Maelstrom: a story

In the spring of 2006, Husband and I decided we were ready to start trying to have a baby. Several months later I was unbelievably excited when the pregnancy test came back positive. And then the next week I started bleeding. And that was the end of many things: that first pregnancy, all the hopes and dreams that had already wound their way into my consciousness, and most unexpectedly, my naiveté. I hadn’t even considered miscarriage a possibility.

We again were blessed with a positive pregnancy test three months after that first loss. Phew! We had gotten tragedy out of the way, out of our system, moved beyond, paid our dues, and now we could get on with the real business of having a baby. That time I made it a week or two longer before the bleeding began.

Two losses in a row. Then I lost hope. Was this how it would be? Could I not carry a pregnancy to term? Did my body not work properly? Were we going to have any children at all? That was a dark, sad time. I cried a lot. Husbands struggle with this type of loss because they can’t help, they don’t know what to do, it hurts to watch their wives walk this path, they aren’t the ones whose bodies have failed them.

The decision was made to stop trying until we knew what was going on. We made an appointment four months out with a specialist. It hurts your heart to actively prevent pregnancy when it has become the thing you want most in the world. And then a miracle happened. Something didn’t feel quite right. A test was taken. I was accidentally pregnant while we were trying not to conceive. Of course we were excited…and confused…and scared…and pretty convinced we knew what was coming.

We were immediately seen by the specialist we had been waiting for. Ultrasounds, bloodwork with a few red flags but nothing really conclusive, some prescriptions, and yet, things seemed to be fine. FINE. I made it a couple weeks more, and another appointment, and things were still fine. It was a waiting game. When was the other shoe going to drop?

First pregnancies are blissful and new, full of hope. Pregnancies after a loss are scary. You assume they will end early, you assume your body will fail again, that the past will repeat. But that pregnancy continued on, and Child#1 was born in the fall of 2007. That joy helps ease the pain of the earlier losses, but doesn’t take it away completely.

When there was another positive pregnancy test, in the winter of 2009, we were overjoyed and scared. It wasn’t quite as scary that time because I knew it was possible. My body could have babies. We welcomed Child#2 into our little family in the fall of 2009. A year later we were ready to make our team of four a team of five.

Things seemed okay after we found out I was pregnant again. Time went by. I had an ultrasound, and there was some confusion about the image on the screen. What did I think my dates were? Maybe you’re just not as far along as you thought. Come back in a week or two, and we’ll surely see a little gummy bear wiggling around on the screen. But I knew. In my heart. I knew my dates weren’t wrong, and I knew what should’ve been there on the screen. So we waited. Nothing was happening and we were waiting. At the second ultrasound, there had been no change. Your body is “pregnant” but there is no baby in the yolk sac.

More doctors. More waiting. More time. My body was not dealing with this on its own. I had gotten pregnant in February or March. A D&C was scheduled for June unless my body decided to get things rolling, which it did not. Surgery week was hard and sad. And then it was over.

We decided to be done trying. Our family was complete. Our family IS complete. We did not want to run the risk again when the odds were against us: more losses than live births as they say. It was hard to come to terms with being done having children, took me a long time to be okay with it. I always thought there would be another one. It’s weird that the last time I had a baby I didn’t know it would be the last time. Why is that weird? Would I have savored it more? Our mind plays mind games. That’s what minds do.

My children are the coolest thing I’ve ever done, besides marrying Husband. Had that very first pregnancy come to term, I wouldn’t have the kids I have now; I’d have different ones. I don’t want different ones. The road into and through parenthood has been a journey. A maelstrom. A swirling confusion of loss and joy, heartache and love, pain and growth. You can become hardened in trials, or you can let healing build you back up stronger than you were before. I won’t ever stop being sad for those three angels I lost, but I’m glad to have walked this road with Husband, and I think we are stronger, wiser, changed people.

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