Monday, June 27, 2011
Journal Day: A Story of a First
Danielle, over at one of my favorite blogs-Sometimes Sweet, has started a new feature called Journal Day and it inspired me to jump on board! Creative writing was always such an outlet for me growing up and even though I have journaled and blogged over the years, I feel like this is a great opportunity to approach creative writing once again.
Here is what Danielle wrote about the project:
"I think this will be a fun way to get a writing community going, and I'm so looking forward to getting to know more of you through your words. All of these prompts come from the notebook I kept in my desk in my English classroom and they come from various places; college writing courses, my own mind, websites, friends and colleagues. I'm so excited to share them here, and bring back the most important aspect of blogging to my blog- writing. I think this will be a neat way to infuse some creativity into our daily lives too, and inspire each other to write a lot more! So, here we go."
And here is her first prompt:
Describe a "first" (first date, first lie, the first time you experienced something, first time in a particular setting, etc). Include as many details as possible to paint a picture.
The first that I am writing about is the first time I was pregnant. This is a story that I have put off writing for a long time. Partially because I don't want to go back to that place. And partially because it's not something most women talk about. Miscarriages.
But the more I thought about it, the more I felt it was important to share my story.
I found out I was pregnant last September. It was a warm day and I walked over to Duane Reade to pick up a pregnancy test. Approximately 20 minutes later, I was breathlessly running to the cafe down the street where Scott was working for the day. I practically fell through the door as I bustled in and dragged him outside on the sidewalk. "I'm pregnant!!!!!!," I screamed. After much hugging and excitement he went back inside to finish up and I called a friend to get some lunch. We sat on the steps eating falafel and talked about how there will be a baby coming in May.
Fast forward to November. The day before Thanksgiving, S and I went in for a 16 week check up. I could barely contain my excitement as we rode the train to Brooklyn. "I can't wait to hear it!!" I couldn't wait to put a sound to the gurgles I'd been feeling for so many weeks in my belly. As I slid on the exam table, Scott sat at the end and rubbed one ankle with his hand. Our midwife jokes about the cold goo that she was rubbing on my slightly bloated belly and my heart was beating faster than ever before. She scanned the doppler across my belly, telling me that it may take a moment to find the heart beat. And it did. And so another minute passed. My heart racing even faster. Looking down at Scott, I could see his reassuring smile. And so she started over. Maybe she tapped the doppler. With a nervous laugh, "Come on little one, stop hiding." I could feel the tears forming. "I know there is life in you," she said. She told us to go out, get some lunch, and come back in an hour. "The baby is hiding!"
And so we went. I can see the french toast on my plate so vividly. I ordered a hot cocoa. It was such a beautiful and unseasonably warm day. On our way back to the office Scott reassured me that everything was fine. That this wouldn't happen to us.
So back on the exam table. Back with the goo. Back with the doppler echoing sounds of an empty womb.
Then a walk five blocks away to a foreign hospital. An ultrasound. A hazy image of what once was. What had once lived and moved. And then a thousand visions crushed. I lay there motionless, unable to breathe as the doctor on call gave us some hurried instructions on what we had to do now. She asked me if I wanted some water and handed me a box of gauze to take home. "You'll need it," she said.
In a fuzzy blur, I remember running out of the hospital, barely making it two blocks before I collapsed on the corner of an intersection. Scott was holding me up as we tried to catch a cab through our tears. We ended up on the corner for half an hour. Him standing in the street, me wailing on the curb, the trees blowing with an autumn breeze, the sun shining down on us. My parents both called in excitement to find out how our appointment went...
"The baby's not there," I told them.
"It's NOT THERE. It died...inside me."
Silence. Tears. More hyperventilating.
Why are we still on this street corner?
We ended up taking the subway back to Manhattan. The longest half hour of my life. I felt dead inside. I felt death inside.
We cancelled our Thanksgiving plans and my dad came to pick us up early the next morning. We sat in traffic leaving the city as all around us people were getting ready to go to the parade or carrying dishes to celebrate with friends. Scott, my dad, and I made some idle conversation about something or other.
The next four days were filled with plenty of soup, silence, idle stares in the direction of the tv, wine, hugs, and buckets of tears. Uncontrollable crying. And sadness. And then there was research. The two of us sat in front of the computer for hours. Looking for answers. Looking for reassurance. "Oh, look!," S says. "This woman had a sonogram at 16 weeks, they told her there was no heartbeat and then a week later they found one!" Well, duh. Obviously the same thing had happened to me! It was a mistake! So I called my midwife. Not a mistake...
After our rehabilitation at my parents house, we came back to our small apartment. Hearts heavy, eyes swollen, and spirits low. Now what?
Well the unanswered question was still, what about the baby inside me? The now not living baby...
Well as it goes, there are not many options. You can either go to the hospital and have it "removed" with a terrifying procedure or you can deliver "it." Which means that you can also get induced at the hospital or just...wait.
So wait we did.
For six weeks.
And those six weeks proved to be the most confusing, terrifying, empty, cold, and quiet weeks I hope to ever experience. There were days that I woke up so sad, I didn't even know how to begin my day. In a muffled state, I went through the motions of each day. My boss was amazingly supportive and told me to take as much time as I needed. So day after day I sat on the corner of the couch, in the same sweats and the same blanket wrapped around me. Drinking gallons of tea and little else, I stared at the computer for hours, still searching for an answer. What had I done wrong? Why had this happened to me? To us? My heart broke every time I saw a pregnant woman or a baby. As friends and family called to see how my pregnancy was going, I couldn't face them. I couldn't admit what had happened. Couldn't actually say the words. I still couldn't believe it.
So after six long weeks of midwives, websites, acupuncture, herbs made of twigs and who knows what else, but mostly of living with the grief of an unborn child, a baby was born. At home. At 3 am. With my husband by my side. The day after Christmas.
And then it was over. Then it felt real. And then I was free. We could start fresh. So with a new year upon us, we decided to let it all go. Leave it up to the universe to take care of us.
And wouldn't you know it, about six weeks later I was feeling life again. I was pregnant. And so with hushed words and hasty hearts, we started our journey again. Very slowly this time...
I immediately got a ton of blood work done. And we went to a conventional OB/GYN for the first several weeks of my first trimester. I requested every test and scan under the sun. And when we saw that first little squished up kidney bean on the screen at nine weeks, I all but fell off the exam table from excitement.
But still I cried. I was so scared. It was not the same joy I had felt just a few short months ago. This was a cautious excitement.
But as the weeks flew by and my belly grew, so did our hearts. We would lay awake at night as Scott would rub my belly and tell me about our baby. About how amazing he or she was and how much we were going to love him/her.
So as I sit here, weeping and typing, baby boy is making a special effort to dance around in my belly tonight and let me know he's okay. He knows I worry.
It wasn't easy writing this. And remembering what happened just half a year ago feels like a dream. A nightmare so distant from my life now. But we made it through. And we continued on our journey. We picked up the pieces. And here we are. Only 17 weeks away from meeting the baby we've been waiting for.
If this has happened to you, I hope you find my story a comfort in knowing you're not alone. And that your heart will heal again. After I went through this experience, I felt that I was the only woman who had ever lost a baby. I know it's a ridiculous thought but I had never felt more alone. Even with all the love and support around me, I needed to know that it wasn't just me.
It's not you. It's not your fault. It took me a long time to come to terms with it. But it was out of my control. It was part of the universal plan. And in some strange and twisted way, I feel like my heart is even more prepared to embrace this new life. To become a mother. And I hope you can find peace in your heart.
So there you go. There is my "first."