Friday, July 12th.
Today is the day we found out that our baby, our tiny fetus baby, no longer has a heartbeat. It did have a heartbeat, and we saw it, and now it doesn’t. Our baby is gone.
Here are the reasons to celebrate and be hopeful:
1) We got pregnant in the first place.
2) We are young and my repro organs look good.
3) We love each other so much.
But today was shitty. I can’t deny it. When we stared at that first positive pregnancy test, we were shocked beyond the point of celebration. I mean, we were “trying,” but not very hard. It took a week for us to accept the reality of the idea and then another day to really, really, really be excited. A baby! OUR baby! WE ARE HAVING A BABY! OOOOOOUUUUUURRRRRR BBBBBAAAABBBBBBYYYYY!
This is what I felt like yelling most of the time. It’s the reason we (mostly I) shared our news before we were out of that first trimester. It was so fun to tell people. And I was really cavalier about it. Nobody knew we were trying, so it was such a happy surprise. Plus I loved telling everyone that Matt hadn’t trusted the (three) Walgreen-brand tests I’d bought and had thus insisted that I take an E.P.T. to be sure. Adorable.
Because doctors these days don’t see you until you are between 8 and 10 weeks along, we just assumed I was as far along as all of my pregnancy reading told me. On July 2nd, when we should have been 8 weeks and 2 days along, our first ultrasound told us that our baby was only measuring 6 weeks and 6 days. It wasn’t what we were expecting to hear.
“Oh,” I said. “Is that…I mean, is that bad?”
“Well,” our NP said, “not necessarily. It could be a sign that there is something wrong with the baby’s growth, but it could also be that you ovulated late. But we need to get you in for another ultrasound to know for sure what’s going on.” She also said she would bring in a genetic counselor for that appointment, which did not seem like a great sign.
We sweated it out for another 10 days. In the meantime, I started a new job. The week was wonderful- my new coworkers are great and such normal people- and it was also terrible because our Friday appointment loomed over us. Then, on Wednesday night, I started spotting. This can be normal, I told myself. Every time I walked to the bathroom, I held my hand to my stomach and willed our baby to stay. To stay with us.
I worked until 1pm on Friday. At 12:58, as I was packing up to go, I saw that I’d missed a call from my clinic. The ultrasound was still on, but our follow-up consultation had been canceled. I had no idea what that meant, so I called. The ultrasound tech wasn’t really allowed to answer any questions or provide any information, the receptionist said. We needed to talk with a doctor. She could get us in on the following Wednesday for that part of the appointment, she said.
The anxiety I’d been trying to control just unraveled. I felt so uninformed and so unsupported by our doctor and clinic. So lost. Thank you, Universe, for Matt. I drove, crying, to pick him up at work, and I told him what I knew. I kept crying. We decided to go the clinic early to try to see another physician. When I started crying again at the check-in desk, the kind receptionist finagled us a new ultrasound and consultation.
It was simultaneously an endless and too-short appointment. Our tech told us that the NP who’d canceled on us had done so because her daughter was in labor. Just what I wanted to hear. By the time we got to the vaginal ultrasound, I was in pain and I knew, I just knew. Finally, the tech said, “I’m so sorry. I can’t find a heartbeat.” I could also see on the screen what she didn’t say- that the baby had grown to only 7 weeks and 1 day since we’d last been in.
I looked at the ceiling in the darkened room and cried and cried and Matt held my hand. Then I put my clothes back on and we walked, arm in arm, upstairs to meet with our NP.
She and her nurse were very sweet. They were wonderful, actually. We listened to the list of our options. I cried some more. They gave me Kleenexes. Matt stayed right next to me. We laughed inappropriately and swore as the nurse gently handed us an abomination of a little book to help us understand what was happening: Miscarriage: A Shattered Dream. (That is the real title, I swear.)
We stopped in the pharmacy for my miscarriage drugs. The ones to speed it up. I couldn’t imagine trying to live my life for the next few weeks, waiting for my body to find the right time to let go. That seemed like agony. I needed to know when to prepare, when I could rest, when I could be at home with just Matt. And of course the woman who filled my prescription was 8 months pregnant. I hated her a little. I mean not really, but just in that moment.
And then we made some horrible phone calls to our families and I texted the friends who knew. I know we’ll try again. I even believe we’ll have a baby. A healthy, happy, hobbit-ish little Nolsen baby. But right now I am sad. I am so sad. I am a woman who has gone through a divorce and a miscarriage. One of the terrible things about those two situations is that they follow you around on paperwork. At my new job, I had to write down my former last name on my background check form. And now, when we are pregnant again, for real, I will have to tell my new doctor that yes, I have been pregnant before. And it didn’t last.
Sometimes, you just want to move on.
I feel damaged. I feel really damaged. I don’t think this is a forever-feeling, but it’s how I feel right now and it sucks. Even though A Shattered Dream is a weird and ridiculously-titled book, it told me that my emotions are all valid and real. So there’s that.
But there’s also this. Telling our families and our friends about our baby meant that the outpouring of love we’ve received through this entire process- from the first news to the last- has cradled and comforted us. I am daily and eternally thankful for my family, for Matt’s family, for our friends. We don’t have to do this alone.
So that’s what happened today. Trying to look forward to tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.