Saturday, February 7, 2015
The Birthday that Never Was
It's always strange to me how I can spend the second half of January dreading this day and then somehow find myself surprised when it actually arrives.
This morning I found myself sitting next to James' bassinet, with those hard days in late 2011 playing across my mind.
For those of you who weren't along for the ride back then, I'll offer a quick recap (okay, we can pretend that's the reason, but the real reason is writing is how I process things and I'm not sure you ever really finish processing something like this... at least I'm not sure I will...).
In May 2011 we found out that we were expecting our third child. We were thrilled. The baby and Mae would have only been 18 months apart and we were incredibly excited. Things went along smoothly for the most part. We were getting ready to move down to Ave Maria Law School that fall, and my doctor didn't like to see patients before 12 weeks, so I didn't go to my OB. I figured that I would find one quickly when we moved to Florida, just after the start of the second trimester.
with food poisoning. It was pretty intense and I made an appointment to see my regular doctor. She confirmed that I was pregnant with a test and said to drink a lot of Gatorade, I would be fine. I asked if I needed any tests or medications since I was pregnant and I knew certain types of food poisoning could be bad for the baby, but she assured me that it wasn't necessary.
I recovered a few days later and at 13 weeks I helped Paul pack up the truck and kissed him goodbye as he left for Florida. The girls and I would be flying out with my parents a few days later.
Not long after he left the spotting started. I had a sinking feeling. I went to the local ER, at our tiny hospital in the mountains, and the doctor told me that at thirteen weeks it was unlikely that anything was wrong. Spotting happens frequently. I didn't have anything to worry about, but they would do an ultrasound.
The ultrasound tech was solemn as he looked for a heartbeat. And I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the little heartbeat, blinking across the screen.
Regardless of the date, the baby's heartbeat was too slow and he would inevitably pass away in the coming days. It didn't matter if I flew to Florida. It wouldn't make a difference to the baby's survival.
Two weeks later, alone in a hospital room in Florida, I delivered Christian Athanasius and performed a conditional baptism. It was the Feast of the Assumption, Paul's birthday and his first day of law school. It was also the worst night of my life.
In a way though, moving past the miscarriage wasn't going to be able to begin, because I was about to become very sick. We discovered that it was very, very difficult to find a doctor who would take on a patient in the middle of a miscarriage.
The doctor that I was referred to was legally required to take me on as a patient (according to the hospital when I was discharged), but his office neither answered the phone or returned my calls (I was later told he was actually a concierge doctor). I called around. No one wanted to take me on. So I kept getting very, very sick. I went to the ER, again and again. I finally got in to see the head of Obstetrics after a worried ER doctor called him on his personal line and asked him to see me. He did. He thought I was crazy and told me everything was in my head.
we found a NaPro doctor who took my case and saved my life. She discovered that my uterus was still "full of debris" and had been for nearly three months. When Misoprostol didn't work she performed a D&C, almost three months after the bleeding had started. I was put on some heavy duty antibiotics. And I finally started to get better. And we were finally able to begin to heal, although in the beginning there was quite a bit of fear about whether we would be able to have more children after three months of "retaining debris."
When I went to see her and she confirmed Patch's pregnancy, the look of relief on her face told me that she had been just as worried as I had been about the possibility of permanent damage having been done in the wake of the miscarriage. And after a worry filled pregnancy (I spotted four times with Patch) we welcome Patrick Xavier nine months and one day after Christian's due date.
Alright, I think we've proven that I'm incapable of a short summary of what happened. Brevity is not one of my gifts.
A few days ago Paul asked me if I ever think about what Christian would have looked like. I turned the question over in my mind. I haven't. Not really. I've tried to, but whenever I do I find myself back in the emergency room with the doctor assuring me that his death was for the best because it appeared that he would have been seriously deformed.
Every time I've tried to picture him, the doctor's words would come back, transforming my biggest little boy into some sort of a monster.
No. I haven't really been able to do that. The words, which made me so angry at the time, which made me want to shout that of course I still wanted him... that it didn't soften the blow a bit, have always been there when I think of him, pushing their way to the front of my mind.
These last few days, when the thought passes through my mind I try to push aside those words and think of what he would have looked like if he hadn't lived in our imperfect, fallen world. Because sometimes, when I'm sitting on the couch holding James, watching the other three play, I find myself almost able to picture him there, a little smaller than Maggie but bigger than Patch, rough housing with his little brother, or jumping on the trampoline with Mae.
Sadie's asked me if we can make cupcakes today and have a party for her brother. She wants a feast to celebrate "my brother who's a saint in heaven." And so I will try to put these thoughts aside and celebrate the little life that we were blessed to have with us for a short time, this side of heaven and when I go to bed tonight I will breath a sigh of relief that this day has passed for another year.