Two years ago today, I was teaching high school English, working on the final deadline for the yearbook, preparing for girls golf season, and packing my bags for the inaugural senior trip to New York City, all while hiding my twelve week pregnancy. I had cancelled golf practice saying I needed to pack for NYC which was leaving the following morning at 4AM. And I did need to pack. But I also needed to make my second ultrasound appointment too eager to hear a heartbeat, already planning to snap a pick at the top of the Empire State Building announcing this surprise pregnancy. Two years off the pill, and over a year on “crazy pills” for infertility. It was finally happening. We had told our families a few weeks before but so far there was no heartbeat. “Nothing to worry about,” my doctor had urged me. “Sometimes, it’s just too soon to hear.” But let’s face it, even as I showed my parents that first ultrasound, God was already preparing my heart for the loss. Maybe that is why I never packed for New York. I just knew I would not be going.
After the appointment, Jason I got the news I already knew in my heart. “No heartbeat.” The “fetus” stopped growing. The doctor never used the word “baby.” Unfortunately, “common” for first pregnancy the unknown doctor had told us. I didn’t cry. I didn’t react. Instead, I handled it. We were given two options; a “natural” miscarriage encouraged by implanted medication. I could go home, and nature would take its course. Option two; a DNC, quick, medical, sterile, and 100% reliable. There was no option three, go to NYC, enjoy the much-deserved trip with your beloved seniors, keep on living in a state of hope and grace. We chose option one; cheaper, easier, “natural.”
While checking out the receptionist gave me a new parent folder and asked if we wanted to meet with a financial counselor to set up payments for the birth. I wanted to scream, “It’s dead, your idiot. Read my chart.” But the numbness was still in place (luckily for her) so all that managed to come out was “Not today.” We left. In silence.
My mom, like a perfectly timed alarm clock, called as we were leaving the office, still in shock. Jason and I still not speaking what needed to be said. “Well how did it go?” she asked eagerly on the other end of the line. “Fine,” I lied. Silence quickly fell between us and she knew. “Was there a heartbeat?” she instinctually asked. “No,” I responded. I didn’t hear what she said next. I was still in handling mode. I think I told her I was okay and that I would call back. My mind was racing. Not about the baby. But about the trip. I had the New York folder in my car. I needed to give it to someone. I needed to make sure someone went in my stead. I had all the forms, the itinerary. I wasn’t going to let my loss be a loss for my students. After all, they are my firstborns, as I have always called them. This mama was not going to let them down.
Jason drove me over to my bestie’s house. We taught together. Did life and now loss together. I had already called her on my way giving her a heads up. When I arrived, Jason stayed in the car and I made my visit quick. “No baby. Procedure tomorrow. You’re in the charge”, was the gist of the conversation. Not sure what else we exchanged other than the notebook and blank looks. Neither of us knew what to say. I can still picture her daughter at the dining room table and her husband in the kitchen. I don’t think I acknowledged either of them. How rude. I just knew I wanted to get in and out while I was still numb, still handling what needed to be handled.
Jason drove me home. I don’t remember where we left my car. What we ate for dinner. If I even ate. Or when I crawled into bed. I just remember the next morning. The black sweatpants I wore. The sound of the highway as we drove to the doctor’s office that morning without the radio on. That damn cat poster someone hung on the ceiling of the procedure room that read “Hang in there.” Yeah, not joking. We’ve all seen that poster. I love cats. I hate that poster.
My doctor came in. Said something meaningless. Implanted the drugs. Gave Jason a pat on the shoulder and scheduled me back in two weeks for a follow up. I am now a firm believer that these offices need a back door. Why add insult to injury, as they say, and have me leave through the waiting room. That room filled with glowing pregnant woman with round bulging bellies of life growing within. I walked right by that same receptionist, held my head as I walked out the front door in my black sweatpants, and left speechless Jason to handle the bill, the reactions, and the idiot receptionist.
I think the car ride home was filled with silence too. I’m not sure. There was too much noise going on inside my own head. It was almost 8AM. My seniors had shown up at school to find their leader absent, another one present. Thank you, Delta Airlines, for allowing me to switch my seat for another within just hours of our flight boarding. The customer service representative asked for a reason for cancelation and without flinching I told her, “I just loss my pregnancy.” She responded with such kindness and sincerity. No charge was given. Her condolences were accepted.
I’m not sure what my friend told my seniors. It was never really discussed. So much was never discussed. By so many. Not my loss. Not that procedure. Or the DNC that ultimately followed two weeks later on Saint Patrick’s Day because what my doctor failed to tell us was the that “natural” way wasn’t always 100% effective.
A year after my loss. A year from today, God did give me something in return for my heartache. Courage. Courage and a voice. I was finally fed up with the silence. Fed up with the dancing around my broken heart in fear of making others feel awkward. Fed up with others feeling just like I was and not having the courage to speak into them what I wished others had spoken into me during that time.
Yes, it’s two years from the date of that loss and my belly is full, literally full of two healthy, growing, miracles from God, whom according to my app, are the length of two bananas. Right now they are kicking and I know that I serve a God of answered prayers, perfect timing, and restoration. But I also know that the two sons I now grow will never overshadow the two losses I have endured the past two years. I will always be a mother of loss and at the same time, a mother of miracles.
I have been living in a state of silent fear these past few months. Yes, fear of loss. That palpable fear of adding two more white hearts tattooed on my wrist. But selfishly enough, also the fear of losing my voice. For the past year God has given me a message of hope and healing in the midst of waiting. God has spoken to me, held my heart, and mended my pain in a way that only He could do. And in return for my obedience and vulnerability, God has opened the door for the most remarkable and life-changing conversations with those who are also in the trenches of waiting, loss, teetering on treads of hope.
Dear friends in the trenches, I am not leaving you. God has never left you, or I. My pain is still real and raw two years later and I know that our pain is His pain. These two precious little boys will never replace or overshadow what God has whispered in my heart during these years of waiting. I know this joy is all vanity. At any point, the tides may turn. Life may once again get hard and loss is always waiting around the corner. We live in world of sin and injustice. But we serve a Father of grace and mercy.
Father God, I pray that we never forgot. I pray you answer the prayers of others in the same manner you graciously chose to answer mine; with perfect timing, and restoration. I pray for peace during the waiting.
No more silence.
No more dancing around the pain with niceties.
No more fear.
I pray for courage and a voice.
The Big Bang Theory, Series 03 Episode 23 – The Lunar Excitation