The screen is turned away from me. As she prods my abdomen with the cold, slimy plastic knob of the probe, the ultrasound tech coyly states that she is not at liberty to discuss the results with us.
Then she leaves the room. I turn to my husband. He says he’d been squinting to see the flicker of the heartbeat that we’d seen at the ultrasound a few weeks earlier, but didn’t see it.
She returns and asks us if we knew how to get to the doctor’s office. Yup.
She pauses, then adds, “I can tell you I’m not seeing much.”
“What does that mean?”
“There’s no heartbeat.”
She leaves the room again.
We lost the pregnancy. I guess that’s how I’m supposed to say it? “Intrauterine fetal demise.” But what I want to say is we lost the baby.
Because ever since seeing the ultrasound and heartbeat, that’s how I thought of it. That’s how I carried it, talked to it, loved it.
While subscribing for a pregnancy app, I’d been asked to choose a nickname for the baby. So it was baby “Dove.”
A few weeks later, instead of gagging on pregnancy hormones, I’m gagging on phlegm from a ravaging sinus infection I come down with a few days after the D&C.
I haven’t been able to eat well or rest comfortably, and the pressure throbs and stabs as if mocking me:
Hey! You thought bein’ knocked up was tough? Ha! Don’t worry ‘bout it. Yer in fuh a world o’pain!
“I want the one where the baby comes,” my three-year-old declares for the hundredth time, referring to the episode of Daniel Tiger when “Baby Margaret” is born.
“Okay, honey,” I whisper as my fingers mindlessly command the remote. In minutes, the episode’s featured song is playing.
I can’t wait to meet the baby/I can’t wait to meet the baby.
During the pregnancy, I felt like time was standing still. Now time feels irrelevant.
The 4th. The 16th. The 29th. Sure, calendar, I’ll defer to you.
re you free on the 8th? Uh, how do I do this again? What am I supposed to say?
Oh yeah, look at the calendar. Act as though what it says is going to happen; know that only time will tell.
This was miscarriage number two. The first one, six months ago, was blighted ovum, diagnosed at eight weeks, surgery at 11 weeks.
I was sick with nausea and vomiting multiple times per day. I was shocked and devastated.
I knew we’d keep trying.
As a friend said to me, this one was real. “Not that the other one wasn’t, but you were so far along.”
At the 8-week ultrasound to confirm a strong heartbeat, I’d been terrified. I’d been afraid to hope for the best, and also afraid to face my fears.
I’d been walking around for a month with a spear of anxiety through my heart that made it difficult to move.
I reassured myself by checking for the absence of blood on my underwear, and pressing my forearm against my breast for the feedback of the soreness as I pretended to fiddle with my necklace.
[I still catch myself doing this, upon realizing that there is no tenderness there to be felt.]
After seeing that heartbeat, and those little arms and legs, I relaxed. We’d read that after the fetus has established a strong heartbeat, chances of miscarriage are extremely low.
So I jumped on the optimism bandwagon.
I watched my belly bloat and longed for the second trimester, when I might be able to enjoy food again, have more energy, and smile back at the other pregnant mothers in the waiting room.
After nearly two years of trying to have a second child, it felt safe to assume it would happen.
Then, at 5 a.m. on a Monday, a trace of blood. The blood whose absence amazed me for nearly three months is back.
And there is not a goddamn thing I can do to stop it.
I am tired. Tired of feeling like I am clawing through jello every day.
Tired of the heaviness of my face.
Tired of the shame of feeling so inept as I try to rebound.
Tired of the anxiety as I submit dozens of applications in my search for a new job and get no callbacks.
Tired of knowing I should be grateful for my life but not being able to access a bodily sense of that gratitude.
Tired of being tired.
As I walk out of the OB/GYN office after my final follow-up appointment, feeling exiled, I imagine a ravishing flapper tossing a boa around my neck and ushering me into a speakeasy.
Welcome, darling! Welcome to the club-that-no-one-wants-to-be-in, the club of recurrent pregnancy loss!
I grasp at humor and courage, but nothing. I sit in the woods, listening for what cannot be seen.
Nearly a month out, we have a relatively good weekend. We eat some pancakes.
I go for a run, and clean the bathrooms, both solids acts of “self-care.”
We dance and play on the living room floor. We wonder if we will get more snow, and talk about planning our garden.
“We have seeds leftover from last year,” my husband says.
“No! You can’t use old seeds; they’re not as viable! I don’t want to have a carrot miscarriage,” I say, both disgusted and amused and curious where the awful joke will land.
“Terrible,” he says.
“I know,” I say, walking away. “But I had to try.”