My wife didn’t need any tests or doctor visits to know she was pregnant. The two lines on the at-home pregnancy test merely confirmed what she’d shared with me the day before. Her body, she said, told her all she needed to know.
The same was true six weeks later. She didn’t need a gynecologist to know that she had miscarried.
My wife and I met when we were in high school. After 10 (exhausting) years of dating, we decided to go along with the social norm and get married. In my recollection, we were discussing baby names from about month no. 3 of dating. Children were always a when, not an if, for us. Her time spent nannying during the last five years only solidified our desire to procreate.
When the time came for us to start trying, we took a pragmatic approach (I’m a scientist; it’s what I do). Part of that plan was to keep a journal together. In it, you’ll find sections that jump from euphoria to worry, what type of bottle to buy to fears of a miscarriage.
We had a right to be worried. An estimated 10 to 20 percent of pregnancies end prematurely (a range that’s likely too low since many miscarriages go unreported). Plus, our families each have a history of miscarriages. Perhaps because of that, when my wife found out she was pregnant, we decided to only tell our two closest friends.
I couldn’t sit with the news alone.
I was fine keeping such an important secret because it made logical sense to me. That is, until the doctor confirmed my wife’s miscarriage. As the doctor told us, I found myself wanting more than anything to tell others the very news that we had hid from them for the very reason of a possible miscarriage. More people found out about the failed pregnancy because I couldn’t sit with the news alone.
For weeks, my wife and I had the same conversation with loved ones. They almost always ended with the (typically) unspoken question: “What if the next time doesn’t work either?”
That question reveals something about people: We’re fascinated by death. We mourn the dead with millions of acres of land, but among those gravestones and memorials, you won’t see anything about our history’s estimated 300 billion unborn children. Imagine the space required for that cemetery.
I’m not saying that my wife and I believed our miscarriage resembled a human life that needed to be buried but those two lines still meant something to us. They meant the future. With them, our 11 years of name games and talking about how we wanted to raise our kids had become a reality. Then, in a few short weeks, that hope, that promise, that reality flickered out.
My mother wears a ring next to her wedding ring. It has five stones. The first gleams garnet, the fourth sapphire. The other three represent the siblings my sister and I never had. My mother had three miscarriages; this ring carries one birthstone for each of her children.
My wife has no such ring but we’ll always carry our miscarriage with us. Even as we welcomed our first child in November, our thoughts turned to that first pregnancy and the reminder it gave us that the future is never promised.