Well, after thinking about my Teddy Graham all day yesterday, I decided it was time to tell his story. Part 2 in our journey to expand this family. And my apologies, but this might be a long story. I’ve never excelled at self-editing.
It was around the time that my Honey and I got engaged that I decided I want a big family. Four, maybe even six, kids. I had grown up as an only child and it was lonely. In fact, the older I have grown, the lonelier it has become. I want a house full of chaos, noise, and children. I want Christmases with too many stockings hung by the fire and too many gifts under the tree. I want to be yelling as I make dinner because there are a dozen tiny feet under my own and I can’t get anything done. I want to be a soccer, and a ballet, and a dance, and a drama, and a band mom and have to figure out how to be at the game at 10am, when there is also a recital at noon, and a play matinee at 1pm. That’s what I want more than anything. One child, as much as I love her, is not enough for me. She is perfect, and I’m so glad she’s mine, but until I have brought at least three newborns home (and please let there be more, God, please!), I will always feel as if our family isn’t complete. To those of you are still fighting to have your first, please, please forgive me for wanting more.
So the entire year that I breastfed my little Cupcake, I never got my period. Not once. That’s perfectly normal, from what I hear, and I really didn’t expect anything less. And I didn’t even care. I was just so happy that my body did something right and produced enough milk to let me nurse for as long as I wanted. But when my daughter had her last feeding on her 1st birthday, I was glad that we could now move forward and plan for Cupcake #2. This time, I didn’t want to waste time.
So when I got my period just four weeks after I stopped breastfeeding (hooray!), I began Clomid (100mg) right away. The first cycle did nothing. I did get a couple false positive OPKs, but my BBT never rose…so no ovulation, no pregnancy. I started my second cycle at the end of February. As the days went by and my expected ovulation time came and went, my heart sank. And then, lo and behold, I got a VERY positive OPK on day 22, March 14 of this year, my husband’s and my 4th wedding anniversary. Beautiful, right? I thought so. You can bet that night of baby-dancing was gooooood.
The next two-and-a-half weeks were agony. After I conceived my daughter, I had breast tenderness within two days and it lasted through my pregnancy. This time, nothing. Maybe I was peeing more, maybe I was bloated, maybe I was more tired, maybe I was hungrier, maybe I was even nauseous. Maybe. But maybe not. But by 18 dpo (yes, I waited that long — I like to drive myself crazy!), with my temp still up and no AF in sight, I was pretty sure I knew what that HPT was going to say.
And yes. Yes. Two pink lines. And not only that, but the test line was darker than the control line. In fact, the control line could hardly be seen, it was so light. That worried me until I googled it and found out it’s actually a good sign, a sign that there’s tons of HcG coursing through my system. So not only was I pregnant, but I was very pregnant. It was April Fool’s day and I could only hope that God wasn’t playing some sick joke on me. We took a three-hour road trip that day to visit my in-laws and, on the way, I called my mom and my sister (I’m only kind of an only child), and then we told Honey’s parents, too. On the way home, I saw a rainbow and cried. I had a baby growing inside of me. A baby! And it took us less than three months to get here! It was the best sort of day.
But as the days passed, the worry, anxiety, and fear set in. I was feeling too good. I had frequent headaches, occasional cramping in my tummy and back, and I was tired, but there no nausea and no sore boobies. It was nothing like my first pregnancy. Over the course of three weeks, I took five more pregnancy tests, all of them positive, but it did nothing to easy the panic I was starting to feel. Nothing. When my mom asked me why I was more anxious with this pregnancy than with my last, I assured her I wasn’t. But maybe, I was. In retrospect, it could have been a woman’s intuition, but it was probably that it just all seemed too good to be true. Too easy. And that I have a tendency to believe the universe is against me. And that I do too much googling and can always find something new to worry about (like that I had ovulated so late in my cycle and my eggs were of a bad quality). But mostly, it’s just who I am. I worry.
And then one night, the thing I feared the most came true. My husband was at Urgent Care for a bad cold, my daughter was “reading” a book beside me, and I was on the phone with my mom when I felt a wetness in my panties. Honestly, I wasn’t alarmed by that. I had a lot of mucous early in my pregnancy, but I still always checked “just in case,” and this time, my fingers came back RED. My heart clenched and I raced to the bathroom and pulled off my pants and my conversation with my mom went something like this:
ME: Mom, I’m bleeding!
MOM: What? Where?
ME: I’m bleeding!
ME: I’m bleeding, I’m bleeding!
ME: Where do you think?! Oh, God, I’m bleeding! What do I do, what do I do?
MOM: How much is it?
ME: A lot! It’s a lot. Oh, God, there’s a lot. Help me, please help me!
MOM: Honey, calm down, I can’t understand you.
ME: I’m bleeding. I’m really bleeding! Oh, God, please nooooooo….
I remember screaming, just screaming, from the depths of my soul. I hardly recognized my own voice. I called my husband after that, then the on-call nurse, then my mom, again and again and again. And though everyone assured me that it might be nothing, and we would know more tomorrow after an ultrasound, I already knew. I knew my Teddy Graham was gone. Dead and gone.
I cried until bedtime, tossed and turned and worried and hoped and prayed all night and all the next morning, until we walked into the doctor’s office and my worst fears were confirmed. I was 7w1d and there was no heartbeat. Just a tiny little bean of a dead baby. That weekend, I went to coffee with friends, I bled and cramped, and I cried. I did almost nothing but cry. On Sunday afternoon, the cramping became almost unbearable and I bled all over the sofa and my favorite skirt. I ate ibuprofen like candy and then, when I went to change yet another pad, I felt something slide out of me as I stood up. There was no mistaking it was pregnancy tissue. And there, in my undies, was a tiny “balloon” about the size of a gumball. The gestational sac. I have no medical degree, but I knew that’s what it was.
So I gathered it and the tissue into a clean container and brought it to my doctor the very next day. He offered his sincere apologies, answered my long list of questions, and confirmed that my offering in the container was, indeed, the remains of my pregnancy. When I read the lab’s notes later in the week, I learned that my little baby was inside that gestational sac. An embryo of 0.7cm, measuring 7w0d. Most likely, he (and yes, I always believed it was a boy), died just one short day before the bleeding began. I cried in reading that report, cried because it made my pregnancy and my loss a reality. There was a tiny little being inside of me! And he was dead! And I cried because I felt guilt for handing over my little baby like he was nothing, for letting him go without a second thought, for not giving him a proper burial in our backyard. And I cried because, in that moment, I realized that while I would never hold my baby in my arms, I had held him in my hands for a very brief time. That thought was the most beautiful gift in the world.
In the aftermath of my loss, I did a lot of reading about the m-word (I can’t quite say it, not yet), about how to prevent it, about how to come to terms with it. I also did whatever I could to commemorate my Teddy. I gave him a name, not just a nickname but a proper, human name (which I will keep close to my heart for now). I lit a candle for him and it burned nearly nonstop until the bleeding ended, and it still burns each time we sit down for dinner, so that he can be there in memory with us, if nothing else. I made a memory box of old pee-sticks and poems and the few belly pics I took. I put together a song of CDs that make me think of the little one I lost. I created a scrapbook page in his memory. And finally, I started this blog. It is too early to tell if any of these things have helped, but in the long weeks that have dragged since the bleeding began, they have kept me busy, given me a purpose, made me feel like I am doing something that matters.
Some might say that it’s silly for me to grieve a child who I never knew, a child who never had a heartbeat or kicked me from the inside out. A child who lived inside of me for just over a month. But to them I say, I loved that child just as much as the one I have given birth to and comforted in the night and kissed and hugged a thousand times. I felt bonded to him, more bonded than I ever felt this early on with Cupcake. Though I had a lot of fear, I also had faith in this pregnancy, faith in a happy ending, and that let me love him faster and harder than ever. And so now that he has been taken away, I grieve him just as much as any mom would grieve any child she loved and lost at any age.
So where are we now? Now, we wait. Not the 2-week wait. We wait for my body to be ready to try again. Now that my HcG levels are back to their non-pregnancy state, I have to wait four weeks before I can start Clomid once again. If I’m lucky, I will ovulate before then and we can try to conceive au naturel. But I’m rarely lucky and so I will probably have to start progesterone to induce a period in three weeks or so and then we go from there. Will I conceive again this summer? I’m scared, but I hope so. But as we all know in TTC-land, there are no guarantees. We just have to wait and see.