This year, the summer solstice fell on Tuesday, June 21st which was fitting because Tuesday was the longest day in what has felt like the longest month of my life.
My husband and I started June joyfully counting down the days until we would find out the gender of our first child. We were looking forward to getting serious about names and nursery themes (okay, I was maybe the only one excited about nursery themes..). When the doctor called and asked us to come in for an ultrasound due to abnormal quad screen results, my heart plummeted. My husband and I wanted nothing more than for our baby to be okay. As first-time expectant parents we worried about being able to give our baby the best possible life even if that life would be different than the one we had hoped and dreamed.
Yet, we still hoped and prayed that it was nothing and that the doctor was just being overly cautious, but I think we both knew that he would never unnecessarily worry us. At our appointment, we learned that our sweet baby had anencephaly and would not survive for longer than a few minutes, hours, or, at most, days after delivery. I would be lying if I didn’t say that was a big pill to swallow. We were scared that we couldn’t be brave or strong enough to survive the coming months.
I have never felt so vulnerable. Normally, I am a very private person, and here I was emailing coworkers and texting acquaintances to explain the situation. It was hard, but somehow, sharing made it more bearable. I frequently thought of a favorite C.S. Lewis quote from “The Four Loves,” “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.” Our hearts were broken, but we had so many people working to help us pick up the pieces. My husband and I will have to work on putting those pieces back together, but I know that we can (it helps that he loves a good jigsaw puzzle). With each passing day, it started to become easier to accept the diagnosis, and we were determined to love our baby the best that we could for as long as we could.
On June 21st, we went in for an appointment to ensure that both our baby and I were doing as well as possible. We had prepared questions about a birth plan and were anxious to inquire about the possibility of organ donation. It was truly a shock to learn that we had miscarried. I guess it is true that “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” *Shout out to my mother-in-law for successfully pulling out the appropriate Robert Burns quote and to my husband for knowing it was correct. What was otherwise a beautiful and still summer day became gloomy and dark in our eyes and hearts.
Although this new reality may be less physically trying, the emotional strain remains the same. I keep saying that June has been an emotional roller coaster, but that isn’t quite right because the lows keep getting lower and we haven’t managed to climb to any new heights. I have thought a lot about our decision to have the quad screen done in the first place. Initially, the possibility of it coming back abnormal felt distant and unlikely. We did it as a precaution with the thought that if something were awry we would want to have extra time to be prepared. Had we not had it done, we would have gone in for our anatomy screen only to learn that we had miscarried. We wouldn’t have had two extra weeks to love our baby and to be reminded of how much our family and friends loved both us and our baby. I needed those two weeks.
As we near the end of this month, I feel older and more vulnerable. Tears feel closer to the surface and laughter is not bubbling up quite as easily. But most importantly, I feel loved, and I feel love.
That’s All She Wrote
*Song credit goes to my dear friend, Anna Schulze, who best conveys comfort through her music.