Amy has been my friend since I was 14. We’ve laughed, cried, played, argued. We’ve been through a lot together. We didn’t know it way back then 16+ years ago that we’d have more in common than crushes and favorite colors. Pregnancy loss isn’t something that ever crossed our minds back then but it brought us closer as adults. She’s a wife and an absolutely amazing Mama to the sweetest little boy, Corey.
I have one beautiful perfect son sleeping beside me, snoring like a teeny tiny old man.
The road to get here has been long, twisty, confusing, heartbreaking, but I wouldn’t take a minute of it back.
February 2011. I was 25 years old, in a long-term relationship to which I was 100% committed—but I was with a man who had two children from a previous marriage and didn’t want any more. I loved his children as if they were my own, and I didn’t want any more either.
The test was positive. Suddenly I knew her, and I wanted her. Her name was Joanna Renee, and I’d call her Anna for short. I don’t know how I knew, but from the moment I saw the test I knew it was her, and I loved her, and I wanted her, more than anything in the world.
I thought about the right time to tell her father. I thought about how to tell the other kids. I thought he might be angry, I knew he would stress, I wondered if he would think we had to get married. We didn’t, I would reassure him. I thought about the kids’ reactions. Neither of them wanted a new baby. I was terrified. I kept it to myself and just thought about all those things for six days.
Then I began to bleed. I prayed for it to stop, but I knew it wouldn’t. I felt empty inside and I knew my daughter was gone. A few days passed, and I took another test. Negative. That night her father found me crying in the bedroom alone. He asked what was the matter. Everything I had thought about rushed to my mind, my carefully planned speech about how it was all going to work out just fine and he didn’t have to do a thing except enjoy the nugget when she arrived. It all tumbled to the front of my brain and landed in a disheveled heap. All that came out was, “I was pregnant. I’m not anymore.”
He did his best to be sympathetic—he hugged me & told me he was sorry; he asked if I was OK and if we needed to go to the hospital. I told him no, it was over, nothing more could be done. Physically my body took care of it and all was well. Except that I saw his face—I saw how damned relieved he was while I mourned our daughter. Our relationship lasted about seven months more, but during that time I pushed him too far away, and there was no coming back.
August 2013. I met Ken. We became best friends. We started dating in May of 2014 and were married in October the same year. We didn’t want kids. I was as much of a mom as I could be to my ex’s two kids for so long, only to split, and lose them to a new stepmother. That experience was so painful that I never wanted to play that role again. I was still traumatized by the loss of my first pregnancy. I never wanted to endanger another baby by putting it in my uterus. We were happy, just us and the dogs. That lasted a month into our marriage. In November, he confessed to me that he wanted a baby, and immediately I realized how much I longed to be a mother.
April 2015. Positive pregnancy test. A boy— I knew it in my gut. We were over the moon. The very next morning I started to spot. I had a bad feeling but I tried so hard to stay positive. A few days later the bleeding got heavier. I took the second test. Negative. Michael was gone. My husband was disappointed I’m sure, but in retrospect, I don’t really remember his reaction. I know that he was right beside me when I read the test, but I retreated into myself, to try to prepare to mourn my son alone, and I left him on the outside.
I was numb—I remembered the drill. Watch for the signs that my body needed help disposing of its failure. There were none. I went to work, I did my workouts, I came home, I laid beside my husband at night like a slab of concrete. Finally, seven days after I found out Michael existed, I began to cramp after a run. I went to the bathroom and realized I needed to push. I expelled the sac, intact. I brushed the blood off of the outside of it with my thumb. My son was inside. I saw his tiny, white body, no more than an inch long. I held Michael on a tissue in my hand and my heart broke. I have never felt such pain. I saw his big blue eyes in my mind, I saw the freckles on his nose and his long dark lashes. Then suddenly a curtain fell on the images. My brain clicked on. This is a miscarriage — there is no way to preserve it, it’s too small to do anything with, there is nothing to do but let it go. I dropped the tissue and flushed. I doubled over and cried out— it felt like all my guts were being ripped out with a fork. I flushed my baby—my son, sweet Michael, went down the toilet like waste.
I composed myself and pushed through. I was done—I didn’t want to ever be pregnant again. The sickness didn’t go away, though. I thought it was hormone fluctuation from the miscarriage. My husband told me to take another test. I told him it wasn’t possible that I was pregnant, it had only been a few weeks since I lost Michael. When I gagged on my morning coffee one too many times, I took a test. Positive.
I was too shocked to be excited. I went to the doctor, took a blood test. Positive. Made an appointment. I had never gotten as far as the first appointment before. When I heard his heartbeat, I woke up. My third child was alive. Michael was a twin—he aborted so that his brother could thrive. For some reason I could not carry them both—-it may have something to do with how big Corey would get and how he would try to strangle himself with the cord, and maybe the fates knew I couldn’t have a natural labor. But I could not have them both, so one brother sacrificed himself for the other. The mingling of sorrow, and love, and joy, and thankfulness, and grief is something I cannot describe.
We gave Corey his brother’s name as a middle name. I was terrified the entire pregnancy. I wanted my son to live, more than I had ever wanted anything in my life. On January 16 I went into labor. I could not dilate on my own. My pelvic opening was too narrow and with every contraction Corey’s heart rate plummeted as the umbilical cord was pinched around his neck. They stopped my labor, stabilized him and prepped me for surgery.
On January 17, 2016, at 10:30 a.m. Corey Michael was delivered by C-section, eight pounds, eleven ounces, 23 inches long. He is beautiful and perfect and I love him more than words can say. I believe in guardian angels, or spirits, or whatever you want to call them, but Michael protected his brother with his life in the womb and I like to think he will continue to watch over Corey throughout his life. I thank his brother for his sacrifice every time I hold Corey.
Anna would be five years old, had she lived. I think about her often; I like to think I know what she’d look like. Hazel eyes, straight brown hair, freckles like me in the summertime. There would have been four years and a few months between her brothers and her. I went through a time when I thought I was supposed to just accept that I miscarried and move on. I tried to make it OK by making the comment once, that Ken might not have been interested in me if I had a two year old when we started dating. We might not have started dating at all. He told me nothing could have kept him from falling in love with me, and had she lived, he would have married the both of us. In saying so, he gave me permission to recognize and remember my daughter and he will never know how much that means to me.
You don’t just get over it, no matter how early the miscarriage was. For a minute, or a day, or a week, you were a Mama, you had a baby, and then your child was lost. There are no reasons; most of the time there seems to be no purpose. I am lucky in that I know the reason for Michael’s death and that gives me peace, though I still mourned him, and I still love him. But the unseen loss is far from the unfelt loss. Our children are real, Dear Ladies. Some are alive, and some have moved on to the next life, but our children are real, and we are allowed to love them, and we are allowed to mourn them. They watch over us, and they watch over their siblings, and they will never be forgotten.