It had been several weeks since we found out we were pregnant. Several weeks since we found out that our incredible journey of parenthood was about to be even bigger. We had planned on a second baby before even getting pregnant the first time. Two little ones was what we talked about. A boy and a girl. Well our first pregnancy produced not one but two incredible boys and we were overjoyed to have started our journey with twins.
And now that flight was taking on another passenger. I wanted more than anything to have a little girl. Don’t get me wrong, the sun would rise and set by my sons so adding another boy would not be a negative thing by any means, but I dreamt of having a daughter. Buying her dresses. Doing her hair. Sitting at tea parties, father daughter dances, scaring away every boy she brings home until she’s 30.
Those first few weeks after that little + came up on the pregnancy test were magical. We weren’t telling the world yet but we knew and we were on top of the world.
We started doctors visits like every other couple does, just like we did last time. We had a different doctor this time but that’s fine. The boys were a very high risk pregnancy so we went to special offices to see special doctors who had special letters next to their name and were very special to us when it finally came to delivery.
This time was different. No specialty needed. Just a visit to the doc here and there and it would all be smooth sailing.
Until that moment when you hear the single worst thing there is to hear.
There was no heart beat.
The sky fell in around us. A giant gaping hole in the earth opened and swallowed us. A fire rose straight up from hell and consumed our OBGYN’s office and my mind went dark.
We talked about options. I know we did because we came to a decision. What we talked about, how long we talked for, all of that is a blur. A dark void in my soul, a vacuum in my chest where love is meant to bounce between every heartbeat, a charred cavity in my
mind where a memory is supposed to reside.
The next time my eyes were really open it had been over 24 hours since she used the pill that helps the baby to pass. We were at my mother-in-law’s place and even though we sat next to each other on the couch, Amber and I were on different planets. Even though we held hands, there were thousands of miles between us. Walls of emotions built alongside both of our hearts that kept the other one away.
Did we separate from each other on purpose? Of course not. I don’t think we even realized at the time just how far apart we were growing. That day was all about the baby.
It felt so surreal. We were still pregnant but not really. It was there but it wasn’t. Looking back on it, it felt more like a video game than real life. And in video games you can press “reset” and it all starts over. That’s where my brain was. How can I fix this? How can I make it all reset, make the emotions go away and make it all ok again?
I couldn’t handle the thought of even using the word “miscarriage”. I hadn’t used it out loud yet and I didn’t intend to. If I didn’t say anything about how I was feeling, I could go on pretending that I was fine. I had to be fine because Amber wasn’t. She still had to deliver this baby.
Even knowing what the facts were, knowing there were forces at work to make the process happen, we didn’t fully plan what to do when it actually happened. And it wasn’t until I saw the blood everywhere that it felt real. It was on the toilet. It was on the floor. It was on her hands and her legs. I only see things in flashes. I could hear sounds but they all felt so far away that I could barely make them out. The emotions I was feeling were overwhelming yet at the same time the numbness of this new reality was slowly suffocating the breath from my body.
I was in so much pain that all I could think of was, “how do I make this stop?” All the while the woman I vowed to love honor and protect was struggling to compose herself while delivering into the world what was meant to but would never be our third child.
Under no circumstances, in no alternate version of our reality would there ever be a way for this to not be absolute horror to live through. Even in consideration of all that I had collectively experienced thus far, I had never encountered something that raped my mind so unequivocally that afterwards everything was different. My mind was now operating at a level that exists only in the twilight hours before you wake and in the moments right before death. I was in the room and above the room. I was helping and standing still. I was talking and silent. I’m not even sure if what I remember next is what actually happened, or if it is my subconscious mind trying to make sense of an unimaginable onslaught of sights, sounds and feelings that no man or woman ever is properly equipped to handle. I do know that after it happened the earth stood still. That moment existed outside of time. The baby, our baby came into this world above the toilet in the dimly lit upstairs bathroom of that condominium and landed on the floor beside my tortured wife’s foot.
I can’t remember if it was my hand or hers that, soaked in blood, wrapped the tiny ball of blood and flesh that was the vessel to a soul chosen by God to be ours in tissue but I know it was my hand that gathered all its strength to depress the handle that flushed our lost love down the toilet into a chasm that was, by design, a dark, harsh, unkind void of love and the absolute last place you’d want a loved one to rest. To this day and I’m sure forever more, I can’t go back into that bathroom without feeling sick. I can’t hear the toilet flush in that house without getting goosebumps. I can’t even look to the open doorway of that bathroom without peeling away ever so slightly at the dry, infected scab that covers the wound left on my soul by that gesture.
I know that the sun was still up because I remember seeing it from the window above my wife but there was no light just now. The immeasurable darkness ebbing from her heart and from mine overshadowed it. There was no warmth. No light. No anything. It was literally and without question the darkest, the coldest, the loneliest moment of my life.
I would love to say that the next thing we did was hold each other. Or that we consoled each other. I would trade millions of dollars to say that our eyes met and we knew in that moment that it would all be ok. I’d kill for a memory of a loving couple in mourning to exist just there. But it doesn’t. It is a safe with a key that’s been lost to me. An impenetrable vault that I don’t know how to, and don’t really want to open. Having a more vivid memory of that day will forever be at the bottom of my wishlist, right below the wish to never have a more vivid memory of that day.
I think about it now and I know that was, is our third child. The destiny of that baby was to set things in motion for us that would shape our lives in catastrophic and in miraculous ways, but never to live a life of its own. And I have to be ok with that.
I can say with absolute certainty that I did everything wrong in the seconds, minutes, hours, did absolutely everything the way it shouldn’t be done in the days, weeks months proceeding that day. Amber believes in her bones that the story of the life we lost was the story of a boy. And I know in my heart that the boy we lost that day was not the only thing that was lost that day.
I lost myself that day. I lost my moral center. I lost my will to grow, my will to succeed. I lost my passion for life. I lost my connection to my sons. My two amazing sons that the sun rose and set for. I lost my wife. She was in an emotional place that I simply could not get to. And because I couldn’t get there, I couldn’t be there for her.
That day began a journey of self-destruction that stole my soul away. That stole away the trust I had earned from the woman I love. The trust that I was the only man on earth to truly have, except perhaps her father. Years of our marriage led to this moment and months of our marriage were lost in the aftermath. A months long affair. Trauma that to this day affects the way my boys look at life. Pain that rests, like an Instagram filter, on top of the way Amber looks at me. A seemingly endless disconnect from the woman and children that my entire life was meant to be for.
This isn’t a happy ending. This isn’t a “We made it out stronger” sort of tale. Though now, over half a decade later that part has become true. It is actually not an ending at all. It is a benchmark. It is a splinter in the skin of the hands of time. We did make it through. We are still together. We are now stronger as a couple. We are stronger people. We can talk about all that’s happened openly. You have to.
You have to talk. You have to keep going. You have to keep loving who you love, caring for and honoring all that you have in your life. It is not the end. It is a massive extinction event. A complete annihilation of all your hopes and dreams. A satanic exercise in emotional devastation. But it is not the end.
I miss that child every day. I mourn for the life that could have been. I long to go back and do things differently, even though i know that it was never meant to be any different than what it was.
Rest In Peace my son. Until we meet again.