I’ve written a million versions of this story and intended to share it many times, but I always feel the need for a disclaimer that this blip of sadness in my life is small in comparison to the tragedies of our current world. Maybe if I release this story into the wild, I’ll make room for other things.
I knitted this through three pregnancies, two were short and one was Wylie. There are many flaws and holes that I never corrected in this blanket. I just moved forward with all the ugly bits left in. It’s a story. It is one way to tell the story.
The first was a missed miscarriage and the second was an ectopic pregnancy.
When we went in for our first appointment well into my first trimester, there was no heartbeat and the floor of my reality fell away. A missed miscarriage occurs when you lose the pregnancy, but your body keeps trucking along as though you are very pregnant. I felt like I had failed as a female.
We waited, but potentially not long enough, before trying again.
By the end of our delayed honeymoon to South Africa, I knew I was pregnant, but by our layover in Cairo, I had started cramping. I had trouble convincing my doctors here that something was wrong because my hormone levels were such that I still appeared quite pregnant. It was a midwife friend who really looked at my numbers and listened to my symptoms and then said it sounded like a classic ectopic.
When you miscarry, you get to know your clinic and the phlebotomist really well. Weekly blood draws let you know just how pregnant your body still thinks it is. This can take months. I got a 5 dollar weekly bill for my blood draw for many many weeks.
I can’t remember when I was finally not pregnant anymore. It took a while. In the meantime, I did acupuncture, cut back on running, ate more protein, picked up pennies on heads, let all the spiders live in our house, meditated, took relaxing baths, did yoga, took my vitamins, and consulted with a fertility specialist. Granted, even though they are very good at helping people get pregnant, that wasn’t really our issue. It was keeping it and keeping it in the right spot, so that wasn't super helpful. We waited and waited and I tracked my cycle and knew way too many details about fertility and temperatures and timing. I finally couldn’t wait any longer. I was 37.
Then, there was the very stressful election, a sort of stressful board presentation at work and then somehow a positive result and very clear first trimester symptoms. My betas were super high and I saved the message from my doctor where he says that it is a very good indication of a healthy pregnancy. This was the same doctor who told me he thought I’d be just fine and we worked strictly with him until I was released to the midwives. For anyone going through this, find a doctor who will listen to you, tell you when you need to stop with all the intricate details of your cycle and help you come up with a plan of action (even if that plan is..take a breather).
There was nearly a year between deciding to try and finding out we were pregnant. During much of that year in a new town I was full of first trimester hormones and mostly, although loosely, holding onto that secret.
Honestly, there was never a time when I felt totally confident that everything would be just fine and that we would get to come home with an actual baby in our arms. I’ve heard many people who have had loss say this very thing. Your opportunity to have that feeling doesn’t really exist.
In truth, I never REALLY understood pregnancy loss and I owe many people in my life an apology about that. I would rattle off something from Evolutionary Biology class about how common it is or how they were lucky that it happened early or some other insensitive remark. I get it now. I get how quickly it becomes all you think and plan, and dream about. How sad you feel in secret. How you feel like a biological failure.
So what is it about telling your story that is so scary? I think it is the permanent settled feeling of it. The story has less room to evolve once it has been written and then observed and then told by others. Setting a story free means that you no longer have control over it.
I am not sure where I stand on what we gain from over-sharing. I feel especially confused lately, but I certainly can say that when I was going through a hard time, the thing that was most helpful to me, the thing that normalized my grief and gave me hope was reading the stories other women had written about their own loss. Many of these were on blogs I check in on like Cup of JO, Peanut Butter Fingers, Apples Under My Bed, and many others I can no longer remember. So, I am grateful for their sharing and I hope that my sharing can help somebody who has experienced loss, who may someday or who loves someone who has or might. I don’t love that I couldn’t share this until I had a successful pregnancy. I wish it didn’t feel so secret.
One thing comes from sickness and loss is the room it makes for that really good human stuff. We were overwhelmed with the immense outpouring of empathy, shared grief (maybe those are the same), disappointment, loss, and the stories of other couples and families who have also experienced this. I am grateful for their candidness and their ever-evolving stories.
Most of the time I can’t believe how lucky I am to get to do this. Below are all the pictures I took of him with the blanket every time I meant to write about this. His birth was another crazy story, which hopefully I'll get to soon as he is almost turning 1.