To say the day I discovered I was pregnant was […]
To say the day I discovered I was pregnant was shocking would be an understatement. My husband and I viewed parenthood kind of like a vacation destination that we’d like to visit. Sure, we thought we’d have kids someday. But both of us agreed that it might interfere with our jaunts to Europe and weekend wine-tasting excursions. We were too busy being DINKs (short for “dual income no kids”) and loving it.
So when the lab tech gave me a piece of paper that said “positive,” I froze. “What am I supposed to do now?” I whispered.
I spent the rest of the afternoon at work. Overwhelmed. Confused. Excited. But mostly just freaked out. I’d always imagined I’d be a mom—someday. I just didn’t expect it to happen so soon. My mind swam circles around issues like how to tell my husband and whether I should call the doctor about the fact that I’d spent the past weekend sipping wine … in a hot tub.
On the way home from work, I picked up a children’s book called “It’s the Best Day Ever, Dad.” My husband returned from his weekly softball game and received the surprise of his life. His reaction is a memory that I relive often. He was emotional and joyful. It made me feel like this baby was really meant to be.
Made with love
Over the next few weeks, I fell in love with being pregnant. But I fell even more in love with the baby inside of me. The notion that I was growing a baby that was half me and half the man I loved was awe-inspiring. I wasn’t feeling very well—but it was the best reason in the world not to feel well, so I hardly minded.
We excitedly shared the news with our family. My joy multiplied. I wasn’t feeling like I would be missing out on anything anymore. I was single-mindedly looking forward to holding my baby in my arms. I couldn’t wait to find out if our baby was a boy or a girl.
At six weeks along, on the day of my first appointment, I woke up with some spotting. I knew it was common in early pregnancy, and because I was visiting the doctor later that day, I just thought I’d ask about it then.
But as the morning went on, there was more blood. I knew what was happening, and my doctor confirmed it: I was having a miscarriage.
The rest of the day was a blur. I ended up at home, crying. My husband was out of town for the weekend, and I didn’t know what to do next. Every time I went to the bathroom there was more blood. So much blood. I hated it. It was the constant reminder of what had happened. A suffocating loss. A huge, intangible loss. I felt responsible somehow, like it was my fault and I should never be a mom.
In the weeks that followed I remained quiet about what happened. I tried to go on like it didn’t happen, telling very few people in my life. I was sad most of the time. But sometimes I felt relieved. I wasn’t ready to be a mom yet. I felt guilty. Guilty for feeling a sense of relief. Guilty for sitting in the hot tub and drinking wine the weekend before I found out I was pregnant. Guilty because I was feeling happy about the fact that now I could toast my friend’s upcoming wedding with a glass of champagne. I was convinced that I had caused this. Convinced that I didn’t deserve to be a mom. I was so thankful that I never knew if it was a boy or a girl.
I didn’t want to “try” to get pregnant again. I still hated going to the bathroom. I felt embarrassed and ashamed. This had never happened to my sister or my sister-in-law. It had never happened to any of my friends. There had to be something wrong with me.
Two months later I became pregnant again. Practically instantly. But I couldn’t exhale. I just kept waiting to see blood again.
Fortunately, I didn’t. I had a seamless pregnancy and gave birth to a sweet baby girl. Macey Lorig was born in May, two months after our anticipated first due date.
Sparks of magic
Motherhood softened me. I swooned over our little one and felt the baby bliss for months. I called it the Macey magic bubble, and it was just that—magical. I treasured my newborn moments, but every once in a while when I held Macey, I would feel a pang. I’d wonder what my first baby would have looked like, there in my arms. A sadness would wash over me for the fact that I never got to hold that baby. Some-times I would cry. Other times I felt deflated. Drowning in my own quiet grief.
Life marched on, and Macey began to crawl and then walk. She turned 1, and we celebrated with the most adorable zebra-themed party. Motherhood only got sweeter with every stage. Every new thing she did made me smile. I was completely in awe of her.
But the grief still tortured me. It would hit me like a tidal wave of hurt. I’d think of it at the most unpredictable times. During the middle of kickboxing class, driving home from the store, midsentence in a meeting. I thought about my baby every single day.
I’d share my emotions with my husband, and he was always supportive. But I couldn’t help but feel like I had to carry this burden alone—that my pain was so much deeper than his.
He didn’t think about our baby every day.He didn’t freak out every time he went to the bathroom, haunted by the memories of seeing red. He didn’t know the date of the miscarriage and dread the anniversary of it. I was happy he didn’t have this loss hovering over him. I was relieved that he didn’t have to suffer the pain. But it was also hard that he didn’t really understand.
My husband is a devoted father. He and Macey talk in their own funny language together, and she constantly asks for “dada” if he isn’t around. He is the definition of hands on. I’ve always known that he wants to have another baby. He can’t wait to do it again. But I am terrified, paralyzed by the thought of miscarrying again.
The questions from friends and family kept coming. “When are you guys going to have another one?” I would use the labor excuse, saying I couldn’t imagine another 32 hours of pillow-biting pain. It was true. Labor literally caused me nightmares. But the whole truth was: I couldn’t stomach another chance at losing another baby. The thought of it crippled me.
When somebody dies, there’s typically a funeral, flowers, lots of nice comments and memories about that person are shared, and there’s closure—something I didn’t get with my miscarriage. I got wonder instead of closure. Wonder about whether it was a boy or a girl. Wonder about what he or she looked like. Wonder about what my life would have been like with that little one in it. Wonder. I will wonder forever.
It’s been more than two years since my miscarriage, and most days I feel like I will hurt forever. I’ll have a permanent dull ache in my heart for the rest of my life. Some days it is stronger than other days. But it is always there. They say that time heals all wounds. But I wonder, does time heal all wonders?
By Meredith Mortensen
Image: iStock.com / Martin Dimitrov