Report a Loss

“If you have some spotting, that’s perfectly normal. If you start bleeding heavily, come find me.”

The doctor said that to me twice before we left. It was only after we got home and I’d cried at the coffee pot that I knew he meant:

“Come find me because you’re having a miscarriage.

Miscarriage. It hasn’t happened yet, but it will. We learned we were pregnant pretty early and were under the assumption we are seven weeks along. I found a good OB GYN in our new city and got an appointment two weeks from when that cross appeared on a positive pregnancy test.

“I only see an empty sack.”

That’s how the sonogram technician greeted our doctor when he re-entered. My husband and I knew we hadn’t seen anything yet, but that pea-shaped blank spot glared at us from the screen.

False positive? I thought, embarrassed.

But I hadn’t had my period since September and there was no denying my symptoms.

Blighted ovum. The tech said. She has a five year-old named Ella and two twin boys about my son’s age. She has wavy dirty blonde hair and loves her job.

She doesn’t like this part. She handles it so well, a mix of softness and hard facts.

Conception but no fertilized egg. They explain. I don’t remember if it was our doctor or the tech. All the symptoms of pregnancy, but it’s empty.

There is no baby. I don’t know if that was said out loud or in my head.

He goes on to assure us there is no likely cause. It just happens. Don’t read past page 1 of Google search results, I translate. We’ll schedule another sonogram to check next week. Maybe our timing is off.

But with your uterus at 2 centimeters, we should see something. And we don’t.

I look at my husband, who’s been holding my hand with our son balanced on his lap. He looks as I expect, probably similar to my expression of sullen listening.

Our son went from his little maniac toddler self to a very quiet, serene face. His empathy kicked in, big time.

He is proof that we can create a beautiful, healthy pregnancy and give birth to an amazing, curious mind.

His presence, the reality of our son gives me the strength to breathe. I sit up.

You might experience spotting, a little bleeding. That’s normal. If you have heavy bleeding, get in touch with me. Find me.

The doctor leaves the room after saying some other things. I hope my husband paid attention to that part of the conversation.

I get off the table. I dress. I run my hands over our son’s hair. I turn to the tech:

So if our timing is off, then maybe next week…?

She jumps right into my question.

Another doctor would have immediately said to force labor. Here we don’t do that. He wants to give a little time to see if — I’ve seen it more than once. Nothing, nothing, then boom! There it is. It’s always possible.

I find a piece of hope in that, but only want to pocket it into the very smallest corner of my heart. I can’t wait until then to know we have no baby, to let the non-baby-pregnancy sink into my body, my mind.

Forced labor.

Miscarriage.

Bleeding.

This isn’t just a false positive. This isn’t just psychosomatic wishing. This baby-not-a-baby must leave my body.

My body is in-between.

For now, we mourn for the very first time in quite a while.

When we return home, I change from belly-enhancing clothes to baggy. I don’t want the reminder right now of the empty sack. My instinctual tummy rubbing ceases without consciousness.

I reach for my phone four times before I admit that I don’t want to reply to my mother’s last text, requesting pictures when she heard I was going into the first sonogram. She’ll understand. Our little family needs to process it together first.

We play outside. We smile at our son. We hug. We drink coffee. Dan plays with Lil’ Pirate Dude in his sandbox while I go answer emails. I don’t often have time in the afternoon to email.

We just let the emotions come. We come together and separate, we play Parade with our son’s blow up planets.

We talk to our parents. I text my sister.

I admit this will be a miscarriage. I read that blighted ovums don’t usually happen more than once. I read that we should wait 2–3 months before trying again. I wonder how I will wait those months.

I wonder how I will wait the week before knowing if my small heart of hope can be released.

I wonder how I will wait until my body releases the baby-not-a-baby, the cells that never formed.

I don’t know what to do until then.

But we do. Somehow. Life does not stop for pain. Life does not stop to wait.

We play with our son, I answer more emails.

We heat up our dinner, we boil sweet potatoes.

We bathe our Lil’ Pirate, he tries to go potty.

We watch Deep Space Nine, our son confuses Klingons with Minotaurs.

We put him to bed and we hug some more. We joke about practicing to try again.

I re-install my ovulation app. I silence notifications on the pregnancy app.

I notice a setting in the pregnancy profile section:

Report A Loss.

I press send.