Mom to Baby Cavagnaro
February 23, 2016
I’m writing this very soon after as a way to help me cope. On Monday, January 18th, I left work early. I was too tired to remain at my desk anymore and I could not understand it. I had slept all weekend – about 14 hours per day – and had over 9 hours of sleep Sunday night to Monday morning (after a long nap Sunday afternoon) so I knew something was wrong for me to be this exhausted. My work has their own clinic onsite so on Tuesday when I still felt exhausted, after another full night’s sleep and a four hour nap the day before, I scheduled an appointment.
I emailed my mother that I was afraid I was anemic. I had been having a period, albeit a light one, for over two weeks and I thought this blood loss must be causing me to have at least situational anemia. I went to my appointment on January 21st and the doctor explained it could be anemia or it could be a virus, but since I was a little sore on the right side of my stomach and bleeding we also needed to rule out a tubal pregnancy. I peed in the cup with the full confidence of a woman who had been on birth control the majority of her adult life, and said birth control had worked.
The doctor walked back in and I could tell by her face something was wrong. “Your pregnancy test was positive.” Being a woman who decided long ago to be a great Auntie but never a birth mother, I burst into tears and responded with a respectful, “Are you [freaking] kidding me” except with a different f-word there. This doctor and I had worked closely together on worker’s compensation claims for my employer so she knew me well and knew these weren’t tears of joy. She shook her head, assured me it was true, and said we needed to get me in immediately for an ultrasound as a tubal pregnancy could be life-threatening to me. It took about two hours before I could compose myself enough to go back to work and get through the remainder of the day. I told my partner, parents, and sisters immediately and the next day my mother, father, and sister were at the ultrasound appointment with me. The results went back to the clinic and another physician there called me around 5:00 to tell me everything was positioned correctly and looked good.
So I was pregnant. I hated that I didn’t feel excited. That night I received an email from Kohl’s reminding me to use my birthday cash before it expired. As a true shopaholic I couldn’t let that happen so I clicked the link and then the category Baby and started looking around. Somehow I found a little unisex outfit that had a duck on the butt of the white pants and I Love Mommy on the front of the yellow onesie. Mommy. I was a Mommy. That word hit hard and changed everything for me. I ordered that little outfit. I started looking at the guest room and envisioning a nursery over the weekend. I knew immediately I didn’t want to find out the sex ahead of time so I wondered what options were out there for unisex nurseries. I looked around on Amazon and found this lion and giraffe motif that was discontinued, on clearance, and there were only 8 left. For only $49.99, how could I not order it? I started getting excited. I was a Mommy!
I went in for follow-up blood work on Monday. Every nurse I saw asked some form of how was I holding up. I laughed and asked if I made that big of a scene when I found out? They just smiled and affirmed I did. I let them know about my I love Mommy outfit and that I had gotten over the shock and I was getting excited. Tuesday, January 26th was my birthday and my partner and I had taken the day off work well before I found out about our little surprise. We spent it together much differently than originally planned. Around 2:00 I called the clinic to find out the results of my blood test. The doctor came on the line and said my numbers were rising, but not like they should. They only went from 59,000 to 67,000 and they should have doubled. I didn’t understand what any of that meant but ultimately I needed another ultrasound which was already scheduled with my OB for the following Monday. “I’m not sure this pregnancy is viable” are the words I’ll never forget. I burst into tears once again. How did this news break my heart so much 5 days after the opposite news did the same? I knew then that I wanted this baby more than anything. I began praying and talking to my baby, coaxing it to live and promising to be a great Mommy if he/she did.
Monday came and once again I had a support system at my ultrasound. My mother used to work for my OB so she knew the ultrasound tech well. They chatted while she searched around my uterus. “There’s the gestational sac.” “There’s your left ovary.” “There’s the yolk sac.” Finally “There’s the fetal pole.” I knew that one was important from all of the internet scouring I had done. “I can’t find a heartbeat, but it may be too early.” Tears welled up. “You’re measuring 6 weeks and 2 days.” Tears slowed. That was good! That was exactly right from when I thought conception had occurred. She brought in the doctor. “There’s a fetal pole and that’s good and the baby is progressing from the last ultrasound, so those are positives. But there is no heartbeat. I think we need to wait a week and do another ultrasound. I think the chances are good now but if we do not see a heartbeat then I will have to call it.” I left the appointment in tears, refused my mom and best friend’s offers to be with me and drove home and had a mini-panic attack. As I was trying to sleep that night I prayed for God to just give me some kind of sign that everything was going to be ok. I turned on an old Pandora station and the first song that came on was one I had never heard by Sade called “My Baby’s Father.” The second song was “Three Little Birds.” I just kept repeating “every little thing is going to be alright.” The third song was our song – mine and my partner’s. I finally felt a peace and was able to sleep. After all, there was more good news than bad.
The next day I decided to push my ultrasound back one week. I felt, according to “doctor internet” and all of the bloggers on there, it was still early and I didn’t want to have another ultrasound and not hear the heartbeat and panic again when I finally felt peace right now. Waiting two weeks put it in the time period I should definitely hear the heartbeat. So I moved it back one week. For the next two weeks I bought things like buying them could force my baby to live. Burp cloths that said I Love Mommy, organic onesies, a romper that said I Love Daddy, my dad bought a changing table I liked that was $500 from JC Penny but $40 on Craigslist so we had to get it right away. Then the couple sold him the dresser and book shelf for $30 as well. I bought maternity clothes from Motherhood Maternity off their clearance sale. I took pictures with the little belly on underneath them in the changing room laughing at how I’d already gained ten pounds which had nothing to do with the baby and everything to do with Frisch’s spicy spuds and chocolate milk cravings. I took prenatal vitamins and held my stomach constantly saying firmly “live, baby” the whole time fully believing my baby would do just that. I was 34, had a great job, own my home, have a wonderful support system, and while the baby’s father isn’t my husband, we are madly in love, so while this wasn’t planned, this pregnancy was good.
Monday, February 15th at 11:30, the ultrasound tech started digging around in my uterus once again. Almost immediately “see that, I think that’s the heartbeat!” My mom and I start crying tears of joy. “We have to be able to duplicate it,” she cautions. Twenty minutes later we couldn’t. Not only that the fetal pole was gone. She suddenly stopped and said I’m going to have the doctor look at this. He comes in and says he’s sorry, but he is calling it. “It looks like the baby stopped growing at some point. There is no heartbeat. You have miscarried.” I wanted a second opinion. We saw the flicker! This was an old ultrasound machine. I ran through every reason I could think of not to believe him while he gave me options of medication, D&C or waiting to see if the baby passed naturally. I was going to wait of course – he was wrong so if I waited I could demand another ultrasound after a few weeks and we’d see that heartbeat and everything would be fine. I made it out of the office held together but as soon as we got downstairs I started crying uncontrollably. My mom offered to drive me home, my best friend offered to come over. All I wanted was my partner. He had work meetings he couldn’t move but when I didn’t call him from the doctor’s office during the ultrasound I think he knew. I had messages from him waiting. I called him at work and he left and met me at home. He held me and we cried together and he held me until I fell asleep. I ordered a pizza when I awoke thinking this deserved comfort food if anything did, and after three hours it still did not arrive. I went to bed that night convinced God or the universe hated me.
I was sure they were wrong but I was wavering. Sure I felt tired but not nauseous anymore, but being so tired still must mean something. I was still pregnant. I had to be because I couldn’t survive losing my baby. My breasts still responded like I was pregnant. I could still feel SOMETHING inside of me and I didn’t believe that something was no longer living. No longer… viable… I worked from home the rest of the week stating if I did miscarry that I wouldn’t pass my baby while I was out anywhere. Really I couldn’t function normally. I couldn’t face people. I declined calls and visits from family and friends. I fluctuated between wallowing and denial. I read every story I could find about misdiagnosed miscarriages. (There weren’t as many as I hoped there would be.) I made everyone who loved me and could force me to communicate tell me they believed with me that my baby was fine. On Sunday I started cramping a little and spotting. I texted my close friend and she brought me an array of pads options. On Monday I went to work. Hibernating from the world wasn’t working so now routine would be what I used to prevent this miscarriage. The cramps grew steadily worse. I left work a half hour early after making it through most of the day. I wore a diaper-pad and started passing golf-ball size blood clots that I saved in case those were “it”. I still wasn’t having labor pains like I was warned it would feel like. I cried myself to sleep as the last of my hope left me. At 12:38 a.m. the pain woke me up. It was coming like contractions now. I would fall into some kind of slumber for a couple of minutes and then the pain would come back waking me up again. This went on for about two hours. After two hours the pain became constant. I placed a heating pad on my stomach and changed positions trying to find one that wasn’t excruciating. I rolled around and cried and cursed for the next two hours until I felt it. I knew right away that was it. The pain eased a few minutes later and I went to the bathroom, took off the pad looking at the mass inside that was my precious baby and then not knowing what to do with it. I couldn’t flush my baby or worse through it away like trash. I put it in a plastic bag and once again cried myself to sleep. My partner was violently ill so he couldn’t be there and I have never felt so alone.
I found a site, www.heavensgain.com, in which they have caskets and memorials for miscarried babies at each stage of life. This site lead me to here where I could read other mothers’ stories and share my own. Losing a child through miscarriage is so lonely, and I say that having the best support system in the world. Flowers, cards, texts, calls, emails, dinners, time off work; I mean I really could not be more blessed in my family and friends (which includes my bosses and coworkers). My grandmother even called me and compared my loss to my aunt’s tragic death at 20 years old. That may be the best gift anyone has given me in this process – to compare the loss of my baby to that of the loss of her 20 year old child validated my grief in a way that touched my soul. Still, miscarriage is so lonely. As a mother you’re the only one who felt your child. I never felt my baby kick, but I felt my child inside me. I knew it was different when it was there and I felt the immediate difference when it was gone. The evening after I “delivered” my little one I wanted to hold him/her. I opened the bag still on my bathroom sink and picked up my little baby encased in a mass of tissue and I gingerly placed it in the I Love Mommy onesie – my first purchase for the baby I never knew I wanted so much. I held it and rocked it and read it the book God Gave Us You and cried sad, bitter tears. I don’t know if we will try again now. I don’t know that I actually believe in God and Heaven like people speak of them, though I clung to prayer during this process. I do know that I am a Mommy now no matter what else happens. I leave you with something that does give me hope: my step-sister told me that after her first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage a friend told her that your baby enters, sees something is wrong, and has to leave, but that same baby, that same soul, comes back to you later. She went on to have three more miscarriages before she delivered her son. When she found out she was pregnant with that son, his due date was the exact same day as the due date as was her first pregnancy. Out of 365 possible days her son was due the exact same day! Maybe it’s coincidence. I think it’s hope. Even if I never deliver a baby, and for those mamas who are not able to, maybe it’s a little sign that one day, even if not as clearly as this, all mothers are reunited with their lost children.
You can email Lindsay at Lindsie126@gmail.com.