The misconception of a missed conception

 

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The ultrasound tech measured and clicked, and calculated and scanned on Baby A. But my eyes were fixated on Baby B. Where one week before there was a mini heart pumping a million miles a minute, I saw silence.
“I don’t see the heartbeat in the other one” I stated, fully expecting the tech to say, “oh it’s there – I just need to get a better angle.”
“I don’t either.” was instead the response.
And just like that, all the wind sucked out of the room and I felt like an anvil had just been dropped on my chest.
“Wait here while I go get the Dr.”
Shock. Disbelief. Some kind of sick technician joke. It had to be something, ANYTHING other than the inevitable M word. I don’t think I breathed at all waiting for the doctor to walk in. By the look on his face, I knew my worst fear was finalized.
Baby B was dead.
He said a lot of things to us that day, but I don’t really remember any of it. I couldn’t hear over the silent screams in my head telling me -no, telling God-that this wasn’t fair. It couldn’t be true.
We staggered out to schedule a follow up ultra sound for the following week. And then two weeks after that. And so on throughout the pregnancy. Told that we now had to keep monitoring the surviving twin pretty closely. So each week I got to re-experience the sight of a silent heart. And then baby B got smaller and smaller as baby A grew bigger and bigger.
It was like ripping out stitches of sadness over and over each follow up ultra sound. Seeing right there a life extinguished before it even truly began.
And each week as the grief washed over me, it was followed by a tidal wave of guilt. How dare I be so sad when I was still pregnant! How many women had lost a baby and had nothing?! In spite of losing one life, I simultaneously got to grow the life of another. It was the craziest wave of emotions.
Why is there such a stigma with the first trimester? The ‘we can’t tell anyone we are pregnant’ trimester ‘because what if something happens during this trimester?’ So what??! Something DID happen during that trimester. And now I had this part of me that was dead, and I felt like I couldn’t really even grieve about it.
Why is there such a silent stigma associated with miscarriages? Why is there such a hush hush about the unsurity of the first trimester. So the pattern goes: don’t tell anyone you are pregnant in case you have a miscarriage. In the case that you actually have a miscarriage, you are then compounded by the loneliness that no one knew you had a human inside you, so no one knows that you just lost a life inside of you. You instead get to paste on the plastic smile and go about your day as if nothing has changed.
But everything has changed.

Miscarriage #2 came just 6 weeks ago.
The first office visit.
A bed side ultra sound.
Dr. Asking, “how are you feeling?”
Me “very pregnant. The heart burn has come way earlier this time around, right alongside the nausea this time.”
As she started the ultra sound we chatted about different options for heartburn medication, and things that had worked for me in previous pregnancies. The chatter slowly stopped as I looked at the screen to see an image that brought back the gut wrenching sight that had sucked my breath away a few years before. I quickly looked at the doctor and her face once again confirmed what I told myself couldn’t be happening again.
She tried in vain to twist and turn and find an angle that would prove her own fears wrong. She finally broke the silence. “I’m not seeing much here.”
This time it was my own response that sucked the wind out of the room and left me staggering. “neither do I.”
We did some follow up tests. I got my hopes raised a bit. And then crushed once again with the realization that this baby would not be taking a breath in this life. This baby would not even be forming a mouth to take a breath. This baby wouldn’t even form a heart to have a heartbeat to call it by some people standards “Alive”
But it is every bit a death as the first one. It was a life inside of me that is now gone. A birthday we will never celebrate. A first step we will never cheer on. A first smile we will never see. A first giggle we will never hear. A first cry will can’t simply snuggle away.
Gone. Dead. And once again alone to grieve.
As I left the office, I texted another member of the carpool who was going to cover for me to pick up the group of kids from practice:
“Well my appointment ended sooner than I thought, so I can pick up the kids after all.”
“Great! Have a good day.”
And just like that, I got to once again paste on the plastic smile and pretend like nothing had happened.
But everything had happened. My world was once again turned upside down. I was left to try to make sense of it. Try to not be consumed by the guilt and the grief and simply get on with living.
I mean, c’mon I have SEVEN healthy, incredible kids! Am I even allowed to mourn the loss of one mere when-does-life-really-begin-being?? How dare I think to be sad when there is so much life literally crawling all over me! In the world’s standards I have certainly surpassed my quota of kids. I am fully embedded in mommy hood.
And still, on some days, there is a pain that hits out of the blue and suddenly sends tears streaming down my cheeks.
I have come to learn, however, that as I slowly open my mouth and share this situation with others, I am amazed by the sudden hurt mirrored in many of their own faces as they confide that they, too, are acquainted with this grief. And somehow that simple statement sends a calming balm through my soul as I realize that they are out there. You are out there. My miscarriage sisters. Waiting in the wings to grieve together and carry one anthers burden through this lonely walk of grief. If only we will open our mouths to speak the silent sorrow and let others know they are not alone in this lonely world of dashed dreams of an unborn baby.
On this week of baby loss awareness, if you have been walking through the shadow of silent sorrow, please know that you have a virtual shoulder right here.
I feel your pain.
I see your tears.
And my heart hurts for you.

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