Three years ago this week I was headed to my awesome small-town family Dr. for a run-of-the-mill appointment. It was my fourth baby, so I had literally been through TONS of these appointments before, and felt I had the protocol down pat.
-pee in cup (and now that I think about it, this little portion deserves it's very own blog post. If you've ever attempted this with other children in the room, you know why.)
-measure that monster belly
-and hear the heartbeat
And that about covers it. I was an old pro at the routine, and so my husband knew I didn't want him to get off work to come along with me. We've never had those "fancy people" things like paid sick leave and vacation time and stuff, so him getting off work for anything unnecessary was rare.
I dropped my kiddos at my bff's house and headed in for the same-old/same-old.
Or so I thought.
Pee went as planned. Measure went as planned. But heartbeat didn't go as planned.
You know where I'm going with this.
I was 14 and a half weeks pregnant and had already heard a strong heartbeat at 10 weeks, I thought for sure the nurse must be mistaken. She called in the Doc who poured more freezing jelly on my tummy and tried and tried and tried to hear a heartbeat with the little machine. Even when he couldn't find it, I didn't panic--If there's one thing my body can do really well, it's carry babies. I had had three uneventful pregnancies that had ended in big healthy babies. I had never struggled to get pregnant. I never threw up once from morning sickness. THIS GIRL COULD DO PREGNANCY, I thought.
Besides, I was already past the first trimester and I was showing.
Dr. reassured me that the baby could be hiding, but at 14 and a half weeks, finding the heartbeat shouldn't be this hard. He sent me to the hospital (which was about 15 minutes away) for an ultrasound. I used the office phone (I didn't have a cell) to call Dan, but I still told him not to leave work. I was certain things would be fine. I went confidently into the radiology office but that's when things fell apart.
The waiting room was full but a team of people seemed to be waiting for me. "Are you Maggie?" A nurse asked. They took me right back to a room and assured me their most experienced tech would be working with me.
I got into the room and prayed and prayed the baby was fine while the tech began the ultrasound with the screen pointed away from me. It was probably a short ultrasound, but to me it felt like the longest one I'd ever had. And after a few minutes of silence, I knew the baby must not be alive.
I let the tears run down my cheeks and finally asked, "Is the heartbeat not there?"
He shook his head no and showed me the screen. The baby had anencephaly--a disease where part of their skull doesn't form completely. The tech estimated it had died only a few days earlier.
I lied when he asked me if I was ok. And bawled and bawled while I dressed and made my way back to my car. I can't believe I made it back home safely because I was so upset. No one should have to face that ultrasound alone.
Finally I walked into my friend's house and crumpled into her arms. Dan had just made it there too, to pick up the kids, and I just let him hold me.
The rest of the day was kind of an adrenaline rush of letting everyone know we had miscarried, and explaining the situation to our three little girls. Because I was further along I also had to have a DNC a few days later.
I spent the next little while going through the motions of motherhood and life, but feeling disappointed and even guilty. I knew the surgery was necessary, but I couldn't fathom the idea of taking a baby out of me that wasn't ready to be born. I felt horrible for being so depressed when I already had three healthy children at home and some women couldn't get pregnant at all. For a few days I couldn't function. I even ran out of the room crying after I was asked to hold my girlfriend's baby girl.
But soon out of the woodwork came so many women telling me about their own experiences with miscarriage. And I must say, hearing their stories buoyed me up. I know for some people, talking about such personal wounds isn't comfortable. They would rather grieve privately, and that's completely ok. For me, talking about it was a comfort.
And honestly, I think that's one of my main focuses with this blog--buoying each other up. When I meet a woman who tries to put off a perfect persona, am I drawn to her? Of course not. I feel inferior and depressed and intimidated by her. But when I meet someone who isn't afraid to say, "Guess what? I didn't even shower today!" I instantly feel a connection to her. It's the same in the writing community for me. I love sharing in your stories of struggle and triumph in taking your books from simple ideas to full blown novels.
So I guess that's why I am sharing my miscarriage story for the first time on my blog. Because tons of women go through it. I think one of the best salves we have as women is to be able to share in our successes and our failures, our joys and our sorrows.
Oh and by the way, we went on to have a total normal pregnancy and little boy about a year later.
I don't have a cutesy question for you today, but have you had experiences where sharing them with others has helped?