The day I found out I was pregnant with my fourth baby, I was in the grocery store walking past the seafood counter when I was hit by a wave of queasiness that stopped me in my tracks. At that moment, I knew. I tossed a pregnancy test into the basket and took it as soon as I got home. Sure enough, it was positive.
Somewhere between ecstatic and terrified, I ran to tell my husband the news. He jumped up, scooped me up into his arms and told me how thrilled he was. And of course we were a little scared. I mean, this was our fourth baby. That’s like … a lot of kids.
About a week later, although I felt like it was a little early, we told our girls that mommy had a baby in her belly and they were going to be big sisters. They screamed and kissed my belly and couldn’t wait to meet the new baby, which of course made me melt.
Honestly, I’m always a little nervous in those first few weeks, because my very first pregnancy ended in a very early miscarriage (a chemical pregnancy). It seemed like as soon as I found out I was pregnant, it was already ending. I was devastated. A few months later I got pregnant again, and thankfully everything went beautifully with that pregnancy, and the two that followed. We were blessed with three precious little girls. However, I still thought of that baby often, and it always made me incredibly anxious in my first few weeks of pregnancy.
At 6 weeks and 4 days, I had my first appointment with my OB. After taking my history, she sent me down the hall for a routine first trimester ultrasound.
As soon as the screen popped up, my stomach sank. In the sea of grey and black, there was nothing but one translucent circle. The yolk sac.
The doctor suggested my dates might be off and to come back in a week and we would most likely see a heartbeat.
The next week felt like a month, and I spent day and night researching what it meant to only see a sac at 6 weeks instead of a fetal pole with a heartbeat. Some stories were positive and helped me feel better while others reaffirmed what I was thinking. In my mind, this was going to end in miscarriage.
The morning finally came for the ultrasound. I laid there shaking, but as that same black screen showed up, there it was. A precious, tiny little flicker. A beautiful heartbeat. Tears poured down my cheeks. All the doubt I had washed away.
I spent the next 4 weeks falling in love with this new baby on the way. I still had waves of nausea that would come and go, but towards the end of the first trimester I was feeling pretty good. We talked about names, and whether it was a boy or a girl. I daydreamed about snuggling and nursing another brand new baby to sleep.
Then, one morning, the day before my 12 week appointment, I got up out of bed, and felt a stream of blood run down my legs. No, please no, please God no.
An hour or so later, with my third ultrasound, it was confirmed. We had lost the baby. In that four weeks, there had been no growth. It’s likely that that precious, perfect, little heart stopped beating shortly after we saw it for the first time.
I was offered a medication to help speed up the miscarriage, or I could go home and wait for it to happen. I chose the latter.
I spent the next three days wondering when it would start. I felt such a deep and immense sadness, I could hardly speak. My only comfort was knowing that my sweet, tiny little person’s heart stopped while they listened to the beat of mine. They were snuggled, safe and warm. I held my precious baby every moment of their life.
Out of nowhere, I started having horrible cramps that progressively became unbearable. Then, as if flood gates opened, I began bleeding non stop, so heavily and for so long that we decided I needed to go to the Emergency Room. I passed softball sized clots, one after the next. I was terrified, and I knew something was very wrong. They did an ultrasound and found that I still had a very full uterus. My hemorrhaging was far from over. Minutes later, I was rushed back for a D&C. I woke up in the recovery room, and was discharged at 2:00am. In the blink of an eye, it was over.
I sat on my bed next to my husband, staring at my worn out copy of What to Expect that was on my nightstand. I had no tears left to cry. I just felt so empty.
The next morning we explained to our daughters that our baby was very sick and had to go back to heaven. As young as they were, I could see their little hearts break too.
One morning, I just dissolved into tears because I was working out to lose the little weight that I had gained, all the while longing for the soft postpartum body I had already three times before. Now, I stood with a few extra pounds, hating every single one of them. I would have given anything to have a swollen belly, swollen boobs, twenty pounds to lose, and a baby in my arms.
We had to truly grieve. Although I was still so early in the pregnancy, we had already made so many plans for our baby. I was frustrated and angry and just so sad. I have always been a faith filled person, and I don’t know that I’ve ever prayed more in my life than in the months that followed. I leaned so heavily on my husband and my faith.
Since then, we have had two (!!) beautiful, healthy baby girls (our rainbow and lagniappe babies!). And still, I think of the baby we lost that day, and the first baby we lost. I look at all five of my girls together, and while I feel so overwhelmingly thankful and so blessed, I see the spaces where those babies would fit in perfectly. Their absence is never far from my mind.