This was the week my newsletter subject line was planned to read “Mischievous Goddess is Having a Baby!”
I would reveal he was a baby boy, and share my fear and excitement and overwhelming sense of mission to raise a compassionate and strong man into the world. We could do with some more of those.
But instead, I write with full breasts and an empty tummy in aftermath of losing my pregnancy at 19 weeks. I have milk and no baby to feed.
My apologies that this is not a light-hearted easy Sunday read. Having suffered two previous miscarriages, making it to Week 19 was a major milestone. I thought this was it - my baby was finally coming to me.
The nurses had the sonogram on my tummy and I sighed in relief to hear his little heart beating. But when the specialist walked in, he looked at the image of my perfect baby on the screen and shook his head. “This is wrong.” He muttered. I looked at him eyes-wide-open waiting for reassurance of some kind … but he frowned and shook his head again. I asked hopefully if we could save him. The doctor put his hand on my shoulder and said he’d be back shortly.
I don’t remember much else. I text Michael who had dropped me off assuming my routine check up would be fine. He raced back to the hospital and the specialist explained to us that our baby was in severe trouble with over five major defects and unlikely to survive the pregnancy let alone life outside the womb. Half his heart was working and fluid surrounded his head. The doctor strongly suggested ending the pregnancy as soon as possible. He tried to comfort me. He told me “not to worry - everyone gets a baby”. But hopelessness consumed me.
I know this is fairly common. I know I’m not the only one. Multitudes of women have 1 .. 2 .. 10 miscarriages. Some of them go on to have healthy babies, some of them don’t.
We headed home and called hospitals and clinics to make an appointment to remove our baby boy. The phone numbers from our obgyn would not take me. We were put on hold, transferred to voice mails, told over and over again that “Sorry, we don’t do abortions past 18 (19 ... 20) weeks ... here’s a number you can call.” My paper became a scribed mess of hospital names and numbers until we finally found a clinic in Queens who would take me the next day.
It would be a two-day process. Day 1 they dilate me, Day 2 they take our baby.
Early the next morning we went to the clinic filled with young women who were there to remove their babies. So many babies. Why can’t I just have one of their babies?
We came home and I rested. I told our baby what was happening. We told him goodbye. I told him I was sorry that he was suffering. I told him I was sorry that he never got a chance. I told him I loved him.
The next morning I yelled at the two elderly Catholic ladies who offered me an anti-abortion flyer outside the clinic. I yelled with tears streaming that my baby was deformed and this was the last place I wanted to be. I yelled again as I walked inside, knowing that when I came out my baby would be gone. It felt irresponsible and satisfying to discharge my pain on someone else.
It’s been one week. I don’t know if the tears are grief, or fear or hormones or everything. They stop and start. Come and go. It’s up and down. Now we wait. We wait for results from our baby. We wait to see what to do next. Michael cooks and cooks and gets mad. I cry and cry and read spiritual books, make appointments with healers and therapists and a shaman. Smother my body with essential oils, place crystals on my womb, and light candles and clean and clean and clean the house. I consume red wine and chocolate at night to numb my feelings. I squeeze milk from my breasts when they get too painful and delight in the last remains of my pregnancy of our imperfectly perfect baby boy.
Hold your little babies tightly x I'm taking a small break and will start up again soon.