I Have Been A Mother

The story of a miscarriage.

“If he has half my tenacity and half his father’s work ethic, he’s fighting for all he’s worth.” The thought brought an appropriately pathetic smile to my lips for the first time in twenty-four hours. In consequence, thinking of my poppy seed-sized baby struggling to stay alive within my womb caused my face to scrunch, my eyes to burn, and my throat to thicken. I was unsuccessful at swallowing the lump in my throat or preventing my eyelids from overflowing. This baby was blood of my blood. Just one morning earlier I was making the same exact trip from the lab to work, happy as a lark, cool as a cucumber, confident that the Lord was going to fix and catapult my HCG numbers through the heavens to reveal His glory. Three hours after my Thursday morning blood work, my test results were posted in my online account, and I had to control my breakdown until lunch – the first 25 minutes of my day that were student-free in my classroom. I slipped to staff bathroom. I started to sob, doing my best to mask the noise in stiff, institutional paper towels, blowing my nose on scratchy, single-ply toilet paper. I made in through the next few periods, feeling so unlike my usually peppy self. Finally my planning period came. I looked at the test results again, still waiting on the confirmation call from the doctor, but knowing full-well what was coming. Impending miscarriage. That’s what all the online sources said about HCG levels dropping this early in pregnancy. The initial realization of the loss of a life that is sustained inside your own body is gripping. Truly gripping as if some dark creature can reach invisibly inside your rib cage and begin squeezing your heart until you can barely breathe. It physically hurts in your chest, and the rest of your body tends to crumble right along with it. Standing, thinking, breathing—impossible. Intense grief has temporary paralyzation down to a science. The next few hours were torturous. The doctor called later than I expected. She was clear about her concern, but wanted more bloodwork within twenty four hours of the previous. Now, emotionally exhausted, I rose the next morning at six AM for my fifth round of bloodwork over the previous seven days. Fortunately for me, I’ve never been averse to needles, and I’m pale enough that looking at my inner elbow joint is like looking at a road map. And, despite my coloring, my skin is tough and not prone to bruising. Three draws from one spot and two from another and all I had to prove my battle scars were two small reddish dots. Waiting was easier this time only because I felt like I knew what was coming. Work helped keep my mind occupied. Down time was worse. No matter how prepared you feel to receive the news, emotions you never knew you would feel unravel your resolve like a frayed hemline. He hits you with questions and lines that you know are lies. “What could you have done differently? What could you have done better? Why weren’t you taking your vitamins sooner? You didn’t lose enough weight before you got pregnant. You don’t eat enough vegetables.” Lies! And you know it. And as fast as they come, you fight them with the truth, and you win, and they’re gone. But they still came. And you weren’t prepared to deal with them. Your emotional sinew has been quickly and utterly depleted, and now you fear not being able to withstand the smallest disruption in your mood. Irritability and fatigue set in wholly. Sleep comes only with more tears. You wonder how women deal with longer term miscarriages, still births, infant deaths, and worse. Is it possible that God is merely preparing you for some such tragedy? You pray against all odds that is not the case. Then you feel weak and guilty. After three and a half years of trying, having surgery to remove fibroid tumors, facing numerous tests, and finally letting go and trying to forget about it for a while, dealing with our first pregnancy and miscarriage within eight days, around one month gestation, just before Mother’s Day was a lot to take in and let out emotionally. You hear about others’ struggles. You read the statistics. You may even know friends or family members who have dealt with the issue, but until it is staring you in the face like a firefly whose flicker has dimmed and faded for possibly the very last time, you cannot possibly prepare for the end of a life that grows just beneath your very own heart. Comfort comes in many forms, accompanied by many clichés. But clichés are only clichés because they are true. If they weren’t true, the people who care the most about you wouldn’t say them. Don’t reject them or grow bitter in spite of them. In short, the words to a song already dear to me spoke new life into my heart in the form of a prayer as I made that somber Friday morning drive to work, not knowing exactly what was happening. I leave you with their powerful message. “Prepare for the worst. Hope for the best. Won’t you steady my heart for whatever comes next?”