Down the Rabbit Hole

It began with the hot flashes.

It was September, after all, and the building that I work has an air conditioner that is notorious for breaking. I kept telling my friends at work that it must be “The Change.” Which doesn’t happen at the ripe old age of 28, so it seemed like a good joke.

At home, I would collect the clothes from our bedroom and carry them to the laundry room. 100 feet, max. By the time I was back inside I was sweating profusely. I will be honest and say that I sweat more than the average girl. I blame it on long summers spent in the Miami sun at the Royal Palm Tennis Club’s camp. My body knows how to cool itself down quickly. But just vacuuming the floor made me sweat more than I did after an entire day of tennis, and I ended up giving up and just laying on the bed during the weekends with the fan on high to keep cool.

And then, on the day that I was going to meet Lyanna, Aunt Eva, and my Newfoundland relatives in Jacksonville, I threw a can of cat food in our garbage and discovered Pete had forgotten to put a liner in there. No big deal. Except that I reached down to pick it up and gagged from the smell. I told Pete that he had to take care of it and clean the garbage can, obviously something else was in there.

“Maybe you’re pregnant,” he joked. Both of us knew it wasn’t possible. I didn’t get an IUD for no reason–they’re supposed to be 99.9% effective. Inside I started to panic–between the aversion to smells and the sweating something was obviously going on.

During my drive to Jacksonville, I decided to stop and take a pregnancy test so that I would stop worrying. And there, in the bathroom of a Walmart, I found out I was pregnant.

I sat through lunch with my long-lost cousins and whispered to Lyanna that I had a huge bomb to drop on her later. As soon as lunch was over and we were walking to her car, I told her.

“We’re going to Target to take another one right now to be sure,” she said. And there, in Target we took the second test, and again, it was positive.

I swore her to secrecy. IUDs come with a risk of ectopic pregnancies, so I wanted to be sure that it was a baby before we got too excited. And tell Pete, of course. That night when I got home I videoed his reaction to me handing him the pregnancy test. We took a third one to be sure. Positive, again. It would make a great story for the kid, that its mom found in out the bathroom of a Walmart and confirmed it in the bathroom of a Target–super classy. I made the first OB appointment and we saw the beginnings of our little baby floating around, and I thought that this baby was meant to be since it defied the odds and was conceived. I was six weeks pregnant, after all!

Of course we weren’t ready. We live in a tiny place with only two bedrooms,  and Pete had just graduated from his grad school program. We had even been talking about not having kids because of Pete’s kidney disease, and were scheduled to see a genetic counselor to see what the odds were of the child having it. But it was ok–we would make it work. When our second appointment rolled around we were starting to get excited. We had told our parents and sworn them to secrecy as well–we wanted to pass the first trimester mark to be safe.

At the next appointment I couldn’t wait to hear the heartbeat. I remember laying there on the table and the nurse saying that the doctor had to talk to us. We could see the ultrasound and something wasn’t right. The baby didn’t look like it should. When we got to the doctor’s office, she said she couldn’t see a heartbeat, but they might be off on their dates, and “maybe a miracle would happen” and we wouldn’t miscarry. What? The baby might be dead?

The doctor handed Pete back all the medical paper work we had just filled out and told us to bring it back the next time we were pregnant.

And that was how our journey through pregnancy loss began.