The title pretty much says it all. There was no heartbeat.
It was my first doctor’s appointment, and I was eight weeks along. My doctor routinely does an ultrasound on the first appointment (and now I’m so glad she does), and I was so excited to see my baby. My only concern was that it would be twins.
I noticed when the image popped-up on the screen that it seemed to be still, and I didn’t see that blinking heartbeat that I’ve seen before. But the ultrasound tech was really moving the wand around a lot, so I figured as soon as she slowed-down, I’d see it. She did a few quick measurements, and then told me that was it, and the doctor would tell me how far along I am. I knew this was shorter than usual, and I said, “Wait, I don’t see a heartbeat. Is there a heartbeat?” She sadly shook her head no while tears of disbelief and grief immediately flooded my eyes.
They took me straight to a room where a sympathetic nurse took my blood pressure and weight while I sniffled. The doctor was very kind and explained that my baby only measured seven weeks, they’re sure it’s not a mistake, and it’s my choice from here on out what to do. I made an appointment for a follow-up ultrasound, and left the office building in a very different state than I had arrived.
I’ve had three perfect pregnancies and healthy deliveries (thanks be to God!), and while I knew the statistics of miscarriage, it didn’t really occur to me that it was a possibility for this one. I kind of got all my worrying out of the way on the first three. Not to mention, I’ve had more pregnancy symptoms with this one, and I always thought that was a guarantee that the baby was doing well. That my symptoms would stop if I miscarried. We just didn’t see it coming, and the shock was the hardest part about it.
The first few days after finding out were pretty hard. I cried a lot more than I thought I would. I hadn’t necessarily felt super attached to the baby as it was in my body, it was very early after all, but Clay and I were both very attached to the idea of this child. We tried for this pregnancy and were very excited when we got that positive test. Our kids were excited, just the night before I had shown them pictures of what an eight-week old baby looks like and explained how it grows in my body.
Telling the kids that the baby had died was hard. It went pretty much as I expected, though. Evelyne burst into tears and cried for a few minutes, Harris acted like we hadn’t said anything and started walking off. (Pretty much the same thing he did when he told him we were pregnant! He’s a little bit of a non-reactor when we put him a position to gauge his reaction.)
We had told them I was pregnant as soon as I got a positive test, and we knew that was putting them in the situation of possibly going through a miscarriage. But we reasoned beforehand, and I’m still glad we did, that although it would be hard and confusing, it’s just a sad part of life that is ok for them to experience. It’s something our family is going through together, and while I often want to shield them from hard things in life, it’s ok for them to experience loss and grieve with us.
Similarly, we told the world about this pregnancy soon after finding-out. (We’ve never been ones to keep it a secret, I think we’ve shouted every pregnancy from the rooftops as soon as we told all of our family!) I blogged about it here and put it on Facebook within days of a positive test. And I’m still glad I did. Because although it necessitates a post like this, I probably would’ve written it anyway. Every parent is different, and some have greater privacy needs than I do (ok, maybe most?), but I’m appreciative of the fact that the people who are in our life (and some strangers, too) know the season we are walking through. I’m ok with everyone seeing the highs and the lows, I welcome the prayers, and I’m thankful for the understanding that comes when people who care about us know what we’re going through.
It was hard getting used the idea that there will be no baby in November. I had mentally planned-out our next year, anticipating the logistics of rides to school and a newborn, imagining what Sullivan will be like at almost two and a half when the baby is born, wondering if Evelyne, at almost age seven, could change a diaper or two yet.
But now our plans have changed, the spacing of my kids has expanded, and it’s looking like for most of the next school year I’ll have just three kids. We had gotten really used to the idea of being a family of six, and now it kinda feels weird to be just the five of us again. Depending on when we can get pregnant again, Sullivan will now be closer to age 3 when we can have a fourth. (A bigger spacing than I was hoping for, but let’s be honest, it might just be a good thing. He is cuh-razy, and I might need for him to be a little older and more able for me to take my eyes off of him before a newborn could be safe in this house!)
So, it’s been about a week since we found-out, and it feels like much longer. The shock has worn-off, we’re now used to the idea that a fourth child is a bit delayed, and we’ve grieved the loss of this baby as much as we can. I decided to let my body pass the baby naturally rather than opt for a D&C, and so far, my body still thinks I’m pregnant. My symptoms are lessening, but other than the ultrasound, there are no symptoms of miscarriage. I understand it can take a few weeks, so now I’m just waiting.
I know that there will be another layer to the grieving when my body begins to miscarry, and I think I’m ready for it. I hope? I’m also nervous about how painful it might be. But at the same time I welcome a little bit of pain, in some way it seems like it would make this experience more congruent with what I’ve experienced emotionally. Like my body needs to be in a little bit of pain to grieve the loss of this life and to let it go. Please pray with me that it will be a quick and relatively easy process that will not delay much longer.
I think at this stage Clay and I are both doing well emotionally. For me, it really does help that my plate and my arms are already full, to an overwhelming degree at times. I have a very needy toddler who will be my baby for a little longer. Losing this baby is hard, but I am comforted by the life God has given us so abundantly. There is still someone missing, and we want to try again as soon as we’re able, but for now I think we’re ok taking a step back to living life as we are for a little longer. Thank you for your prayers.