October 17, 2005. A Monday. Seven years ago. We went to Husband's college over the weekend to watch a soccer game. I sat in the stands, rubbing my belly, drinking in the fall air, dreaming of one day bringing our child back there to the bucolic green campus of Daddy's alma mater. My sister's baby shower was the day before, and I had watched as she opened gifts, my own secret still safe. I smiled the whole time, imagining what my own shower would be like.
The next day, Husband and I took a cab to the East Side. We waited in my O.B.'s office. We flipped through magazines. We were called back. I peed in a plastic cup. Undressed. Slipped into a cotton robe.
The doctor squeezed clear jelly into the palm of her gloved hand and rubbed it over my middle, pale and rounding already. She placed the wand near my belly button and squinted at the screen, at the little shape.
I no longer see a heartbeat, my doctor said.
She told me I could wait to bleed or have a surgical procedure. The thought of waiting broke my heart even more, so that afternoon I travelled to Mount Sinai Hospital. I put on another gown. A kind nurse whose face I cannot remember asked how far along I was.
Eleven weeks, I said, all business, my eyes dry.
In the operating room, I lay flat on the table. Creatures in scrubs scurried about. As the anesthesia began to work, my doctor held my hand in both of hers and looked at me. She mumbled something kind, something wonderful, something I can't recall. And everything went black.
At home, I climbed into bed. I was crampy. I cried. And cried some more. I ate a tuna sandwich because I could. Now I can, I thought.
Mom was at work. She couldn't leave. But Dad came over. He didn't know what to say. There was nothing to say. Maidy-Bunks. My Maidy-Bunks, he crooned, his mustache quivering.
I heard Husband in the other room. He was on the phone with his parents. We lost the baby, he said, his voice cracking. He was sobbing. He went to my computer and unsubscribed me from my BabyCenter emails, but in a cruel twist, they still arrived week after week. Your baby is now the size of a plum. An orange. A melon.
I cried. And cried some more.
The pathology report came back. Chromosomal abnormality, my doctor said. I learned that it was a girl.
January 1, 2007. Mount Sinai Hospital. My beloved doctor returned from the Galapagos just in time to deliver my first baby, a healthy girl who was almost three weeks early. Indeed it was a new year.
October 19, 2008. Baby #2 arrived. Another girl. She looked just like her sister. I gave her my Dad's name as a middle name. He had died months ago.
March 6, 2011. We welcomed our littlest. I wrote words from my hospital bed, knowing that this was likely my last time.
October 17, 2005. Seven years ago. And, yes, I have moved on. I have moved on to three beautiful, tricky little girls and one beautiful, tricky life. But you know what? That day happened. And it hurt like hell. It was the first really bad thing that ever happened to me, the first dose of crippling sadness and pain. And I remember it. And I want to remember it.
Now I know. Now I know this happens to so many of us. That we lose heartbeats, lives. That it is common. Most people I know have suffered this kind of loss. But that doesn't make it any easier when it happens. No, the pain is profound. And when we feel this pain, when it grips us, statistics mean nothing.
A month or so after, I remember sitting outside at Ocean, a restaurant in our neighborhood. My husband and I were having lunch and I couldn't focus. I watched the strollers glide by, attached to smiling moms. And I hated them, these moms. I hated them because they had what I so desperately wanted.
But now I realize that what we see is never the whole story. When people see me skipping down the sidewalk with my silly girls, they do not know that I lost my first baby, that I cried for months, that I would go on to suffer multiple chemical pregnancies before welcoming my first child. They do not see the pain that still lingers in my cells and in my soul, a faded pain yes, dulled by the miracle of time and little girls, but a permanent pain.
I wish more of us would tell our stories. Our stories of longing, of loss. I know they are not happy stories, but hard ones. But I really think these stories would have helped me seven years ago on that October morning when a little screen spelled the end, when it all went black.
And so. Even though time has passed, I will keep telling my story. Because, maybe just maybe, someone will read it and it will help a little.
That's my hope.
Have you suffered a miscarriage? How often do you think about your loss(es)? Do you agree that it is important to share these stories? Are you willing to share your story here in the comments?
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