line. I hadn’t taken a pregnancy test since the one I had taken months prior to confirm that all of the pregnancy hormones had left my system after losing our precious “Sweet Pea.” Sweet Pea, that is the name we gave that little baby who I only got to hold inside of me for about 9 weeks.
We tried for what seemed like forever to finally get pregnant with Sweet Pea, and at our very first ultrasound, we learned that we would never get to meet that baby. There was no heartbeat, and after two more confirming ultrasounds, the pregnancy was deemed a “blighted ovum.” I hate that phrase — blighted ovum. I had a natural miscarriage a few days before Mother’s Day, and all of the blood and the physical pain gave me intermittent “reprieve” for about 48 hours from the emotional torture/void that losing Sweet Pea had laid on me. And my poor husband, he didn’t know what to do. I could tell that he was heartbroken, but that he was more concerned with making sure that I got through it, somehow.
The aftermath of losing a baby is haunting. We had been so excited about getting pregnant that we shared it with some people as soon as we found out. As a rule of thumb, “they” say that you should only tell people early who you would be comfortable telling you had a miscarriage. Honestly, since it took us a while to get pregnant, I thought that this was our struggle, and I didn’t contemplate that we could lose the baby. Boy, was I wrong. Admittedly, having to tell people about the loss was gut-wrenching. We wouldn’t have had to tell them about the loss if we had never told them we were pregnant. It is so hard to say if I would have felt the need to share my loss regardless though.
The comments that we experienced when we struggled to get pregnant, like “Aren’t you guys ever going to have a kid?” or “What’s wrong with you? Can’t you get pregnant?” persisted after our loss, and they were all the more heartbreaking than before. How could people be so cruel? One month after our loss, we were at an event and someone actually came up to me and patted my belly and said, “When is the baby coming?” Devastating.
I will say this, people usually mean the best. But, and this is a huge but, that doesn’t matter. My uterus, my eggs, my husband’s sperm, us having sex, that is no one else’s business, and I find it odd that people think they should have the right to discuss this. And more importantly, although someone might mean the best, the truth is that fertility, choosing to have a baby or not have one, and pregnancy loss are enough factors to make bringing up the topic of having a baby off-limits. You seriously do not know if someone is having a miscarriage as you “lovingly” poke fun of their failure to reach parenthood yet. My husband and I know this all too well now.
At first, I wanted to try to have a baby again right away. But then, even after having “successfully” passed the baby, the pregnancy hormones remained for about six weeks. At this point, we were in simple survival mode. Having endured horrible “loving” commentary and trying desperately to remember that we were both on the same team, getting pregnant again took the back-burner.
Frankly, it took about four or five months for my body to regulate itself and be normal again. The quick surge and then decline of hormones in a woman’s body who miscarries is intense. We discussed trying again and both decided that it is what we wanted. I think we both thought it was going to be a little more difficult than saying, “Let’s try again,” but lo and behold, without starting to chart cycles or any of that, I had a feeling one morning and got a faint second line on the pregnancy test.
My immediate feeling: fear. I ran out of the bathroom and said to my husband, “Does this look like a second line to you?” No more trying to plan the perfect “reveal” to the husband — we were in this scariness together from beginning to end. He said it looked like there was definitely “something.” So we went about our morning plan to go Christmas shopping except that I did it sans caffeine, after all I didn’t want to do the slightest thing to screw this up. We planned to get another test while we were out. We shopped that morning, and I had the feeling of a horrible pit in my stomach the entire time. And I have to admit, I was scared of going home to confirm that I was actually pregnant.
I got the new test, took it, and there it was: pregnant. I told my husband that I was scared, and he said that he knew and that he was too, but that I couldn’t worry. I couldn’t worry. But what about that first ultrasound? Losing our first pregnancy impacted my ability to enjoy this second one in a way that I cannot even explain. It was almost as if I wanted to pretend I was not pregnant until the baby actually popped out. Every little tinge, every little gas pain — it meant the pregnancy was ending and our little fairy tale was over again.
It just so happened that I started spotting lightly the week after Christmas. Our first doctor’s appointment wasn’t even scheduled for another couple of weeks. I thought for sure that it was over right then, and I called the doctor who said there was probably nothing to worry about (as spotting is actually pretty normal) but that I should come in for an ultrasound just to make sure that everything was okay. So there we were, only about 7 weeks pregnant, thinking we had at least a few more weeks until our dreams were crushed — and they were forcing us to pull off the Band-Aid.
I’ll never forget sitting in that examination room with the ultrasound machine staring us in the face while my husband and I waited for the doctor’s arrival. When she began the exam, I decided that I wouldn’t even look at the screen. I would just accept the worst before the test even began. My only expectation was that we would leave knowing we wouldn’t be having a baby. So there she was, the doctor with her ultrasound wand, “There is the sac, there is the little baby, and there is the heartbeat.”
My husband sprang up from his chair, and I heard him say, “There it is! I see it.” I finally looked at the screen: “There’s a baby and a heartbeat?!”
I am sorry, little one, that I wasn’t more excited for you to be joining us on our adventure. It is just that I needed to protect myself because I didn’t think I could bear any more heartbreak. Please little heart, keep beating, we cannot wait to meet you.