When Things Don’t Go Like They’re Supposed To
Three weeks ago I woke up to slick dark blood, not a lot but enough.
My husband has been with me through darker times than we ever saw coming. The crisp hotel sheets are still white, but he knows this wail, the one I can’t hold back.
How do you hope when your body has taught you not to?
I was almost 13 weeks pregnant. Most of our friends and family knew, an expression of the unconditional vulnerability I had committed to — no, felt called to — during the process of trying again after losing Rowan. We had to try for a few months, not long, but long for my body. Then, I got pregnant — immediately after releasing some important things that had been causing me a lot of anxiety. It all felt so timely, so serendipitous. All you have to do to have a baby is get rid of stress in your life, people — it’s easy!
The public announcement was imminent. I’d told who I wanted along the way, when I wanted to tell them… more people each week. It had felt really good. I expected pregnancy might be an anxious time for me and didn’t want to experience any of that alone. No surprise, the people in my life really showed up.
Things honestly felt so right and so perfect that there wasn’t much room for anxiety or fear.
Then, the blood. We tried to hope, tried so hard all day. We were in Dallas for a wedding and my midwife wanted us to go to an ER to get checked out since we were traveling. I was so torn — waiting until we got home felt more hopeful, more in keeping with my usual “wait and see” approach, but hoping itself was exhausting and might only be prolonging the inevitable. I wasn’t sure I could go through a weekend of wedding activities in this terrible limbo.
The nearest ER in Dallas was in a strip mall. There was a receptionist in a pretty dress, and a water feature, and fancy leather chairs. I am still wondering if the water bottle and box of kleenex they gave me will show up on the bill.
It was also empty. Maybe this would mean a quick stop, good news, instructions for taking it easy and hoping for the best.
It may have been empty, but it was still an ER. They had to call in the on-call ultrasound technician. It all took forever. The trans-vaginal ultrasound was painful, the technician’s face telling. She was sworn to secrecy and let the slick strip mall ER doctor deliver the news.
Afterwards, we sat in the sun on the dusty curb, clutching a box of kleenex and waiting for our Uber. Someone walking by sensed our distress and asked if they could get us tacos.
The baby was gone. Of course the baby was gone. But this baby was never supposed to be gone, so full of promise and redemption and ripeness.
Nothing has ever felt like it belonged to me more than this baby. This baby, brought into existence by intention and the spending of ourselves in deep personal work to make sure we were ready for this. Accepted so fully and eagerly from the beginning, our experiences having taught us how precious and fleeting a gift life can be. Rowan and Aiden and the baby we lost before Aiden were all so loved and wanted but had come in seasons of “well, I guess it’s time!”. We had to fight hard for this baby. We might not have gotten there. But we did.
This baby belongs here with us. I want THIS baby. I want all of THESE babies. They are mine.
Some days there is anger — sharp and lucid, like the conversation in your head with that person where you say all the things you’ve been wanting and meaning to say. Some days there is dullness, or distraction, or if you’re lucky, hope.
Right now, I am angry. I am angry that this can happen, but mostly I’m angry that it can happen to me. Haven’t I already lost enough? Don’t the care and purpose I put into tending my body and soul count for anything?
I already know the answer — I don’t deserve this any more or any less than any other woman. I was overwhelmed by this sense after Rowan was stillborn, the sense that we are all the same, connected through our collective experiences of suffering, of loss, whatever those may be — but even deeper than that, through our being. This sense is part of why I write.
But some days it’s hard to remember that. Like today. Sitting on the beach in Mexico with a flat belly that should be round with life, rounder by the day. The same beach I sat on 3 years ago with another life inside of me, Rowan.
I just want these babies.
*Originally published on Womb & Hearth in April 2016.