Swallowed by December
write, write, write… delete, delete, delete…
write, write, write… delete, delete, delete…
I thought I would just get that out of the way, since every time I come to my computer to write this post that’s what I end up doing. But, as my wise friend Renee reminded me tonight, “you know everything you write about doesn’t always have to be perfect and happy.” Even though I am partial to glitter and rainbows, she’s right. I ran into a woman today shopping and we were both admiring a petit little tree decked out in burgundy trimmings. She asked me what 60% off of $120 was and I said about $50. She asked if I liked it. “Yes, it’s a beautiful tree,” I agreed. I looked up and focused on her for the first time. Her eyes looked like cloudy pools of ice with tears just skating the edge of her lashes, ready to jump at any minute. “It would be just right for me now,” she paused, the next words foreign on her lips, “it’s just me now.” I wanted to hug her, because what do you say, but I didn’t. I wish I had now. She looked like she really needed a hug, but then maybe I would’ve been the stranger that broke the dam she was trying to contain. And she was all alone with no rescue crew in sight.
December is a special and wonderous month in so many ways, but it can be such a difficult month, too. High expectations, limited time and a sharp reminder of those missing in our celebrations. For all of you reading this who had a difficult December, I pray the new year will bring you the peace you so sorely deserve.
Twelve days ago, I was confidently swimming the length of December’s pool, maybe even showing off a little with a butterfly stroke or two. But then, eleven days ago, my arms started getting tired and I had to revert to treading water as it was the only survival method I could muster.
It’s never a good sign when your normally warm and reassuring doctor is staring at an ultra sound screen and saying nothing. Nothing for a good, long uncomfortable minute. And your mind is racing and you’re watching your kind doctor with the warm eyes searching the screen for confirmation, reaching for just the right words. The words of not dread, but not too much hope. Just the right balance of, it may be okay, but it may also not be okay.
You search his eyes and try to focus on his words. Then you wonder, how many women has this doctor had to tell, I’m sorry I can’t make out a heartbeat. No life streaming through those miniscule chambers. And I tell myself, don’t cry, don’t cry. Just hold it together until you get to the car. Just a little bit longer. But he offers a cautious consolation, it could be okay. It might just be too early to see a heartbeat. Maybe your dates are wrong. And, I think yes, yes, maybe my dates are wrong. It could be ok, don’t assume the worst. Be hopeful. Be still. Let’s check your hormone levels just in case, he says. I remind myself again, don’t cry, not yet, not here.
After more blood work, I finally make it to the car and the tears, they stream and the sobs, they come and it feels good not to hold it in anymore. And Passenger is commiserating with me, “Only miss the sun when it starts to snow… Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low.” But my thoughts are clearing now, I’m counting the days backward, the two pink lines, what a small baby reveals about the time of conception. Could that be? Does that make sense? I should have told the doctor that. But it’s too late now. It’s time to wait. Time to wait for blood work and the it doesn’t look good phone calls. Time to wait for my body to do its work.
And while my mind is settling in on this new alternate vision of what our summer will look like, my heart hasn’t quite caught up yet. The distractions of sick kids and Christmas functions and work provide temporary relief, but they leave a current in which the waves that come upon you are sudden and swift. You can be swimming along in calm waters and then a new wave crashes in from behind.
December came and went and it swallowed me whole. I walked the edge of the shoreline, admiring the sheer beauty of the water and then I waded out too deep. Each time I thought I bested the undertow, she showed me better. She told her friends of motion the waves to give me relief but then drench me full once more. And I’ve been rounds of words in perpetuity to make sense of it all, to swim through it, and I’ve fallen short. I feel upstream, searching for paddles, but finding only clumsy, misfit timbers instead. So if this post is rambling and incongruent, my apologies, I haven’t quite located my oars yet.
I struggled with whether or not to write about this, but then it dawned on me, there were three things that softened this blow I wasn’t expecting. The first: my boys (all 3 of them), the second: my doctor who said over and over again, “this wasn’t your fault, there was nothing you could have done differently that would have changed this outcome,” and lastly: I know many other women who have gone through this and who kept me buoyed with their empathy and words of encouragement. I wouldn’t want any woman who goes through a miscarriage to feel like she’s the only one or that she did something wrong. I think it’s good that women talk about this more. It’s real. It’s life.
I don’t know if these angel babies go to heaven. They do in the “Heaven is for Real” book I read awhile back. I’m earnest in my heart and my prayers that this is true. Imagine that, a beautiful son or daughter you’ve never met to greet you at the gates of heaven.
And, if you see a stranger that needs a hug, I say go for it. I wish I did.