After just over a year of unemployment/underemployment following David's PhD graduation, David was offered his current job and we started trying to conceive immediately. We wanted Lucia to be close in age to her first sibling and would not have waited as long as we did if David had found a job sooner. We love being parents and have dreams of a large family. We were more than ready for a new addition.
One cycle passed. Then another. And a third. We conceived Lucia in our fourth cycle of trying and lo and behold, the fourth cycle yet again resulted in a baby! We got a positive pregnancy test on September 1, several days after a missed period and after many negative pregnancy tests. My due date was May 8.
We were waiting to announce our pregnancy until after our first appointment, which was scheduled on October 8th. I was just shy of 10 weeks. At our appointment, the midwife could not hear the heartbeat, which isn't unusual for that early in the pregnancy. My uterus was also measuring a few weeks too small and the midwife assumed I was just off on my dates and just "less" pregnant than I thought I was. She assured us that she was not worried in the least but suggested that we get an ultrasound to get a better idea of our due date.
But I knew something was wrong. I use Natural Family Planning and have been charting my cycle for years. I hadn't charted the cycle I got pregnant (because it was getting to be too stressful for me trying to conceive while charting and not being successful right away), but still, it's hard not to notice where you are in your cycle when you've been doing it for so long. So I knew that it was highly unlikely that my dates were two weeks off.
It was much more likely that the baby had passed two weeks prior. We didn't tell anyone we were pregnant after the appointment as planned because we were worried and no one else needed to worry with us. The night after my appointment, I started bleeding. I wasn't too concerned because the midwife warned I would probably bleed a little after my appointment and the blood was dark. The following night, Thursday, October 10, when I was exactly 10 weeks pregnant, the bleeding picked up, turned bright red, and then the cramps began. And the back pain. And the hip spreading pain. And pain shooting down the tops of my thighs. And while the midwife we called in the middle of the night said that there was a chance it wasn't a miscarriage and the baby was fine, I knew. It felt like labor. The purpose of labor is to push out a baby.
I stayed up almost all night. The pain was just too much. We rented "World War Z" and in typical fashion, David fell asleep on the couch as we watched it. I watched it intently and fully credit it with getting me through the worst part of the physical pain and allowing me to avoid some of the emotional pain. Something else to focus on was good. Thank you, Brad Pitt.
By Friday morning around 8 am, the bleeding had slowed and the pain had completely subsided. In all, the pain lasted for about 12 hours. We went in for a midwife appointment. The midwife did an exam and said that indeed my cervix was open and that I was passing "something". She removed some clots and "tissue" that were at the opening of my cervix. I bawled. Another midwife was in the room as well and said things like, "Maybe the next one will take." And, "Miscarriage is very common in Western cultures; it's probably caused by something environmental." And some other equally hurtful things that she for some reason thought were helpful as I sobbed on the exam table. I was asked if I wanted to keep the "tissue". I said yes.
We already had our ultrasound scheduled that day for "dating". When we went in for the ultrasound, the ultrasound tech was so excited for us and told us where "daddy can sit to see the baby". It hurt so much to tell her that we were just there to check if "anything" was left. It really hurts to stare at your empty womb on the screen. Then the doctor came in and told me that it looked like I had probably had a miscarriage but they couldn't be sure because I hadn't had a previous ultrasound so they couldn't be sure anything was ever there. I only had a pregnancy test to say that I was ever pregnant, he said, in a tone that told me he thought perhaps I was never pregnant at all. I was too choked up to tell him that yes, we did have proof, the remains of our child were in the car.
We went home and it was over. David called our parents to tell them. I bled for two more weeks and then all physical signs that this child even existed were erased from my body. We struggled to find a place to bury our child. Lucia continued to kiss my tummy and talk about the baby in there until she finally forgot because we had stopped talking about it. We received condolences from family and friends and then...nothing.
It was over. But not for me. Life goes on, it seems, and we must too. I read somewhere that grief lasts much longer than sympathy and it rings true. The suitable time for mourning has passed (after all, I was "only" 10 weeks pregnant; I've been unpregnant for longer that I knew I was pregnant, so I should be "over it" by now, right?) and so I feel like I must now grieve in private. Alone. So very alone.