No one ever told me how hard it was. How come women who have had miscarriages don’t go running around telling everyone how hard it is? They should make sure that the rest of us are forewarned so that if it ever happens to us, we will be prepared. Not that I would have understood.
So, there I was, July 18, at my 16 week checkup for my seemingly easy pregnancy, when the doctor was using her doppler to find the baby’s heartbeat.
“Hmmm,” she said. “Hmmmm…” as she kept moving around the doppler trying to find the heartbeat.
I thought it was a little strange, because at 16 weeks they should be able to find the baby’s heartbeat with no problem. But, my mind was on a million other things. I had a whole list of things to do that day and I wanted to get out of there already. Plus, my regular OB-GYN was off for the entire month of July and I was seeing some other doctor who I had never met, so all I wanted to do was get this appointment done with as fast as possible.
“Let’s take you into the ultrasound room,” the doctor told me.
I started to get a little nervous, but I asked her if everything was okay and she said yes, very confidently so I wasn’t that concerned. I never imagined anything could possibly be wrong. I was still blissfully unaware.
We went into the ultrasound room and up on a huge 40″ monitor I see my baby, curled up in fetal position laying at the bottom of the sack in my belly. It wasn’t moving. For that split second, I thought the baby should be moving, shouldn’t it? And, were we listening for a heartbeat or was that just the doppler that does that? But, before I had too much time to think, I see the ultrasound tech and the doctor making eyes at each other. Then, the doctor looked at me, and said, “Oh, Abby, I’m so sorry.”
I remember crying and shrieking at them to take the baby off the screen. I turned my head away and covered my eyes, while they took measurements of the baby. They said the baby stopped growing at 13 1/2 weeks. There were no obvious signs of why the baby had died. The doctor comforted me for a few minutes, then suggested we walk back to the other room where I could call my husband and tell him what happened.
The rest of that day is a blur in my memory. We scheduled a D&E for Thursday. This was a Monday. What was I supposed to do between Monday and Thursday with a dead baby in my stomach?
We told our kids the following night that there wasn’t going to be a baby. It was excruciating. My 6 year old son bawled his eyes out. My 7 year old daughter seemed okay that first day, but then had a hard time the next few days. She recently told me that we’ll never have a baby. My son still says from time to time that it’s not fair that we didn’t get a baby when everyone else does.
The procedure to have the baby removed was horrible. It didn’t hurt that much, but I was under general anesthesia at the time. The physical pain healed shortly after. But, the emotional pain took much longer. We found out that it was a baby boy we had lost. As in Jewish tradition, we had the baby buried in a special place in the Jewish cemetery where they bury “miscarriage babies”.
The whole thing was painful and terrible, and the emotional pain didn’t get better. It took me a long time to go out with a friend, or take the kids somewhere, or even see other people. I avoided public places and only spent time with people who I felt truly comfortable talking to about the miscarriage, because at any given moment something would remind me of it, or I just felt like talking about it, and I needed to be with people who I was comfortable talking to about it.
It’s over a year later now. My body is still not back to normal, meaning I haven’t lost the weight I gained and certain parts of my body have changed. I have gone back to regular life, for the most part. But, every time something happens that reminds me of it, I remember the pain all over again. The pain of losing a child that I never knew. The excitement and anticipation that we all had. My husband and I, our children, and our extended family. Even my friends who knew I was pregnant had reacted with more excitement than I thought they would have. People were so happy for us. I was happy and excited. And it was all taken away from us in an instant, with those words, “Oh, Abby, I am so sorry.”
I have wondered why. I have gone through every possible minute of those last days, of the 13th week of my pregnancy, of everything, just searching and searching for why did this happen? Why did this baby get taken from us?
For a long time the guilt was killing me. I did this, I ate that, I should have done this or not done that. The guilt has somewhat gone away, but I still feel it. It’s still there, and in my most depressed state, I will think about it and let it get me down. But, then there are times when I’m feeling good, and I tell myself, G-d has a plan. This happened for a reason. This baby was not supposed to live. It never was. On Rosh Hashanah, the day of judgment, it is determined who will live and who will die. And last year, Rosh Hashanah of 2015, it was determined that this child of mine would be born. And on that very same day, it was determined by G-d, that this baby would die, too. It would die before it ever came into the world. Maybe he was being spared some awful pain. Maybe he was supposed to be sick, as the doctors had guessed. Maybe we were all being spared a sick child that wouldn’t live very long.
And, yes, the baby died. People seemed to question me why I used the words, “the baby died” to my kids when I explained to them what happened. But, yes, that is exactly what happened. The baby was conceived and started to grow. And then it died. There is no other way to explain it. And telling my kids that the baby went up to heaven, or the baby is sleeping would only confuse them.
This baby, this baby boy, who we lost before we met… I hope he is now in peace. And we won’t cry anymore that it never came into this world, because it was never supposed to come into this world. G-d had a plan for the baby. It was decided on the very same day that this soul would be conceived and die before it came into the world.
And as it got closer to my due date, January 3, 2017, and of course, everyone I knew was having healthy baby boys, it got even harder. It’s still hard to go to a bris and hold someone else’s baby. It is hard when I hear of women talking carelessly about their pregnancies, or about their babies. And a million things remind me of the baby we lost, or the pregnancy that I held for such a short time. I hear of miracle babies, delivered at 28 weeks, mothers who have medical conditions, and I am happy to hear of the babies that lived. I appreciate the miracle that is pregnancy and childbirth. Every baby born that is healthy and living is a true miracle. I will never take another healthy pregnancy for granted.