As my writing often reflects aspects of our loss with Sophia, I rarely address my second, or third, loss. Many who are diagnosed with Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) understand how each loss is the same–yet different. The other two losses were not less significant than losing Sophia. They were not less memorable. They were not less grief-filled. They were not less painful.
Our second baby was aptly named “Baby Number Two.” Suffering the loss before finding the gender, this kept it neutral. Having just suffered the loss of Sophia the year before, this kept it generic and safe. I made every effort to disallow my emotions from attaching to this baby.
Going into an appointment around my eighth or ninth week, we went to one office location, my doctor was working that day in another. Knowing that we followed to the letter what my appointment card from a couple weeks before had instructed, frustration mixed with embarrassment. Restraining my irritation from lashing out at the receptionist, I was weepy instead. Blubbering about how important this appointment was, that I had already had one loss, that I knew we were at the right office, her compassion calmed me. She found another doctor who had a few minutes open at the end of his busy day.
We were not suppose to have an ultrasound, but we did. When the doctor couldn’t find the heartbeat with the doppler he said, “often we cannot hear the heartbeat this early. Maybe the ultrasound technician can fit you in before she leaves.”
After a brief look on the screen, the technician stopped. She turned on the lights. She lead us to an empty exam room. She told us to wait there for the doctor. We were not suppose to see the doctor again.
As he broke the news to us, I stared at him. And then the tears started. Disbelief shrouded my sobs. We were not suppose to have a second loss.
The ensuing miscarriage did not play out how popular media often portrays it to be. I did not go home and immediately lose the baby. I did not bleed at all for nearly four weeks. I went about my life: going to work, going on a pre-planned weekend getaway, making dinners, taking care of our dog. I chose to wait for a natural miscarriage, and the wait was brutal. New questions emerged, confusing what was right and what was wrong: Can I have that glass of wine on our weekend away? Can I have my beloved coffee? Can I eat my sub sandwich with lunchmeat? Am I considered pregnant…or not?
The guilt of moving on with my life while my baby did not survive wore away at any joy each day presented. I walked around with this secret from the world. No one knew I was carrying my dead Baby Number Two. No one understood I was prepared each second of the day for the miscarriage to begin. No one was around when I took frequent bathroom trips just to check for blood. No one felt the pain behind my smile.
Just when I was nearly at my breaking point, the stomach pains started, the bleeding began ever-so-slowly. As the physical pain tore through my body, the emotional pain broke my heart knowing Baby Number Two would be born in my bathroom–in the toilet. Baby Number Two did not get the love Sophia got. Baby Number Two did not get gently placed in a basket, wrapped in a polka-dotted blanket. Baby Number Two did not have keepsake photographs taken.
While Sophia was one of the greatest loses we have ever faced, there is no minimizing the distinctive pain each kind of loss carries.
Recently I came upon an article by a woman describing her experience with miscarriage. So much of her commentary rung true for me as I hung onto each point she made. I don’t fully know her loss or her pain–as each miscarriage is so personal–but I do understand her words.
If interested, the article can be seen here: Losing the Baby: My Week of Gestational Limbo