We started out with Poppyseed.
She was the size of a poppy seed when we learned I was pregnant. We thought the prenatal nickname was cute, and it stuck clear through my pregnancy. Poppy.
We didn’t really plan ahead, but it wasn’t long after seeing those beautiful pink lines for the second time that Chris declared our second little one, “Peppercorn.” I can remember giggling about our newly discovered secret on the airplane back from California where we had just spent a few days celebrating an early Christmas with Chris’s family. But that’s not where the story started.
Poppy was nearly eleven months old, and I was starting to not only admit but embrace that baby fever had returned. Before we left for California, a friend shared that she was pregnant. That was all it took to make me suspicious myself, but an early home pregnancy test showed negative. We flew to California without any reason to suspect otherwise.
It wasn’t long, though, before my suspicions began to grow again with each passing day. By the time we said farewell and began the drive back to the airport, I was so convinced that even Chris was excited to find out the truth. A quick detour to a drug store to grab some tests, and off to the airport we went.
I didn’t plan to test at McCarren International Airport, but I tell you what. Those tests burn a hole through the pocket of any woman who thinks she’s pregnant or wants to be pregnant. Kind of a “have test will pee” mantra. Well, lo and behold, those two pink lines greeted us in Vegas. (Chris wondered aloud to me how many other pregnancy tests are used in the Vegas airport… but that’s a whole other topic).
Can I just stop right here to say what goes through a type-A planner’s mind when she finds out she’s pregnant? Within twenty-four hours, I had lists prepared, a birth center orientation on the calendar, and brainstorms galore of many of the decisions we’d make in the next nine months or so. I was all in.
Sadly, I might have known that Pepper wasn’t going to be with us long (there were a few signs), but my heart was instead full of hope and already 100% committed to this new little life. Less than 48 hours after seeing those pink lines, I began to miscarry. I was – as best as I could tell – 4 weeks 6 days pregnant.
Where do I start in relating the grief? There were oh-so-many tears. Confusion. Lists tossed in the trash, and appointments cancelled. I called my sweet mama before 6:30 AM, and all I could say through my tears were, “Mama, I think I’m miscarrying.” She had to absorb two truths in a matter of seconds. I was pregnant. But no, I wasn’t.
She listened, prayed, and gave me advice. I sent an email to my boss and another person at work to let them know I wasn’t sure when or if I would be able to make it into work that day because I was not well. Then, we waited until my doctor’s office opened and gave them a call.
Some estimates suggest that up to 25% or more of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Many sources claim that there are several women who may miscarry without realizing they were ever pregnant. I suppose that’s a simple enough occurrence if the woman is irregular, a test is never taken, and the baby goes home early enough.
It is probably because of the statistics and my baby’s early gestation that my doctor’s office didn’t even want to see me. After insensitively suggesting that I’ll likely never be able carry a pregnancy while breastfeeding (which I was doing at that time and even though several other sources suggest otherwise), I was given the warning signs to watch out for – hemorrhaging, fever, unbearable pain, signs of infection – and told to wait out the bleeding. There was nothing to be done, true, but “waiting it out” felt difficult to do. The nurse told me to wait a week and take another home pregnancy test. If it was negative, I could consider all as well–as well as I might be post-natural miscarriage. If the test were to be positive, I’d have to make an appointment to see if I needed extra medical attention or if, by some miraculous chance, I hadn’t actually miscarried and baby was still well.
The next week or so proved to be extremely difficult for me. Because we had only known about Pepper for a few days, we hadn’t had a chance to tell anyone our good news. Now that the news had turned bad, I didn’t know how or what or when to say something to anyone. Add to the complications that we were supposed to drive home to my parents’ house the next day – December 23 – to spend several days there celebrating Christmas with them and the rest of my extended family, and I was overwhelmed. I’d rather have climbed in a hole.
Much of what kept me taking one step after another was that this was Poppy’s 1st Christmas. You don’t get those firsts back, and I didn’t want to look back on those memories with regrets, no matter how much we were grieving. For better or for worse, we continued on with our plans and spoke to no one other than my parents (who already knew from the horrible wake-up phone call) of our hidden pain.
Aside from the happy memories we were (thankfully) able to make, I remember much of the time spent a bit disillusioned and crying. I asked all the questions: Why me? Why now? What were we supposed to do next? How is it possible for such a teeny tiny human being to grab a hold of my heartstrings so quickly and so thoroughly?
We survived our Christmas break and certainly did our best to thrive. Physically, I was experiencing the equivalent of a very angry period, but I hung in there. We returned home, and I took my test one week after I had started bleeding. Positive to negative in one week. Pregnant to not in a matter of moments.
Expecting to grieving.
In many ways, I think that abrupt shift in thinking can rock a person. Add in the quick rise and fall of pregnancy hormones, a major holiday, and a thousand other things that seem unbearable in the moment, and you feel like you just need distance. Distance from the situation, from others, and from the emotions that are raging.
Praise the Lord that He knows what I need even better than I do. Praise Him that no matter what, He refuses to distance Himself from me. Praise Him that He has given me an amazing support system. And praise Him for the blessing of Pepper, now safely a happy, healthy citizen of heaven.
We can’t wait to meet you one day, sweet thing.