I keep waiting for some clarity or closure to come to me with this so I can write a decent post, but nothing's coming yet. So I figure perhaps I'm being called just to post raw, without any nice revelations to share.
Little Acorn was not a miscarriage. After a week of bleeding my hormone levels were still registering pregnant, but they weren't doubling every few days like they would in a normal, healthy pregnancy. They did an ultrasound and confirmed an ectopic pregnancy in my right fallopian tube.
They'd suspected it for a while, since just about the only thing that would cause those sustained, low, puttering hormone levels was a pregnancy that had implanted outside the uterus, but I wanted firm proof before doing anything about it. For three days I prayed for a miracle, received the Anointing of the Sick, and called in every friend and family member to pray for me. Then I went in for my ultrasound and they told me my uterus was empty. It didn't even have enough lining to support life. The doctor said there was "nothing going on in there." I asked to see the ultrasound, and they showed me the white ring and dark blotches around it and said that was her.
I say "her" not because we have any idea of her gender, but because I felt the name Elizabeth so strongly in my heart while carrying her. I started bleeding on the feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and I prayed for her intercession and promised to name the baby after her. I love the name, and with it comes a sense of the baby as a girl. So that's what I'm going with.
They gave me two shots, one in each hip, which didn't hurt as much as they said it would. I collected my kids and went home. I cried, of course, and felt deep sadness. I explained it to my kids, and my six-year-old showed remarkable understanding. My three-year-old thought the shots were to make the baby get well, since that's what I tell her vaccinations are for. She took a while to get it, but hasn't shown any reaction, for which I'm grateful.
I, on the other hand, have only felt worse and worse as the days go by. For the first week or so I had nightmares about finding Elizabeth, tiny, tiny, tiny, on the floor of the bathroom and putting her in a safe place in the cupboard. I had one where I gave birth and she opened her eyes. She was smaller than my palm and looked nothing like a baby, but I was just so elated that she was still alive and I could take care of her. I put her up against my heart, but then the next time I looked down, she had died.
I feel so much worse than when I thought I was miscarrying. I don't know if that's because of the circumstances of this situation -- where I had to actually let the doctors harm her rather than simply waiting on the will of God. Or perhaps it's because even while miscarrying, there was still such strong hope in me that the baby would somehow make it (hope supported by the many people who told me stories of how they or their mother or their sister or their friend had bleeding early on and still had a healthy baby.) Then when I had the shots, I felt everything just got taken away from me so quickly and came to such an abrupt and horrible end. I know a big part of it is the hormones and their dastardly fluctuations. Part of it is guilt, too. I feel like I didn't fight for her hard enough, though I know there's nothing I could have done.
But mostly it's just that I feel so terrible that she had to die. I pray, and all that comes to me is, "I'm so, so sorry, Elizabeth."
And part of me can't help but wonder...was it God's will that we both die? It's not always a certainty that the mother dies when an ectopic pregnancy ruptures the tube, but it's very dangerous and can cause infertility if it's not fatal. Have I thwarted God's will for me? Did He intend this to end my fertility or bring my soul to Him? I know in my mind that the Church encourages the use of medicine and does not ascribe to the idea that the only healing possible must come from God. But I wonder...and my heart is troubled.
I think of the poor. If I were a mother in Sudan or rural Bangladesh, or under a fundamentalist regime where women have limited access to doctors, I might not have known about the ectopic pregnancy until it was too late for both of us. In another age or place, they might not have been able to do anything about it. Should I count myself fortunate to live in America, with conscientious doctors and good insurance coverage?
I don't feel fortunate. I feel awful.
I miss Elizabeth.