(I should be preparing for the birth of my child right now. Last minute touch ups to the nursery, stockpiling diapers and wet wipes, anxiously counting down the days to the one circled DUE DATE! on the calendar. But I’m not. Instead, I’m planting a flower in memory of someone I lost.)
When my wife told me she was pregnant, it was the most surreal experience of my life. She told me by kicking open our bedroom door, waking me from my sleep, and just sort of flatly announcing, “I’m pregnant.” As my sleep-fogged head cleared, my confusion and the terror of being woken so suddenly turned into the appropriate emotions: disbelief (wait, really? Pregnant?), panic (oh god, what if I’m not ready to be a father!), and a spreading sense of joy (I’m going to be a father!).
For the next few days, I was consumed with a giddiness like I’d never known. I was walking around in this heady euphoric haze, grinning like an idiot constantly. My wife and I started making plans—doctor appointments, where the nursery will be, checking finances, and just relishing every second of being expectant parents.
It was all so perfect.
Our first visit with the midwife was in early January, and everything went great. We loved our midwife, she really made us feel safe and welcome, and we got to hear Baby’s heartbeat on the monitor. Two days later, we visited Wisconsin for a belated Christmas gathering with my family. We had made a cute video announcing our pregnancy that we showed them. Everyone was elated, of course, and it was even more perfect because my oldest sister was due with her second child in February, my oldest brother and his wife were due in March/April, and we were due at the end of August. Three little baby cousins all born in the same year. It was all so perfect.
And then it all started to fall apart.
The first hint that things were not right came the same weekend we told my family. My wife let me know she was having some spotting.
Nothing to worry about. The internet tells me that a little spotting is common. We’ll see the midwife in the coming week and get it all checked out.
When we saw the midwife, she was concerned about my wife’s HCG/Progesterone levels.
No problem, they make supplements for that.
The spotting wasn’t going away. If anything, it was getting worse.
Okay, we can deal with this. It is our first pregnancy, we are both young and healthy, we can make it through this.
Her HCG levels should be going up exponentially, but they dropped even lower.
We might be losing this baby.
A few days later, my wife came downstairs. I don’t even remember if she said anything. But I knew our baby was gone. And my wife and I held each other in our dining room and cried.
From the time my wife first started spotting to the time the miscarriage was “complete” (for lack of a better word) was about a week and a half to two weeks. Every single day was agony unlike anything I had ever experienced before. All I could do was sit by utterly helpless as our baby slipped away. I did my best to comfort my wife, to hold her close as she cried. Deep down, I knew we were miscarrying, but I didn’t want to believe it. I clung to hope, trying to convince myself that everything would—somehow, miraculously—turn out fine.
The days and weeks after the miscarriage were just as hard. It was as though the part of my soul that allowed me to feel joy had been ripped away. I was numb, hollow, empty, blank. My spirit had collapsed into an abyss, while the shell of my body had to keep going on. I remember sobbing until I was too tired to cry any more.
But life went on.
That’s the thing about traumatic events—the world doesn’t stop to let you wallow. My wife and I had experienced something absolutely terrible, but we both knew we couldn’t let it destroy us. There were plenty of nights where one of us cried and the other just held them, or days where we were mostly silent, but slowly things returned to normal. Day by day, strength, hope, and life returned.
A few weeks ago, we went back to Wisconsin for the first time since the miscarriage. I got to meet my new nephew and niece. They may not have a little cousin to look forward to meeting, but they are both amazingly adorable.
It still hurts sometimes, especially since Baby was going to be due in a couple of weeks. But the wound in my spirit has healed over, leaving just a faint scar. My wife and I have never been closer.
And there’s a small spot in our garden where soon we will plant a little flower. And each year, it will blossom anew. A reminder that life can be full of tragedy, but we can overcome it. A memorial to someone we lost before we even knew them.
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.