On Tuesday, October 6, 2015, life as I knew it changed. The night before, I had woken up in the middle of the night so nauseous that I had to throw up even though I didn’t feel remotely sick. Mike, my husband, had just left for Texas for a work conference on Monday, and wouldn’t be back until Thursday- also the day my sister, my two nieces, and my sister’s boyfriend were to arrive from North Carolina. Since I didn’t know why else I would have been sick, I went to the closest drugstore down the street and got a two-pack home pregnancy test as soon as I woke up. I read the instructions at least twice, tore open one of the test kits, and peed as directed. I put the cap on and set the test on the rim of the bathtub and waited with my heart beating in my throat. I stared at the test and watched in disbelief as two pink lines slowly formed across the screen. Again, I checked the instructions to confirm that two pink lines meant PREGNANT! I took a picture, and sent it to Mike, who was still asleep since he was in Central time. No message, just the picture. Thirty seconds later, Mike called. “We made a baby?” he asked shocked and excited and terrified all at once. After I confirmed and we laughed, he then asked, “You couldn’t have waited until I came back home to do this?”
My sister arrived with her brood, but given how fresh the news was as well as my age, Mike and I agreed not to share the baby news with family until I was at least 12 weeks along. We all had a wonderful weekend picking apples at Bishop’s Orchards, touring the Pez Factory, exploring the beach in our neighborhood and climbing on the rocks, playing Bocce ball, and scheduling these activities around big meals. Sadly, they had to leave on Sunday morning, and the house was once again quiet. Mike and I sat on the couch to watch football, when I just couldn’t get comfortable. My lower abdomen started cramping, sometimes bad enough I had to double over. Initially, I thought it could be constipation or even that a cyst had burst, which I’d experienced before. But now there was blood, a lot of blood. Panicked, we called the on-call OB and she told us to go to the emergency room. There was a line of people waiting to check-in with their various ailments, and it hurt to stand. The line moved. Mike made eye contact with one of the translators he’d just worked with the week before, and the translator waved. It looked like he wanted to come talk to us, but then realized that we were coming in as a patient, not as a physician. The translator whispered something to the front desk person. By the time we checked in, we barely waited to be called back.
After getting blood drawn, an ultrasound, and an improvised pelvic exam (my butt had to be propped up on an overturned pink vomit receptacle with a blanket for padding), we were told that my body was physically rejecting the pregnancy. That I should expect more blood and in the next few days, “until the fetus is flushed out.” I cried and Mike held me while I already was lamenting our baby and kicking myself for being too competitive at Bocce ball. We left in tears, and I felt that I had already failed as a mother. As we laid in bed exhausted, we prayed together. We prayed that if the Lord was going to take this baby, would He please take this baby now rather than later, so that out heartbreak wouldn’t be dragged out. We both woke up ragged the next morning, and I had been scheduled for a follow up OB appointment later that morning. There had been no more bleeding overnight and the pain was gone, but I still felt like my soul had been sucked out. How in the course of 5 days could we have gone on such an emotional roller coaster?
My thoughts were interrupted by the OB knocking and coming into my exam room. “How are you feeling today?” she asked. Besides being told I was no longer going to be a mother, I felt physically fine. “No bleeding and no more pain,” I answered. She pulled out the ultrasound machine. “Bleeding during the early part of pregnancy happens fairly often,” she said as she put gel on the instruments, “but it doesn’t mean the pregnancy is threatened.” I was confused. Wait, I’m not going to lose this baby? She continued talking as she moved the probe around while looking at the ultrasound screen. “You will need to stop any high impact activity, but the fetus is still attached. Since you’ve stopped bleeding, there’s a good chance you’ll carry it full term.” She printed out a few pictures from the ultrasound and handed them to me. I couldn’t even tell what I was looking at, but she gave me proof that my baby was still viable, and hope that it was going to continue to grow inside me. It took Mike a few weeks to look at them. He was protecting himself by not getting attached until he had confirmation that this baby was here to stay. I understood, and yet those few weeks were emotionally exhausting. We both worked all day and had to act like nothing had changed. All the while, I was just waiting to experience more cramps or bleeding. Blessedly, neither came.
We now have a little more than two months before we meet our baby girl. I think back to the first day I found out I was pregnant and what I prayed that day by myself. I told God that if he chose to bless us with a child, that we would acknowledge that this baby would be a gift from him. That we would be stewards of this new life no matter for how long or short we get to share with him or her. Not to say that I’m not that mom who started worrying about her baby the day she found out she’s pregnant and will continue to worry all the way until her “baby” is old and gray. However, I am comforted to know it’s out of my hands. I literally have done nothing different except maybe eat more and work out less strenuously while I’m carrying this baby, and yet she is growing. She’s already more than three pounds and is in the 84th percentile for growth. There are days she is squirming and kicking around so much that my hands jump off my belly if she catches them just right. There are also days in between I barely feel anything from her. I can only guess those are her growing days and that’s exhausting for her. Same for her momma.