But now I was sitting in a tiny room wearing a paper gown, giving Brandon updates over the phone while he worked. Just days ago we had celebrated my twenty-second birthday and were making plans to attempt a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. And now?
I was pregnant.
That flu I thought I had was obviously something more.
I would have waited until he got home from work to take the test if I had actually thought it would be positive. I took it kind of as an afterthought and set it aside. By the time I washed my hands, there was that word staring back at me on the digital test.
I couldn't breathe. I took a walk. I took a drive. I took another shower. I took another walk. My head was spinning.
OHMYGOD. This is not happening. This is not my plan. Ten years from now, sure. But now? Not now. I'm in college and my first degree is still a year away. I have no career--I'm a career student. We're going to Boston next month, and there goes that trip; we'll need the money.
NOT NOW!! Please. PLEASE!
Brandon came home and I couldn't tell him. I just showed him the test, and then he took a walk.
And now here I was in this little room and they were putting cold gel on the wand of the ultrasound machine, looking to see just how pregnant I really was. Did I know how far along I might be? No, not a clue. This wasn't supposed to happen, so I wasn't keeping track of things like that.
Up on the screen was gray and black fuzz, circles, moving lines, and numbers. The ultrasound tech was really quiet. I got dressed, and she led me into the doctor's office. He sat down and looked solemnly at my baby face.
"It looks like there's nothing there but a sac. We think we should be seeing something by now."
My head started spinning. I was crying immediately and shaking my head. (But isn't this what I wanted? Didn't I want it all to go away?)
"Come back after the weekend if you don't miscarry on your own. We'll take another look, but chances are that we'll have to do a D&C to get rid of what's left."
He handed me some tissues and left me alone for a while. After I cried (what was wrong with me?) my first round of tears, I walked out of the office, sat in my car, and called Brandon.
Those few days were some of the darkest of my life. Guttural sobbing, no food, no sleep. I could not figure out why I was so upset. Life could go as planned now, right? And I could finish college, hop on a plane anytime I wanted, grow up before I had to raise someone. Why did the idea of these things seem so wrong now?
Brandon's mom drove me to the appointment. He was working his minimum wage job and they fired people who didn't show up, no exceptions. I never miscarried over the weekend, so I cradled my belly on the way to the office, thinking it would be the last time I'd be pregnant, even if it was with just a sac that never developed into a baby. I kept thinking that I still felt pregnant and was already mourning the loss of that feeling.
At the office, the OB showed me to the ultrasound room and left me with the tech while he prepared for the D&C. My mind was trying to be anywhere but here. Those gray and black blobs popped up on the screen again, and I closed my eyes. My chest ached as I tried not to cry.
"Why did the doctor say he needed to do a D&C?"
Why was she asking me this? Couldn't she look at my chart? So cruel.
"The baby didn't develop." Tears.
"Really?" Silence. "See that right there?" I opened my eyes and looked at the screen. What was I seeing? That infamous empty sac again?
"That's definitely a heart beat."
I stared at the screen, and I was crying more. My hand flew up to cover my mouth as I just kept staring at that blinking on the screen. From the seat next to me, my mother-in-law asked me, "Is that a good thing or a bad thing?"
Good thing. This is definitely a good thing. I'll never forget that question, because it's the first time I realized the answer. This baby was a perfect, good thing.
And this baby was supposed to happen. I want this. I want this for my new plan, and I want this for us.
As I called and told Brandon the good news, I could tell that he felt the same. When I showed him the picture of our little baby with a heartbeat (and the words the tech typed, "Hi, Mom!"), he beamed with the pride I'd grow accustomed to seeing on his face. This is what happiness feels like.
|Our first family photo. January 2006.|
Six years and three beautiful children later, our lives are full of more adventure than we could have imagined back then.
College? I finished my degree, taught fifth grade, and made another important decision--to stay at home with these kids that are my life.
Travel? We travel often, as a party of five.
My age? I have three children at an age before I thought I'd have even one.
And I couldn't imagine it any other way.
|Our family today. Julia, Brynn, and Sawyer (each one a miracle).|
I will never forget those days of agony when I thought the baby I didn't even know I loved was gone. I'm sure that this has something to do with the intense anxiety I feel throughout my pregnancies.
Brandon and I are overprotective parents now, admittedly. We know that nothing in life is guaranteed, and we know how much our family means to us. At least this experience helped us to make this realization. The most we ever leave our kids is to run an errand, and we worry about them the whole time. People joke with us about it, but nothing is more serious to us than the closeness of our family.
This is the family that might not have been. This is the life that almost wasn't. And we will cherish each child, each moment, each gift.
ETA: Each pregnancy has had a moment similar to this. I had a subchorionic bleed/threatened miscarriage with Brynn at 8 weeks, but it resolved itself within a couple of months on its own. I was on bed rest with Sawyer for pre-term labor. With each pregnancy, I've learned even more to cherish the blessing of a healthy child. I have come close to losing them, but thankfully have not had to experience what so many families have to endure.