[This post is the second in a series about my first pregnancy loss. Read the first post titled, “Agony.”]
Extreme and generally prolonged pain; intense physical or mental suffering. The struggle preceding natural death.
My baby is dying inside me and I am powerless to save her.
That’s the grim prognosis we received from the doctor on December 11 after our first ultrasound at 7 weeks, our tiny fetus growing more slowly than expected. He delivered the message with more eloquence than my summary, and with genuine concern.
I had asked if there was any chance for a miracle this will end well.
“In my experience,” the doctor said, “this is cause for serious concern.”
I barely remember the drive home from that appointment. The details blurring like rain drops on the windshield sliding and smearing together, eventually disappearing altogether.
I barely remember taking part in two back-to-back conference calls from home that afternoon. Decisions were made about an important work project that I no longer cared about.
I barely remember sitting on the love seat in our living room wondering when it had all gone pear-shaped, reevaluating my own life choices that got me here.
I’m losing our baby, and we’ll never get to meet her or hold her or watch her fall in love with her grandparents.
“We need to stay positive,” my husband says.
And this display of optimism, no matter how displaced in this moment of despair, is one of the reasons why I can’t live without him.
Life must go on.
I ready myself for the work day, dressing my body in clothes and my heart in steel armor. My work schedule shows me some mercy – I have just one meeting in the morning and our team has a holiday party scheduled for the afternoon. The latter is something I can miss without consequence.
I tell myself I can get through the morning, and I do.
I tell my boss I have a migraine, and I do, quietly leaving the office without saying goodbye.
This time it’s a migraine of the heart, not the head. But she doesn’t need to know that.
I wake up drunk with depression and swollen eyes.
My baby is dying and I’m powerless to save her.
It’s my internal refrain that strikes over and over and over again.
My heart has never felt such anguish. It’s all-consuming in each breath, moment and thought. I can’t escape it, waking or dreaming.
I reluctantly return to work taking solace in the fact that no one knows we’re struggling with this horror. I can hone in on my projects, suppress my pain and ignore the ignorant.
My husband quietly does the same. We go through the motions in the name of self-preservation.
For eight hours there is forced concentration on the task at hand. An almost welcome distraction from reality.
And then it returns, that first moment alone in the car for the ride home. My face flushes and the tears mount like a tidal wave. There’s no stopping this well of pent up grief held hostage for the day.
It persists for the entire drive, the walk to the door and into our home. The white envelope with the clinic’s return address lies face down on the floor in the position it landed through the mail slot in the door. It’s a letter from our doctor to my obgyn with an update from our appointment just two days earlier.
The letter is written in plain language, just the facts. It ends in three short sentences, each one increasingly more difficult to swallow.
“In summary, [the patient] has a single intrauterine pregnancy conceived with in vitro fertilization of concerning viability.”
“I have given her a due date of July 28, 2018.”
“We will repeat the scan in 1-2 weeks.”
I’m counting down the days, praying the doctor is wrong.