Friday morning. Early. 4:10am.
I jolt awake, knocking into my iPad on the nightstand, which immediately bursts into a blue screen of blinding light. A message box appears: “Update Complete,” it says with a patently Apple bleep.
I squint and look away.
“Mama!” Jonah calls out again from downstairs. He’s had a rotten cold for days, with a cough that’s been waking him in the night.
“Mama!” But his voice trails off this time. He is falling back into sleep, which is good, because the unmistakable ache between my low back and pelvis tells me the time has come.
The time for losing.
Only moments ago I was in the throes of a dream, walking up Broadway toward 79th Street, my first New York apartment, with two small cats tucked into my winter coat. What am I going to do with these cats? Tyler (my Siberian Husky in real-time, now) is going to have a fit! How am I going to keep them apart in this tiny little space?
Wait a second. You can’t even empty the litter box. You’re pregnant.
4:10am. I jolt awake. An unmistakable ache.
The waiting is finally over.
When the news came on Monday I was paralyzed by grief. Mothers, of course, don’t get to be paralyzed so I moved through my day as best I could, allowing the tears to seep out as I peeled and sliced apples, blew on bites of homemade chicken soup, and read Hannah the Helicopter eighteen times in three sittings.
“Mama’s a little sad today,” I explained, “but she loves you. She loves her Jonah so much.”
Monday is the only day of the week that I have built-in writing time. Uncle Jimmy takes Jonah for two hours from 5pm to 7pm so I can work on my book. Or, as in this week, my blog, where I put out my distress call to you.
You answered. All of you. Your stories. Your words of encouragement. They gave me hope.
They readied me for this.
Tuesday was the turning point. I went to see my voodoo high prieste–my acupuncturist, Suzanne.
“This doesn’t have to be the end, Dana.”
“But I can’t afford IVF.”
“Why would you think you need IVF?”
The nurse’s voice echoes in my head. We need to talk about your options. “Because this obviously isn’t working.”
“It just did.”
“Dana, IVF is for infertility. You’re not infertile. What you have is a sperm problem. You’re trying to make a baby with about an eighth of what most women try with every month. And the cost–it makes this loss that much more painful. But you have to know–80% of women trying to conceive have at least one chemical pregnancy or miscarriage. This was yours. It’s awful. I know. But most of those women go on to have successful pregnancies within six months of the loss. This doesn’t need to be the end for you.”
I let her words sink in.
“So, if you were me?”
“I would keep doing exactly what you’re doing.”
“Letrazole, trigger, repeat,” I groaned.
“You’ll get your baby.”
I sat with the idea some more.
“Can I do something a little different today,” she asked. “I think I can help you manage your stress.”
She had me lie on my stomach.
“I want you to focus on letting go.” She slipped needles into the top of my head, my neck, my shoulders, my feet. “Whatever it is you need to let go of–you don’t need to tell me–just stay with it here and imagine it leaving.”
So I did.
I bawled my eyes out for twenty minutes on the table, and then, abruptly, the tears stopped. Something shifted. I embodied the calm after a storm. I’ve been this way ever since.
Your stories kept pouring in.
Oh Dana. I know. I had one before my first, and then one in between each child. Whenever I think of those losses, I try to remember that I wouldn’t have any of these three perfect babies that I have now if the others had come.
The one last year was the hardest. We didn’t tell anyone. Until now.
I’m sitting in the bathroom bleeding. I’m alone.
But I’m not alone.
Knowledge is power after all.
If this had happened at 4:10am on a Friday morning and I hadn’t known it was coming–The panic. The alone. They might have ruined me. Instead, what I feel is a sense of relief. I can move forward now.
This awful time is finally passing.
I climb back into bed. I’m uncomfortable, but not too uncomfortable to sleep. The memory of the dream returns. I realize the cats in my coat are the two little kittens from Goodnight Moon. Mom dreams.
Except you’re not, and somehow you know–it’s going to be okay.
I put the iPad face down on my nightstand and roll over. No more spontaneous blue light interrupting the night.