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It’s 6 a.m., and my husband is holding me as I cry and we mourn the loss of our baby who never came to be.
Our pregnancy ended in the first trimester in the early morning hours of a rainy Saturday in May.
We’ve been on the couch in a sorrowful embrace for an hour, maybe more, when we hear “momma” from down the hall—our daughter, two years old, waking up.
She wants to cuddle daddy and watch shows while momma makes her pancakes. “Pweeeeease,” she says. I of course oblige, so there I am, standing in the kitchen flipping pancakes as the remains of all my joy, excitement, and hopes for the last few months drain from my body into a jumbo-sized pad.
If this doesn’t speak to the human condition, I don’t know what does. We are resilient f*cks.
Yes, I was only weeks pregnant, so if you haven’t gone through a miscarriage, it might not seem as traumatic as it surely is. At 34, I had been dreaming about my babies for over 15 years. I knew this life, I knew this baby; he or she would be a Capricorn, they would come in winter—inevitably during a snowstorm. I could practically tell the birth story because that is all I had thought about for weeks.
Our minds are tricky, backstabbing conspirators. They encourage us to do this sort of thing, to plan for a future that we logically know could not happen.
Two days before, I started spotting brown blood. I emailed and spoke to nurses multiple times in those two days. I was assured brown blood was old and it was nothing to be concerned about.
These same nurses would be the ones who would tell me, “Your next baby will be a rainbow baby,” in hopes of cheering me up.
“Your next baby won’t die before it’s born.”
“How lucky for your next baby to have had you go through this now. It gets a trendy name, and you can post it on Instagram in a cute rainbow outfit.”
Please don’t get me wrong, I love nurses; they are the bedrock of healthcare. I have a family full of rockstar, life-saving, badass nurses. But after a miscarriage, there is nothing you want to hear—especially not, “Your next baby…”
Because you don’t want your next baby; you want this baby.
This baby who you talked to on your drive to work, this baby who you imagined bringing home to meet their big sister. This baby who you pictured sleeping in the bassinet wearing the new pajamas. This baby.
Humans are so f*cking strong. It is sometimes unbelievable what one can go through and carry on living and thriving after. I know this not just from my own life, but from those who are closest to me.
This miscarriage, this terrible missing of a baby I will never get to lay eyes on brought me and my husband from the happiest of happiness to an extreme dark sorrow in a matter of hours.
I was flipping pancakes and getting ready to play with my girl as my heart was shattered.
Life has a way of pushing you forward; some days you have no choice but to keep going.
Trauma like this comes with aftershocks that begin another form of torture. Instead of being preoccupied with the planning of a new baby, any free moment I had at all, I would start dreaming up terrible things that could now happen to my two-year-old, leaving me childless and a shell of a person.
Why, why would that be what my brain would jump to? Why not appreciation for having her or hope for the future? Sleep the next week was painful; I could not shake the fear of losing my daughter or the image of the tiny embryo that fell from my body.
Although I was not sleeping, all other pregnancy symptoms quickly drifted away. Nausea and extreme exhaustion disappeared in a few days, so you betray yourself, and when someone asks, “How are you?” you say, “I feel great!” Because you physically do, but in a moment the gut-wrenching guilt for saying you feel great after losing your baby sets in and you replay every aching moment from the last week in your mind.
Have I mentioned our minds can be treacherous bastards?
Well, they are.
I imagine one day I won’t be tracking how many weeks I would have been pregnant. My memory will fail me, thank God.
The due date will be a punch to the gut—this I know, and I will prepare for it.
On the chance that we do get pregnant again (it was not easy with our daughter, and this is more of a blow to my ability to ever picture myself pregnant again), I know it will feel like everything is borrowed from the baby we lost. The felt board I bought to announce the pregnancy can’t be used, the big sister outfit we bought won’t be worn—at least not without the painful awareness of the first life and loss.
Right now, I’m not sure if I will want that reminder or not.
I do know the pancakes will keep getting made, and somehow, life will keep moving forward because it always f*cking does.