And then I lost it.
Over a week after finding drugs in my house, over a week after discovering that my husband of six years and the father of my children had been using for nearly our entire relationship, over a week after deciding to kick him, over a week after deciding to keep him instead, I realized I might be pregnant.
I knew then that when I had begged him silently to say no, when I had begged him silently to make the dumbest decision two people can make when their world has been irrevocably rocked and he had agreed, my body must have answered with, yes you will yes.
I took a test the next day and there it was: a faint second line. My husband didn’t believe it. He demanded I take another test the next day, but he kept smiling. He didn’t stop smiling. A baby? How could it happen so easily? He whispered to me that night. A miracle, I wanted to answer, I maybe did answer.
We had tried for two whole years to get pregnant and had to do IVF to get pregnant with our nearly one-year-old twins, yet here I was, magically pregnant.
Yet I wasn’t excited. I was terrified. I was the idiot who’d kept her husband three days after she’d found out he’d been lying to her for eight years, and then she’d gotten pregnant.
A couple weeks into my pregnancy, I started spotting. I took a pregnancy test, and the control line was invisible. The test line was solid pink. A positive pregnancy test would be indicated by two lines; a negative by a single line (the control line). I noticed this was incorrect, but I just thought the test must have been messed up.
I told my husband and texted, “I don’t feel pregnant anymore.”
“Well, go in and see,” he told me.
I called my fertility doctor that had gotten me pregnant with my twins, and they brought me in for a blood pregnancy test. Later that day, I got my results: my values were over 15,000. They only needed them to be 25 for me to be pregnant. Turned out that the pregnancy test looked wrong because I was “so” pregnant that the positive line needed to pull color from the control line. The doctor prescribed me progesterone suppositories and suggested I take them daily and schedule my first ultrasound.
This was where my ego switched on, or maybe it was my desire for this pregnancy to be different, or maybe it was because I wanted this pregnancy to fulfill what the other one before hadn’t: to be normal. To be just a normal pregnant woman, to be someone who could get pregnant normally, easily, to not have to do the suppositories, to not have to see a fertility doctor, for my body to just do what it was supposed to. It had conceived naturally when before it couldn’t, so couldn’t the rest work out? So I didn’t want to take the progesterone suppositories, and I didn’t most days.
When the ultrasound at the fertility doctor came around, I canceled it and scheduled one with a new OB instead. I couldn’t stand the idea of walking into the fertility clinic waiting room and seeing all of those women sitting in chairs, their eyes filled with both sadness and fury. I’d been there, I recalled how the desperation felt like a cloud of smoke that had never left my lungs. I didn’t want to be in their ranks again; I was going to be normal.
You already know how this will end.
The day before my ultrasound with my new OB, I started spotting again, so in a panic, I took three progesterone suppositories in one day.
At the appointment, we did not wait very long before the ultrasound technician called us back.
I undressed from the waist down and sat in the lounge chair with my feet in the stirrups. She asked me to move down, and she pressed my thighs open and slipped the wand in. With some maneuvering, our baby popped onto the screen.
Situated in a black blob, the amniotic sac, our baby was a tiny fixture on the left. Not much of a baby; it didn’t even look human. I thought our twins had looked like gummy bears when they were this old, but the technician said it looked on track. She found its heartbeat, beating away at 101 beats per minute. I could tell she wasn’t happy with this number with the way she pulled her lips down, but she didn’t say anything.
I looked at it on the screen and felt my palms start sweating, my heart gallop. How am I going to handle another baby? I thought as I swallowed. But just as quickly I thought, I don’t think this one will keep, but I shook the thought away.
I waited for my progesterone results, hoping they were high, hoping I could stop taking the progesterone suppositories. When they called with the results, they were fifty-three. The doctor would have been happy with ten.
I conveniently forgot that the numbers were probably so high because I had taken three suppositories (triple the dose) the day before my blood was drawn. I left the suppositories in the fridge, unused. I don’t need them. This is a normal pregnancy, I told myself every time I saw them. I lied to myself so much and so often I believed it.
We arrived for the next ultrasound and waited together.
“How are you feeling about it?” I asked my husband.
“What do you mean?”
“You think things will be okay?” I asked.
“Well, yeah. I think things will be perfect,” he told me. I looked at him long after he stopped talking. I wanted to believe him, but I didn’t. I wanted him not to be a liar, but he wasn’t.
The same technician that did our first ultrasound opened the door and called for us. We followed her into the room, and I undressed from the waist down. She had me slide to the end of the chair and open my thighs. She slipped the transvaginal wand in and maneuvered it. I looked up at the monitor screen. Within a few seconds, I saw the sac, a black blob, but I didn’t see a baby inside the sac.
I heard the technician swallow.
“Is the sac empty?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said and immediately followed with what sounded like an accusation, “Were you taking progesterone?”
I turned and looked at my husband who was staring at the screen, his hands cupped over his open mouth.
I told her no, that my values were so high, and she nodded, continuing to look at the screen. I turned to my husband as he continued to look at the screen as I continued to not look at the screen.
“It looks like it’d stopped growing shortly after your last appointment, so around 6 or 7 weeks,” she said and then she slipped the wand out.
The image of the empty sac remained on the screen.
“I’ll give you a few minutes while I get the doctor.”
She handed me a tissue to wipe the lube off from between my legs and left the room.
Alone, we cried. I don’t even remember if we spoke much, but I know that I said, “I had a feeling. I had a feeling it would happen.”
When the doctor came in, he said we could wait for me to naturally miscarry or schedule a D&C.
We waited for five days, but I didn’t miscarry, my body holding onto its dead like it could resurrect them. We scheduled a D&C.
The day before the procedure, I called the nurse at the doctor’s office.
“Hi, I’m having a D&C tomorrow, and I’d like to have another ultrasound. I’d like to make sure of…you know.”
“Oh, yes, honey,” the nurse said quietly. “Can you come in at four?”
“Yes,” I told her, and then she hung up.
I called back.
“Did you need my name or anything?” I asked.
“Oh no, honey,” I noted her use of that word again, honey. “We know who you are.”
Because, right, I was the only one having a D&C the next day. The only one who had left puffy-faced on Wednesday because her baby had just died inside of her.
I went in. Alone this time because my husband couldn’t leave work since he’d be taking the next day off to be with me.
The same ultrasound technician brought me back.
I had convinced myself that I would see my baby today in that black blob and that would explain why I hadn’t miscarried yet five days later.
The ultrasound technician seemed kinder, gentler this time. We went through the introductory: the undressing, the wanding.
“I’m sorry,” I told her. “I just needed to see it again. I just wanted to make sure.”
“I understand. It was such a shock last time. It was not what we were expecting,” she said.
I liked her use of we, like she thought it would last too. Like she didn’t think my baby was doomed to die too.
And then she showed me the sac, and it was empty.
I asked, pointing at the bottom left, “That dark spot?”
“That’s where the sac has begun to deteriorate,” she told me. “That’s what’s left as it dissolves into the body.”
My baby is dead, I told myself, and I believed.
I will be okay, I told myself, and I didn’t believe.