I was so sure I was pregnant. At my Wellness group, someone asked how I could stand the wait, how could I keep from home testing? I explained that my brain is so untrusting, such a thing would send me to Crazytown - no matter what the test said, I wouldn't believe it until the official blood test, leaving me to suffer through days of worry or false joy. But, I had a plan. I tested myself at home the morning I was scheduled to go in for my blood draw. I guess I really had this urge to pee on a stick...
It was about 5am, most of the world is still asleep, and I'm watching my pee activate a pregnancy test strip. Not once, but twice - negative both times. I somehow got myself dressed and went out to buy another test - surely my tests had been hanging around too long and had gone bad. I had my hoodie up, sunglasses on, tear streaks on my face, and still the checker cheerfully asked me about my day. I couldn't believe how chatty he was. I couldn't believe he wouldn't shut up and wither and die before my eyes. I still can't believe I didn't reach over and cause him physical harm.
Home again, and another failed test. I cried and cried and cried and cried. I somehow lived through the hours until it was time to wake up Eric to take me to the "real" test. He did his best to console me and keep hope alive. At the clinic, they kept us in the waiting room for an eternity. Seriously, it was the longest wait we've ever had there, and all we were there for was to give some blood. Did I mention there was another couple waiting, and I was spontaneously breaking into tears every other minute?
The lab tech did her best to console me. And she seemed genuinely surprised that no one had told me not to self-test because those tests were so unreliable. I kept to myself about the fact that it was 3 tests, and all those commercials they make about how home tests are "just as reliable" as blood tests these days.
I went home and straight into bed. Eric was the one who took the call. He was miserable coming to tell me, but I already knew. I wasn't pregnant. It didn't take.
"It didn't take."
This is the official phrase used by the clinic, my husband, the notifications we emailed.
It is not the phrase used in my head. If I allow myself to be honest, I had a miscarriage.
I was pregnant. An egg was fertilized by my husband, the embryo was implanted inside of me. Even if the loss occurred that very day, the fact remains that I had an embryo in my uterus. I had a baby in my womb. But the embryo was gone. The baby was dead.
The first 48 hours were the worst. I called my mother to ask her to tell me that I was wrong, trying again wouldn't be murder. Because all I could think about was the idea that now I knew my body couldn't support a pregnancy, wouldn't introducing a baby into that body constitute knowingly putting it to harm? Or, in my mind, a death trap. She told me no, that wasn't true. We talked about all the babies still in some lab, waiting to be born. They were already there, waiting for me. I couldn't walk away from them.
In the end, that was what made my decision. 17 embryos sitting in a frozen vat somewhere, waiting to come to life. I had made the decision to have them created, and it was up to me to do right by them. 17 possible babies.
The past few months have been unimaginably hard. Not only because of the sadness and loss and grief, or the gravity of the decision on what to do next, or the feeling of limbo as if my life is pointless until the next implantation, but the realization that my definition of life has shifted. This is big. Like realizing I didn't think god really existed big.
Because I didn't just have a procedure that didn't take. I had a baby in my womb. I had a baby that went away.
When did this happen? How did this happen? Such an extraordinary change in mindset. I had no idea it was possible, that this was in me waiting to happen. How on earth did I go from the belief that an embryo is just a packet of cells to eliminate when necessary, to the belief that on day one I had a real live baby inside of me?
There is a certain politician on the presidential campaign trail who is using her story of miscarriage to explain the evils of abortion. I understand her in a way that I couldn't have before. And yet now she and those that share her belief are even more alien to me. Because knowing there is a baby inside you and deciding to have it aborted is officially the hardest decision a woman can make. And yet, these people still think I'm incapable of making that decision on my own.
I have changed so much, but I am still the same.