I’ve had this post sitting in my drafts for over a month. Never could I have expected to be where I am now when I published it. Newly pregnant, so far unestablished by anything but an obsession with peeing on sticks (my only comfort now, thanks a lot Quest).
**Warning: possible triggers for women with recurrent miscarriage.**
The Story of Baby Bean…
When I got pregnant the second time, it was somewhat of a surprise. After waiting for 7 weeks for my period after the D&E from the first pregnancy, we tried naturally for two months in a row. Both ended with painful, heavy periods. I’d heard of the rumor that you’re most fertile after a procedure, so I demanded to see my OB in September. I showed up for her to tell me there was nothing to worry about, nothing wrong with me, that the miscarriage was probably one of those 1 in 4 flukes and I should instead focus on my recent weight gain. Since the miscarriage in May, I’d gained 15lbs. So she told me to relax, and stop obsessing, and start trying to lose weight. So I went downstairs that day and joined Weight Watchers. The next cycle fell to the back of my mind, unbelievably enough.
The day before Halloween, J and I visited a friend who’d had a baby a few years ago (her story is intense…she has endo and nearly lost her baby several times throughout her pregnancy, with partial water breaks twice and over five hospitalizations and months of 100% bedrest). She asked if we were trying for babies, and we said the usual spiel, but after we left I realized my period was late. (Yeah, once upon a time, I was that naïve to “forget” about my period.) So on Halloween morning, expecting that—once again—my period would be late as it had been the last two months, and I’d be fooled by Aunt Flo once again.
I had two digital ClearBlue tests leftover from earlier that year, so I stuck one in a cup of pee and walked out of the bathroom, expecting to come back to that infamous “Not pregnant” in the window.
I was in so much disbelief that I took the second test. Both said the same thing. I was pregnant. I walked into the bedroom where my husband was laying watching TV and showed him both the tests. Excitement and fear filled the pit of my stomach.
And two days later, the fear was justified. I started spotting. Spotting is what started the journey to my last miscarriage, and so J and I grieved. I cried, he held me. We thought, It’s over. Just like the last one, this is over.
My OB scheduled me to come in for repeat betas, which seemed to look good. (The betas with my last pregnancy had increased as well, so I knew this wasn’t a definite reassurance.) It wasn’t until the ultrasound at what we thought was supposed to be 8 weeks that everything changed.
We walked into the ultrasound room and let me tell you, I could’ve thrown up. I’d had three ultrasounds that year and all of them had shown an empty sac with no baby inside. As the technician prepared the machine and inserted the ultrasound wand transvaginally, I couldn’t look at the screen. I was too scared. It wasn’t until I heard her say “There’s the gestational sac…” that I started to turn my head, and by the time she said “…and that’s the baby…” I was looking, and then she pointed out the tiniest of flickers and finally said “…and there’s the heartbeat.”
I’m a very private crier, so I held in my tears as the technician zoomed in and took her measurements, and then listened to the heartbeat and told me it was within normal range. I wanted to look at J and exchange big fat smiles with each other but I couldn’t look away from my baby. It was there. It was shaped like a little bean and the tiniest thing, but it was there. It was alive. It was my baby.
The month that passed was surreal. I kept the printouts of my Baby Bean in my purse at all times and looked at them in secret at least once a day. Morning sickness arrived shortly after the ultrasound and though I never threw up, I felt like I almost would many times. I had food aversions. I would be hungry for something and then be disgusted by it by the time it was prepared. I would have cravings. I was exhausted. Everything seemed to be going smoothly.
I couldn’t ignore the nagging thought in my head, however. The thought that this would eventually end. It was still so early, and everything felt so uncertain. Every day I felt nauseous was somewhat comforting, but I knew from my last miscarriage that even if the baby has died, your body could still produce a measurable amount of hormones to make you feel pregnant. I wasn’t totally reassured by anything.
And then the week of Thanksgiving—which my husband and I were hosting for the very first time—I started spotting again. It was only during—sorry, TMI—bowel movements. Pooping hurt—I later found out this is common because everything is stretching in there and bumping into other organs—and every time I would have vaginal spotting afterward. Thanksgiving itself was stressful, from the waking up incredibly early…to the setting up…to the cooking…to the hosting…to my husband leaving shortly after dinner was served because he had to work…to the cleaning up after everyone—although, because my parents knew of the pregnancy, they helped a lot with the cleanup both during and after the festivities. But that night, after everything, I spotted without a bowel movement. And again the next morning. (Once again, I now wonder if this was the sign of the end and we just missed it. Again, no one has confirmed this.)
The anxiety got the best of me on Black Friday and, scared that I overdid it on the holiday, I called my OB’s office. They set up a time for me to go to an outside clinic that afternoon, and that’s exactly what I did. We walked into the ultrasound room and the technician told me that “if she had 8 women in here today, 6 of them would have spotting and everything would be completely fine.”
And sure enough, it seemed so. Baby Bean had grown! It looked almost like a person now, and was measuring about 8 weeks 6 days. The heartbeat was fine, the measurements were more or less on target, and everything looked fine. We got printouts. We got to hear and see the heartbeat. Baby Bean even moved right there on the screen for us. This time, it was harder to hold back the tears. Relief washed over me in waves. I finally felt like I could breathe. I finally felt like, maybe, I was one of those 1 in 4 who had a miscarriage that was an indication of nothing serious. It was a glitch in the system. Everything could be fine. Everything could be okay. (I had no idea that little Baby Bean’s heart would stop beating only days, maybe even hours, later.)
Again, the next month that passed was surreal. I continued to have symptoms…for a while. They seemed to peter out as we got to the middle of December, but I accepted that as normal. I was approaching the end of the first trimester and figured that was only normal. Everything seemed to be progressing normally. Our NT scan was scheduled for the week of New Year’s, but as we got closer to Christmas, I weighed my options.
I would be 13 weeks days after Christmas, and wanted to tell the rest of my family. My brother and his longtime girlfriend had no idea of my miscarriage, or the pregnancy. I dreamed of telling them on Christmas morning, surprising them with a couple of mugs saying “Aunt” and “Uncle” or something stupid and corny like that. Christmas for my mother’s side would be later that day, and I wanted to announce it then. Christmas for my father’s side of the family (he’s one of seven, and we’re scattered across the States, so we have Christmas a few days to a week after the “real” Christmas so everyone can enjoy the holidays at their respective home state) would be the day after I reached 13 weeks. I started researching t-shirts on Etsy that said “Christmas in July” or “Mistletoe Led to This” or other stupid corny shirts that I could reveal at each party as a way to announce the pregnancy.
But as we got closer, I got more anxious. (Maybe I really knew what was happening—or not happening—inside.) I didn’t feel comfortable announcing to everyone without a recent scan. In fact, while Christmas shopping one day and in an attempt to make me feel more comfortable about the pregnancy, J dragged me into Destination Maternity to look at clothes, and I felt like a fake and got so anxious and nervous that I panicked and begged him to let us leave. So I called my OB…and told a little white lie, saying I would be on vacation the week after Christmas. That put me out of the range for the NT scan, and so they were forced to schedule me for the week of Christmas.
Christmas Eve, as a matter of fact, at one of their facilities in Boston.
The morning of Christmas Eve, I had Etsy up on my laptop. With t-shirts and DIY ideas for announcing the pregnancy. J and I rode the train into the city, and there were times I felt like I would suffocate. This was it: if everything was okay today, then we would most likely be fine for the rest of the pregnancy.
We finally got into the ultrasound room. This room was equipped with a flatscreen TV in my line of view on the wall, in addition to the tiny monitor for the technician that I was always accustomed to. Because I was nearly 13 weeks, a transvaginal wasn’t necessary. She lubed up my stomach, set down the wand, and turned on the monitor.
My husband would tell me this later, but he didn’t realize anything was wrong right away. He was enamored by the picture of Baby Bean up there, unaware of what was obvious to me. You see, I had been all over the forums on my Baby Bump app. I’d seen ultrasounds of babies from 12-13 weeks. And Baby Bean was looking nowhere near like they did. I felt my stomach drop down below, and my heart jump into my throat. I could hear the blood pulsing in my ears as my heartbeat accelerated. Something was wrong. I clutched J’s hand, and while he smiled at me, I watched the screen with my breath held.
Then the technician asked me how far along I was. She asked how far along I measured at the last ultrasound. And she was quiet. And then she said she was going to consult with someone else and check my records, and she left. J looked at me with a big smile and said something, something, I forget, something probably like, “That’s our baby.” But I shook my head. “Something’s wrong,” I said. J gently shushed me and told me to relax, but I shook my head again and frantically looked at the image of Baby Bean, now minimized in the corner of the TV. “No, it’s too small. It’s too small, honey. Something’s wrong. Something’s wrong.”
The technician came in with a doctor, who introduced herself with a quick smile before they put the ultrasound wand back on my belly and looked inside. They murmured to each other, so I couldn’t hear. I don’t think I would’ve heard if they were yelling. You know how in movies, when a character is hearing devastating news, outside sounds just seems to fade away? Like your ears are muffled or you’re underwater? That sensation is real. I felt like I was underwater. I stared at the screen and I couldn’t hear a damn thing except the sound of my own pulse in my head.
And then they zoomed in on the heart, and played what should have been the heartbeat.
There was nothing but loud static.
That’s the moment my husband would later recount to my mother as the moment he realized what I’d known for several minutes. The baby was dead. There was no heartbeat, at all.
They turned off the monitor, and the doctor put her hand on my knee. I think I remember her saying, “I’m so sorry,” but I don’t remember much else. I started crying. No, sobbing. Hysterically. J looked lost, like he’d woken up somewhere he’d never been before and didn’t remember getting there. He stood up and put his arm around me and nodded as the doctor spoke, and I lost it. The two women gave us privacy and left us in the room with a box of tissues. I just kept crying. A loud, ugly, gasping, wheezing cry. I think I kept saying, “No, no, no.” I don’t remember. I remember J holding me. I remember all the crying. I remember putting my hand on my belly, as I’d done so many times in the last two months, knowing my baby was in there. Knowing it wasn’t alive anymore. Knowing it had died nearly a month ago. Realizing I’d gone weeks carrying a baby without a heartbeat, unaware.
And then I resented having to have the scan in Boston, because we had to take the train home. The entire 40 minute ride, I couldn’t stop crying. People were staring. I kept my face buried in John’s t-shirt, soaking it with tears and probably saliva. I was no longer hysterical, but I couldn’t stop crying. The entire time.
We got home, and John put me in bed where we lay together for a while. The crying started to taper off, what with it having been over an hour at that point. I got drunk that night off an entire bottle of wine and played NASCAR video games with my husband until the middle of the night. Dreams of a happy Christmastime announcement were crushed. I was angry, because Christmas is my favorite holiday. The previous year, my grandfather—the last living grandparent and the one I was closest too, very close—passed away on Christmas. And now this, now I had lost someone else. Someone I hadn’t even gotten to meet before I lost him or her. I felt like there was nothing to look forward to that week anymore. Christmas last year felt empty, despite the fake smiles and hollow laughter I provided for the ease of my family. With my mother’s side of the family party, I walked around with the literal heavy weight of my unborn child in my stomach. With my father’s side of the family party, the day after my D&E, I felt empty as I walked around in fierce pain, bleeding heavily. My mother’s side was expecting an announcement, as I hadn’t been drinking at Thanksgiving. I had to deflect the questions of whether I was pregnant or not, dangling alcohol in front of them to prove I was not. I did the same at my father’s side. My cousin asked me, “Not pregnant yet?” as I lowered myself gingerly onto the sofa. I lifted my beer and said clearly, before taking a sip: “Nope.”
Today, July 6th 2014, was Baby Bean’s due date. Today, or several days before this, or after, I could have been holding a newborn in my arms. But I’m not. Instead, I’m on vacation with my husband because he planned his vacation around when the baby was due and couldn’t change it by the time we found out what we found out on Christmas Eve. And to top it all off, I’m only days out from getting my first BFP since last October. It’s been seven months since I was last pregnant. I’m facing this pregnancy with fear, hope, disbelief, anxiety, anticipation. Today, I remember the little one I had in my belly for three months, even if he or she was only alive for two of them. Today, I miss the little one that could’ve had his or her birthday today.
But today, I set my eyes on the future. Today, I have a new life growing inside me. Today, I need to leave behind the past—no matter how cruel it may feel, or how much of a betrayal to Baby Bean I may think it is. I can’t live in that miscarriage any longer. Not the way I have been, anyway.
Little Bean, sweet Baby Bean, I still miss you. I still love you. I still wonder what you might’ve been, what you might’ve looked like, what your personality might’ve been. I will never forget you, I promise.
The song below I heard once on an episode of ER—ironically enough, when one of the main characters requires an emergency C-section before her baby’s ready to be born. This song best describes how I felt when I heard that Baby Bean was gone, and how life’s felt since then…and even, how life feels today.
❤ RIP Baby Bean ❤