Meredith’s Musings: Adjusting Hope
article by Meredith McKinnie
I lost a baby today. Or perhaps I lost what I imagined was a baby today. It was my fourth visit, my fourth ultra sound. Last week had been hopeful. We finally saw something. It looked like a wedding ring, a perfect little circle of life beginning. And I began to fall in love with it. I began to fall in love with what it meant. Boyfriend and I had made something; our love had formed a little person, and we were cemented together in this life force in my belly. It was good news. We were happy.
When we had begun trying just a month prior, it felt unreal, unlikely. I’m 34, and not old, but one year shy of the technical term, “geriatric pregnancy.” What a cruel, clouded with doubt title for a miracle. I resented the term as much as I was happy I had beaten the deadline. It was my hypocritical reality. I was shocked not so much that I was pregnant, but that it had been so easy. I’d never had a pregnancy scare, nor had I ever tried before. But with most of my friends having teenagers, I just kind of thought the time had passed. And to be frank, I never really wanted one very much, until I contemplated the reality of life without one. In my twenties, freshly divorced, I once joked to my dad that I was never having kids. His response was quick, and heartfelt, that we all wanted to “leave something behind.” It was more his expression than his words that stuck with me. And when someone came into my life worthy of fathering my children, my opinion began to change.
When I found out, a girlfriend on the West Coast had also learned she was pregnant, too, our due dates being a mere five days apart. It seemed kismet, and she loved the idea of our pregnancy pictures and common struggles and how we could share in this experience. But the more we talked, the more I became concerned. She was sick; I wasn’t. She was growing; I wasn’t. She had an embryo and a heartbeat on the second visit; I didn’t. The next week when we saw a “yolk” I became hopeful again. We perused baby names and even settled on one. I decided the nursery wall would be my favorite quotes from literature in a silent hope that little he or she would love books as much as I do. I let myself believe, and it was magical. I was smiling without trying, and I felt I had a purpose, a reason to take care of myself. I wanted this child that I had never considered before. I joked that it would see me and wave on the next ultrasound, that we were that in sync, that it was that definite. I hoped so hard.
This last visit I let Boyfriend come with me. Perhaps part of me knew I would need him. We made jokes with each other for 45 minutes waiting to go back. I shoo’ed him away when I hopped on the scale, and he held my hand when the doctor probed for a visual. With him there, it couldn’t go wrong. We were going to see our little embryo for the first time; we would hear a heartbeat. But I sensed hesitation from the doctor the first moment, and I saw that depth of black nothingness I had seen weeks before with a faint little circle, no progress. It no longer looked like a wedding ring; it looked stagnant, huddled in the corner of my womb. I wanted some movement, some sign of life, but instead I got the doctor’s apologies. It wasn’t progressing, no “fetal pole” or whatever that means. I held it together for a few more minutes. I just wanted to run out of there, skip the obligatory blood work. I felt embarrassed; I’m not sure why. I know it’s not my fault. I know women and men experience this disappointment and worse every day. But my hope was gone, and I wasn’t ready to let it go.
I know the positives. I got pregnant. I can likely get pregnant again. But do I have it in me to get hopeful again? I so often live guarding my heart, and I want that genuine natural blissful hope again. I hope that hope is possible. For all the would-be mothers out there, for all the now mothers who know the struggle, I’ll keep trying. I’ll hold as tightly as I can to that initial hope. I’ll protect it. I salute the women out there so willing to share their struggles; you all make the experience a bit lighter. For now I’ll adjust my hope, go through the D & C process, and see what happens…