It all happened so fast, until it didn’t. A little over a month ago I looked at my wife and she got pregnant. Seriously. It was that fast. We were in the middle of the conversation about if we were going to have another baby and before we knew what happened it had been decided for us. Boom. I almost saw it happen. Our eyes met and then we cut to that educational movie where you see a bunch of sperm fighting their way into an egg. Moments later we would be cartoonishly smoking cigarettes, both looking satisfied as we lingered in post coital bliss. That of course is not what happened, we don’t smoke but we did watch that movie with the sperm and egg. It’s a classic. I wouldn’t call it an accident, but there was a whoops moment, and I wouldn’t call it on purpose, though we had had the talk. If there is a line between trying and not trying this was just over the trying line. Not by much. Just barely over. We would have needed a ref to make a decision and to establish the particulars and all that ref would have said was, ”There was no goalie, of course it was over the line.”
I will admit that I was totally unprepared for the reality of having another child at that moment. Not that I didn’t want one, I just imagined it would take us a while. Max, our 3 year old was the product of two years of mostly nonchalant trying. Toward the end we took some initiative and actually started charting Nicole’s cycle when we began to wonder what was taking so long. Was there something wrong with one of us? Maybe this was the moment we realize that we were childless. Then it happened. The first month we charted she got pregnant. For a while we didn’t think too much about the second child as we were too overwhelmed and preoccupied with our first. That and we were both trying to maintain life as artists of one kind or another. As Max has gotten older we have thought more about giving him a brother or sister believing that he would be great in that role and knowing that it would be a great experience for him.
So we were going to have a baby after we tried that one time. Once. We tried (fuzzy line) once, and Nicole got pregnant. We were both equally surprised. Plus sign. Doctor said yes. This is a go. So we spent the month adjusting to the idea of being new parents for the second time. At first I will admit to some fear and apprehension. 2 children is not at all like 1 child. We were entering uncharted territory that some of our friends had told us to head into willingly and some had told us to fear with our soul. I tend to obsess about these things but this time the obsession seemed to melt away every time I thought about Max seeing his little brother or sister for the first time. When I thought of them playing years later. When I imagine them both riding in the back seat of the car. Making cookies with their mother. Going to the movies and on and on. In short I got used to the idea very quickly. It’s amazing how that happens. How suddenly the worries can disappear and you are fine with what you know will be a struggle, because it will be the best kind of struggle and the one that you will make work no matter what.
So for a month we started making plans. Getting the future prepared. We remembered all the stuff we had to do the first time with the doctors. Finding a new midwife. Looking at dates and it was obvious, in my humble opinion, that we had learned a thing or two. I don’t know how to describe it to anyone who has not had a child because the list of things you do when preparing is so particular to that act and no other. However, like anything you’ve done more than once the next time is easier, or at least better, and maybe it even looks a little saner. It just made more sense this time.
One of the things that’s great about having a child with someone you really love is that you can have a secret together for a while. We were mum with most of our family for various reasons. For the first 2 weeks because it was just so early, during the second two weeks we told 3 people. My sister-in-law, and our son’s best friend’s parents, they are great friends and his mother is a midwife so we knew she would have information for us. Then last week, Nicole had to tell her cast mates and the people at the theater where she works. More than once she had gone on stage and had to get them to leave a bucket to the side for her. Since she has been working at a children’s theater it seemed both appropriate that she was with child and strange if she were to throw up on stage. The nausea was getting pretty bad and a couple of times she thought she might leave her lunch in front of the audience. In between bouts of sickness she had started saying, things like, “This one is different, maybe it’s a girl.” We giggled at the prospect, our secret, only spread to this small group, people who needed to know. We were a little drunk on the idea of expanding our family.
Then, this Wednesday Nicole started to bleed, not a lot, some light spotting. We didn’t let it bother us because we both remembered that this had happened last time too. As the day went on however the bleeding did not stop. And it stopped spotting and started flowing. It was a very strange experience that was so different from what had come before; before everything had happened very quickly this it was all happening very slow. Nicole would come out of the bathroom a little paler everytime. At one point she looked at me and said, “Something big fell out of me.” and as much as we had both wanted this to be ok, now we knew that it was probably over. The strange thing about it was that there was nothing to be done and we went about our day, which lucky for us was a holiday, so I could be home. We went about having some time as a family and it was to my great regret that I had offered my son the chance to watch Inside Out.
If you haven’t seen the movie it is one of Pixar’s that promises to make you weep, but especially, if you have a child. This movie follows a girl from her birth to her teen years based on events that are brought on by emotions that live in the command center in her brain. My wife was actively having a miscarriage and this was what we choose to watch. We spent the next 90 minutes weeping while my son sat smiling, oblivious, as he should have been. This was also the night we had a dinner with our lovely friends Tammy and Blaine, a dinner that had already been cancelled once, and because of the timing, really couldn’t be cancelled that night. In addition Tammy is well along with a child due to give birth this Spring. So Max and I got into the car and went to dinner. It turned out to be a good thing. Nicole had some time to process what was happening to her and I got to take Max out to romp at someone else’s house. We explained to him as best we could that one of Mommy’s eggs broke and couldn’t make a baby, that it made her feel sick and both of us sad. He seemed to like that explanation and then went on to pull out his scrotum and explain that he had special seeds to offer us that might help. An indication that all of the talk of sex we have fed him has had some positive results.
When we came home after dinner Nicole looked a little rested, a little sad, and a lot tired, but, set in the knowledge that what was happening to her just had to be gone through. It was still happening and is still happening as I type these words. A miscarriage can take a long time. I didn’t know that. I always imagined it was a one moment thing where you lost the baby and then cleaned up. I never understood there was a chance of infection, or that a woman must sit with the process for days, sometimes for up to two weeks, as her body works out all of the biological details it needs to. Nicole is my hero for both going through this and then wanting to talk about it and not keep it a secret. She needs people to be there and envelope her in love and to understand that she is ok. She is sad and going to be as for a while as will I, but, everything will be ok and we will move on just like we always have when we hit these moments.
At one point on Wednesday I said several times, “It wasn’t even really a baby, it was cells.” Nicole looked at me and asked me to stop saying that. That it diminished what she was going through and what she needed at that moment. She was right and I was blocking out my own sadness by letting it be all biology and science. It was sad. I needed to be sad and had never been in a position like this so I didn’t know how to admit how I felt. It took me two days of wrestling with things that I understood the loss we had both experienced. It was all happening so slow. The next day we went to the hospital and had a sonogram which revealed an empty space where the beginnings of a baby used to be. As we were leaving the office Nicole said sort of off the cuff, “Bye bye baby.” She smiled like she always did and grabbed my hand and my eyes welled up with tears. I quickly wiped them away as we went to pick up our son. Hearing her say goodbye to the idea of the last month was what did it. The reality was now gone and we were going to move on no matter what.
We went to meet a friend who was watching Max while were were at the hospital at a nearby mall. We got there a little early and Nicole decided go go into a store she likes. One of those she says, “Is for pretty things.” I waled away to run a quick errand and when I came back she had bought a tiny little bowl. “It said “I love you”, in the bottom. this was her way of finding memorial for that baby. Whoever you were, that love was there. Then we found Max and went home together.
Max has this thing he does where he sees Nicole and I hugging. He walks up to us and puts his arms around our legs and makes us pick him up so he can be part of the hug. Then he likes to give us both a kiss and he takes a deep breath. So at home that night that’s how we found ourselves in the kitchen; holding tight while all of us took a deep breath and leaned into each other with all the love in the world.
I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has read Nicole’s or my stories since we posted them. Most importantly thanks to every woman who came forward to talk about their experience having a miscarriage. The men too, but I think it’s especially hard for woman and since we decided to talk about it, a huge number of people have come forward to tell their story. Most say they hadn’t felt like they could open up about their experience before. You can if you want to. It’s a very personal decision but if you want to talk we will talk. We’re talkers. 🙂