Monday, October 25, 2010


I had my second OB appointment today. Even though it has been only three weeks since the last one, the wait until today was interminable. I had all but convinced myself that we’d get there today and there would be no heartbeat. My symptoms this go round have been much less pronounced and a little bit different, and they have fluctuated off and on, where I might go for a few days feeling very little queasiness or fatigue. Instead of just feeling grateful, my explanation for this was that the baby had stopped growing soon after the last appointment.

I’ve worried about this from the beginning. Since Hudson died, the most relevant online support cohort I’ve been able to find are groups of women who have suffered pregnancy losses. Even though their losses are very different from mine, there is still something fundamentally the same for moms who outlive their children, regardless of whether their children ever took breaths. I’ve been so grateful for the support, but engaging with these moms also meant I was exposed to a whole other world of tragedy that I had really never contemplated before.

After I announced that I was pregnant, I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as the congratulatory messages started rolling in. I thought, “What if something happens now? I will have to break all of these people’s hearts all over again.” Ed and I had talked about whether we should share our news so early (I was just past 7 weeks along at the time), but ultimately decided that if something terrible were to happen, we’d certainly be grateful for the same kind of support we’ve received ever since Hudson died--miscarriage must be one of the most silent griefs there is. And something I’d learned from my online communities of grieving moms is that there’s really no “safe” point in pregnancy—certainly things get “safer” and the odds of anything bad happening go down significantly after certain points, but terrible things can still happen after the first trimester, at 20 weeks, at 24 weeks, all the way up until delivery. And frankly, once you’ve been on the bad side of the odds like we have, it’s hard to put too much stock into them. So the idea of keeping a secret for what now seems to be an arbitrary 12-week period did not make a lot of sense anyway.

But because we’ve already been burned so badly by the odds, I’ve had a hard time letting myself believe that this pregnancy is going to be OK. I spent the last three weeks trying to prepare myself for the worst. I’ve been thinking about May 24 mostly theoretically, like we might have a baby then, and we might not. I’ve been preparing in my mind what I might write when we found out that I was going to miscarry. And on and on and on. This is still the sad work of a deeply grieving mind.  It is yet another layer of our loss—the loss of the innocent, carefree spirit with which we were generally able to approach our first pregnancy.  Now, everything looms dangerous on the horizon. 

So you can imagine (well, maybe you can’t) my relief, my amazement, and maybe, just maybe, a tiny bit of joy, when the doctor pulled up the ultrasound picture and not only was there a heartbeat, but damned if we couldn’t see an entire little tiny human being, head, arms, legs, and all, squirming away like crazy on the miniscule in-office sonogram machine. The doctor remarked several times how active it was. 

For the first time since I found out I was pregnant, I really exhaled. I know there are still no guarantees (so many of my friends are heartbreaking evidence of that fact) and I will probably still irrationally fear many more milestones during this pregnancy as they approach. But my rational mind knows that once you pass the embryonic stage and hit 10 weeks with a strong heartbeat, the risk of miscarriage drops to 2 percent. Two percent is not zero, but it is very, very small.  My rational mind also knows what I’ve already learned in the very hardest of ways—that there is only so much that I can control. And with the exception of keeping myself healthy, I have absolutely no control over what happens from hereon out. So I’m going to try to relax and exhale some more.

And yet even as I finally begin to allow myself to feel some excitement about this baby, I grapple mightily with what that excitement means for my grief and for my emotional bond with my precious Hudson. I curse and cry every single day that this is my life now, that this is how I have to spend my emotional energy, instead of cheerily getting my sweet girl ready for Halloween and thinking about how and when I will tell her that she is going to be a big sister. It is just so very, very wrong.


  1. Big hugs and tears of joy and sorrow from me to you.

  2. Mandy,
    It is very very wrong. No two ways about it. And yet, in just giving us that tiny glimpse of your debate, in showing us how hard you struggle, in letting us carry some small portion of your burden - you make it all alright. Hudson's spirit, her irascible fight, lives in each and every word you type here, and it is that legacy that makes your and Ed's newest adventure in parent-dom such a resounding joy for us all.

  3. I hope that as this pregnancy progresses, your anxiety and grief will gradually be replaced (at least in part) by moments of joy and feelings of love that come when you feel that tiny human squirming around and hear that swish-swish of a heartbeat.

  4. Congratulations on reaching an important milestone! Once you have seen that tiny baby waving at you the whole thing becomes a lot more real.

    There are no guarantees in life. That is reality. Although it's hard, even for those who haven't experienced the unimaginable loss of a child, you just have to live with the faith that things will be okay. There is just no other way to navigate the perils of life and love those around you without limit. But it is a true lesson to make every moment count.

    Your heart has an infinite capacity to love and I know you will figure out how to be a good mommy to all your babies one day at a time.

    I can't wait for you to be able to go to Topsail next year with a 4 month old held close in your arms. You can show this child how the sand feels and listen to the sound of the birds and see the ocean while whispering in his/her ear about Hudson and what she did at Topsail and how she is still there now because her spirit travels in the hearts of those who love her.

  5. I am so glad that your appointment went well and that you are able to relax a little. I was thrilled for you and Ed when you announced your pregnancy but I was also worried and scared. I have had two miscarriages(the most recent in April)and have been holding my breath a bit too as well as crossing fingers and sending good thoughts and prayers to you, Ed and your little bean. After my first miscarriage, I carried my next pregnancy to term and know well the anxiety that the miscarriage caused. I know that your feelings and loss are very different than mine but I wish I had great words of comfort to relieve some of the anxiety. I will continue to keep all four of you in my thoughts and prayers.

  6. Oh Mandy, I am so so happy for you guys. Seeing that sweet little heartbeat at 10 weeks, when you can actually tell it's a human in there, is just the best thing ever.

    It is so hard to hope when you have been on the wrong side of the odds. But you can, and you should. I know what you mean about cursing the fact that this is your life now, the worrying, the dampened excitement about something that everyone acts like should be easy and be such a beautiful, life-affirming thing.....but we know now that bad things can happen to us. But good things have happened too, and good things will happen again.

    You will love this baby like there is no tomorrow, because who knows if there is...for any of us? Thinking of you and sweet Hudson all the time, and I'm always here if you need to talk xoxoxo

  7. Glad that you saw your beautiful little one squirming away. It always amazes me how very quickly human beings are fully formed. Do remember that the odds are weighted in your favour.

    It is wrong and I wish it could be different. x

  8. So glad to hear the good report, and that you can relax a little!

    When I was pregnant w/ ME, we went in for the 12-week check-up and to hear the heartbeat for the first time, I was a nervous wreck. They couldn't find the heartbeat w/ the doppler, I was devestated, after what had happened before. I was sent in for an emergency u/s.

    And there she was - perfectly happy and little heart beating away. (Turns out the placenta was in the way, that's why they couldn't get it). But I know that that was her little way of helping me relax and enjoy this pregnancy and know that she was ok. Then, I exhaled.

    Thinking of you, Shelley

  9. I hate this for you. You were always a carefree person, and I hate that that has been taken from you along with so much else. I hate that Hudson isn't here to enjoy this holiday. Even though this is not at all our grief, I still think of her daily, and some days, even for me, the idea that she is gone just seems so absurd and unreal. Sending you guys faraway hugs.

    Tell this little peanut that it should hold out for May 29-- it's a good day to be born. Adam's birthday, my mom's, and our wedding anniversary.

  10. Dear Mandy,

    I am so happy for you. Thank you for always sharing so honestly about where you are in your process. I continue to give thanks for you and Ed as you continue to demonstrate to Daz and I the complicated nature of grief- even in moments of joy.

    Sending loving energy to you and baby bean.