No one knows the continuous hurt a mother feels even a year after losing a child, unless you are one of those mothers. We are a different category of mothers, a group of women who cannot be compared to women with children (on this Earth). We think differently, hope differently, and pray differently than a woman who knows the joy of the ability to have her own children.
This thought came to me after realizing that the world around me has not suddenly burst open with pregnant women; my preggo-radar is ultra sensitive and highly alert nowadays, and it isn’t the world out to get me. I sometimes realize that I am a person who tends to look for pain because I expect it; I’m not a pessimist, I refuse to accept that title. I just know all too well that as a critical thinker, the proof is in my past – and history repeats itself.
And when history repeats itself, be prepared for the heartache and mind blowing emotional tidal wave that lies ahead. Sometimes the storm is right around the corner, and other times it may take time for it to hit. In my case, it held off for a while, but then struck with vengeance.
We went in for Kristen’s first “regular” OB appointment on September 25th. After driving 3 hours into SC, we piled in the room to eagerly await the newest picture of our precious bundles of joy. You read that right: plural. Kristen was 12 weeks 3 days pregnant with twins at this point, and I knew from experience that we would be seeing the first pictures of what would be discernible “babies” at this appointment. I couldn’t wait to finally have an ultrasound picture in my possession that wasn’t the squishy gummy-bear phase of development; I wanted to see my babies and know that everything was ok.
But, everything wasn’t. As Jake and I stood nonchalantly beaming against the wall of the room waiting for the ultrasound, a flash of hot ran through my heart. It was like something warning me, a red hot caution sign. The first baby showed up on the screen, the side profile was beautiful and the baby was waving and kicking nonstop. But I couldn’t focus on it, because I saw what the other sac showed. Baby A had no side profile like Baby B. There was no definition in the body, and I knew before I even took a breath that another one of my babies was gone.
All I can remember was turning to Kristen’s husband and saying that it was gone. I couldn’t bear to face Jake, knowing that he probably didn’t know what the technician was about to tell us. Hoping for the best, or at least not the diagnosis I had made, Lee suggested that maybe it was just a bad angle and that the doctor might see something different. It didn’t matter, the fear itself of what was happening crippled me and I sank into the chair that I would imagine was in the room for expecting dads to sit in. This was really happening; history really was repeating itself in this moment and there was nothing I could do to stop it. In a split second, I processed what I saw on the screen, begged God for it to not be true, accepted that it was true, and tried to turn back time; all simultaneously. All I could do was sit in the chair and wait as the technician put on the face that all medical professionals do when they pretend to “need a little help with the machine but really, something is really really wrong and I have to get the doctor”.
Backing up a bit, we arrived at this appointment as supportive family; not biological parents to babies being carried by a GC. Unsure of how everything in this process works, we figured that so long as Kristen is pregnant and in the end we will get the baby(ies), maybe it’s best to abide by the don’t ask/don’t tell policy. Not cheating the system or “stealing” health care; her insurance company was made fully aware that she was a surrogate; it’s more of a game of politics with the doctor’s offices and their co pay battles.
Continuing on, as the doctor and his barrage of “in case she goes mental” nurses entered the room, we were asked to leave; obviously, so that they could deliver the bad news privately. My heart sank even lower, as I didn’t believe was possible, and I panicked inside wondering how I would refuse to leave the room but keep my anonymity. Thankfully, Kristen shares the same strong bloodline as me, and refused to let us leave because we are “family, and they are going to find out anyways”. God bless her.
As doctors do when there is bad news to be explained, he showed Kristen on the ultrasound the difference between the two babies. One measured beautifully at 12 and 1/2 weeks. The other baby, Baby A, measured at only 8 or 9 weeks. He went through the routine of explaining that nature takes care of pregnancies that aren’t viable and it’s better that this happened now, and all the other worst case/best case scenario crap that they try to hide a shit storm with a rainbow nonsense. The fact was, there were two babies alive three weeks ago; now there was one. I don’t care when the baby stopped growing or when his/her heart stopped beating, that was my child and I now have to mark another tally on the “children in Heaven” roster.
I don’t even really remember leaving the room, but I do remember making a dash for the door. I wanted to throw up, scream, cry, run into open traffic, and rip my hair out all at the same time. How could you, God? How could you do this to me again? Haven’t I been through enough, haven’t I suffered and cried myself to sleep and prayed and begged you to keep these two safe? I understand that just because you pray, doesn’t mean that it’s what He wants. But in my case, I wanted to be selfish and I wanted to scream at God for this.
After a brief but intense cry with Jake, I held myself together enough to hug and kiss my cousin and her family goodbye and drag myself back into the car for a very long 3 hour car ride home. I stared out the window the entire way, occasionally having short bouts of crying when I realized that I wasn’t going to wake up from this dream, yet again.
The next morning I stayed in bed for a while – thinking about the events from the day before, and a brief wave of gratitude washed over me… I still have a baby on the way. All hope wasn’t lost, although I was still devastated and hurt, I still had something to look forward to and live for. But, let me repeat, this does not make up for yet -another- lost child. There is no “at least” or “bright side” when a mother loses a child.
Knowing the uncomfortable and hurtful journey it would be to announce this right away, we decided to wait a few more weeks until Kristen was cleared from the OB and that baby B was still healthy and growing. I spent the next 11 days with nothing else on my mind but “baby B”…and inevitably, baby A as well. I’ll never know what this baby was, I can’t connect with it the way I did with Robert William, and it breaks my heart.
Borrowed from a friend…and if you are a friend of mine, please read and reflect on this quote, as sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all – just let me cry, and know that one day I’m going to be okay.
“Don’t be ashamed to weep; ’tis right to grieve. Tears are only water, and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water. But there must be sunlight also. A wounded heart will heal in time, and when it does, the memory and love of our lost ones is sealed inside to comfort us.”
― Brian Jacques