By Katherine Horvath
I went to see my doctor yesterday for what was going to be an uneventful first prenatal visit. I was almost nine weeks along, and figured that it was too early to hear my baby’s heartbeat through the Doppler. Also, I wasn’t really showing yet (although I was a few pounds heavier than my normal pre-pregnancy weight!), so there was nothing to measure or palpate. Furthermore, I wasn’t scheduled for an ultrasound, which would offer me the excitement of actually seeing my baby and witnessing the flutter of his or her beautiful little heartbeat. If anything, the visit would be a little uncomfortable, as he would probably do a pap smear, which I was due for last year. I told my husband, who has accompanied me on all of my prenatal visits for both of our boys, not to bother taking off work for this one. It turns out I needed him after all.
I first visited with the head nurse, who interviewed me about my diet and exercise routine, grilled me about my family’s health history, and inquired into the number of pregnancies I have experienced (the answer was four, with the first two resulting in healthy baby boys and the last two resulting in five-week miscarriages). She let me know that my doctor would indeed be doing a pap smear (ugh!) and that he would probably be able to find the fetal heartbeat with his Doppler (cool!). I was especially excited to hear the heartbeat because I had had two miscarriages, both before a heartbeat could be detected. This time was different. This time a seven-week ultrasound showed a healthy heartbeat and a tiny baby growing in my womb. I was told that the chance of miscarrying after the detection of a normal fetal heartbeat was less than five percent. I was told that I was “on my way” and, as a result, I was beginning to loosen up a little after several nerve-wracking weeks of hoping and praying that this one would be okay but still dreading and fearing the worst. But still, there was that lingering unease and worry. I was still in that precarious first trimester, when anything can happen. I relished every little bit of reassurance that I could get.
Therefore, when my doctor wasn’t able to detect the heartbeat after sliding his Doppler over my goop-smeared belly for several minutes, I became a little concerned. However, he reassured me that it was probably too early and he went on with the rest of the exam. A few minutes later he tried again, to no avail. He seemed worried, which made me worried. My doctor is cool as a cucumber and is a “glass is half full” kind of guy. He assumes that his patients’ pregnancies will be fine until they prove him otherwise. He doesn’t jump at every little opportunity to get worried about the pregnancy. He gives our bodies the benefit of the doubt. But he wanted to do another ultrasound, right away, in his office.
This would give me a chance to see my baby again! Although I had my doubts, I believed that everything was fine. I had had no cramps, bleeding, nor other ominous signs that something had gone wrong. I definitely felt pregnant- still nauseous, tired, and sensitive to smells. He started the ultrasound and began explaining to me that what we were looking at was the gestational sac. “I know that,” I said, “but what concerns me is that I don’t see a baby”. “Me too,” he said. At first I was genuinely confused and didn’t even comprehend the meaning of what we were seeing, or not seeing. And then I became a little panicky, when he told me he was pretty sure I had miscarried and that my body had reabsorbed the baby. I wanted a second opinion, and he brought another doctor in, who took a look and then confirmed my worst fears: I had miscarried, again, for the third time. I had had two healthy beautiful boys within two and a half years of each other and then three subsequent miscarriages every six months beginning when my second son, Teddy was about two years old.
I don’t know how I made it home. I remember taking the elevator to what I thought was the ground floor to retrieve my car, but I ended up somewhere else, no doubt looking lost and desperately sobbing. A nice woman led me down some stairs and to the parking lot where I somehow found my car and drove home to break the news to my mother, who had been watching my two boys, ages three and five and a half. I called my husband to tell him what had happened, but could say nothing, could only cry. He told me he was on his way home and hung up the phone.
The worst part about it all is that it isn’t even over yet. Everything is still inside of my body, which must be still somewhat convinced that there is a baby growing inside of it. I see my doctor in a few days, to talk about what to do next and whether to have a D & C done. I think I will have to, as my body isn’t responding to the baby dying as it should. It still wants to hold onto what is left, just as I am left holding on to a mental image of a teeny little baby, a couple of inches long, but complete with fingers and feet, a brain and a heart. A teeny little baby alive in my womb, growing bigger every day, waiting to be ready to come out and greet the world and meet his or her brothers, mommy, and daddy. All I will ever have of this last baby is this image, but it is one that will never fade.
I am a stay at home mom of two boys, George and Teddy, ages five and a half and three, respectively. My family recently moved home to Milwaukee, Wisconsin after having lived four years in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. George attends kindergarten, is a proficient swimmer, and a promising young artist. Teddy spends the days with me, which we enjoy at the bookstore, bagel store, library, park, and Gram and Papa’s house. I love writing, which I try to do with whatever time I have after the kids are in bed. I am also proficient in French and Italian, and, in fact, our family spent April of this year in a medieval home in the south of France, visiting old castles and ancient towns, playing at the beach on the Mediterranean Sea, and eating warm, flaky croissants from the boulangeries and fresh fruit from the local markets.
I treasure and cherish my children, but have always wanted a little girl. After my last miscarriage, we found out that it had been a girl with normal chromosomes. We don’t know why I miscarried, but I do know that I can’t go through the emotional hurricane of another pregnancy. Therefore, we have chosen to adopt, and have started the process. We hope to have a baby girl from China in our arms by this time next year. The only way that I can make sense of everything is by realizing that everything happens for a reason, and maybe the reason behind my three miscarriages is that my husband and I were meant to adopt a beautiful baby girl and give her a well-loved life far away from an orphanage.