Twelve years ago today, October 18th, 1997...I had a miscarriage.
Danielle was five years old and Shannon was two. I had had the option of getting my tubes tied after Shannon was born by C-section in January of 1995. Why not? We'd always planned on having two kids, and there we were with two, beautiful healthy girls.
At the time though, I wasn't sure. You see, in my younger days, I'd always envisioned my children being boys. I was a tomboy as a kid, and I'd always pictured myself going to Pop Warner football games, baseball games, and cheering on my boys.
Were we going to try one more time for a boy? In January of 1995, I just wasn't sure we were done. So I didn't have the tubal.
Somewhere in July of 1997, we had an unplanned pregnancy. It couldn't have come at a worse time. Steve and I were not getting along well. Financially, things sucked. We were living in a two-bedroom apartment. I was, frankly, horrified at the thought of having another baby at that time.
So for a while, even though I knew I was, I pretended like I wasn't pregnant. I didn't even make a doctor's appointment until I was about 12 weeks along. However, we did make one huge mistake: We told the girls. I wish we hadn't.
When I went for my first doctor's appointment, they couldn't find a heartbeat. They did an ultrasound, no heartbeat. They concluded from the size of the fetus that it had stopped growing at about six weeks. I had been walking around for six weeks with a dead fetus in my womb, that my body hadn't yet decided to expel, for whatever reason.
One minute, I was going to have three children, and the next minute, I wasn't. I was stunned, numb. I didn't cry. I don't really remember being upset. Just stunned. I had had two perfectly healthy and relatively easy pregnancies before, and this possibility had just never occurred to me. My obgyn, who was a wonderful, sweet, teddy bear of a man, told me that statistically, 1 in 3 pregnancies don't make it to term, and 95% of those end in the first trimester. "Huh," I said.
He told me that my options were to either schedule a D and C, or just wait and let nature take its course. Had I known what was going to happen over the weekend, I would have just scheduled it. But I didn't know, so I decided to wait.
I went home and told Steve. I honestly don't remember what his reaction was. What wasn't easy was trying to explain to a five year-old that the baby she thought we were going to have had died inside of me. I don't remember her being extremely upset, just confused. She didn't understand. Shannon was only two, I'm not sure she even remembers this at all.
The next night, I started bleeding. A lot. We called my mom to come stay with the girls, and Steve took me to the hospital, the closest one to our house. I don't remember much about it, except the cramping and the bleeding, which after a while, just kind of stopped on its own. Again, I think I was given the option of a D and C, or just going home. For whatever reason, we went home.
The next night, it started all over again. Called my mom again, went to a different hospital this time, the one where my doctor was actually on staff. I don't remember much here either, except lying on a table in a room, just gushing blood. (sorry) The contractions are just as painful as giving birth. So I was in pain, and bleeding in that room, for what seemed like forever. I have no idea how long it actually was. All I know is that it was a huge relief when they finally took me into surgery, to do the D and C. I didn't know this at the time, but by the time they got me in there, my blood pressure was about 60/30. Which I'm guessing is not good.
When I woke up, it was over. I don't remember going home. I don't think I stayed in the hospital. I think I went right from recovery to home. I may have had a prescription filled, or two. Iron, I hope. Because for about two weeks, I was white as a ghost, and weak. I have no idea how much blood I lost, but it was a lot.
I remember feeling tired and weak. What I don't ever remember feeling was sad. I don't know why. I have no idea if that baby was a boy or a girl. What his or her name would have been. What he or she would have been like. The age differences between the kids would have been very different. A whole different dynamic.
What I do know, is that if I had carried that baby to term, boy or girl, I would have had the tubal that time. Three was my limit. And right now I would have children that were 17, 14, and 11. A three year space between all of them. Perfect, right? Well, no.
I remember sitting in my obgyn's office six weeks later, with Steve, and him asking us what we were going to do about birth control. In the most serious voice I could muster, I said, "We're never having sex again." My doctor laughed like I was kidding. At the time, I didn't feel like I was kidding.
In December of 2001, feelings still raw and fresh from Sept 11th of that year, we had...oops...another unplanned pregnancy. We were in a better place in our relationship, somewhat. Financially? It didn't feel much better, and I must admit that when that first home test came back negative, I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
I had a period after that, but it wasn't a normal period. I was just...well, it was extremely light. Steve had just gone to the doctor for a checkup, and he mentioned to the doctor about me and my negative test, and my light period. The doctor said to take another test.
I have to admit here, that when the second test came back positive, the first word out of my mouth was, "FUCK!!!" I called my best friend, and I said "fuck" a lot. I wasn't happy.
I made a doctor's appointment. By the time I went in, I was sort of getting used to the idea of another baby. Danielle would be 10 years old by the time this baby was born. Just so you know? As opposed to toddlers who think they're "helping" with the new baby by bringing you a diaper, or smacking the baby in the face...10 year-olds ARE actually helpful. They can change diapers. They can give bottles. They can burp a baby and get spit up on without completely freaking out. They can rock a baby when your 35 year-old, sleep-deprived self just can't anymore.
I was thinking today, on this 12th anniversary of my miscarriage, how lucky I am. If not for that miscarriage, I wouldn't have this:
And I wouldn't know what a blessing little girls are, when you have a teenager who hates you half the time. In my struggle with adolescence, I still have this little face that thinks I hung the moon. Who still wants to hug me and kiss me, and who still says, "Mama, it's snuggle time!"
They can drive you nuts, make you crazy, and make you want to drink, but I wouldn't have my family any other way. I am so blessed to have my three girls. I love each one of them, more than I can put into words. And today, that is life-affirming.