This is our story of love and loss. Our journey with this experience isn’t anywhere near over which, I think, makes it that much harder for me/us to process and get through. I have days where the sadness overpowers the pain and days where the hope triumphs over everything. Days I can’t wait to try again and see what our future holds and days I can’t imagine risking another heartache on this level. Days where I feel so unbelievably broken I don’t think I’ll ever be myself again. I know that isn’t true, not completely anyway. I am struggling right now but, with time, I will find a way to be a new version of myself. A stronger version for having gone through this heartbreak, even if I’ll always be missing a piece of myself.
I invite you to read on, if you’d like, but know this is my raw and real account of pregnancy loss.
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According to every pregnancy due date calculator in the land, we were due August 21, 2019. That meant we found out we were pregnant only 4 weeks and 1 day into our journey. Four weeks and one day. I don’t know this for certain, because one of the things I’ve learned the past few weeks is that nothing is for certain when it comes to pregnancy, but I think we found out damn near as early as physically possible. At least it seems that way.
Jimmy and I had spent Thanksgiving back east, visiting my family in North Carolina. During that trip, the possibility of getting pregnant came up in conversation. Despite having only known each other for just over three months, neither one of us was concerned about this. We were (and still are) over the moon in love with each other and we both wanted to have a family one day. And, at this time, we still didn’t know about the curve ball the Marine Corps was about to throw us. If we got pregnant, we reasoned, it was meant to be.
When we returned to California, I had a doctor’s appointment. I’d been struggling with back/hip pain for longer than I should have thanks to the physical requirements of my job as a Police Officer. While I was in the doctor’s office, I discussed with my brand new doctor how likely we were to get pregnant. Though I wasn’t late and had no other signs/symptoms of pregnancy, I just had a nagging thought in the back of my mind. She offered to order a qualitative HCG blood test. I received the results as I was getting ready for my graveyard shift that night. It was negative. That was December 3rd. You can imagine our surprise when we found out, just ten days later, that we were in fact pregnant.
Conventional wisdom says you should wait until the first trimester is over before you share the news of your pregnancy. That way, should anything bad happen during the pregnancy (and, somewhat surprisingly, those odds are pretty good), no one would be the wiser. If you don’t tell anyone you’re pregnant, you don’t have to tell anyone you’ve experienced a loss.
That seems all well and good in a completely perfect world or if, unlike me, you have the ability to go through a profound loss without anyone finding out. For us, that conventional wisdom just wasn’t going to cut it. For many reasons. One being, I was too damned excited to keep my big mouth shut. Another reason was my job. As a Police Officer, every time I put on my uniform and go out on patrol, I run the risk of putting my body in harm’s way. That is a risk I am aware of and a risk I willingly accept. However, once I became pregnant, every time I put on my uniform and went out on patrol, I risked putting our unborn baby in harm’s way, too. (A fact that was highlighted in glorious fashion when my partner and I apprehended robbery suspects during what was literally my last hour of patrol. While that is a story for another time, I will say it was an awesome night and, had I not been pregnant, I would have enjoyed the thrill of the experience. Instead, I was terrified our baby could have been hurt and ended up in pregnancy-hormone-inducing tears.) And, lastly, with the orders to Japan in place, we had to do something if we wanted to stay together and raise this baby as the family we had quickly become.
I told my boss about the baby at the beginning of my shift on my Monday night (December 14th). I decided I would work one last week on patrol, trying to enjoy every minute of it (knowing it would be quite some time before I would get to do it again and because, as I’ve said, I love my job), and then move to a light duty position in investigations. Despite the fact I didn’t have to disclose to anyone the reason I was working light duty, there was no way to keep it a secret forever. (Refer back to reason number 1 the conventional wisdom was not going to work for us.) And, if my work family knew I was pregnant, chances are other people would know soon, too.
Despite having three positive urine pregnancy tests over the course of three days (because one is never enough), I was still terrified the tests were somehow wrong. A false positive, perhaps. Or that I was dreaming and hadn’t woken up yet. So I wanted to wait until the doctor confirmed the pregnancy to tell our families. I saw my GP again on December 19th and, again, she ordered a qualitative HCG blood test. I waited (im)patiently for the results to populate on my health app. I swear, I checked every five minutes. When the results finally came in, they were as we expected: pregnant. It was now safe to tell our parents. But, in true go big or go home fashion, that wasn’t the only news we’d be telling them and it definitely wasn’t the news they were patiently waiting for.
A couple days earlier, on December 17th, Jimmy had called both sets of my parents to ask for their blessing to marry me. Fortunately we had spent Thanksgiving in North Carolina and they all loved Jimmy, so they were ecstatic and eager to welcome him to the family with open arms. So, when we face-timed with my parents on December 20th, they all used their best poker face to not steal my thunder and give away that they knew we were engaged. In the same phone call that we told them we were engaged, we told them we were getting married very soon, that their Christmas present was going to be delayed by many months, and that they were going to be grandparents! They went from thinking they were in on the surprise to being the ones surprised.
Once our immediate family knew about the wedding and baby-on-the-way, I happily shared our news on social media. By this time, we were 5 weeks 3 days pregnant. We knew our lives were going to change in a big way, we just had no idea that it would be so much sooner than we ever expected and that it would come with so much heartache.