Note: Quick reminder that this blog is mostly a record of past events; this post is about my one and only miscarriage, which ended my second pregnancy.
Eleven months later, I was pregnant again. This time, I was going to do it right. I was so happy! One of the things that was hard after the trauma was that I had hardly enjoyed the pregnancy. I was so cautious because of my age. My husband’s mother had died suddenly a few weeks after we found out that I was pregnant, two years and two weeks after his father had died, so we had that grief overlaying anything good we might have felt. Plus, there was the guilt over not having told her, although we had good reasons for staying quiet.
So this time I just enjoyed it. We planned, we dreamed, we bought a totally age-inappropriate baby toy while we were Christmas shopping, we just let ourselves be happy again. We bought a house, and the next year was supposed to be a better year.
Then at our 12 week prenatal appointment, the nurse couldn’t find a heartbeat on the doppler. They brought in an ultrasound machine; nothing. I remember turning to my husband and saying, “this isn’t good” or something; it was clear there was a problem.
They moved us to the “good” ultrasound down the hall; nothing. We were there during a snowstorm, although the roads were pretty clear, it seemed like almost every other patient had cancelled. So on the walk down the hall to the “good” ultrasound machine, we passed half of the staff waiting in the hall. And we had to see their expressions faking normalcy but filled with pity and fear.
This ultrasound tech looked, asked us the due date, and practically ran out of the room. Our MD came back to give us the news: the fetus had stopped growing at 9 weeks.
The miscarriage was the first time I was forced to face the possibility that we would never have a baby, but more on that later.
So our amazing OBGYN, whom we’d only known since after the first loss, was able to schedule me for a D&C that afternoon. She walked us through the options of miscarrying naturally vs. surgically, and given my bleeding history, we all felt safer with the surgery. The last thing I wanted was to be at home bleeding again, and who knows what might happen this time?
And here’s the thing: of course I was sad, but mostly I just kept thinking, “Now I’m just like everyone else.” I was “just” having a miscarriage, like “everyone else.” It wasn’t nearly as isolating as the medical termination; most women who have lost a pregnancy have lost it because of miscarriage. It was so, so much easier.
This time we sat in a pre-op unit for hours, waiting for it to be long enough after my breakfast to make the anesthesiologist happy, going through all the red tape and procedures and disclosures and explanations of what was going to happen. I kept thinking how much less scary this was, when it wasn’t an emergency. People talked to me like I was a person, because they had time to. It was going to suck later, but I was so relieved that I felt safe. That I wasn’t in any danger of dying because of this. That I was just like all of those other women who’d had a miscarriage.
And here’s the part of the story that wasn’t so great. I was getting prepped for the surgery, IV and all, and a nurse came in to tell me how sorry she was because she had had a miscarriage.
“I know how you feel,” she said.
“No, you don’t,” I said.
“Yes, I do,” she said.
“No you don’t!” I shouted, and threw the kleenex box across the room. Because she didn’t.
What I wish I had said to her was, “Were you grateful and relieved? Because that’s how I feel right now.”
But I didn’t, because that just seemed too mean. I knew she was trying to be nice,
I was grateful that I could have a nice, safe, calm procedure that was tremendously unlikely to result in any serious complications.
I was grateful that I didn’t have to kill a perfectly healthy fetus again.
I was grateful that almost no one knew I was pregnant.
I was relieved that this pregnancy had not killed me, or come close to it.
I was relieved that it could be over that day, and that this end-of-pregnancy would be so much easier than my first.
But really? There is no way in hell she could have any idea what it felt like to be me right there, and she should have known better than to say so.