Sometimes, in remembering, it feels like I am looking back at someone else’s life. I see images, as though I’m on the outside looking in.
I see my shaky hands holding that positive pregnancy test in January 2009, wondering if I should wake my husband or if I should wait a few more days to tell him, after I’ve taken a few more tests.
I can see his sleep-filled face, not fully registering what I was telling him, afraid to believe this positive could stick. I see a trash can full of positive pregnancy tests, for it took a full week of testing to convince myself I was going to stay pregnant.
I see myself reading pregnancy books about things to avoid, what to eat, what not to eat, and all about the baby’s development. One week in early pregnancy the book said the baby was the size of a blueberry. I held a blueberry in my hand and imagined it was my baby.
I see myself scared – so fearful of a miscarriage. I buy a home Doppler so I can check in and make sure the heart is still beating. I remember when I thought a miscarriage was the only thing I had to fear in pregnancy. I was sure once the first trimester ended my worries would be over. Then I was introduced to a new fear – I read about someone having a miscarriage at 16 weeks. I breathed a huge sigh of relief once I passed that week.
I see myself lying on the couch, so still, waiting for those flutters I had read about. I feel something. Was that my baby? It happens again, and this time I’m sure. My baby has gotten big enough for me to feel her moving. Lying on the couch becomes a nightly ritual: my time to close my eyes and wait for that little life inside me to make herself known.
I see myself filled with excitement. Soon I would find out the gender of my baby. Soon we would know if we were having Madelyn or Wyatt. Soon I could start buying baby clothes. I was so excited to register. We went to Babies R Us and looked around in preparation. I see Nathan and I arguing over bedding. If we have a girl, he doesn’t want anything too pink. But I’m the girly girl who thinks the more pink the better. For the first time we think maybe we should hope for a boy. We had always said we wanted a little girl. We would have loved a boy too, and been just as excited. But we were really hoping for a girl.
I see myself the night before the ultrasound. I am nervous and scared. What if we find out something is wrong? What if something has happened and there’s no heartbeat? Nathan tells me not to worry. I also tell myself not to worry. Nothing is going to be wrong. I know so many people who have had babies, and nothing has ever been wrong for them. Why should I be so afraid? I’m overreacting. I need to learn to stop worrying – I don’t want to be that kind of mom. I calm down, but still get little sleep. I’m too excited.
I see myself in the waiting room. Nathan joins me there. Our appointment time passes by, and we still wait. I’m in so much torture, both with anticipation and nervousness. They call our name. I tell the ultrasound tech I brought some orange juice to drink, just in case she needs to get the baby moving. I lie on the table and practically hold my breath while she puts gel on my stomach. This is the moment I’ve been waiting for since the positive pregnancy test.
She checks the heartbeat. It’s perfect.
Then, those words. The words no one wants to hear. The words “Something’s wrong. I need to get a doctor.” (More about that day is here.)
I see us in shock. This can’t be happening. I see tears falling down my face as we wait in a room while they get us a perinatal appointment. They let us leave from a special exit – an exit that allows us to avoid the waiting room full of pregnant women.
Women with hopes and dreams.
My hopes and dreams.
The ones that had been taken away from me.
I see me at home, in bed. Unable to get up or do anything but cry. What was going to happen to my baby?
I see us at subsequent ultrasounds and in the hospital. The baby is doing so well. Surely she is going to be ok. She is a fighter. So many prayers are being prayed. Miracles happen everyday for babies. I have every hope my baby will be one of those stories.
I see my stomach twitching and jerking through my clothes. Nothing makes me happier. I grab Nathan’s hand so he can feel the movements too. Sometimes she kicks so hard it hurts. But I don’t care. That’s my baby in there.
I see myself excited that I will be meeting my baby soon. The one I’ve gotten to know so well. The one whose heart rate goes up when I speak. The one who has been my world since that first pregnancy test. My little one.
I see her eyes flutter open to look at me, and then close, never to open again.
I see myself now, looking at my husband as he sleeps. Seeing her in his face. He gave her the shape of his eyes and his mouth.
I see tears on my cheeks as fresh grief washes over me.
I realize I am not on the outside looking in.
This is my life.