My Greatest Loss

You may have noticed that, prior to yesterday’s From Left to Write book club post, I haven’t published a word here since January 21. I promise there’s a good reason for that: On January 22, I discovered that I was pregnant! And almost immediately, the extreme nausea set in and I lost all desire to do anything. When you’re a stay-at-home parent who also babysits your nephew, stuck in bed is not a good place to be. My doctor scheduled an ultrasound for February 10, at which time we learned that little Bean was 7 weeks 3 days old, and that we could look forward to March 21 as the day that we’d announce our happy news to the world. We may or may not have gotten a little too excited about creating a new, small registry and starting to check Joshua’s baby gear to ensure it was ready for a new baby.

On March 3, we returned to the doctor for a routine ultrasound. As soon as the ultrasound camera focused on Bean, Hubs and I looked at each other and immediately knew something was horribly wrong. Where just a few weeks ago we saw a rapidly-beating heart and the beginnings of a healthy fetus, on this day we saw a lifeless figure floating around in its gestational sac.

Baby Bean’s little heart gave out at 8 weeks 6 days, on February 20 — just 10 days after we laid eyes upon them for the very first time.

Naturally, I kind of fell apart. There was not a book in the world that could take my mind off the questions kicking up a constant tornado in my brain, and I fell into the worst slump I’d ever experienced. All I thought I knew at that point was that it was all my fault, that I was guilty, that I had somehow unknowingly killed my baby. What had I done wrong? Did the nausea medication, which caused no problems for Joshua during that pregnancy, harm my Bean? Was it something I ate? Was I under too much stress? Was it because I sometimes woke up from a deep sleep to find myself lying facedown in bed? Was it my fault?

While I wrestled with that, I also had to make a decision: Would I rather choose to wait and attempt to complete the miscarriage at home, or would immediately signing up for a D&C (Dilation and Curettage, in which the patient is put to sleep in a hospital and the fetus is removed while their mother is under anesthesia) be a better option? I made the decision to wait it out for several reasons, among them a strong desire to avoid the hospital and general anesthesia (I’ve never been under before) and the fear of being completely unaware when Bean and I were truly and officially separated.

If I’d known on March 3 what I learned last Thursday, March 12, I may have jumped on the D&C. I started experiencing mild cramps that I later realized were contractions, and at one point I thought the baby had come out of me. I even went so far as to write a post on Facebook early on Thursday afternoon, letting my family and friends know that it was all over and that Bean was gone.

It wasn’t over…not by a long shot.

Right around 6pm, I started having contractions again, but this time the discomfort quickly escalated to an intense level of pain I’d never felt before. If you’d asked me to give you a rating between 1 and 10, I’d probably have screamed, “13!” and then punched you in the face. After a half hour of building pain, I started to feel as though I was having one extremely painful, ongoing contraction — one that made me so uncomfortable that I couldn’t stop moving. I had to walk, to rock, to shake uncontrollably; to stop moving just made the pain even worse. I came to the terrifying realization that I was in full-blown labor and that the pair of Advil I’d taken would do nothing to take the edge off of the pain. After several hours of begging God to please end this torture, I forced myself to lie down on my side, close my eyes, and count each inhale and exhale in an attempt to control the pain. I thought the effort would be futile, but at some point I passed out with Joshua falling asleep right behind me. My husband, who’d had to work late and was unable to help me, told me the following morning that I had been grimacing in my sleep when he finally made it home.

At 2am on Friday, March 13, I woke up in the same position in which I’d fallen asleep, but the pain was gone. I knew it was time. I walked into the bathroom and closed the door.

At 2am on Friday, March 13, I officially lost Baby Bean.

It’s been a rough week since then. I continue to ask myself what I could have done differently, or if Bean would still be alive had I asked for a different nausea medication. My days and nights have been full of “if only…” and “what if?” I’ll never have answers; if the answers were available, I’m not sure that I’d want them. All I know is that my Bean suffered and died, and that when I miscarried a small piece of me died as well. Though I never had a chance to get to know my Bean, to give them a name, to decorate their nursery, to hold them when they cried, to watch them sleep…they will always be my Bean. Their birthday — my due date — would have been September 27, 2015. I will think of Bean every year on that day, to take a moment to quietly wish them a happy birthday, wherever they are and whatever they’re doing. Living or not, Bean is my child and I will love them and keep them just as I do Joshua and any children that might be in my future.

And so, with that, I’d like to share the only picture I have of my little baby Bean and then let this matter go. If you or someone you know has suffered a pregnancy or infancy loss, please know that my heart is with you. If you have any stories or thoughts you’d like to share, comments are welcome.