On Wednesday evening, I found brown blood on my toiler paper after I went to the washroom.
This happened in my first pregnancy, too. The first time around, I looked at it quizzically, then shrugged it off. I was spending a good hour a day just reading up on what to expect and spending time on pregnancy forums, and I’d heard, time and again, about this being perfectly normal. It, of course, stopped in about 12 hours’ time, and went on to be absolutely nothing.
This time, I shut down. I still knew, on a rational level, that it was probably nothing, but when you’ve had a full term stillbirth against all odds and logic, sometimes rationality escapes you. I fully expected that this was the start of the inevitable end I was obviously going to get. Parenthood was not meant for me, and this was the universe’s way of trying to tell me so. I told my husband and we both spent the rest of the evening in quiet worry.
Ever since I got that positive test, we have been trying very hard to convince ourselves that a miscarriage would not be the end of the world. My husband’s stance is that there is nothing to get emotional about until it has a working brain; until then, it’s simply a mass of cells. In my case, I try to see the possible upside. Most miscarriages are the result of severe abnormalities (or non-viability in some form or another), and I would much sooner miscarry early than carry a child who has a condition that is incompatible with life. I read not long ago about a PAL mom who found out at her NT scan that her rainbow had Trisomy 13, a condition that is almost always incompatible with life (90% of those diagnosed will not make it to their first birthday; most do not make it to full term). She had to make the heartbreaking decision to carry the child as long as possible or have an abortion. I couldn’t imagine being in her shoes, especially after making it to a situation where you would think that the biggest risks had passed (never mind that I have already been there, and I know all too well that something could go wrong at any time – going through it twice would be more than I could handle).
Of course, I was fully aware that a miscarriage would, inevitably, still be a heavy weight to bear, as even though I’m still well shy of the ‘safe’ zone (which I no longer believe in to begin with), my imagination has already ran wild with the possibilities. I wonder what gender I might have, what colour of eyes and hair they will have, what they will like and dislike. I feared for those fantasies when I found I was bleeding, and I spent the next 14 hours fearing the worst and trying to sever any emotional ties to the baby I was carrying. Even my husband, who said he wouldn’t get attached to it until it was ‘more viable’, was obviously rattled.
Then, at 9:30 on the following morning, the phone rang.
My OB was requesting that I, with his help, expedite my dating ultrasound. I had one scheduled, but it wasn’t going to be until after I saw him, and he wanted to know how far along I was going to be when we met for an appointment the following week. I went to visit his office to pick up a new requisition form, then brought it to the ultrasound clinic he referred me to. They promptly informed me that they had had several cancellations that morning and could see me right away, if I had time.
For some reason, I still feared the worst. I was anxious as I put on the starchy gown for the ultrasound and got on the examining table. My husband was permitted to sit in the room with me for the full ultrasound, and watched the screen intently as we got started.
It was quiet for a while. The ultrasound tech mumbled under her breath occasionally, but I couldn’t make out what she was saying. I wanted to ask, but I know techs often don’t answer questions or give you information directly, so I refrained. Finally, my husband spoke up. “So, that’s the heartbeat?”
“Yes, it sure is. About 130 beats per minute.”
Relief swept over me, and I immediately felt foolish for all my worrying. She gave me an estimated gestation of 7 weeks (pretty much exactly what I’d suspected), printed us a photo, and sent us on our way. It was probably one of the most positive sets of unplanned events I’ve ever been through. It’s good to know that nice surprises still exist… I think I’d forgotten.
Later that evening, my husband put his head on my belly, ear to my stomach. “Hey, baby, listen up.” He glanced up at me. “Do they have ears yet?”
I smirked at him. “I’m not sure. Ear holes, I think.” (Babies don’t actually begin to hear until much later, but I wasn’t about to burst his bubble.)
“Good enough. I hope you’re listening, baby. I really, really hope I get to meet you. We really want to meet you. So stay put, okay? We love you and will spoil you silly. Especially if you’re a girl – Grandma will buy you more clothes than we know what to do with. We want to change your diapers and learn how to live without sleep. Mommy wants to sign you up for all kinds of fun things. She had a shitty childhood, so she wants to live a good one, vicariously, through you. All you need to do is float around in there and grow. We’ll do the rest. Can you handle that?”
I thought about retorting. I wanted to point out that our ball of cells likely did not know the meaning of the word vicarious, and he should also not swear in front of the baby. Instead, I smiled and hugged him.