We gleefully shared the news with family. Baby #3 would be arriving in September 2013. Or likely, August, given my history of early deliveries. We were already the parents to two boys. Two healthy, easily curated boys. Two boys that came out of two planned pregnancies. Two very deliberate pregnancies. And all of that gave us the illusion that we were in control of it all. That we dictated the order of things. And then… a surprise! Not an oops. We’d hoped for more… on our own timeline of course. This little one would just be a little ahead of our “schedule”, it seemed. And once I got past the initial shock, I felt such happiness that our family would be growing, once again.
And then, when we went in for the first ultrasound, the ultrasound that they normally would not even administer at that gestation, but due to my high risk history, they did. And as she slid the wand over my jellied up belly, I saw the sac. But the sac… the sac was empty. The sac that, every other time I’d looked at one of those screens, had held evidence of the baby that was causing hormonal upheaval and emotional attachment. It was empty. And I knew, in that instant, that he, or she, was gone. And after a week of blood tests, ultrasounds, and emotional highs and lows, medical technology confirmed. It was over.
At six weeks, three days pregnant, the life that had begun to form inside of me, was nowhere to be found. And they delivered the news… a blighted ovum. Yes. I had been nauseous, my breasts were tender, my face was breaking out like a teenager, and my hormone levels soared. So I had been pregnant. But there was no fetal pole. A blighted ovum is also known as an anembryonic pregnancy and happens when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine wall, but the embryo does not develop. Cells develop to form the sac, but not the embryo itself. A high level of chromosome abnormalities usually causes the body to naturally miscarry. I remember writing, “A Blighted Ovum. Blighted. It makes me think my uterus is like a rundown section of town.”
And that’s what I felt like. Like I was broken. Like I was a mama broken. Or like something I’d done had caused it to come undone. I couldn’t help but feel that I was somehow responsible for the loss. That I had mis.handled… mis.managed… mis.carried. And I found myself at a complete loss with how to classify this. How to explain it to the general public. The onlookers and friends who likely thought I was barely pregnant. Or that I’d not even had time to feel attached. Because it was most certainly, by medical and emotional standards, a loss.
The screen was empty. But my heart was already full of love. For the someone that I was already prepared for. I found myself in a tremendously difficult time as I went through the physical act of losing the pregnancy. And I grieved. And felt guilty. Guilty that I was sad over losing a baby, when I had already been blessed with two healthy boys that I got to hold and know. And I cried. Oh, goodness, I cried. And I hugged my babies I could hold in my arms tighter than I’d ever known to do before. Because I suddenly felt as though I may never have any more children. And that thought was devastating. But I couldn’t tell people that. Because it made me feel greedy.
I will always consider that to be my third pregnancy. Blighted ovum, or not. I will always talk about it openly and with candor. And every single woman who endures a miscarriage has the right to decide how she wants to deal, share, and classify. But for myself, I can’t help but wonder, every once and awhile, how it would all have been different. If that baby had lived in my home, instead of my heart. Not wonder in the way of wishing or hoping. Wonder in the way of how I would have been different. Because that loss. That third, unexpected, whirlwind pregnancy… a third life inside of mine, that changed my perspective. It made me even more thankful than ever when our next one had a heartbeat in utero. When we saw him on the screen. When his lungs could breathe outside of the womb. And when I got to hold him in my arms, on my chest, and feel a tangible connection as I planted kiss after kiss on his tiny little cheeks.
I lost a baby one time. That’s how it feels like you’re supposed to feel. When you suffer an early loss. Where you weren’t yet showing. And you hadn’t yet shared the news with everyone. And when you go on to have children. More or your first. Like, this one day, you lost a baby. As if it’s as arbitrary as losing your reading glasses, or your favorite pen. Not like you lost a life that had already forever changed yours. And continues to do so, leaving its own legacy, from the very second you know it’s there.
If you’d like to read more posts on my experiences with loss, feel free to visit my personal blog.
For more stories of men and women who share grief click here.