After only one month of “not, not trying” I looked down at the faint second line in amazement. Two under 2–what are we thinking? I pictured holding a tiny newborn and my son becoming a big brother. I was so tickled with possibility that somehow I managed to forget what it felt like to be pregnant. I was quickly reminded by dry heaving into the trash can, sobbing in the shower for no apparent reason, and frequent waves of crippling exhaustion.
Getting pregnant again was a leap of faith after preterm labor and 10 weeks of bed rest with my firstborn. All of the giddy, excited pregnancy feelings are wiped away after complications and now, what is supposed to be one of life’s most natural processes is a 36-week, medically-managed waiting game where I plead with my body to carry the baby to term.
I was a little over six weeks pregnant when our little family of three went to see our new addition for the first time. On the ultrasound screen we saw a tiny sack with a blurry little circle inside. The doctor did a lot of looking and a lot of measuring, “Are you sure of the dates of your last menstrual period?” My type-A personality gets a thrill out of the pretty picture I get each month after charting my basal temperatures, I was 100% sure. There wasn’t a heartbeat quite yet and the gestational sack was measuring a week behind. We were told that sometimes late implantation can cause a delay and scheduled to come back in a week to recheck. We left a little confused, but felt there was nothing to worry about just yet.
The following week my food aversion kicked into high gear and with no spotting or bleeding we were hopeful when we arrived for our second ultrasound. Now over seven weeks pregnant, the screen showed a tiny sack with what looked like a squished jelly bean inside. It measured exactly one week further, but with no distinguishable heartbeat we were again told to come back in a week. “There should be a heartbeat by now, but it’s still too early to declare a demise.”
A demise. I had never heard it in those terms and the word lingered waiting for my breaking heart to soak up the implications. But I didn’t. I held onto the possibility of that little mangled bean, next week we’ll see our flicker.
Eight and a half weeks pregnant and this time I got a sitter for my son. I’m not sure why I did. Maybe because the appointment time interfered with his nap, but more likely because I didn’t want my husband to have to hold him and me, because deep down, I just knew. My husband and I looked at the screen together, there was the sack.
Just a sack, dark and empty.
Tears started spilling from my eyes faster than I could blink; it was one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen. My husband’s face was stoic but his eyes lost their glimmer. Our possibility was gone. “There’s nothing there,” the tech said and left the room as I dressed and gathered my things. I got as far as the door before I broke down and a waiting room full of pregnant women watched me leave sobbing in my husband’s arms.
I had an anembryonic gestation where the embryo is reabsorbed by the body, probably due to genetic abnormality, but the sack continues to grow. We were told this type of pregnancy usually passes by the end of the first trimester but were given other options to pursue if we wanted something done sooner.
I’m not going to be a Mama again after all and I went through almost an entire trimester pregnant, with nothing. My husband and I don’t believe that a baby has died; we believe that a group of cells didn’t have the correct genetic composition to grow any further. But we did believe that it was possible, and that possibility is what we mourn. We didn’t tell anyone that I was pregnant and while in some ways its easier not to have to say “miscarriage” out loud and watch for someone’s awkward reaction, it’s hard not to have a friendly shoulder to cry on. Because I’ve cried. I’ve cried and been confused and sad and angry with my body. But the one thing that I felt more than anything else is hope. I’m ready for another baby. I want to expand our family and I’m so incredibly grateful for the healthy, vibrant boy that we brought into this world. I still believe in possibility, I just need to find the courage to try again.