Some days are the kind that hold special meaning. We always remember birthdays and anniversaries, and some may remember the date that they bought their first home or first car. No one could forget the day that their first child was born (although this a date I can only imagine, and even imagining it gets harder to do with each passing year).
July 6 is a day that sticks out in my memory. It was the day, 7 years ago, that I lost a big part of my innocence about life. It was my first trip to the ER, my first time hooked up to an IV, my first miscarriage of my first baby, and the first time my heart was ever truly broken.
We found out we were pregnant for the first time on May 6, 2002. We'd had our suspicions all weekend long while we were out of town visiting family, so the following Monday I was so happy to have a positive home pregnancy test. Chuck was home from work that day with a terrible cold, and I remember carrying the test into the living room of our apartment to show him. We were so happy (and so oblivious). We had been living in an apartment in Texas for exactly one year, and were just beginning to look for a house. We shared our pregnancy news with most of our immediate family in the weeks that followed. We told my mom in person, on Mother's Day. We told my in-laws when the family was all together for my brother-in-law's graduation with his Master's Degree. We shared the happy news with a few close friends as well.
My first doctor's appointment went well, but the first ultrasound on May 22 was not great. Everyone reassured us that the dates were off and that it might be too early. We were worried, but we had good blood test results and we scheduled a second ultrasound for May 29. You can imagine how relieved we were to see our baby's heartbeat! It was the most beautiful sight and we finally allowed ourselves to relax. Things were going to work out after all, or so it seemed.
We spent the next few weeks searching for a house that would be perfect for our young family. Although we looked at 3 or 4 houses, we kept going back to the very first one we saw. With 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, it was just right. I already knew which room would be the nursery. Two days before we closed on the house, on June 26, I started noticing some spotting that made me nervous. We called the nurse and she said it was probably okay. We went ahead and closed on the house and waited through the weekend, but it did not clear up. We saw our doctor, who did an exam where everything looked fine, but to be sure she sent us to the hospital for an ultrasound. The technician told us that the baby did not look big enough for 11 weeks, and we returned to our doctor's office in tears. After she told us to expect a miscarriage, I remember she let us leave through the back door because we were so upset. (Sometimes I wonder if this was done for us or for the pregnant women in the waiting room.) We went home to our apartment utterly devastated. We spent the 4th of July holiday trying to stay busy in the house while we waited for something to happen. I had opted not to have a D&C, so we knew it might be several days. My sister and her husband came to stay the weekend. The guys worked on painting the house while my sister and I tried to pass the time. My oldest nephew was just a toddler then, and his little brother was still "in the oven." My sister and I were due about a month apart.
By the night of July 5, I knew that the miscarriage would be happening soon. I went to bed around 11, but woke up at 1 am in severe pain. I endured as best as I could through the pain and heavy bleeding until I couldn't do it any longer, and we made a mad dash to the emergency room around 4 am. Just a few minutes after they wheeled me back, I knew that it was over. The ER doctor confirmed that it looked like I had passed "everything." That was the morning of July 6, and I spent the whole day in the hospital receiving fluids and resting. It was a day that changed my life forever.
I remember all of these details because I wrote them down in a journal two days after it happened. Although I could never forget it, I try not to think about it very often and I talk about it even less often. I wrote in that journal that I didn't see how we could ever emotionally or physically handle another miscarriage. I didn't know that there would be 5 more at least.
The fact is that July is my double-whammy month. Our two most promising pregnancies ended in July (the other was our fourth one, July 22, 2005). They are the only two that looked good enough for the doctor to send us home with those treasured ultrasound images.
Remembering is a hard thing to do. I want to remember those 11 weeks that I had another life inside. I want to remember how happy we were and how we thought things would be so simple and wonderful. I want to remember the looks on the faces of our loved ones when we told them the good news. I want to imagine that we didn't have to call them a few months later to tell them that it was now bad news. I do remember the good moments we had, but I can't help but remember the pain, the hurt, and the grief that still feels very fresh 7 years later. It really never does entirely go away. I miss that baby and I still want that baby, and I feel that way about each one that we have lost since.
Today, I remember.