At the risk of sounding hippie- dippy, I’m going to be completely open. Recently in the car on the way to one of Henry’s therapy sessions I became overwhelmed with an empty feeling. Somewhere deep in my core was aching. Having my children unlocked something in me. I’m more self-aware. I’m more in tune with my body despite it morphing into several different forms over the years. Maybe I’m more in touch with myself because of the morphasis. The body I have now is different than the one I had 15 years ago as a teen fighting for health, and 10 years ago as a young woman growing into my own, and 5 years ago as a happily married woman, and 3 years ago during my first pregnancy, and 2 years ago after having Henry, and last year during my second pregnancy, and even now. I realize I will never be in any one of those states ever again. I sometimes joke that James has loved 7 different versions of me.
In the car I glanced in the review mirror at my two sleeping boys… and an ache started low in my stomach and steadily rose to my chest and then my throat. I realized it was because I was looking for a third car seat. There should be three. I feel selfish. I know women beg God on their hands and knees for just one precious babe. I am so thankful and filled with love and gratitude for our family. And still I can’t help it. The pain is there. I’m not sure it will ever go away. It starts from somewhere deep. Somewhere I didn’t even know existed. The feeling washes over me in an instant and I can barely breath. And then the intensity of the feeling subsides.
Ezra was a twin. Twins do not run on either side of our families. When we went for our appointment I felt different. I’d been having dreams. I was growing much quicker than I did with Henry. I expected something other than an uncomplicated pregnancy. I knew. Just like I knew Henry was a boy. I knew. Our first ultrasound… and I saw. I know enough through my nursing career to be able to get the overall picture of most imaging results without a doctor explaining it to me (ultrasound, CT, MRI, and X-rays). I saw two babies. I only saw one move. The technician became quiet and kept rolling the probe over my tummy. James and Henry smiled. They didn’t know what they were looking at and I couldn’t speak. Then she said we’d need to do an internal scan too. And it was confirmed: a single strong heartbeat. The tech’s voice lifted an octave to convey excitement but her eyes did not smile. I knew. She handed us the printouts of our living baby and had attempted to crop out the one that didn’t make it. I’m sure it was a gesture meant to keep the pain at bay, but I still see him. He’s there, too. Joy mixed with grief in a way I didn’t know could happen.
We were taken to the little room. News broken in that room is never, “Here is your strong baby and here is your congratulations packet telling you the do’s and don’ts of pregnancy.” It’s always more than that. I didn’t want to be the one to speak first. I didn’t want to say it. There was nothing to do. They each had their own placenta. The deceased twin could not harm the surviving twin. He would just slowly be absorbed and disappear. There may be a little left by delivery but not much.
We were presented with so much news that day. We are carrying a strong baby! We had two. One didn’t make it. This was the appointment we were going to use to break the news. An ultrasound photo. We decided to not announce our pregnancy to anyone. We needed time to process. We wanted to know everything we could about Baby A’s (Ezra’s) health before announcing.
I was happy-sad for a while. I couldn’t shake the thought that he would have to continue to grow beside his dead brother. My heart ached for our family. I made myself push forward with joy because I was afraid the grief would affect our baby. Baby A. We started saying he was so strong because he absorbed all of his twin’s powers. He would be powerful. He is.
Many people would ask me in jest if I was having twins. I’m short. My babies have no where to go but to bump straight out from my tummy. I’d try to smile and say no. It would hurt. Sometimes if my hormones and mood was just right I’d become brazen and say yes. Yes, I was carrying twins but we lost one. I was carrying one live baby and one dead. No one thinks when they ask those questions. Any questions or jokes about a woman’s fertility should just remain unsaid. You never know if she has been struggling to try to have a family for years, or have had miscarriages, or what. One in four women have had a miscarriage.
I have an empty feeling. The feeling of loss. We should be a party of 5. Even if we have another child I don’t think that feeling will ever completely go away. It may lessen in intensity as I continue to come to terms with it all.
Today is miscarriage awareness day. My heart aches for anyone who has had to endure the news that the life they were growing within has faded and been taken back into Heaven. There is nothing I can say or do to lessen the pain for anyone, but I see you. I stand beside you. I’m with you.