My first miscarriage was barely behind me when I found out I was pregnant again. Even though my miscarriage was early, at barely six weeks, those hopes and dreams I'd built up for my baby were still shattered. Getting pregnant on the heels of a miscarriage was an unsettling experience. I was constantly worried, fearful it would happen again. My miscarriage had changed my life, and undoubtedly changed the way I felt about being pregnant again. But beyond that, my miscarriage changed my marriage — in ways I definitely didn't expect.
But things seemed to be going well. My morning sickness wasn’t that bad, and by nine weeks it seemed to have let up. I had the comfort of seeing my baby on an ultrasound visit, before scheduling my 12-week follow up with my midwife. We took family photos with little baby shoes to post for family and friends to see. I revealed my pregnancy (which was becoming hard to hide) as I gathered with friends for my birthday, sipping on orange juice sans champagne.
The thing you’re terrified of happening, the thing that consumes you with fear, it’s not supposed to happen to you.
My appointment was the next day. I was nervous but excited as my midwife searched with the doppler for my baby’s heartbeat. It seemed like it was taking too long. I told her I had a friend who had just found out she miscarried at her 12-week appointment, so my nerves were shot. She told me she thought she’d heard it for a second, but it got away from her. But we should probably do an ultrasound, just to make sure everything was OK.
I was already crying. I knew everything was not going to be OK.
I remember calling my husband from the back room, telling him he needed to get to my midwife appointment now. They can’t find a heartbeat, I told him. I don’t think they’re going to. I felt an eerie sense of calm as I waited. It didn’t seem real. The thing you’re terrified of happening, the thing that consumes you with fear, it’s not supposed to happen to you.
He didn’t offer to help, because he knew I could not be helped. I simply needed him there, ready to hold my hand when I needed him.
I don’t remember what my husband said when he arrived, or if he said anything at all. I just remember that he held my hand. He held my hand the whole time while a second midwife showed me the ultrasound, the unmoving spot in the middle of the screen. He held my hand while they explained what had happened — that the baby had died three weeks ago and my body never processed the miscarriage. He held my hand while they explained my options: waiting for a natural miscarriage, or scheduling a D&C.
I went ahead with the D&C. I was wrecked. Before my procedure I oscillated between guttural crying and stunned silence. I cried in Safeway while waiting for my prescription. I cried every time we got into the car. All the while, my husband held space for me. He didn’t offer to help, because he knew I could not be helped. I simply needed him there, ready to hold my hand when I needed him.
He said the thing that no one else in the room would say: "I know it hurts."
He held my hand while I screamed the most horrifying screams while a terrible OB-GYN performed my D&C with no empathy for my physical or emotional pain. He told me to look at him. He told me I would get through this. He said the thing that no one else in the room would say: "I know it hurts."
He sat with me long hours after the procedure was over, letting me lead as we waded through the grief. The silence was easier than the hours I wanted to talk about everything, but still, he let me talk. He let me cry. He let me feel. He stayed for it all. He held my hand.
I have always loved my husband. I knew I made the right choice when I walked down the aisle, even though I was so young, but nothing has ever affirmed my marriage like the grief of my miscarriage. It was something I did not know how to handle, something that I could not go through alone. So he stayed by my side, shouldering the pain when I couldn't bear it. He showed me the depth of our strong, quiet love — and when we came through the other side of our grief, he was still holding my hand.