Excitement and nerves filled us. My sister, Emily, showed up with snacks and smiles to distract Ainsley. Hunter and I got in the truck and headed on our way. The interstate was surprisingly clear. The weather was beautiful. I teased him “what if it is twins?”My dad had been offering name suggestions that complimented each other, just in case it was. Hunter was not amused.
We parked and walked into the hospital, hand in hand, anxious and full of joy. They called us back into the ultrasound room where there were two techs waiting. One, I assume, was training the other. She sat at her computer and resumed her Christmas shopping. The seemingly inexperienced tech began by trying to get the ultrasound from outside of my belly. She didn’t see anything. I wasn’t surprised, as I had a transvaginal ultrasound for the first one with Ainsley.
They started again, this time transvaginal. What seemed like a few minutes passed, when the “trainer” looked up from her screen. She asked from across the room, “Are you sure of the date of your last menstrual cycle?” “Yes.” I replied and panic consumed me. “Is something wrong” I asked trying to hold back the tears. She got up from her chair and walked over. I can still see her name tag in my head. Her name was Hope. Ironic, I thought. She explained to me how the gestational sac was measuring 5 wks 3 days. 2 weeks less than it should have been. It was attached to my uterus. But it looked empty. She suggested that maybe I ovulated late. And if that were the case, it was normal for them to not see anything. I began to try and calculate days and weeks trying to come up with a scenario that confirmed her suggestion. It didn’t make sense. Something was wrong. They left the room for me to get dressed so that I could go meet with the midwife. The last one (there were three in there at this point) winked at me and told me to take my time. Another sign something was wrong.
I sobbed as the door closed behind them. Hunter, unsure of what just happened, held me. In between tears, I tried to tell him what I already knew. He told me to wait and see what the midwife said before jumping to conclusions.
We went back to the waiting room. Pregnant women sitting all around us. A few minutes later, they called us back. They didn’t weigh me. They didn’t take my blood pressure. They put me in the room and closed the door for us to wait for the midwife. And once again, when the door shut, I wept.
The midwife came in and explained it was most likely a blighted ovum. I should miscarry naturally but if I didn’t, interventions would be necessary. By the time we got home I was already bleeding.
The gestational sac was empty and empty is how I often feel. Not my soul or my heart, really. Although there are spaces there I already made for the child I won’t get. I am constantly remindeded of my empty womb. It’s like when you get a new car and suddenly you notice every car similar to yours. I notice every pregnant woman. I see their growing bellies and remember that mine is empty. I hear tiny babies cooing and an reminded that the baby I was supposed to have July 22, 2016 never formed or stopped forming too soon.
I have one heart beating inside of me when I had already made room in it to love another.
I had names picked out.
We had already told our family and friends that we see often. We barely made it a week, keeping it a secret. We planned on telling the rest of our family at Christmas. And then telling the world (Facebook) once we finished the first trimester.
I looked at our Christmas stockings hanging and joyfully anticipated getting a fourth one.
I worried about how I would love two children enough. Would my sweet Ainsley be ok sharing her parents?
I never imagined my pregnancy would end before it should have. But it did. And I felt empty.
Grief is weird. We all deal with it differently. I cried a lot. Hunter held it together mostly, for me. I felt better talking about it. This experience isn’t something I just wanted to sweep under the rug. For Hunter and I, it was life changing and something we won’t forget. Some of our family called, some sent texts daily, some visited often. Some avoided the subject all together. I know that it was an uncomfortable one. When people don’t know what to say, they don’t say anything. But I have to recommend taking a different approach, should you have a loved one go through such a tragedy, or any tragedy.
Because it is a tragedy. One that deserves grieving. It deserves compassion and love. It deserves a hug. It deserves a “thinking of you” text. There were many nights I couldn’t sleep because I was so mad and hurt. People I expected more from, didn’t show up. We had to find ways to cope and grieve but also felt pressure to keep it quiet, so we didn’t make others uncomfortable. And it is uncomfortable, I know that. But none of that compares to what Hunter and I were feeling.
Every cramp or sight of blood was a reminder of what we lost. I had pregnancy symptoms for weeks after the miscarriage, as my hcg levels were dropping. That, I found to be especially cruel.
Hunter not only lost the hope and excitement we shared over this pregnancy but he had to see me doubled over in pain. He knew I felt broken and he couldn’t fix it. He couldn’t take my pain away and for him, that is torture. Few people asked him how he was.
Ainsley knew we were expecting. One day she saw me crying and asked what was wrong. So I told her I wasn’t going to be having a baby anymore. She dropped her head and said “aw man I really wanted a brother or sister.” I replied with a lump in my throat “I know. We can just keep practicing with your baby dolls until the time is right.” “But I want a real baby” she responded. I cried more tears. Her eyes welled up with tears and she told me she didn’t want me to be sad anymore. So I sucked it up for my beautiful, amazing daughter. For a few weeks she would randomly tell me she was sorry I wasn’t having a baby. I thought “me too”, as I hugged her tightly.
Miscarriage is not fun. It is many things. Fortunately, many people don’t know much about it.
I’m not writing all of this to shame anyone. I am usually pretty good at recognizing what someone’s intentions are. I know everyone meant well. It’s just hard to be reasonable when you feel you are drowning in so many extreme emotions. I cannot express in words how much I love our family. I am no longer angry. I’ve forgiven those that don’t know they hurt us. I just hope our experience can help someone support a loved one, should they ever find themselves in a nightmare.
You don’t need to give your theories on why it happened.
I wouldn’t share details I think would make you uncomfotable.
You don’t need to try to fix it, or us. You can’t.
Just be there. Whether it’s a text or a meal. Let them (both of them) know you love them.
Simplicity is perfectly acceptable. Avoiding them is not.
We are at a much better place now.
I still notice every pregnant belly. I saw a lot at Disney. It could have been because we were planning on doing a cute announcement from there. I would have been just finishing my first trimester.
I had a wonderful time on that trip, enjoying what I do have. But every once in a while, when my heart feels like it’s just about to overflow, I remember my womb is empty.
I choose a word every year to try and incorporate into my life. 2014 was joy. 2015 was peace. And this year it’s courage. I hold myself back a lot because I am afraid of failing. But it’s amazing how something so deep can change so many things about you. Things that used to bother me, are nothing compared to what I felt on December 7.
I want to be brave.
I want to have courage, if and when, we get pregnant again.
That thought is very scary. Because I know what it’s like to lose one. It is an indescribable pain.
And if you have ever experienced it, know that I hurt for you. I know there are families that lost their babies after they heard their little heart beat. They saw their sweet face. Some even held them for a short amount of time. You are so strong and I have hope for you.
May we all have the courage to carry on.
I read a quote about how arrows can only shoot forward after they have been pulled completely back. We chose to use an arrow to symbolize this moment in our lives. It has helped me grieve.
Just like noticing pregnant women, I now notice arrows too. And I am reminded we will be ok.
We feel like we have been pulled back and have faith that we will shoot forward.
With love -Callie