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The First Time, A Ghost Story
a blog by The Meyers
Pregnant for the first time, I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that I was happy. I felt great physically and emotionally. I felt tough and triumphant. Like “See, it’s no big whoop. I got pregnant after just five months. And I feel fine.” Of course, Jim was happy, too. I remember him telling me he was proud of me for staying upbeat and acting strong . I was barely pregnant and we were already telling people. 7 weeks pregnant, I went to a class at my doctor’s office. I felt normal. I was doing everything right.
Then I got the flu. It was awful. It was one of those weird flues where nothing really happens, but you’re achy and you have a fever. As I lay in bed, all I could think was “I don’t feel pregnant.” Was it the fever? I kept touching my boobs to see if they were tender. I was so messed up and scared and couldn’t think straight because you know what a fever does to you. One night, sweaty and delirious in bed, the cramps began. I tried to ignore them, but when I went to the bathroom, there was blood. I called the doctor, who said I should go to the hospital.
The next few hours were some of the worst, most graphic of my life. The emergency doctor said I was experiencing a “threatened miscarriage” which meant he didn’t want to be the one to tell me what my OB could tell me the next morning. But I knew already. It was over.
That was more than three years ago. When I think of whom I was then, my sinister side wants to laugh. How could I have been so stupid? What made me think I could just BE happy? Didn’t I know that I’d have to earn it?
And that right there is what I like to call my “loss of innocence.” Yeah, Jim and I were really naïve about getting pregnant. We saw our friends and family do it with relative ease. But that first miscarriage, and the four that followed, changed me completely. I now find it hard to be fully excited about anything, for fear of the worst. I am cynical about doctors. I have trouble trusting my body. I will no longer allow myself to feel pure bliss because I don’t want the universe to exact its revenge on me (which is what a miscarriage feels like, by the way).
But recently, I noticed something. Someone I’m very close to is experiencing her own tragedy. As soon as I heard her news, I knew just what emotions to call on. I felt that I could be there for her in a way I couldn’t have been capable of three years ago. I realized that I gained perspective and maturity along with all the heartbreaks. That was a very satisfying realization. I guess that is what it means to be a grown up - letting sadness exist alongside the rest of your life’s emotions.
I remember the first one, too. It was one of those restless nights of sleep, Joy was awake all night in a fever-delirium, and her tossing and turning kept me up too. At about midnight she left the bedroom to go to the bathroom and I lay awake in bed worried about her and her flu. I was not thinking miscarriage- it just wasn’t in my thoughts. Oh, innocence. At that moment, the weirdest thing happened to me, and I really haven’t told anyone but Joy because I really don’t think anyone will take me seriously, but here goes.
As I lay there, I felt a chill run through my spine and up the back of my neck, my hair stood on end. It was like a cold vibration shuddered through my body. I was completely paralyzed for a moment; I really couldn’t move my body. It felt like I was being lifted out of the bed. It was like something had a hold of me. I know it sounds crazy (this is the part where I tell you how the aliens probed me and shoved a hydrogen rod through my spine) , but I really experienced this sensation. It reminded me of how I felt when my childhood dentist, Dr. King, would hook me up to the laughing gas right before he drilled a tooth, kind of fuzzy and immobile. But while I dug the laughing gas, this was one of the scariest moments of my life. The next part still freaks me out and my eyes water when I think about it. I heard a voice in my head, it was not my own. I really don’t know how to tell this part without sounding like an absolute freak, so please allow me a little space to get my freak on. The words spoken were in a really scary deep monotone, dreamlike and incoherent, but the message was clear. I knew right away that we were going to lose our baby.
I’ve tried to explain this to myself in several ways. Maybe I contracted the flu that was plaguing Joy, and I was having one of those fever induced episodes. I just never had any other flu symptoms. Physically, I felt fine as we waited for 5 hours in the emergency room. Maybe I was still asleep and having a very vivid dream. But I do remember staring at the bathroom light when I found Joy there. I guess it doesn’t matter, something happened to me and I had no control. We were losing a part of us and there was nothing I could do or say about it.
I now mark that experience as the exact moment the fear and trepidation entered my body. From then on, pregnancy bliss was out the door. Each time we were pregnant, we waited with anxiety for the moment it would happen again.
And it did, four more times.
Now we don’t allow ourselves to think about a positive outcome for fear of that moment when we let our guard down and the strange baby-snatching ghost living in my closet takes another one. Maybe I am losing my mind. If not, I definitely lost my innocence. I guess everyone does one way or another, right? What’s crazy is how I’ve learned to live this way, how I’ve adapted. I’m pretty amazed by my resilience. All I know is I want to-have to- move forward.