I am either about to be very brave, or very foolish. I’m not sure which, but if it’s a little bit of both, I’ll bet the Italians have a wonderful word for it–for brave fool. A word with just as many “R’s” and vowels, but one that rolls off the tongue with a little more grace and elegance than the word I have on repeat in my mind: miscarriage.
Apparently I’m about to have one.
How do I know this?
“Your numbers are falling, not doubling. Be prepared. Call us when you start to bleed.”
“Okay.” But I’m not okay. I’m not not-okay either. I’m numb. And my nipples are on fire and my breasts are huge and I’m queasy as hell. But not for very much longer.
Or so they tell me.
“This was your third try.”
As if I needed a reminder. It was supposed to be the charm. It was the charm. Until now.
“When you’re ready, we should talk about your options.”
“Come have a glass of wine with me tonight,” my friend Lyza offered.
But I’m just not ready to do that. Numbers aren’t real. Cramping and bleeding. Maybe then it will be real. Right now it’s just an idea I’m trying to wrap my brain around as I try to quell the nausea: I’m going to have a miscarriage. It’s almost as surreal as the way I felt a week ago when I got the first call:
“Congratulations! You’re going to have a baby!”
I liked that call better.
There’s a part of me that doesn’t quite believe it–like the twelve weeks of Jonah’s pregnancy when we thought he had Down Syndrome. It’s not that I didn’t believe the diagnosis. I took it very seriously and prepared myself to parent a different child than the one I’d always pictured myself with. I was shocked, almost oddly disappointed, when the amniocentesis came back negative. I was ready to parent a special-needs child. I knew all along, no matter what, that everything would be okay. And it was. Just different. And then different again.
I feel like everything is okay right now, too. I feel pregnant. I don’t feel like I’m going to have a miscarriage.
But I am.
Making a baby as a single person is an odd thing. It’s all about timing, of course, as it is with a traditional couple, but the expense is somewhat absurd–$1150 for a single 0.5ml vial of Baby-Daddy, and that doesn’t include the ultrasounds, the drugs, and the procedure cost for an intrauterine insemination (IUI). And you know so much–way more than you would ever know if you were trying to have a hot weekend of baby-making with your hubby. Like, the thickness of your uterine lining–8.9mm on cycle day 14–perfect for the two big fat follicles (eggs) waiting to be fertilized and attached. And you know whether or not you are pregnant exactly two weeks after the insemination. And you know less than a week later that you won’t be pregnant for very much longer.
Is knowledge power?
Right now it has me weak in the knees.
I have plenty to be grateful for. I have a beautiful 2-year old son who is the love of my life. I could easily have stopped with him. Now I may be forced to. The “options” the nurse was speaking of are not really options for me. I don’t have the money for IVF. Even if I did, it should probably go toward something sensible, like paying off my student loans, or putting it toward Jonah’s college education so he never has to worry about student loans himself. But I’ve known in my bones all along that I’ve wanted to give him a sibling. My reasons are two-fold: As an older parent, I want him to have someone else so that he doesn’t have to deal with his batty old mother alone–so that I don’t leave him alone in this world when I go. And because as his mother I know–if something were to happen to him, there would be nothing left to bind me to this earth, nothing at all. It sounds melodramatic, but it’s the god’s honest truth. The love is that strong. It fills me with gratitude every day. And terror.
Why am I sharing this with you? Maybe, if I had a husband, it would be our secret. We would mourn and grieve quietly, and spare those we love (not to mention perfect strangers) our private pain. But I have no husband, and while I have the most amazing friends, I don’t think this kind of pain should ever be a dirty little secret. Women miscarry, or are about to miscarry, every day. It needs to be let out, given some space and fresh air to run around in, taken for a walk, so that it can finally settle down to rest. I know I’m not alone. Every woman should know she’s not alone, that it’s okay to talk about it. All of it.
Only hours ago I was lying in bed, whispering to my womb, telling this sweet little ball of cells about all the good things to come. Then, the phone call. Now I’m in limbo. Caught between a precious new beginning and a premature ending that doesn’t even feel close to being real. As a critical care nurse, I’m supposed to be some sort of expert in endings, but for this? I’m at a complete loss. Do I whisper now to this tiny being that it’s okay to let go? Because it’s not. It’s really not.
So I wait. And I write.
It turns out that the Italians have two words for brave fool, just like us: Coraggioso sciocco. Pretty. Certainly more beautiful than miscarriage. For the next several days (please god, tell me it will only be a matter of days) I will be channeling coraggioso as I foolishly muddle through the quotidian. Until this baby leaves my body and I can decide what’s next.
Apparently I have options.