The three dreaded words, “there’s no heartbeat.” I’m not going to say I didn’t suspect something was off. I had lost my pregnancy symptoms for two weeks. I kept telling my family that I didn’t think it was a viable pregnancy. Viable. Who uses that word to describe their baby. I kept reading the term during the late term abortion debates. So I think it was stuck in my head. It was a softer way of saying, I think my baby passed. Maybe because I’m realistic that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in a miscarriage. Maybe because I saw my sister lose a baby at 6 months pregnant. How horrific. A baby boy who had a name and tiny little footprints. Maybe because so many of my friends struggled to conceive. Many had miscarriages or simply can’t have children. Our Moms told of their losses and losses experienced by our grandparents. Maybe because thanks to the many brave women sharing their stories I thought I had heard everything. I was wrong.
I knew the second I had Michael I wanted more children. Shit, the first thing I said when they threw him on my chest was, “I can’t wait to do this again.” No other time in my life had I felt such love and euphoria. Once I had my six week post partum check up, I told my OBGYN that I wanted to try again. She said to give it time. Give my body time to heal. She said with my age, I should wait a year but she would give me 6 months. I’m still ignorant to how complicated and messy my delivery was. My doctor and Sean are not. They knew I needed time. I think there is a part of a woman’s brain that goes into amnesia after childbirth. It protects us. Tricks us into having more. I gave it some time. Once Michael was 6 months old, we agreed to not try but not prevent it either. Each month I got my period I was like “huh this might take a bit.” Then in the middle of January, when Michael was 10 months old, I started to feel the sore boobs. To be honest my first sign was when a glass of red wine smelled like shit. I thought…..Ohhh boy. How exciting!!! I waited until my first missed period. I took a test and it had a faint line. Not a clear positive. I had those cheap tests left over. The ones I swore I wouldn’t use again. I told my Mom and my sister right away. The next day at work I told my friend Christina. Then I asked if her Mom could make a big brother onesie. She’s so crafty. She made onesies for all of Michaels first holidays. Love her. I wanted to sneak it on Michael and surprise Sean. How cute is this onesie?
Later that week I told my friend Lexi that I was pretty sure I was pregnant but that the test wasn’t clear. She was like “Ohhh heck no we’re going to get a digital test right now.” We ran down to Penn station and bought a test. Went into the bathroom at work and waited. There it was……Pregnant!
Literally on cloud 9!!! I was going to tell Sean that weekend. I just needed the right time. I called my doctor right away. The 9 week appointment was made for March 8th. I’m almost 37. I wasn’t wasting any time. Both my babies under 2, how awesome and insane. They’d be best friends.
That Saturday morning I put the onesie under Michaels pajamas. When he needed to be changed I asked Sean to do it. Of course he was in the middle of fixing our dishwasher and super annoyed I was bugging him to change the baby. I was laughing on the inside.
We found out shortly after that friends of ours were pregnant with their second. We were on the same timeline. Even more exciting. I started planning and daydreaming about pregnancy in the summer at the shore. I was pregnant with Michael in the winter so this was the total opposite timeline.
Five days after I took the test I got an interesting email from work about a late afternoon meeting. I, along with my peers found out we were getting laid off. Not that day but in the very near future. My heart sank.
What am I going to do? We just bought a house!! Who the hell is going to hire a pregnant woman. I was devastated. As much as everyone told me to relax, I literally thought about it every second. I was kind of relieved that I’ll have a new opportunity to move on to something better. A place where I’d be respected. The reality was that being pregnant seemed to be at the worst time. Now I’m two months pregnant, losing my job and could lose everything. My Mom kept telling me to calm down. She kept reminding me what a blessing the baby was and how it would all work out. The first 12 weeks of pregnancy are so critical. You have to keep stress at bay, eat well and take care of yourself. Every friend I spoke to said, “don’t tell anyone you’re pregnant because honestly no one is going to hire a pregnant woman.” Of course it’s against the law but it happens. Who would invest in someone that will need to be on maternity leave in a few months. In radio that’s not good. Then I was stressing finding a new job and having to tell them after that I’m pregnant. How awkward.
Rewind to 2017. I was four months pregnant with Michael when I negotiated my current contract. One of the most stressful moments of my life. I had kept it from everyone at work in fear that they wouldn’t resign me. Even though I had gone above and beyond the two years prior and deserved to be there and then some. I told them after I signed that I was expecting. The reaction was intense. I hope to one day write about how awful that was and even worse my return from maternity leave. That’s for a time when I’m long out of radio.
My current contract gives me 2 weeks severance. 2 weeks!!!!! Pile onto the anxiety I already felt. Now, I’m looking for work, expecting a new baby and sitting on a cushion of 2 weeks. I found out later that the SAG AFTRA union does protect me with some added severance. Thank God!
Fast forward to about two weeks ago. I noticed my breasts were no longer sore. I wasn’t feeling right. I told my Mom that I had a bad feeling. Saturday I had sex and immediately spotted after. Totally alarming. I never spotted with Michael. I figured it was just a fluke. Then the days that followed I continued to have spotting. I called my OB Monday morning and she asked me to come in Wednesday. My 9 week appointment was that Friday. No way I was waiting. I decided to walk the 30 blocks from work to my doctors office. It was extremely nostalgic. Exactly one year ago, I walked the same route, one week before I had Michael. All the same faces. The front desk, the nurses, the ultra sound techs. The sites and smells of NYC! Such a comforting and exciting feeling. I spoke with my OB about family and how great Michael is. She did an exam and said the bleeding had stopped. Right then I was like OMG I’m so narrotic. It’s all good. Then as we were in a fit of laughter she started the vaginal ultra sound. I instantaneously saw a look that wasn’t good. I turned to the screen and there was my little nugget. Except it wasn’t as big as it should be. She looked at me and said, “there’s no heart beat.”
UGHHHHHH the punch to the heart. The nurse left the room and my OB sat in front of me. She said it looked as though it stopped growing at six weeks. We would have to wait another week and check again. If there’s no heartbeat, I’d have to make some choices. I tried fighting back tears but COME ON!!
I knew it was the stress!!! The job. The Job damn it!!!! Why did I allow a change that might be the best thing that happened to me, stress me to the point I hurt my baby. She insisted that hadn’t caused it but in my heart I felt it did. Was it the few coffees I had? Was it the constant worry about work? Was it the anger I felt inside about all the shitty things that happened, that I need to let go of? I guess I’ll never know.
When she told me to come back the following week I thought there was a chance it’ll be ok!! All she said was, “go home and have a drink.” To which I said “well I’m not going to have a drink if there’s a chance it’ll be ok.”
“Go home and have a drink.”
I called Sean and gave him the bad news. He had to run into a class but called me minutes later saying he couldn’t concentrate with that news. He took it worse then I had anticipated.
There’s nothing like walking 30 blocks trying to hide tears. I drove my 75 mile commute home in silence. All I kept thinking was how lucky I am to have Michael to go home to. I’m so fortunate I have him and this isn’t us trying for the first time. Can’t imagine that stress. I couldn’t get home faster. When I got home I told my mother in law who was super upset. She was so excited to be a Grandma again. The thing I’ve learned since becoming a mom is that you can’t show your cards. Your little one doesn’t need the stress or to see you cry. The rest of the day was playing with Michael, making dinner and bath time. Rocking him to sleep was the BEST medicine. After he was asleep I poured a glass of wine. One glass and I was asleep by 8pm.
As the weekend approached the bleeding slowly became more prevalent. It got the point where I felt this heavy pressure. As if my body was holding on and wouldn’t expel the pregnancy. Then Monday I went to the bathroom and it was worse. I don’t know why but I couldn’t stop sobbing. Sobbing into a roll of toilet paper. I didn’t want Sean or Michael to hear. I’ve always been able to feel my feelings deeply. I just had to let it out. There was someone who heard though. Cooper. He began to scratch at the bathroom door. I opened it, picked him up and snuggled on the couch with him. Dogs are so in tune to our emotions.
Little did I know what was to come the very next day……
Several weeks ago I asked my employer if I could work from home since several employees have been and I was paying insane commuting costs to come in every day. Knowing the job is ending soon why not save every bit. Plus going through this at home would be a blessing. I received a call on my way home that it was not approved. Literally no reaction. I’m numb to it now. Thank you, Next!
I drove home feeling like I had the past week. Normal menstrual cycle. Got home, changed the baby and then sat on the floor to play with him. My mother in law sat in the rocker and we just started chatting. Out of nowhere a rush of bleeding. I jumped up and ran to the bathroom. The bleeding was alarming. Not menstrual bleeding. Like real watery blood. It wouldn’t stop. I asked my MIL if she could keep an eye on Michael so I could hop in the shower. It was the only way I could handle this amount of bleeding. I got in the shower. Cold water of course because our boiler is shot. Just what I fucking needed. I stood there for ten minutes. Ten minutes and it never stopped. Every time I looked out the shower curtain Coop was staring at me. He seemed to be really worried about me. I got concerned too so I decided to get out and call my doctor. I made it to the top of the stairs with a bath towel rolled up between my legs. There was no way a pad was going to work with how much I was bleeding. As I got upstairs Cooper walked up to me with poop stuck all over his butt. I’m thinking REALLY? Now? Maybe that’s why he was following me nonstop lol. He needed to go out. Poor guy. So I picked him up waddled to the bathroom and gave him a bath. Still in a bath towel. Still bleeding. I guess it did help take my mind off it for ten minutes. After I dried him off I got an enormous shot of pain. Pain that began to happen non-stop. Like mild labor pains. It was so painful I began to pace around the house. By the grace of God my MIL got Michael down for a nap. She put her coat on and was about to leave and all I could muster is, “somethings wrong.” I called my doctor and cried to the receptionist. She put me on hold and I continued to pace. Then as I’m standing in the living room a huge excruciating pain came on and I passed something the size of my fist. Shock. WTF is that!!!!!! I was too stunned to pick it up off the floor. Yes disgusting. Yes I probably should have been on the toilet. Had I know that was going to happen I would have been but the cramps were too strong not to pace. I just thought I’d be bleeding so the towel works work. My doctor got on the phone and I was speechless. What is happening? Am I hemorrhaging? Is that the baby that came out? She assured me that what was happening was normal. That it was probably the sac and I was absolutely feeling labor pains. How did I never know this information? She told me to take 3 Advil, get a heating pad and rest. I texted Sean to get home and did just that. The pains stopped shortly after. The bleeding continued but I was glad the pain was over. I felt so weak after. I called in sick for the first time in my 13 years in radio. I felt sadness, relief, weakness and confusion. Luckily my boy had my back. He literally followed me through the entire ordeal.
My doctor pushed my ultra sound to next week. She said nature was taking it’s course and we’ll see if it all comes out. If not I’m going to need a D&C. I’m praying it does. I passed more clots today and it seems as though the cramping is over. I’m already thinking I’m sharing too many details but if this can help prepare just one woman with what can happen I feel I’ve shared what I needed to.
Not sure I want to try again. The thought of going through this again scares me. I can’t even imagine the nightmare for women who are further along. There are so many scary phases of pregnancy! Will I make it to 8 weeks, will I go full term, is the baby healthy, will my childbirth be safe, will I have a still born, will I suffer post partum issues, is my baby ok, is my baby ok? I don’t think the fears ever stop. I guess it’s part of life. Maybe I need to focus on the positive because my body was protecting me.
What I do appreciate and realize is that I am so blessed with Michael. If he’s the only child I’m going to have, then I have hit the jackpot.We were so fortunate to conceive him on our honeymoon and have a good pregnancy. It’s time to put this behind me. Thank God I’m ok and look forward. Time to celebrate Michaels 1st birthday this weekend! What a year it has been so far. Many changes and many losses. Things that will only make me stronger.
To the women who have suffered losses. I’m sorry. Your strength and resilience inspires me. It’s something that is a very individual thing to go through. Our partners can only offer support but they will never know the physical pain or the emotional rollercoaster of our hormones. Cry when you need to cry.
To the many women looking for work while pregnant, don’t despair. We must be in front of our peers without fear of discrimination. I never should have felt how I did at the prospect of being pregnant looking for work. We deserve to be in the work force. We deserve the right to provide for our families.
To the many women like me who suffered a loss but got up everyday and took care of their families and went to work, I salute you. We need to give ourselves some credit.
Too the many women who returned from maternity to a different atmosphere and were not embraced, I feel you. It gets easier. Speak up, speak out and don’t let anyone dim your shine.
We have more work to do for female empowerment. We’ve chipped away at it but it’s not over. Pregnancy and motherhood should not be a setback. It’s truly a rebirth into our greater selves.
To my family and friends who sent food, flowers and words of encouragement, thank you!
To the child I’ll never meet, I’m sorry. I’m sorry this happened. I wish it could have been different but God had bigger plans for you on the other side. I’ll think of you often. We’ll meet one day………..