Four weeks before our wedding, knee deep in table plans and registries, my future husband and I found out that I was pregnant. When the Clearblue test showed the pink positive line, we couldn’t have been more delighted.
Several weeks later, my fiancé held my hand as the sonographer performed an ultrasound. The first thing she said, upon looking at the screen, was, “Well, you are definitely pregnant.” On the monitor in front of us, an image appeared, resembling a large peanut. That’s a moment I’ll always recall, that feeling of immense joy upon seeing our little peanut on the screen.
“The baby seems a little on the small side for the dates you gave me,” the sonographer said, all of a sudden. It was at this moment that I realized something was wrong. We weren’t seeing a heartbeat and I had read that heartbeats should be detectable from about eight weeks. “I’m very sorry, but your pregnancy is not viable. It seems that the fetus stopped growing at almost seven weeks. This is what we call a missed miscarriage.”
The sudden tragedy of her sentence, the rude sound of the word miscarriage, the beginning of grief.
We spent the weekend before our wedding going through a range of emotions—shock, sadness, anger, grief, hurt. Emails about our upcoming nuptials were coming in thick and fast, but whether Aunt Magda was having the vegetarian meal or the kosher meal was the least of my concerns. At this point, I began to feel terrified that I would start bleeding in my white wedding dress. The doctor tried to reassure me by saying that it would likely not be a big gush of blood all at once. There was an exhalation of relief when I woke up on our wedding day and there was no blood.
And…we got married, with our little “Peanut” very much present with us under the chuppah. Three days after the wedding, I began to bleed. At this point, I decided to miscarry naturally as I wasn’t in much pain and wanted to avoid a procedure if possible. I miscarried for 13 days. And that, as they, was that.
But of course, it wasn’t. After the initial shock and sadness, there come minor setbacks, unexpectedly and with some frequency. I was still feeling like a mother-to-be, even though I’d been robbed of that title. A miscarriage takes away your pregnant status, but the maternal feelings don’t just go away.
After, consciously, we wanted to fill the gap where the hope had been. A friend who’d had a miscarriage told me that becoming a pet owner was a proactive way to deal with the grief. She’d said that the unconditional, adoring love a pet gives you, the kind of love that is endorphin creating, is not only hugely satisfying, but also lifts the cloud of self reflection a little; your focus becomes on “the other” again. We were hugely tempted, and three months later we decided we’d take the step and become pet owners.
One grey Saturday at the cat rescue center, we were introduced to our prospective cat, a striking calico with gold colored markings. As soon as we touched her, she immediately started purring. We tried to feed her, but she was more interested in being stroked and held. As she started rubbing her face against mine, I began to cry.
“We’ll take her, I think it’s a done deal,” my husband told the lovely lady who had introduced us to our new pet, Golda. We gave her a strong, Yiddish name, suited to the Jewish princess she was inevitably to become, and the name matched her coloring—perfect.
It’s hard to summarize the impact of a new family member on a household, and a cat is undoubtedly a family member. Golda is a loving, affectionate cat. I rush home from work to see her each day, a smile on my face as I near our apartment. When you’re in love, you can’t stop talking about your beloved.
You take photos and share them with your friends, you hurry home to see her, and your heart quickens a little as you near your front door. This is how it is for me now. She waits for me by the door as soon she hears me come down the front path, and once I’m home, she sits on my lap, kneading, kissing my face with her nose, and purring loudly.
My husband is a hugely doting cat parent. He spoils her with treats and cat toys and he treasures the time he has alone with her after I go to sleep. He sends me photos of the two of them curled up together on the sofa, both of them smiling. I have an inkling that my husband will be the most fabulous father to our child one day; his nurturing and commitment to Golda is fun to watch.
Golda not only lifts our spirits, but she makes us laugh. The mood is lighter since she came along; she’s cute, funny, and charming. She pokes her head out from tunnels, boxes, and furniture, just to say hi. Perhaps most importantly, she’s given us a focus beyond trying to conceive again, and we’re grateful for that.
It’s hard to know whether the future will bring us the child that we wish for. Regardless, we have a gorgeous little cat that we love dearly, and who loves us back. We are very aware that Golda is a special, precious gift. There have been a spate of burglaries in our neighborhood, and we worry, probably irrationally, that if we were burgled, they might take Golda, because she is so beautiful. That’s how it is when you love deeply—you know that it can’t last forever, that there’s always a chance it can disappear. That’s why you hold on tight and enjoy every moment of the ride. It’s love.