We didn’t plan it. But it happened. It was the second week and the night I tested for it and it came back positive, I felt fear, and excitement, and a whole lot of other emotions I couldn’t quite make out. Josephus, who long wanted it, was ecstatic. We were going to be parents.
When a woman learns that she is pregnant, her world changes. She hopes and expects and creates dreams and she loves wholeheartedly for the yet unborn. She cannot help it. It is but natural. And I was no different.
I either didn’t want to eat, or wanted to throw up what I ate, or wanted to eat something I couldn’t eat (where are you Philippine mangoes when I needed you?). I was tired all the time even if I slept at 8 pm. I cried while watching a shampoo ad and was constantly pissed off at my husband. In other words, I was completely normal. The pregnancy went swimmingly along.
On the 5th week, more than a month into the pregnancy, I suddenly started spotting. Alarmed, I went to see my OB. She couldn’t see anything and advised we wait for 10 more days so she could better diagnose. My blood tests were normal but my HCG (the preggy hormones) was pretty low. She said I could be normal but also hinted at a sign of a miscarriage. She gave me some pills to take and advised me to continue as normal but to be careful. I had already stopped all forms of physical activity as soon as I learned I was pregnant so there was really nothing else I could do. At this point, I was still positive. I googled and everything google told me was that a lot of pregnant women do go through some form of spotting at one time and still go to have normal pregnancies. However, I still felt a nagging feeling.
On the 6th week, I went to another OB to get another opinion. She then diagnosed me with a blighted ovum. My whole world crashed. I went home from the hospital in tears. I was still waiting for my blood test results to come back in the afternoon but the OB already made a partial diagnosis. She comforted me by saying that it’s not as uncommon as I think. 1/3 of all pregnancies do end in miscarriage. And I was still young to be able to try again. The afternoon came and I got the dreaded call. My HCG levels were not where they were supposed to be. The partial diagnosis became 100% and she recommended I get a D and C. The little tiny adorable baby I had imagined I would be holding in 9 months, I would never see. I was inconsolable. I was devasted. Until now, I still cannot quite quantify the amount of sadness I had felt at that time. Days passed and I can’t remember how I got through it. I went to work with whole days disappearing without nothing to show.
On the 7th week, refusing to give up hope, I returned to the first OB. She did an ultrasound and lo and behold, there was the tiny embryo the second OB had not seen. However, there was no heartbeat when there was supposed to be one at that stage. Even then, for the first time in days, I felt a little happy. And I saw a glimmer of hope. She advised we wait another week for another check. And wait we did. I went through so many blood tests, my vein had turned bluish purple. I talked to friends who had the same problem, or went through the same thing, or knew someone who did. And it made me feel a little better. I still felt very pregnant (nausea still on full force) so I was still hopeful.
On the 8th week, there was still no heartbeat. But I hung on. And I fought. It was a rollercoaster of emotions. One day hopeful that some miracle would happen and I would still see my baby and another day feeling extremely sad that it may never happen.
On the 9th week, she gave up and recommended I get a D and C. I wanted to wait until the 10th week and the 11th and the 12th. But my HCG levels had drastically decreased and I was well on my way to a natural miscarriage. She advised that if I don’t have a spontaneous miscarriage in the next couple of days, I get a D and C immediately as a dead embryo can only stay for so long inside before it starts poisoining me. I didn’t want to experience the trauma of a miscarriage and the agony of waiting without knowing when and where it would happen. I opted for the procedure.
So on a normally fine Wednesday morning, I was taken to the hospital. I had to be there at 11 am as I had to be prepped for the minor surgery that would happen at 4 pm. Josephus had to work so he left me and I passed the time rereading my favorite book and watching tv. At that point in time, I had accepted the loss. Or so I thought. 4 pm came and I was given general anesthesia so I would just sleep through the whole thing. I woke up an hour after groggy and disoriented and was taken to a recovery room. An hour after (or maybe it was just a couple of minutes, I wasn’t really sure), I woke up for real and was brought back to my room. My empty, husbandless room. And then the grief struck. It startled me with its intensity. I cried. I cried like I have never cried before. Crying that only stopped when Josephus arrived an hour after, and Leah and Spongebob and Alain after a couple of minutes. I stayed another hour or 2 at the hospital, after which I was declared “fit” to go home and released. Salma, Rey, Gwyn, Yvette and Joanna visited me at home that same night. And I ate a whole box of Tim Hortons’ donuts. And cried myself to sleep thereafter.
The next couple of days was straight out of hell. Physically, I was recovering. Emotionally, I was falling apart. Josephus and I would fight every single day and I would cry so much. Tears I didn’t know I was capable of. I was profoundly sad and it was a sadness that lingered. Comfort from family and friends came. Friends whom I had not seen in a long time, or people I don’t speak with that often had words of comfort. And it helped. But then there were also banal reassurances. That it was better this way, that the embryo would have been “wrong” and that would have led to a “wrong” baby. Anyway, it could still be replaced with a new baby. And then there were the extremely insensitive “jokes”. That I shouldn’t have been dancing so much. That I should have rested. And then there were the happily pregnant women and cute babies. They didn’t have to do anything, just looking at them made me cry.
But mostly, I felt guilty. Josephus had always wanted a baby and I felt I completely disappointed him. Maybe I didn’t eat healthy enough. Or sleep enough. Or rest enough. Or maybe I just wasn’t capable. I was even more frustrated at myself for being so sad. After all, it hadn’t been a real baby I lost. It wasn’t even alive yet. I hadn’t even suffered any lasting physical harm. So why was I so sad?
Two weeks after the D and C, my OB cleared me. I was healing nicely and I could go back to my usual activities, including strenuous ones. So I went back to the only thing that has never failed to make me happy. I danced. And I gradually saw friends again. Even those “friends” I had never heard from when I was going through what I went through. I went out. To get some sun, to go somewhere, just so I’d be busy. And forget the sadness. And gradually, I felt better. And I began to think of it less. But for a long time afterwards my sadness lingered. Even now, I can still summon it, without too much effort, so I know that it’s still there, hovering below the surface.
My life was altered the moment I knew I was pregnant. I was a Mom, and it’s heartbreaking that I don’t have a child to show for it.
I’m slowly moving forward. One day at a time. Because sometimes, your heart just needs more time to accept what your mind already knows.