I wrote this three weeks ago but hesitated to post it because of shame. But I told myself that if I wanted to live a life of authenticity - and transmit that through the blog - I had to publish it. I didn't want to put up a front and cast a shadow of perfection. There is beauty in struggle. There is warmth in honesty. There is appreciation in realness. Besides, who wants to read about perfection anyway?
There is no other heartbreak like this. I lie down on my back and hear the doctor say, 'There's the baby.' I smile with relief and look at my husband as he looks at the screen, proud and all. I stare at my baby floating in his or her own grainy gray world and think about how our lives are going to change, drastically and dramatically. Then the doctor interrupts my thoughts and adds, 'But there's no heartbeat.' I stay quiet, my husband stays quiet. 'It's probably embryonic demise,' the man in the white coat says. Demise? Demise? Doesn't that mean...? I don't ask him anything; I don't need him to confirm my thoughts. I dress myself and my husband says to me, 'Doesn't demise mean...?' I look up at him and say nothing.
We walk to my OB, my legs shaking, my heart unsure if it should break or not. With an unknowing smile, she asks, 'So how was it?' I reply, 'It doesn't sound good...' She glances at the report, adding silence to the room. 'You're right, it's not good. Your baby didn't make it...,' the woman in the white coat says with a sigh. That was the cue for my heart to stop.
She explains and I zone out. I remember the moment I surprised my husband with two lines on a pregnancy test; the day I bought a balloon and wrote 'I'm pregnant!'; the night we told our families. I remember when we asked a priest to bless us with safety; when I turned down alcoholic drinks during my trip to New York; when I walked with care; when I rubbed my belly with quiet joy; when I thanked God for his extreme generosity. And then just like that, all those moments were taken from me, from us by the traitorous miscarriage, a wicked thief in the night.
There is no other heartbreak like this because it leads to many more. The worst is seeing your husband cry; hearing him say, 'That was my baby! If only I could save it!', in between sorrowful sobs and violent breaths. What can a helpless wife do in a despairing moment like this? We just embraced each other as grief embraced us. The next day, I woke up in a daze, thinking it was all just a bad dream but it was not. I found solace in pregnancy forums as many women wrote stories of finding their baby's heartbeat at 8 weeks, even 13. I was only between 6 and 7 so for a few days, I got down on my knees again and prayed for a miracle, for anything to salvage what seemed broken. I was in denial; I was pushing away the unimaginable.
'Dear God, miracles happen. Will you allow me to know what it feels like to have one?' But beside that sliver of hope were also larger pieces of anger and doubt and frustration and sadness. WHY ME? WHY US? WHY OUR BABY? I thought everything was possible with You? I didn't ever say I was mad at Him but in retrospect, it seemed like I was because to me, the whole thing was downright unfair. Apparently, death does not discriminate, does not give a damn.
I went back for another ultrasound. The baby was still there but still no heartbeat. Just keep praying; hope springs eternal, I thought. But then I bled profusely and heavily for days and the pain got even worse. My OB concluded that it was time for a D&C - 'Your baby got smaller... but it is still there even though you're bleeding so much.' The baby wanted to stay with me as much as I wanted that, too... but it was time to give him or her up. Even though I never wanted to.
I thought it would get better after the procedure but the pain got worse till it got worst. I found myself writhing in bed, tossing and turning, and crying to my husband, 'It hurts so much.' There was so much pain: I was bleeding, I was angry, I was tired, I was throbbing, I was sad, I was wrung out.
Motherhood is about death and heartbreak as much as it is about life and joy. No one ever told me that; no one ever talked about it like that. So when it stared at me, straight into me, I raged. And when I was too tired to rage, I just stayed silent. People said, 'At least you were only 7 weeks', 'At least you can try again.' Those bleak reassurances fell on deaf ears and bitter hearts. A miscarriage is a miscarriage is a miscarriage; death is death is death. The future ebbed away. I let it because it was easier to stay where I found myself. It made more sense to swim down than to understand and move on. I guess that's how grief feels like.
I know that there's a Part 2 to this. There always is. But for now, we grieve the loss, we allow the pain, we sit with sorrow, we get to know fatherhood and motherhood and marriage this way.
This way: Through the lens of loss.
We look through the lens of loss but there it is - love - it's still there. Because love is to have and to hold for worse, for poorer, in sickness. That's what we told each other a year ago, right? It's a different facial expression but it's still the same heartbreakingly beautiful face of that being we call love...