We went into the ultrasound expecting reassurance. We knew the midwife hadn't been able to find a heartbeat, but SHE wasn't worried, so neither were we. 12 weeks was still early for a doppler. There may have been some touches of concern lurking in the dark corners of our brains, but mostly we were stupidly, naively hopeful. The tech took some measurements transabdominally, not saying much. We should have known then, but didn't. I was still waiting for them to get to the right angle--the one that showed the growing baby, the one with the heartbeat, that we'd seen a month earlier at the RE. The tech left, and came back with someone else. The fear was growing, but I still didn't want to admit it. He switched to the transvaginal wand. As the image came up on the screen, there finally was no denying it. Everything was still. Quiet. No flicker of a heartbeat. No movement. Little growth or change since the last time we'd seen it. Jen started to cry. I buried my head in her shoulder, having seen more than enough. In the little dressing room, Jen angrily threw her newly-purchased pedometer into her bag. What the fuck was the point of getting exercise- of anything, really- if this baby was dead?
We spent the next four days curled around each other on the couch. On the fourth day, the remains of our first hope were removed from Jen's body and taken to pathology. We thought that was the end, but it was only the beginning of months of betas and waiting and toxic injections and anger and fear and watching other people become parents when all we wanted was for our fucking miscarriage to finally end. It finally resolved about a month before that child would have been born.
Our next pregnancy had the same due date, but a very different outcome. There was no giddy optimism this time, but somehow, to our surprise, there was also no disaster. Natalie was born in April, as the bush planted for Coqui bloomed a second time. When people remarked that she looked or acted so much older than she really was, we joked that she'd gotten the extra weeks from the first baby. Maybe she'd needed two tries before she was ready to be born, or maybe somehow that first child had passed on part of its spirit to her. We didn't fully believe it, but at the same time, we never fully doubted it either. Somehow, in this "do over," we'd gotten back a piece, however small, of what was lost with the first pregnancy.
It seems like forever ago in some ways, but I can still call up images of that day with remarkable clarity. I still know what I was wearing, what I would have done at school if I'd gone that day. I still see that too-quiet image, and I still feel the uncertainty that loss introduced. There is no blind faith that everything will be OK. There is no giddy joy. But there is intense gratitude for what we do have, and knowledge of what it means to be truly lucky.