Pressing almost painfully into my abdomen, my doctor slides the ultrasound wand. It slips easily through the jelly coating my skin. The room is deathly quiet. I hear the hum of the air conditioner rushing through the vents and my husband, Ken, breathing, but that is all.
The wand stills. I won’t look at the screen. Not this time - maybe never again.
“I’m so sorry” says my doctor. And he confirms what I already know. My baby is dead, gone to be with his siblings. The familiar, hopeless, blackness descends over my soul. My husband squeezes my hand ever so gently.
I dress, arrangements are made for yet another D&C, and we leave the office, like all the times before.
I feel like I should cry, but my heart feels hollow. After the first miscarriage, I wept for days, the second time for even longer. But this time I don’t have any tears.
We get home and the house seems even quieter than it was before we left. It’s as if the hopes we had for this baby have scuttled away into a corner.
Without meaning to, I find myself turning the knob and walking into the spare room - the room that was to be the baby’s room. I never got far enough along in any of my pregnancies to actually prepare the room, but in my mind, I have it all laid out. The crib will go over on the south wall, the changing table on the opposite wall. I’ll put a rocker in this corner.
“Hey,” says Ken softly, poking his head around the door, “Can I get you anything?” I shake my head.
“I’m going to run to town for a few minutes, then” says Ken and I nod.
I wander over to the computer that currently sits in one corner of the room. My plan was to move that to the basement once the baby came.
Checking email seems like the wrong thing to do after getting the kind of news we just did. But what else am I supposed to do? There isn’t a funeral to plan and there’s very few people to even tell because we had kept the pregnancy to ourselves this time. I’m at loose ends.
I regret clicking on the “in” box as soon as I do, though. My sister -- my wonderful and very fertile sister-- has just sent me another batch of pictures of my five stair-step nephews. I love them dearly, but today I don’t want to think of children. I close down my mail.
Maybe Ken and I could take a drive when he gets home. But if we do, I might look at the back seat and remember how I anticipated filling it with our children.
Acting on a sudden thought that crosses my mind, I Google “miscarriage support.” Hundreds of links show up and I click on the first one. It takes me to an on-line group called, “Empty Arms.” I can relate to that. I type a quick introductory note and join the group. And then I shut down the computer. I can’t do this either, right now.
I wander outside and find Ken digging in the dirt. He’s bought a little tree and is planting it. I touch one of the few green leaves it has. “You bought a tree?”
“It’s for the baby,” Ken says, “For all three of them.” He looks at me. “Someday, we’re going to have a houseful of children -- I know that. But when we look outside and see this tree we can remember the ones that went to Heaven first.”
I smile. Ken puts down his trowel and pulls me close. “You know we’re going to survive this, right?” I nod, clinging to him.
Later that evening I check my email again. I am astounded to find message after message from unfamiliar women, all from the Empty Arms on-line group.
You don’t know me, reads one, but I’ve been where you are. I want to assure you that it does get better and you won’t always ache for the children you have lost…
As I read the messages, I feel as though God has come and wrapped His arms around me Himself. Who knew that comfort could come through a computer? As I read, the hollowness in my heart suddenly dissolves and I find tears running down my face.
But this time they’re not tears of hopelessness.
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