One year ago, my heart broke. At that time, I felt like it was ripped apart, never to be mended. The pain was unbearable and the kind that you think could never possibly get better.
I debated for a long time after that whether it was something that I wanted to share. But now, one year later, I feel okay about sharing it. It is an important part of my life, of our lives as a family, and I think it’s time.
Last November, the Monday before Thanksgiving, I had a miscarriage. Most of you had no idea. It was not something I shared with hardly anyone outside of our immediate family and friends. It was too painful and I didn’t want to talk about it, but it happened.
I found out in mid-October that I was pregnant. We were excited, but I knew I would be a little more stressed during the pregnancy because of what we had experienced with Tera. We knew we would ask for all the non-invasive prenatal tests because while we wouldn’t have changed our decision not to know with Tera, we had to know this time. We needed time to emotionally prepare ourselves if we were told we would have another child with special needs. I had a new doctor that I really liked and made an appointment to go in when I thought I would be eight weeks along. When we went in for my initial visit, my doctor couldn’t find anything on the ultrasound. I immediately panicked. After some searching, he found the baby, but the measurements didn’t put the baby at eight weeks, it was more like five and a half. Since the baby was so small, there wasn’t much the doctor could tell us, including showing us a heartbeat, but reassured us that this didn’t mean anything was necessarily wrong, just that our original estimate was off. He told me to come back in two weeks and by then he would have a better idea of what was going on. He told us to be cautiously optimistic. I went back two weeks later and the baby had grown, but the doctor wanted me to get an ultrasound at one of the ultrasound facilities to get a better picture than he could get in the office. I made an appointment for the Monday before Thanksgiving at the Arlington Heights office.
Tom couldn’t make it to the appointment and I told him that I really thought everything would be fine, and that I would go by myself. I went in for one period at work, then headed to my appointment. When I got there, they got the ultrasound set up and the technician found the baby, but realized that it hadn’t grown. She left the room to go get the doctor and I started to cry. I called Tom and told him what was going on and that the doctor would be in soon, but that it wasn’t good. When the doctor came back in, he had to deliver the news that ripped my heart apart. The baby had stopped growing, and it was no longer a viable pregnancy. I left the office and tried to explain to Tom what had happened, but I could barely speak. He left work immediately to come and get me.
In the meantime I called my mom, the only other person in the world I could talk to at that minute and bawled while people walked past me, as I waited for Tom to come and pick me up. It felt like my world had ended, and the mere thought of what was going on sent me into hysterics again. I called my doctor and he told me that it would be in my best interest to get a D&C the next day to help prevent as much discomfort as possible. I was scheduled for the next morning.
When Tom finally arrived we drove home pretty much in silence. I couldn’t bear to tell anyone so once again he had to share the news with the few people that we had already told. I didn’t really want to talk to anyone about it, but a friend of mine (who had also had one) called me that afternoon to make sure I was okay and reassure me that as awful as I felt at that moment, it would get better eventually.
I spent the rest of the day and most of the night in bed and then the next morning Tom took me in and it was over. We were supposed to have Thanksgiving at our house and while everyone would have been more than understanding if we didn’t, it felt like it would be worse to spend the whole day just thinking about it so I insisted we keep it the same, and I don’t regret it. The rest of that weekend was a series of ups and downs. I realized that maybe at some point, I could think about it and not feel like all the pain of the world was inside me. And I can honestly say today, that while I will never forget that I at one point had another baby that I never met, I don’t feel nearly the sadness that I felt then.
Before the procedure the doctor asked me if I wanted them to do a pathology report to see if they could determine what had caused the miscarriage and I said yes. Again, after Tera, I couldn’t handle not knowing. If this baby had also had Down Syndrome, I don’t know how we would have felt about trying again. I can’t even begin to imagine my life without Tera, every part of her, but it was something we would have to think about.
While we waited for the results, time passed and things gradually felt more normal again. I began to find out that more and more people I knew had had miscarriages and at least it made me feel not so alone. Eventually, my doctor called and told me they had the results. The baby had had trisomy 7; a third copy of the 7th chromosome. Down Syndrome is a third copy of the 21st chromosome. The similarities struck home, but I tried not to dwell on it too much.
Still, when I became pregnant with Zoey about a month and a half later, my first reaction to the pregnancy test was to burst into tears. All those emotions that had started to subside hit me at once and I was terrified of being pregnant again. I wish I could say that my third pregnancy put my mind at ease, but it was not to be. I had minor complications with her from the start, ended up finding out I had placenta previa, that resolved and I simultaneously found out I instead had vasa previa, and one week later Zoey was born.
The due date for my second pregnancy was July 12th, Zoey was born on July 14th.
It’s hard not to think about that time period and wonder if it wasn’t really all just a dream (or nightmare). So much has happened since then and the only thing that truly makes me feel any better (and all the platitudes do not) is knowing that all along we had only planned on having two kids. If everything had gone differently the second time, I wouldn’t have my sweet Zoey. While it’s difficult not to wonder what our other baby would have been like, I know that I have two of the sweetest, most challenging, awe inspiring, beautiful daughters imaginable and for that I will always be eternally grateful.