A Different Kind of Birth Story

You gave us joy for a little over a month.  A tentative joy for me.  From the beginning I felt something was wrong. I was reluctant to tell anyone about you.  Then there was my sickness.  Exponentially worse than with your brother.  I thought I might be having twins.  Or dying.  Around a week or two after finding out I was pregnant, I woke one morning thinking, “It’s gone.”  Then I convinced myself I was being paranoid.  I didn’t want to go to our first ultrasound appointment.  Instead of excitement, there was dread.  So when the doctor told us she had bad news for us, I knew I was right all along.  You stopped growing at 6 weeks, and had no heartbeat.  9 weeks in. My heart knowing the truth and my body not accepting it.  It was a shock for your father.  He cried.  He was so excited about you.

I waited a week to see if I would miscarry naturally.  I tried acupuncture.  My naturopath gave me a homeopathic remedy.  Nothing.  My body held on.  On a Wednesday we visited the doctor again and I took mifepristone.  I remember thinking in a cheery voice, “Let’s go have an abortion!”  I have this thing that happens when I experience great emotional pain.  Something flips in my brain and I have the most inappropriate urge to make a joke or bust up laughing.  It’s incredibly awkward and puts people off.  I found out a while ago that it’s an actual disorder.  Some people react that way to grief.  The brain can’t handle it, so it does this weird dissociation thing.

The next day I took misoprostol and prepared to miscarry.  I was scared it would hurt, but my doctor was wise and started me on pain medication the previous day.  One percoset an hour before misoprostol.  I was reluctant to do it, but also knew I was avoiding an emergency D&C, which was in my near future if I did not do this or miscarry on my own.  With hcg levels still at 59,000, it was highly unlikely I’d miscarry on my own.    I asked my sister, a PA student, what happened to women who didn’t miscarry on their own before the age of modern medicine?  “Um,” she tentatively replied, “They died.”

I felt cramping a couple of hours after taking the pills.  Despite my grief, I was thankful I had the opportunity to do this at home.  Without the abortion pill, I’d be doing this in a hospital.  Surgically.  The contractions came in waves, like early labor.  It progressed quickly.  My mother rubbed my lower back, your dad held my hand, and my mother-in-law watched your brother.  I rocked back and forth on hands and knees, low moaning as the contractions came closer together.  I felt a need to push.  I went to the toilet and did.  The placenta popped out so fast, it scared me.  I desperately thrust my hand into the toilet bowl to rescue your remains and plopped it in a jar.  “Don’t look for a fetus,” the doctor had said. “You were too early along, it was just a clump of cells and your body has probably already broken it down.”  So all I had to hold was a small broken placenta and empty gestational sac.  I couldn’t bury you right away.  It sounds sick, but I kept your remains in that jar in the fridge.  I didn’t want to let go.

We buried you on a Sunday, a bit over a week later.  I picked out a blue hydrangea for you.  I’m going to try to get it to turn purple.  Purple is your color.  I never wore purple until I was pregnant with you.  I bought so many purple maternity tops.

We had a nice ceremony.  Your father, your brother, and I.  We read prayers and I burned the papers and put the ashes in your grave.  Then I placed your remains in, poured some dirt and lost it.  I had already been crying but now I was devastated.  My worst fear.  Burying my child.  The physical act of pouring dirt over your remains broke me.  It made it real.  I’m crying now as I write this.  God how do people live past burying a child that was living?  God forbid.  My heart has a gaping hole in it.  The grief is crushing.  I wanted to dig you back up, grab the placenta, and (oddly) eat it to make you part of me again.  Grief is so weird.

We lit some candles.  Your brother started singing “Happy Birthday” and I started laughing through my tears.  Yes, happy birthday little one.  We’ll meet again on the other side.

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