Tiny Hands

Warning: This post talks about miscarriage.

Baby A has been coughing for days, a nasty, wet hack.  She stood up yesterday and coughed so hard she fell over.  It wakes her up often at night, and we spend a lot of time walking around in circles, humming.  She wants to be held constantly.  I’m so tired.

When I took the girls to the doctor today, M should be well soon, but Baby A has at least another week of this to go, and supposedly it will get worse before it gets better.  I listened to the doctor in glassy-eyed exhaustion, thinking, seven to ten more days?  I took M to school, then went to get A’s medicine.  After school, I picked up M’s friend L, so that I could watch her while L’s mom had a prenatal ultrasound.

L mentioned, over snacks, that there had been twins, but one had died and they were worried about the other, and she really wanted a little brother so she hoped the baby was okay.  Time crept by, getting later and later, and I started worrying.  Hopefully everything was okay, but I wondered if something terrible had happened.  Her mom came by to get her, and said that when they did the ultrasound, they discovered that she lost the babies.  I feel so horribly sad for her.

I had a miscarriage once–at least they think so, but it was too early to really prove that was it.  They always tell you when you’re pregnant to not to get too attached, but so many end in miscarriage.  But how can you not?  From the moment I knew of their existences, even when I tried not to think about it, it was at the back of my mind.  Boy or girl?  Name? How would my life change? What would he or she look like? Suddenly it’s all just over.  And mine was so early, I hadn’t had much time to dwell on it.  But I know so many people, including my own mother, who lost them later in, and my heart breaks for all of them.  All that love and hope and dreams torn away in an instant, and there’s not a thing to be done.

When I was pregnant with M, I was teaching one day when I suddenly couldn’t speak.  I was having a very hard time understanding what was happening.  I sat down on the floor, and my amazing first graders started to take care of themselves; one ran for help while another directed everyone to go get to work, and ensured that they did.  The principal arrived and put me in my wheeled desk chair to take me out to the parking lot; one of the fifth graders, usually a troublemaker, was unusually helpful, keeping me in the chair and reassuring me. (Apparently he was rather put out that he didn’t get to accompany me to the ER)  When I got to the hospital, they were trying to assess what happened, thinking I’d had a stroke.  They were asking me questions, and I kept trying to answer, but mostly I just said, “Baby? Baby? Baby?”  I quit when they did the ultrasound and reassured me that while I was a mess, M was fine.  It turned out I had a wicked virus that dehydrated me so completely that I was no longer capable of thinking.  It took me a week to recover, but all that mattered were those little movements inside, those tiny hands pressing on my stomach.  And when she was born, listening for her breath at night, relieved by hiccups and sighs, knowing she was safe.  Knowing with some unnamed dread that she might be gone.  I’m lucky that she wasn’t.  I’m lucky twice over with Baby A.

I felt that keenly today after L went home.  I carried A upstairs to change her.  She rested her head on my shoulder, her tiny hands wound in my hair, murmuring “Da-da-da” softly.  She was so warm and soft.  I stood on the steps and hugged her, and burst into tears.  She’s a miracle, the most precious gift, and a rare one.  I have to be grateful for those sleepless moments, those little hugs and sighs, because I might not have had them at all.

To those of you who know the agony of losing a baby, you have my deepest sympathy.

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