There’s raw grief in knowing it’s over.
A dim room and a flickering screen are familiar; these were the comforts three years ago that showed the tiniest and most beautiful flicker of a heartbeat on a ten-week ultrasound. The cold gel on my stomach then heralded the sight of an impossibly tiny and perfect baby’s silhouette. These tools revealed my little girl and cast the magical spell of parenthood that arrived in our arms in 2019.
But here, in 2022, the magic is broken.
I am broken.
The dim room is still there; the flickering screen still awaits us. Even seated beside us is the same ultrasound technician who told us we’d be bringing a baby girl into the world back in 2019. But this time, there’s hesitancy. There’s a guarded, almost strained positivity as measurements are taken in the painful silence of that tiny room. The anxiety settles in as a familiar fear grips our hearts. And then there are the words that surely mean nothing good is coming from this last, desperate visit.
“Let me see if your doctor is free.”
It was supposed to be the first glimpse of our next baby. For over a year, we have tried and prayed and bartered for the positive pregnancy test that will bring us to this room, to this screen. We have shed tears over late, teasing periods, missed ovulation, and negative tests. And finally, on Christmas Day, our positive finally stared up at us like a beautiful beacon of hope and possibilities.
There were giddy questions about the future. There was joy and excitement and what we thought was the solid foundation of a growing family.
And yet here, in the cold, bright examination room where we wait for our doctor to find us, there is no longer positivity. There is no longer talk of what our toddler will think of a baby sibling, of how we will share the news with our family. There are no murmurs of wonder of the sex, the name, or how we will rearrange the home to accommodate the new baby.
There is only desperate, pleading hope.
The words are simple and yet impossible to understand. There has been no change on that unforgiving ultrasound screen in a week. Measurements are the same, HCG levels are rising minimally, and the sac is empty.
The baby is gone.
The miscarriage is imminent.
There are not yet physical signs, but they will come. Maybe in a week, maybe two or three. Maybe there are alternate routes we’d like to explore for closure, for some measure of control in a terrible, uncontrollable situation.
But the simple truth remains: it is over.
Grief that will take the spot in my heart I believed belonged to this new baby. Instead of the glow of pregnancy, there will be the tear-stained cheeks and feelings of complete isolation. Is there anyone out there who understands how much I’m hurting? How broken I feel? There will be pain and loss, the uncomfortable discussion of whether or not to tell others.
And there are simple, desperate, empty reassurances – there’s nothing you could’ve done, it isn’t your fault, this doesn’t mean you can’t have another baby…
None of these will ease the pain.
They are empty, meaningless words while the grief seizes me, while the wait continues for my body to recognize the futility of this pregnancy. Each repetition is like a knife. Why couldn’t it be this baby? What could I have done? Who would this baby have been?
They’re the impossible questions that I know will find me for the rest of my life. They are questions whose answers I will never find. And maybe one day, when the pain isn’t as fresh, when I have tried to put myself back together, I may be able to make peace with them. But for now, there is only the uncomfortable, painful truth.
But the pain is not. The grief is not. The questions are not. Forever, I will remember and grieve this child. Forever, I will wonder who they might have been, how our family might’ve been changed by their arrival. I never got the chance to see their sweet face, to hear the steady beat of their heart, but the impact they’ve made on me will last a lifetime. Forever, I will know that one of my children is missing and that that hole in my heart will never fully heal.
Momma: if this is you, you are not alone.
I see your pain, I see your grief, I see your loss.
1 in 4, they say, but you are so much more than a statistic. You are a mother whose arms ache for the baby she never held and the forehead she never kissed. You are the mother with questions, with pain, with loss, with tears. I may never meet you, but I understand your pain and would hold your hand through it all if I could.
The days will be hard. Our pain will never leave us, but there is solace in opening up about the grief. There is relief in knowing that people out there understand how broken you feel, how lost you are. The first time I opened up about it to someone who knew my pain was like a salve on a burn. It didn’t heal my wounds, but it brought the relief of knowing I was not alone.
I am here for you, Momma. And we will survive this together.