This blog is a continuation in a series I am writing about my husband’s brain injury. If you wish to read the story in order, go back in my archives and find Begin at the Beginning…all the ones in the category brain injury tell my story. Some are longer than others…they come in chunks of time…sometimes quickly and others much slower. Thanks for taking the time to read and being patient as I walk through the one of the toughest parts of my life again with new eyes to see how God used the broken pieces to create something beautiful.
WARNING: TISSUES NEEDED BEFORE READING
Honestly, getting pregnant was not even on my radar. I was busy trying to figure out this new life and re-teaching Bill how to do everything. So when I started feeling badly I figured the stress had finally caught up to me. It soon proved otherwise, when I saw the + sign. While my first response was shock, I was overjoyed shortly following. How could I not be? One of my main goals in life was to have a houseful of kids…5 at least. In Kindergarten when they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, “A mom” without hesitation. The idea of nurturing little ones, teaching them, loving them, and playing with them had always been my heart’s desire, so being pregnant was a dream come true. I did realize it would be more difficult with Bill’s recovery. It scared me honestly. It would be kind of like being a mom twice, without any experience, but this baby brought me hope. Hope that things could work out…maybe not the same as pre-accident, but still a family would bring some sense of normalcy back into our lives. Bill was also thrilled. He smiled like a kid at Christmas. I could see him really trying to control his mood swings, and to be sensitive to me. It seemed like a new beginning, a fresh start.
I could see the fear in the faces of those closest to us. I knew they were worried and felt this was not a good choice, but I didn’t see it as a choice. I wasn’t trying to get pregnant; in fact I was trying to avoid it. We were just figuring out the intimacy thing again and I did not feel that a pregnancy would help matters. Yet despite the birth control, and despite Bill’s mental instability, and despite my hanging on by a thread, I was pregnant. I received this baby as a gift, knowing that it was miraculous that with all that was going on in my life, I could conceive at all. I was determined to celebrate this little one just as I was determined to celebrate Bill’s life. It was a reason to rejoice no matter the responses around us. I felt kind of yuck but never threw up. My worst time of day was the afternoon so I regularly had to lie down and rest after work, when my grown up toddler would allow it. The first doctor’s visit confirmed my pregnancy and we got to see the baby’s heartbeat on the screen. We both had tears in our eyes. It was just such a miracle that after all we had been through we were seeing new life growing within me. Breathtaking really. Bill held my hand and we watched a tiny gray dot on the screen that the nurse said was our 1st baby. (This was before 4-D imaging.) One of our dreams coming true. One that I had thought that might never happen for us.
At night, when we were lying in bed, Bill would put his hand on my belly. In his childlike way he would ask a million questions. When will the baby be here? Will it be a boy or a girl? When can I feel it move? It was quite similar to how a sibling would act. I would try to answer his questions for the millionth time and he would pull me to him and say, “I can’t believe it…I just cannot believe it.” The first 11 weeks went smoothly and according to plan. I had some twinges…kind of crampy feelings at week 12. I did not think anything of it…or tried not to. They were only occasional and not regularly spaced at all. The next week I started to spot. Again, I tried to ignore or explain away my symptoms, but I was concerned enough to call the doctor. It was a Friday afternoon, so the doctor’s office said to wait it out, and if I was still spotting on Monday to come in. I didn’t make it until Monday. Bill took me to the ER that night when my craps got too strong to ignore. The nurses there were all confused…they knew they recognized us, but couldn’t figure out how, until the nurse Bill had picked up with one arm came in. She recognized him immediately…and she stepped back…addressing us from the doorway in case she needed to bolt.
I didn’t know it but I was in labor. The pain was intense, but at the ER the doctor checked me and said I had not lost the baby. I was still pregnant, but that the bleeding and contractions were both bad signs. He offered us a choice…stay in the hospital or go home and wait it out. I chose to go home. The hospital did not have good memories for either of us. I saw the concern on the nurses faces, but I just couldn’t stay there. I wanted to be home in my own bed.
Back at home, I thought that maybe if I lied down the pain would stop. I know now that I was in transition-like labor, but then I had never been in labor before so I was hopeful the intensity would slack off. My body was preparing to expel the baby. I only wanted to rest, and for this baby to live. Bill was aware that something was terribly wrong. He rubbed my head, brought me water, and wiped my forehead with a wash cloth. But his patience wore thin. He began to pace the room in an agitated state. I told him I needed to sleep so he would go downstairs. I lay in the bed crying out to God to save my baby, even though I think deep down I knew it was too late. The pain and bleeding got worse. I tried a heating pad, but that did not work. I got nauseous so I went and waited in the bathroom in case I needed to throw up. I was sitting on the bathroom floor doubled over in pain, crying because I hurt and because my heart was breaking.
Moments later I had a sudden urge to go to the bathroom, blood gushed and when it did the baby came out. I couldn’t even look. I called for Bill, and got back in the bed. He came and called the doc when he saw my ashen, tear-covered face, and blood on the bathroom floor. He was so brave in his inability to process what was happening to me. The doctor told him he had to bring the baby to the office so they could make sure it was all out. So my brain injured husband scooped our 1st born child out of the toilet and into a Tupperware container. I only glanced one second…long enough to see what looked like a tiny little hand. I told myself it was my imagination…it was too soon to be a hand, but I’d studied enough child development to know the truth. It was after midnight…on my 25th birthday. Happy birthday to me.
My grief took me then, into a dark place with no light. My pillow drenched with lost hopes, and dead dreams…I sobbed, and sobbed and sobbed until, exhausted from life I succumbed to slumber. I woke to find a part of my soul missing. An empty place that felt as if a part of my personality was gone. I do not remember much of the next day. On Monday, I numbly went to the doctor and Bill carried the Tupperware coffin. It seemed to me everyone was too loud and too nice and too quick to explain away my child. I was checked, and the baby was checked, and it was determined I didn’t need a DNC because the baby was intact. There was one nurse whose voice I still remember. She said to me, “You just lost a child…only you don’t get the benefit of a funeral.” In one comment, she validated my pain and my baby. My tears flowed freely as I absorbed her comfort like a dying man in the desert.
I went home and called those who needed to be called and told them the news. I said the things you are supposed to say, and tried to convince myself they were true. The words spoken to comfort me were no comfort at all, but my mind tried to receive them. “It’s better off this way.” “Something must’ve been wrong with your baby.” “This is God’s way of taking care of it.” As if God himself disapproved of my child. “You weren’t ready for this big step.” “It was so early it’s not an issue.” “You can have more later.” “You can get on with your life.” The problem was my heart could not. I have always wondered if people would say those things to me if my child was one year old and walking around outside my body. I doubted it, because when you think of it like that, those words sound cruel and cold…the way they felt to my heart. It didn’t matter that some of them were true…I KNEW it wasn’t a good time in my life for a baby. But it is never the perfect time. No one needed to remind me.
Since my baby was on the inside and not the outside I was encouraged to get over it quickly. I took that to an extreme, friends were in town two days after…we went to the zoo. It was my choice, they offered to take a rain check, but I said, “It will get my mind off of it. No big deal. I am fine.” Only I wasn’t fine…I was numb.