I’m definitely preoccupied with the weather and Easter candy reminding me of the first three weeks after Liam’s death and with the twin’s growth scan tomorrow and viability date on Wednesday, but I could never forget today was my third due date, and there’s still part of me that aches for that third pregnancy and the baby we thought there was.
I found out I was pregnant for the third time just a day or two before I left to be a leader at a girl’s camp for a week. I’d been feeling a little nauseous for two weeks, so I wasn’t surprised. We were afraid of another chemical pregnancy, but when we got past the day my period was due with no problems, we started to breathe a little easier. I thought for sure I couldn’t lose three times in a row. And this baby would be due just days after Liam was born. How perfect would that be, for him to be getting a sibling for his birthday? I imagined this was the little girl I’d been dreaming of. I hoped it was.
I took a pregnancy test the morning before I left for camp and sent it to K as reassurance for both of us. I brought another test with me in case anything went wrong. I packed an entire box of pads, because if I did lose this one I wanted to be prepared. But I prayed I didn’t, or at least, if I had to lose again it wouldn’t happen until I got home and could be with K again. I stuffed my backpack full of snacks I liked in case the food at camp made me nauseous, and I told the nurse I was opting out of the hike. The camp went swimmingly until the last day when morning sickness kept me in our cabin for most of the day. We were supposed to leave early the next morning, but I got permission to leave the night before so I wouldn’t have morning sickness added to motion sickness.
K hadn’t planned on my coming home early, but he told me he had a surprise for me, it just wasn’t as ready as he had been planning. He walked me upstairs and into a freshly painted nursery. It was the color we had picked out and tested on the walls while pregnant with Liam. For months the room had four different shades of grey blotches on a peach background. But now the nursery was gorgeous. Just how I’d imagined it. He told me he and my mom had worked on it all week. I think I cried.
Less than a week later, I had a nightmare that I was miscarrying again, and I wasn’t even surprised. I woke up shaken and relieved it was only a dream. But two days later I started bleeding. K and I rushed to the emergency room. I told him it could be nothing. It wasn’t very much blood. Not like last time. But I had to find out. We prepared for an ultrasound and prayed we’d see our little blip and that the doctor would tell us everything was fine and they didn’t know why I’d been bleeding, but it was nothing to worry about. But when K saw the screen he knew something was wrong. The screen was facing away from me so I couldn’t see, and the tech wasn’t supposed to answer our questions, but he took compassion on us when K asked, “There’s nothing there, is there?” There wasn’t.
They told us the ultrasound showed evidence of a very early pregnancy, maybe four weeks, but that we couldn’t be six weeks along like we had thought. They suggested maybe my dates were off, but I knew that with our ovulation predictor kit and early pregnancy tests it was very unlikely our dates were wrong. They told us we would have to wait and see and to come back if I had a lot of pain, because it could still possibly be an ectopic pregnancy, although they hadn’t seen any evidence of that in my tubes.
We scheduled blood tests and ultrasounds to try to figure out whether we were losing this pregnancy or not. For the next three weeks we went in and out of doctors offices with no more answers. Eventually we saw our blip on the ultrasound, but it was empty. A sac with no baby inside. They told us it might just be too early to see the baby. A week later the empty sac had grown, but still no baby. Again, they told us it might still be too early, but by this point we knew we should have been nine weeks along, and that was getting harder and harder to believe as more time passed.
We were exhausted from three weeks of hope and let downs and confusion. Part of me wished that it would just be over already, even if it would end badly. I couldn’t handle the stress anymore. We’d been through loss before, and we tried to handle it like veterans, but it still broke us apart all over again. It was hard to grieve this loss when it had been so different from losing Liam. We didn’t know if it was already over or if we should hold out a little longer. We didn’t even know if there was a baby to love–there’d been no evidence of one. And with so many unknowns it felt like we should be able to carry on more than we had before. We tried to keep up with everything–work, school, the dogs–without telling anyone about what we were going through. We couldn’t handle being the bearers of bad news again.
One evening after an ultrasound I started having contractions and I knew the end was coming. Liam’s due date was less than two weeks away, and it felt bizarre and cruel that I was having contractions around the same time I should have had him, but instead he was gone and I was losing this pregnancy, too. But I was also a little relieved to know this would all be over soon. The next morning around four thirty I came out of the bathroom and told K it was over, and we both went back to sleep. I don’t remember if I went to work that day or not, but I remember the next day I went to work was K’s birthday, and I was still having contractions and passing large pieces of tissue, but I tried to grin and bear it. But through it all, there was never any evidence of a baby.
Less than a week later, after our doctor confirmed a complete miscarriage, K and I went on vacation with some family and friends. It was a nice escape, but it also allowed us to push off the grief of that loss a little longer. To some degree, we were still pretending it wasn’t that bad. Thankfully, I started seeing a grief counselor not long after. It was good to be able to talk to someone about the complexities of grieving a “not sure it was a baby” less than six months after losing the little boy I was 100% sure really was my baby. I felt like the latter should be harder, but in reality I was dealing with it so much better. Weeks later I remember finally breaking down to a friend about how devastating my third loss was. I found myself just bawling and being surprised at how right it felt to be this upset. It had been incredibly hard, and trying to move on so quickly had only made it harder.
With that in mind, I feel like that pregnancy deserves to be mentioned today, on the day I thought our second child would be born. Today is a good day. The babies are doing fine, and I’m doing fine. But I will never forget all the heartbreak it took to get here. It’s part of our story. All our recent good news definitely softens the pain, but it will never erase it.