I prayed for this baby for three years. Prayed, until my intertwined fingers were numb. Desperately begging Him for just one more child. How do you beg God for a fourth of anything, when people go to bed without a roof over their heads and empty stomachs? Well, I did.
This longing for #4.... what can I say? I don’t want 5, or 6… it’s 4. Most people do not understand, and many (very many) openly tell me I am crazy. Trust me, there is such a big part of the rational me who wants to let this go already. Move on! Who "needs FOUR kids"!....
But the much bigger part of me, like my core, has been a Mom of four forever, and is really just missing someone very badly.
It finally happened. A positive! After endless negatives, followed by “it’s not over until my period shows”, followed by sadness at the sight of my period (and, sadly, the lingering doubt – “maybe it’s not actually my period”... Here was the positive I had so long awaited.
In disbelief, I retested, 8 times. And the lines got darker, confirming a rising HCG. The family of my dreams was complete.
Then, the flood of hope and excitement! We were due January 30th 2017!
Sure, maybe it’s a girl… But I really do love Boys. Besides, we only make Boys. He will be Noah. God, I love that name. I can’t wait for him to wear this onesie, this hat… He needs a new stroller… Oh my God, I can’t wait to see him!!!
Seven months to go. Man, he’s going to be so cute. Let’s extend our house! Yes, build a fifth room! I will have to do my Christmas shopping in advance, as I will be much too pregnant. I need a Valentine’s newborn outfit. The Boys will be thrilled – they want a baby so badly………………………..
All of these thoughts (obsessions). Every. Single. Day. For 6 weeks.
I was showing. Yes, yes – I am well aware that Noah was but the size of a blueberry (of course I had downloaded every single App to provide me with absolutely any insider information on the miracle in my belly). Argue if you wish, but I was showing and proud, and over the moon absolutely anytime someone noticed! And people did notice.
We hadn’t quite told the Boys – but they knew. Especially my oldest – who would rub my belly as I put him to bed, saying “Mommy, I think there’s a baby. Mommy I hope there is one. Mommy, I love the baby. Mommy, when will we know if there’s a baby?” So, I told him: “in ten days”.
And, the countdown to my first ultrasound began.
Every morning, my oldest would wake up excitedly announcing the number of days left, until one sunny Tuesday morning, he bounced out of bed proclaiming “Mommy! Today is the day we find out if we are getting a baby”!!!!!! (Of course to me, it was the day I would hear the heartbeat of my fourth and last baby, and be sure telling the Boys was not a mistake).
I waited my turn – watching the other ladies come out with their sonogram images. Hubby didn’t come – we are old pros at this point – been there, don’t that - and there would be many other more exciting ultrasounds – 12 weeks, 20 weeks… no need for him to miss work today.
Finally, the technician called me in. I lay down, and took a selfie – and then began filming the screen, to show Hubby that night. We’d watch it over and over in bed, and continue to dream of our baby to be.
The technician had warmed the gel, which was an added treat. I voiced my appreciation. She placed it on my lower belly, pushed… pushed some more… then, on the screen, I saw him. My Noah. Completely lifeless.
She continued to search for the heartbeat. But, I knew.
She tried to speak, stopped mid-sentence, then quietly mumbled Noah measures a week behind, though continuing in her frantic search effort. As any Mom would confirm, there’s no sound more beautiful than when the Doppler detects that tiny beating heart for the first time.
I will never forget the deafening silence in my uterus that day. She finally managed to form a complete sentence, despite obviously not wanting to. “There’s no cardiac activity”. “Ok”, I responded. And for minutes (maybe seconds) that seemed like hours, I lay there, completely numb, wondering why I wasn’t crying.
I asked for my sonogram image – which made the technician visibly tenser than she already was. Was this not my baby? Of course I want the only image ever taken of him.
She awkwardly handed me the image, and left the room to retrieve the Doctor. I called Hubby and reported to him calmly, thanks to the ongoing effects of the shock-induced numbness. He couldn’t speak. I just broke his heart with one short sentence. “Babe, there’s no heartbeat”.
We ended our “conversation” (mutual devastated silence), I sat up, and wiped the now cold gel from my pregnant belly. And suddenly, much like a tsunami, the pain of reality drowned the aforementioned numbness completely, and mercilessly.
I attempted to gather my bearings as the Doctor entered, wiping away my tears and mascara with cheap hospital Kleenex, acting like everything was just fine, trying to pay attention to whatever it is he had been summoned to present. “This baby wasn’t well. At least your body did what it was meant to do. It is normal to be disappointed, but be grateful your body recognised the abnormality”.
Disappointment??? When did “disappointment” become a synonym for “devastation”?? “Abnormal”!?!?! How dare you speak of my child that way!!!! “At least…”?!?! --- at least nothing!!! My baby died!!
Whatever… I was certainly in no position to hold a debate. I politely thanked them for their services, and made a stealthy exit, so as to not distress the other patients, ready and waiting to hear their little heartbeats.
Why wasn’t I cramping? Or spotting…? Wait, I have a pregnant belly, and melon breasts!! How long will this take? Days? …. Weeks?!?! What if it happens at work?? What if I can’t care for my children? I NEED to stop showing!!! Like, now!!!! Please God, don’t anyone notice I am pregnant!!!! ----- just to name a few of the thousands of thoughts that pop into your head when you are still pregnant with a dead baby. Poignant words, yet accurate. And of course, I was livid with God. How could He have me wait, long and pray, day in and day out, for three years, for this!?!?
The next day, I was prescribed Cytotec, also known as “the abortion pill”, since clearly my body didn’t realise what the hell was going on. Or, maybe my body was desperately clinging to something my heart yearned for for years. I suppose I could forgive that. But “the abortion pill”? Ouch.
Now, without meaning to stir a debate, I am pro-choice, my choice being life… that said, this was a wanted baby. A planned baby. Our fourth Prince. Our baby. Part of me felt selfish for evicting him. Maybe, for some unexplained spiritual reason, he wasn’t ready to leave my body. But he had to, for me.
I feared the pharmacist’s “judgment” as I retrieved my “abortion pill” – but there was no mistaking my hysterical tears.
This is where the queasy-type will want to stop reading. “TMI warning”, up ahead. This is where I will describe, in detail, a “miscarriage”. Cytotec is best effective when taken… vaginally. Yup! Because losing your baby is simply not enough. Since I am not the girl who can touch her own cervix, I had to call in reinforcement.
Frankly, it seemed fitting that Hubby should be involved in administering the medication that would rid my body of our precious baby. Truth be told, it was a decision that had to be taken together, as I was unable to make it alone. We went from passionate love-making in hopes of a baby, to this. It was awkward, and sad. At 10pm, the pills went in, and at 11pm – we went up to bed.
I wanted to sleep with the boys, in our family bed, because we are a co-sleeping family, and because no matter what cards life deals to me – a glance at my children’s faces always reminds me that everything is ok. Hubby slept on the floor beside me, ready and waiting for what was to come, leaving me a path to run to the toilet when need be (otherwise I’d have been sandwiched between the children and him, not ideal). We both fell asleep, anxious.
By 3am, I woke up to labor pains. Nice. I was now going to endure labor for the baby I have lost, and will never hold, smell nor kiss.
Jokes on you universe – because I’ve actually got the highest pain threshold of anyone I know. Bring it, bitch! … I tossed, and turned, sat up, fidgeted, shifted, and stared at my sleeping children’s faces.
By 5am, it was time to get up. I asked Hubby for a Tylenol (lol, Tylenol) – and told him it was time. I sat on the toilet – and moments later (seconds, minutes, hours – no idea), I passed the gestational sac, about the size of a tennis ball, and a good chunk of the placenta, about the size of (and similar in appearance to) a hamburger patty.
It was instant, sweet relief. Physical relief, that is. I knew exactly what had come out. I twisted a wad of Scott towels, and poked at the fruit of my labor, turning it over. My Noah. No bigger than a canned shrimp – the kind you would put in macaroni salad. We saw him, both of us, and then, we flushed him - because neither of us was capable of more. The next few days I cried, wondering where he might be (pipe, sewer, river…?) but today, a month later, I am selfishly grateful for the impossibility of physical…. well, obsession.
The next day, I was told I “retained products of conception”. Products of conception - interesting choice of words for what is really bits of the placenta, designed to feed my baby until I would take over. Another round of Cytotec prescribed. This time, it took me two days to muster up the courage to take the next dose.
The next eleven days were an agonising physical hell, consisting of contractions (front & back), hemorrhaging, passing of clots hourly (some the size of grapefruits), and never knowing what to expect every time I stood. Unable to be anywhere without a toilet in close range, unable to buy my children toys without visiting the toy store bathroom 4 times (!!!), cursing our healthcare system, as I sat on toilet after toilet, blood seeping from me.
As this never ending process continued, I was offered another round of Cytotec – which I ended up vehemently refusing, and begging for a D&C.
The D&C was the ultimate relief – as it put an end to the physical torment, allowing me to finally focus on mending my broken heart.
And the sad truth is, the physical agony isn’t even remotely comparable to the emotional pain of losing a baby, a pain veiled by stigma, scientific reasoning and the ongoing bustle of the whole world around you, while only yours has been left shattered.
Miscarriage. Just the word. What does it mean? We missed the carriage? As in, no baby to place in it…? I have three healthy, beautiful Boys. They are my everything, and more. My universe. My Saving Grace. Literally, and especially now.
But I can’t deny how much I miss my Noah. Every day. Every hour. I’d be 22 weeks and 1 day today. When I am alone, in the lulls of the night, I cry. After all, he was my baby, even if only for 8 weeks, and even if only the size of a small shrimp. The second I knew he was there, he was mine, and I was his. No one else will ever know how much I loved him, but him – one of the only four people who know me from the inside out.
And so, I join the ranks of Miscarriage Mamas. Not happily, but certainly proudly – because we are strong warriors who’s scars are but evidence that we survived the worse. And that everything will be ok.
We may walk away forever changed, but it will all be ok.
My sweet, precious Noah, I’ll love you forever, I’ll love you for always, as long as I am living, my baby you’ll be. And when you are ready to be, I will be ready and waiting, with warm arms, a soft kiss, a lullaby, and a heart overflowing with gratitude and relief.
Everything will be ok.
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