Deep breath. This is my story and I invite you to read it if you promise to be gentle and remember each woman experiences a miscarriage differently. It is a tender place and I ask you not to judge.
I got pregnant faster than I expected with our forth child. It was early October of 2016, I think. Just a month prior I had been diagnosed with anemia (really low iron level), very low blood pressure and was told to rest. I guess I thought I’d have a bit more time to recuperate physically before I got pregnant again– to get more sleep and hopefully get our 19 month old sleeping through the night consistently (don’t judge- remember, don’t judge). I was tired. I was still thankful to be growing our family and liked the sound of having four kiddos; we had been hoping God would entrust us with more kids. I also knew that morning sickness was taxing on me from weeks 7 to 15, so that was another reason I was a apprehensive about my strength.
We told the kids right away that “mama has a baby in her tummy.” Lexie (our 5 year old) took quickly to the idea. She’d snuggle my tummy and talk to the baby; she thought it was another girl. The first weeks passed quickly and with no nausea. One day I finally input the date of my last period into Baby Center’s online due date calculator and learned that July 1st was our baby’s due date and I was ten weeks pregnant. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t had any morning sickness yet and that I was so far along. I was feeling relieved and stronger and excited to walk into second trimester.
We shared openly with friends and family about our little one growing in my belly. Dave’s dad’s reaction was the best. We called Dave’s mom and told her but his dad wasn’t there, so we tried him next on his phone but he didn’t answer. A few minutes later Dave’s dad Facetimed us from his truck with a big smile on his face. His pride and joy beamed through. “Mom told me to call you,” Paul said. “Yep, we’re expecting number four, dad!” My father-in-law’s joy was such a gift and I’m so thankful for it. I’m glad we decided to share early on the joy of our pregnancies and didn’t wait till second trimester “just in case.” We wanted to celebrate our babys’ lives from the very beginning with others. Yes, it means we’ve had to go back and share of the sorrow of our daughter’s death but it also means we got to celebrate her life with many people in our lives. We didn’t publish it on Facebook nor did we tell everyone so don’t feel bad if you didn’t know.
Then December 6th dawned. Dave was in the kitchen preparing breakfast. “I need to go to the hospital; I’m bleeding.” “OK.”
I put my coat on and my valiant little boy, Jack, knew something was wrong, though he had heard nothing of our brief exchange. He said, “I’m going too.” He went and got his shoes. “This the right foot, mama?” “No buddy, you can’t come with me. I’m going to be ok. I just need to go see the doctor. It’ll be ok, buddy.” He wrapped himself around my leg and wouldn’t let go. Dave pried him off.
Soon I was in the emergency room at the maternity where Jack and Chloe were born. Two years prior I had been in the same room, for the same reason. I thought I was loosing Chloe. As the ultrasound tech did the ultrasound, I had looked away in fear with tears rolling. The tech had interrupted my fear, “Ma’am, ma’am look, it’s your baby.” There Chloe was on the ultrasound screen moving, healthy and with a heartbeat. Seven months later Chloe was born. I tried to remember these things as the ultrasound tech sat quietly looking at her screen.
Eventually I was the one who interrupted her thoughts. “Even if you can’t find a heartbeat, I want to see my baby.” She turned the screen toward me and there was only a dark oval. “I’m not finding an embryo.” This, I knew, was not a good sign. I had had ultrasounds with all three of my kiddos at or before ten weeks of pregnancy and had always seen their little bodies floating and bouncing in my womb. They had me pee on stick and checked my hormone levels– all things were saying I was still pregnant but only about t 7 1/2 weeks pregnant. I was sent home and told to come back in a week unless…
Now for the faint of heart (like myself) or those who just want to skip some of the details, skip below to “START AGAIN HERE.”
“Unless” happened the next day. I called an English friend who is a midwife and asked her, “How will I know if I’m supposed to go back in; what does it mean for the bleeding to be ‘heavy?'” She told me that if I had to change my pad more than once an hour I should go back in. That’s helpful. Concrete. I’ve had a baby. I’ve had my period. I had never miscarried.
Dave and I had two problems: one, the person who was going to watch our kids was 40 minutes away and two, I was bleeding too much to get to the hospital. Our friend eventually made it and we eventually made it into a cab.
God sent a sweet angel of a nurse to see me when I first arrived at the hospital. She had lived in California when she was in middle school and spoke easy, natural English. She was sure of herself and put a good plan in place for me. Our baby was already in heaven and now we just needed to get me well. Unfortunately, the bleeding wasn’t stopping and the nurse said, “I can’t leave you like this. We need to operate.” “Does this mean I’ll be under general anesthesia?” “Yes,” was the response. This scared me. Would I come out of it? Would I see my husband, my kids again? We made a quick video for the kids where I said I loved them and I was so proud to be there mom (just in case…). Dave kissed me good-bye and before I knew it was laying on gurney, being rolled down the halls of the hospital.
It was like being in a movie. People kept joining the side of my gurney, the florescent lights above clicked by and eventually the doors to the operating room flapped open. A nurse introduced herself and told me she’d be by my side the whole time. She placed the mask over my mouth and talked to me, stroked my neck and told me to breath deep. “Prep team ready.” “Surgery team in process.” The voices called back and for to each other, preparing to operate quickly.
START HERE AGAIN (Cliff notes: our baby was in heaven and I had surgery under general anesthesia.)
The next thing I know I’m in the recovery room, laying on the gurney and I’m thirsty. Really thirsty. I hear Dave’s voice faintly next to me. I see him, “You’re handsome… I’m thirsty.” Dab, dab. He’s dabbing a damp paper towel on my mouth. “Tell them I am thirsty,” I say, rolling my head in his direction. OK, but here’s the killer, I’m speaking English with a FRENCH ACCENT. Seriously. A really thick, good French accent. And I know it; I can hear myself doing it and can’t stop. Dave looks over his shoulder and pretends to tell someone I’m thirsty. I call his bluff. “Do not mock me; tell zem I am zersty!” Dave explains that I can’t drink until I’m a bit more with it. What makes him think I’m not with it yet?! The nurse comes over. I say, “you’rrrre beautiful! I bet you hear that every day.” (OK, funny- no French accent. The accent only happens when talking with Dave. For real; thanks Lord for the comic relief.) “No, I don’t actually. But you Americans are loose with your compliments; aren’t you?” This is getting better. I finally get some water and soon Dave and I are laughing so hard I’m crying. “Why am I speeeeking with a Frrrench accent? This iz so funny.” Ahh, sigh. It felt good to laugh.
They moved me up into my room for the night to keep an eye on me and after the nurses left and the lights were off, accept the bathroom light, it was all very quiet. I don’t know what we talked about (the French accent was over) but Dave eventually said, “we can name her, you know, as a way of honoring her life.” I liked that idea. We both thought our baby was a girl, though we have no confirmation. “What about Anna; Anna Louise?” “Yeah, I like that,” Dave replied. So Anna Louise is her first name; no hyphen but it’s all her first name. Her birth day is December 6th, which was Lexie’s due date and their great-grandpa Oscar Louis Rosen’s birthday. She has a story, a treasured place in our family and is beautiful; I’m sure of it. Through tears I prayed, “God, I don’t know how it all works but if You would, could you please have Grandma Dena hold our baby, our little Anna Louise? And have her kiss her for me.”
Wow, it has taken me a long time to write this much. There’s a lot here. Well, my little ones just got home with Dave and are calling, “Mmmaaa-mmmaaa!” I think I’ll stop here for today and pick it up another day. Thank you for reading and thank you for being gentle.