Today marks the relative point at which I started to miscarry with my last pregnancy.
I went to the doctor today because I’d been dealing with some gastrointestinal issues. By which I mean, I’m constipated and gassy. A lot. I constantly feel like I need to poop, I fart all the time, and all of my farts are super smelly. I’m six-and-a-half weeks pregnant, so this is to be expected, on a certain level, right? I could just go and check on the internet really quickly to make sure this is all normal.
Except–no, I can’t. Because the internet has BabyCenter and WebMD, neither of which have useful information and all lead to a rabbit hole of it-could-be-nothing-or-I-COULD-DIE-TOMORROW-and-I’m-honestly-not-quite-sure-which. It’s horrible. And the message boards are full of spelling errors. And mommy blogs are full of women who have actually made it through the entire process, so that’s not really useful to me right now. What I want to know is whether I get to keep this baby or not. And the internet is like Schrödinger’s cat: I have nothing to worry about and everything to worry about at the same time.
What’s worse is that I have an anxiety disorder with a side-helping of OCD, which is a clusterfuck when you’re pregnant. Especially when you’re newly pregnant and the chances of you having a miscarriage range from 14-50% before the twelfth week depending on the circumstances. Especially when you’ve already had a miscarriage within the last six months and even though the misery isn’t fresh enough that you think about it all day anymore, a well-timed episode of “The Handmaid’s Tale” featuring excessive amounts of blood during pregnancy can bring it bursting back through the emotional papier-mâché you spent the last five months crafting. And then you end up with some constipation and gas giving you some sharp pangs and your first thought is: please, not again.
And you call your GP, frantic, because even though you’re fairly sure it’s not happening again, you need a medical professional to tell you that. And all the GP can tell you is that while nothing you describe to him sounds like a miscarriage, everyone is different.
No shit, Sherlock, you think, I could’ve looked on the internet for that.
He looks at you empathetically, half-smiling in that way where you know that what he’s about to say is something he has to say because he’s a doctor:
“Look, I know what you’re worried about.” He dips his chin down, as if he’s trying to gather patience, but really I think he just knows I’m going to be disappointed with what he has to tell me. “But I can’t tell you if you’re miscarrying before it happens. And even if I could, there’s nothing I could do about it.”
He’s right, and I know it. That’s what happened with Parker, my lost pregnancy, known affectionately as Spawn. One day I was pregnant, and the next day I was spotting, and the internet told me that all hope wasn’t totally lost, and the next day I was cramping badly enough that I went to the ER, and when they asked me why I was there I just started sobbing because I knew.
Parker wasn’t there anymore.
I was lucky enough to have told my close friends and family before the miscarriage. I say “lucky” not because I lost Parker, but because I had enough people around me who loved me and supported me and knew what that pregnancy meant to me that the grief wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. One friend–Parker’s godmother-to-be–is a nurse in the hospital where I went to the ER that day. She came down and hugged me, just held me and didn’t say anything while my spouse held my hand and we all sat there in the waiting room until they could triage me. Most of my friends understood that I didn’t want to be told “it’s okay, you can get pregnant again” or “it’s going to be all right” or “she’s in a better place now.” They told me how tough I was, how much they loved my spouse and me, and agreed that sometimes, life sucks.
One friend even gave me a card that promised a hand-knitted blanket upon the birth of my first child. My parents gave both my spouse and me diaper bags for the holidays that they’d bought virtually as soon as I’d sent them a photo of the positive pregnancy test.
Those things gave me some mega feels. But they weren’t totally-depressing feels. They were bittersweet, warm-fuzzy feels. For a while I existed with my grief in a cloud of love and support.
There’s this thing where people don’t like to talk about nor announce their pregnancies before the twelfth week. This is because at twelve weeks, pregnancies are extremely unlikely to spontaneously abort, so basically a live birth is almost guaranteed, provided you have healthcare. It’s because whenever you say “I’m pregnant!” people gasp with excitement and start planning out the Gryffindor onesies they’re going to buy for your progeny, and it hurts to have to tell them later that they shouldn’t blow their money after all.
Telling someone you’re pregnant implies that there will be a baby.
But in reality, that’s not how pregnancy works.
So we keep the first three months secret. We keep our panicked questions between our partners and our doctors and that BabyCenter message boards riddled with spelling errors and misinformation and feelings disguised as “medical advice.” We put ourselves through a frenzy of being alternately excited and worried that there won’t be a baby after all, the whole time dealing with the problem of having sore breasts but not wanting to use a supportive bra because the band is too tight and it’s suddenly harder to breathe, or constantly being hungry and nauseated at the same time while also trying to listen in some meeting at work. We stay quiet because we’re afraid of others’–and maybe, really, our own–disappointment. We stay quiet because we think that if we’re pregnant then there has to be a baby, and if there wasn’t a baby then maybe the pregnancy was a lie.
So I’m not participating in this anymore. I’m only halfway through those first twelve weeks and I’m right at the point where we lost Parker. But the isolation and loneliness that goes with that first trimester–as if there are no other reactions to pregnancy except being excited and happy, as if struggling with the tentativity of these first few months isn’t a valid thing that sort of sucks up your life and your thoughts and your heart–it’s too much.
I’m pregnant, and my partner and I have had a miscarriage before, and we are tentatively excited, and it’s not a secret.
We could lose this baby at any moment.
And that’s just part of it.
We’re not alone.