During the painful wait in the examining room, my husband and I wondered what type of music could ever be considered appropriate for these types of appointments. Surely classical or even jazz would be better than the dated pop music playing as my favorite nurse, Beth, injected each of my hips with the drug that would remove my sixth baby from me, from my fallopian tube. "Ok honey, this will just take a moment. It will pinch a bit. That's it ... the other side now."
Beth was my mother’s age, petite, with big kind eyes. She was the one who had walked through multiple miscarriages with me, answering all my choked up, panicked, phone calls from bathroom stalls at work or early mornings. I miscarried four times prior to the birth of my beautiful boy. My twenties are punctuated with swaths of grief, weeks and months that I’m not sure I remember. She rejoiced with me through each positive test, and comforted through each loss. I even began to detect a note of caution in her voice when she first picked up the nurses’ line, knowing I was on the phone. She mirrored my emotions.
I was sitting at the kitchen table during breakfast one morning, my son in his high chair and my husband grinding coffee beans, when I suddenly felt a slight, shaky, dizziness. It was fleeting, but I instantly recognized the feeling, having been pregnant so many times. A two-millimeter line confirmed we were having another baby. My son was just six months old. It was unexpected, but we were instantly delighted. We allowed ourselves to hope, early on. I knew now, what could come from a pregnancy—a weighty bundle in my arms, the swells of love, the soft breaths in the early morning darkness. The complete wonderment of holding a living, breathing, thriving baby in my arms.
We took the picture. The one of our smiling, kicking, son wearing a little sign saying "big brother" and shared it secretly with our parents, the ones we knew would tenderly pray over this new little life. We soaked in the privilege of getting to share the news at all, feeling it run through our veins, as if we just stepped off the most thrilling roller coaster ever and the ground was still rumbling beneath our feet.
Then there was the pain, weeks later, as I rocked my son to sleep for his nap. Then the phone calls. Then the appointments. Much of me goes numb during this routine. My reactions are delayed. My senses dulled. It’s as if I conserve energy for the subconscious, but fervent, prayers I begin to pray. “God, I know you are able. Please give our baby life. Help this baby’s heartbeat. Be with our baby. Be with me. Please. Please …” I thought I had walked this road already, and I could do it again, but I was wrong. I hadn't been on this road before. Not this one with the thorny underbrush clutching at my ankles, scratching open my existing scars of loss.
As this newest baby grew, the risk to my life grew. The risk my tube would rupture, causing internal hemorrhaging. An ectopic pregnancy. I delayed. I pushed for more time, one more ultrasound. I called the doctor after hours, pressing him to tell me the devastating news again, firmly, necessarily. "Are you sure, the baby won't show up in my womb somehow? Are you sure, growing in my tube? Are you sure, no hope?" I could tell, in the doctor’s voice, that this seemed straightforward. He was compassionate, but unmistakably clear. Swift action ought to be taken. He agreed to another ultrasound to confirm, but it needed to be soon. I had strict orders to rush to the emergency room if I felt any pain before the next appointment.
I knew this pregnancy could not continue.
I knew this little life would end eventually.
I knew that it could even kill me in the process.
None of that knowledge stopped my gut-wrenching, irrational, protective love. I mentally walked in a torturous circle. I shouldn't allow anybody to do anything to hurt my baby. I would rather die than allow this baby to be hurt, but, my husband, my son, future children, the very clear reality this isn't going to end well anyways. But, my baby ... this baby.
Then a monumental grace came, to soothe my ache to sustain this life. The sought-after, additional, ultrasound I endured, with an empty womb and a full fallopian tube, assured me this baby had "left" already. Had stopped growing, stopped living. A miscarriage in my tube. By the time the shots were administered, later that day, to remove the physical body, our baby was already gone. Mercifully, I felt absolved of any wrongdoing towards this sweet, short life. It mattered, to me, that the baby passed this way.
After, Beth gave me a soft look and hugged me. My husband and I exited the office through the back entrance, avoiding the waiting room, our eyes brimming with tears. My limbs felt weightless, the world around me insubstantial, wispy, but my heart, my grief, held me solidly, regrettably, to the ground. I briefly allowed myself to dream of becoming completely weightless, and in the process, finding all of my already-gone children together in my arms. On that day, and today, I continue to revel in the miraculous life I find at home. To wallow in my very tangible love for him as he smiles up at me, reminding me of the goodness of our God. I feel my son knows, somehow, already of his siblings. He fills my arms. Still my weighty bundle. I feel gratitude and pain, alongside a constant, solemn joy.
Guest post written by Hailey Noonan. Hailey is a wife and grateful momma of two in Michigan. She is a lawyer by training who now works in nonprofit development. She's been writing her whole life in her journals, but is new to this whole sharing your writing thing!