“Oh please, not again.”
That was my initial reaction after MJ called me late Friday morning to tell me she was having cramps. It’s funny, because despite never having been pregnant (and obviously lacking the anatomical requirements for such a feat), I believe I have an unbelievable handle on women’s cramping. The ones in her stomach and back are par for the course. But these cramps were different. They started in her stomach and went into her thighs. The same cramps she got just before she went into labor with Will. Not good.
Our doctor told us to head immediately to a diagnostic facility in Falmouth. The same place we received our not-so-tactful news about Alexandra eight months ago. As if it wasn’t unnerving enough to be reminded of that awful day, my heart sank into my feet when they led us into the exact same examination room where we got the fateful diagnosis.
With a passing glance, MJ and I simultaneously gave up hope right then and there.
The uber-chipper ultrasound tech squirted out some gel and began searching the contents of MJ’s uterus. She searched for a while. Then a few minutes more. But there was nothing there. Just an empty sac. Three weeks ago MJ housed a tiny blob with a flickering heartbeat, for which I had been so grateful. But now there’s no flicker. Of life or of hope.
We filed out of the office without looking at one another. I’m usually good with words, but what do you say to someone after four lost babies? It’s all been said. The tears have all been cried. We hit rock bottom last summer with Alexandra and the hateful protesters, and I think both of us truly believed this pregnancy would be some kind of Karmic reward for having endured that hell. After all, we just want one more child. We’re not John & Kate. We simply want our son to have a brother or a sister. And this baby was going to complete our family.
But it looks like our family is done growing.
I don’t know why neither of cried on Friday. Maybe we were in shock. Or perhaps we’re used to this by now. Four miscarriages in five years will do that to you. And it could be this will all hit me like a ton of bricks in a few days, but this weekend something pretty miraculous happened.
I fell in love with my wife all over again.
There are all kinds of bravery. Soldiers who fight to protect us. Firemen who rush into burning buildings to save lives. But then there are ordinary people like my wife, who—as it turns out—are anything but ordinary. One miscarriage is hard enough. Two really sucks. The third was Alexandra, and that ordeal was enough to push most people right over the edge. But MJ stayed sane. And not only that, she mustered up the courage to try again. To put herself in a situation with a fairly good chance to have her heart crushed again. And yes, unfortunately that ended up happening. But that shouldn’t take away from how brave it was to even try for another child after all this shit.
It’s easy for us to whine about “why us?” There are unexpected and unwanted pregnancies that yield healthy babies everyday. There are women who are crack addicts who miraculously give birth to babies without health problems. These women don’t want their kids and probably won’t treat them well. Meanwhile we’re desperate for a second child who we can love forever, yet we are treated to nothing but heartbreak.
But there are people out there who have had more miscarriages than us. And some of them don’t have a Will. Those poor couples don’t have a beautiful, kind, miraculous baby boy to adore and squeeze and love until it hurts. We do. And I’ve never been more grateful for that.
But the fact remains, I’m feeling pretty jilted.
I’m writing this from the hospital waiting room. It’s Valentine’s Day. Instead of roses, chocolates and dinner, MJ is having a D&C. It’s a day created solely for recognizing the love in our life, and my wife is literally having the life sucked out of her. It’s not right and she deserves better.
The silver lining is the reaffirmation of my feelings for my wife. My hero. Some couples have it easy. They get married, buy a house, get pregnant and have perfect children in a Barbie dream house. Am I a little jealous of them? Sometimes. But we have something they don’t. MJ and I are battle-tested. Our relationship has hit landmine after landmine, but we’re still here. And not only that, we have a deeper appreciation for each other than ever. It would be so easy to resent each other and throw in the towel. But as I gazed at her Friday night, taking it all in stride, the only explosion I felt was my heart expanding to an unprecedented level to accommodate all my love for her.
Not to mention my love for all of you. My in-laws and my parents for helping out with Will. Alicia for coming out on Friday night, as well as Dave and Amanda for keeping us company, keeping us laughing and literally fighting me to pay for the bill. All of my friends who called, texted and e-mailed. And last but certainly not least, hundreds of you who dropped me a line on Twitter or through the blog. Make fun of the Internet all you want, but the support you have provided us is real. Tangible. And we are eternally grateful on a level you can’t possibly comprehend.
In a few hours I’ll pick up my groggy and worn wife, and I’ll spend the rest of the day caring for her. I’ll pick up my son and bring him home from preschool. Then I’m going to hug them until they can’t stand it anymore. Because as much as I’d love to complete our family, the family I have has already completed me.
And that makes me a lucky man.