Read Paul’s piece from August for the rest of the story.

Ending.

That’s how 2017 began—with an ending.

A child’s life ended before it even began.  My child.

Miscarriage is a term everybody knows, but no one truly understands until they experience it.  I distinctly remember hearing about a classmate’s miscarriage and saying, “That’s terrible.  I don’t know how I would deal with something like that.”

Well, now I know.

It is like being surrounded by thick, grey smog.  It suffocates you.  Blinds you.  You can’t move.  You feel alone, lost in your own haze, even though you know someone is right next to you stumbling through the same smothering darkness.

But as time passes, the smog begins to lift.  Not all at once.  But day by day.  Hazy outlines of familiar things surround you.  Clarity returns.  And some days, the smog is back suffocating you, but those days are fewer and further apart.

The miscarriage we suffered at the beginning of this year is the most tragic event I have ever experienced.  I felt a depth of grief I didn’t know possible.  But it eventually ended.  

I still have a scar on my heart.  I still get melancholic on occasion, wistfully thinking about what could have been.  But I’ve moved on as much as anyone ever moves on from a traumatic loss.

Beginning.

I found out on Father’s Day.  By that time, the pain had mostly healed over, but I got home from a night of work to find a very nice card waiting for me.  My thoughtful and caring wife had written some beautiful words.  I cried a little in the kitchen before going up to bed.

Later that day, on the drive to dinner with the in-laws, I saw she had tears in her eyes.  I assumed that she was just sad like I was that this Father’s Day was hollower than expected.

It wasn’t until we got home that she said, “I have something for you.”  And there it was.  A little white stick with a blue + sign on it.

She told me later that she was crying in the car because she saw how despondent I was over not being a father, and she had known since that morning she was pregnant, but she wanted to wait until after dinner when we were alone to tell me.  I smiled at that.

After my initial reaction of stunned disbelief, my thoughts almost immediately became oh god am I ready for this again?  What if something goes wrong?  Could I handle it a second time?

There has not been a lot of joy in this pregnancy.  Days and weeks of not outright fear but a sense of dread.  A constant waiting to see if something bad would happen.  

Some light spotting—that’s how it started before.
A rush to the OB who prescribed some pills—which didn’t work last time.
Days of anxious waiting, no way to know what is going on—last time I didn’t worry enough, now all I do is worry.
Results that everything is fine.  Normal.  Healthy.

Each day that passes by, a small weight is lifted from my heart.  Each milestone reached is a millstone untied from around my neck.

12 weeks – we hear the heartbeat for the first time.
18 weeks – we find out she is a girl.
21 weeks – I feel her kick for the first time.

We are in the third trimester now.  Realistically, the chance of something terrible like a miscarriage happening now is slim.  And if there are complications, we have options.  She is viable, and if her kicks are any indication, she’s strong.  The fear isn’t gone, but it has taken a backseat.

My daughter will be here at the end of February.  I am a mix of emotions.

Impatience – three months is still so far away, just hurry up and get here.
Frustration – finding a daycare is literally the most frustrating process in the world.
Uncertainty – I feel unprepared, there is so much I don’t know about raising a child.

But mostly, I feel excitement.

Every time my wife and I go to the baby store to register, I smile.  Deciding what stroller we wanted was a long process, and normally I get really ornery when shopping is taking a long time.  But not over that.  I’m excited for every OB visit.  Every time I remember oh yeah, my wife can’t eat that food because she is pregnant.  Every time I feel her kick.

I think I’ll be a good dad.  I know it is going to be long and constant and full of ups and downs, but I’m looking forward to it.

I can’t wait for this pregnancy to end and parenthood to begin.

Paul Menn

Paul (’10) lives in Grand Rapids with his wife, Emma (’10), and cat, HandsomeMarcoCat. He loves board games, Babylon 5, and honey-curry chicken. Everything else is negotiable.

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