Today is the day I’ve dreaded and resisted for almost a year: the day I face going through the white plastic bag the hospital sent home with me after my D&C, 10 months ago. This bag held my clothes, shoes, and wedding ring for the short time I was in surgery, but I rescued all of those precious items soon after waking.
The items that remain show the paper trail of that difficult day—receipts from my hospital admittance and anesthesia, general post-operative care instructions, and a consent form for “treatment of incomplete abortion.”
That last part brings tears to my eyes.
I miscarried my sweet baby, but it’s not called a miscarriage in medical terms. Because my baby died inside of me and my body continued to nurture it instead of letting it go, I had to have it surgically removed before infection set in.
The medical term for this heartbreaking experience is “incomplete abortion,” which feels cruel.
I didn’t abort my baby or try to. All I wanted was for my baby to continue growing safely inside of me until he or she was ready to join me in the outside world.
The white bag was crumpled at the bottom of my closet when I pulled it out today. I remember leaving it behind my front door when I came home from the hospital feeling weak and bleary-eyed and sad beyond comprehension. We were in the middle of the COVID pandemic, so it seemed like a few days of quarantine in the corner behind the door was best. I thought I might go through it the next week and file away the important papers and throw out the rest, but I never felt ready, and so I pushed it to the back of the closet instead.
It doesn’t take long to go through the papers today, and I know I shouldn’t have waited so long with those looming over my head. The papers themselves are not scary or powerful. But I knew it would be painful as I relived the whole experience, and I was right.
Having a D&C during a worldwide pandemic was scary, hard, and lonely.
I remember my husband dropping me off because the hospital would not let him inside. I had to have two COVID tests before entering the building, and then I had to wait for those tests to come back negative. I had been fasting from food and drink for 19 hours by the time I had the surgery.
And my heart was broken.
I was shuffled from one side of the hospital to the other, paying for the surgery and signing forms, then having bloodwork done (super fun when you have difficult veins and are dehydrated), waiting some more, having my vitals taken, answering the same questions over and over, and finally stripping down and donning a vulnerable hospital gown and some slipper socks to wear while I waited—alone—for my doctor to arrive. My phone battery had died long ago, and the e-book I was trying to read no longer seemed interesting anyway, and all I could do was cry.
I cried that day for my sweet baby who never got to take a breath or see the world or feel my love.
I cried for my kids back home who were so excited about this baby and especially my youngest who wanted so badly to finally be a big sister.
I cried for myself and the loss I felt was too heavy to bear, the emptiness I couldn’t put into words, my hopes that had died, the utter loneliness of going through this by myself, the unfairness and injustice of it all, the fact that even my body did not want to let go of this baby.
Through my mask, I sobbed, taking the mask off to wipe my nose every few seconds. I didn’t bother trying to wipe my tears.
For the first year of the pandemic, I had been so careful.
Having an autoimmune disease, I wasn’t sure how my body would handle the virus if I caught it, so I stayed home from everything I could and faithfully wore my mask, social-distanced, and used more than my share of sanitizer if I absolutely had to go out. I missed baby showers and weddings and playdates and friends. I never got sick or had any close calls, but then there I was sitting in a hospital of all places, removing my mask so I could breathe between sobs and wipe my nose. I wouldn’t have used tissues opened in public before this, but now crumpled tissues surrounded me, and I didn’t care about the germs so much.
My surgery time came and went, and I learned my doctor was running late because he had to deliver a baby at another hospital. I’m not a jealous person, and I want all moms to be able to deliver and hold their beloved babies, but waiting for that now felt like another blow. I had already been transferred from one hospital to another because of a misunderstanding during scheduling, and I had already waited six extra hours due to that.
All I wanted was to get through this surgery and put the experience behind me so I could go home and hug my kids and sleep in my own bed. All I wanted was for my husband to be next to me instead of waiting at a nearby park for my doctor’s call that I was ready to go home. All I wanted was not to have to endure this terrible nightmare at all.
All I wanted was for my baby to still be alive.
This all felt like too much and I wondered what God was doing. Was He crying with me or collecting my tears? Was He preparing something good for my family down the road, something I surely couldn’t see now? Was He asking me to trust Him? Was He holding me close, even though I didn’t feel His arms around me? Did He hear my cries? Why was He allowing this pain?
God’s ways are not always my ways. I’ve always known that, but it had never been more clear than it was at that time.
I still don’t really know what God was doing, but I’ve seen some little bits of good come out of that painful experience. I have connected with other moms who have lost babies recently and have been able to offer an empathetic word, hug, prayer, and listening ear to several who have confided with me about their losses and the pain surrounding them. I’ve also learned to embrace taking care of myself instead of pushing through all the time and just taking care of everyone else. I’ve lamented and cried out to God instead of pulling away.
I also eventually decided to try again for another baby and am now 15-weeks along with a little girl who is growing bigger and stronger every day.
None of these bring back the baby I lost last May, of course. Even my current pregnancy does not make everything better or stop my grieving for this special baby or its sweet sibling whom I lost early on a few months before it. They were my babies, I wanted them and loved them and looked forward to meeting them and mothering them, and it still hurts so much that I didn’t get that chance.
What I do have now is the hope that they are waiting for me in Heaven, that God is raising them in my absence, and that our whole family will someday be together for eternity.
That’s the hope I have as I face these discharge papers and toss them into the trash.
They are painful reminders of an awful experience, but they aren’t the last word.
God’s ways are not my ways, but the difficult and agonizing things of life are also not God’s ways.
And I have to believe that God will redeem all of the loss and pain and hurt as He collects my tears and holds me close and promises me that He is working for my good somehow and somewhere underneath it all.