The evening after the dilation and curettage (D&C) that removed what was left of my miscarriage, I sat dreary-eyed on our sofa with a trashcan in my lap. I remember the crinkling of the plastic bag and the blur from my tears. I remember my husband speaking to his father on the phone about what I'd gone through, at a distance he thought would keep me from hearing him. It didn't. I remember there were so many things I needed after my miscarriage, too. I was just too terrified to actually ask for them.
My husband and I had been planning to expand our family. Our daughter was 2-years-old at the time, and we wanted to give her a sibling. Her conception, pregnancy, and delivery were so easy, it never occurred to us that conceiving a second child would be any different. I wish I could go back and tell my hopeful self to be prepared; to steal your resolve; to try your best to brace yourself for what's about to come.
I tried to get pregnant for months before I finally held that positive pregnancy test in my hands. On that magical day I could barely contain my excitement. Bursting with joy, my husband and I scheduled a Sunday night dinner to announce the news. I paid little attention to the slight cramping and discomfort I was feeling because, on that joyous night, we were happy.
The slight cramping and discomfort subsided and I went to see my doctor to confirm the pregnancy. The home pregnancy test was correct — I was pregnant. I hadn't dreamed it, or imagined it, and my husband and I were right to celebrate it with friends and family. We immediately began discussing names, pulling all the baby products we had packed away in boxes and saved in storage, and made plans for our future as a family of four.
Then the cramping returned and my doctor scheduled an immediate ultrasound. I laid with my back against the cold, unfeeling table, and for five solid minutes no one said a word. "Is that my baby?" I asked. The technician calmly moved to different parts of my abdomen, but her silence spoke volumes. Before she ushered me into the back corner room — the one farthest from the others — I knew. I noticed how she hung her head and avoided eye contract. I could sense the sudden weight of sympathy and pity as she told me the doctor would be right in, closing the door behind her. I felt vulnerable and confused. My daughter was with me — ready to celebrate her new sibling — and she, too, seemed to feel the sudden shift in mood.
The moment the door swung open and before the doctor said a word, he laid a hand to my shoulder and and I knew. He didn't have to tell me that my bay's heart had stopped beating. I knew there wasn't anything anyone could do, but that knowledge didn't erase the pain of the loss itself, or what it would feel like to go through the D&C. It didn't take a day to heal either. Not a week, or a month. It's been eight years this September, and I still carry the wound of that loss with me.
A couple years after this trauma I had another miscarriage, though it was far less of an event. I was alone and it was too early in the pregnancy to even know I was pregnant. So for one reason or another the second one hurt less — maybe because after that first loss something in me had hardened. I was already numb and concerned that I wouldn't be able to get pregnant again. It was just another day, another pain, and another disappointment. So I shoved it down and went on with my life. After all, I had one child already and she needed me. I didn't think there was time to grieve or dwell on the pain and, and everyone around me, including my husband, acted as if there wasn't time, either. So I was afraid to ask for the things I needed, including the following: