"I was Already in Love": DNA and the Babies We Love and Lose
What a beautiful thought. I read last week that the male babies we’ve carried may leave traces of their DNA in our brains. My reaction to this had nothing to do with science. Frankly, I am not interested in the details. I do not care if it is harmful or beneficial.
This hit my gut. I have lost two babies to miscarriage.
I grieved them both. I was already in love. I was already making plans. I was already talking to my little one and rubbing my non-existent belly.
The article only talked about male DNA. Evidently, they looked for male DNA in the mother because female DNA would have been harder to distinguish from a mother's own genes. I never wanted to find out the gender of my miscarried babies but I’ve always imagined that they were boys. Maybe it’s because I already have boys, or maybe it’s because the idea that I had a girl and lost her is just too sad for me. But, for whatever reason, I have always imagined my lost babies as boys.
I found out about my first miscarriage at my initial doctor’s appointment when I thought I was 12 weeks along. My husband and son had joined me because we expected a joyful appointment. The doctor was smiling and chatting as she started to scan my belly for the baby’s heartbeat. I watched as her face changed from a smile to a serious look.
I was still beaming as I watched her hunt for a heartbeat that would never appear. She quietly explained what she feared. My smile hit the floor with my stomach.
Then they had me move to a different room for the trans-vaginal ultrasound. A more thorough check to see if there was any chance the baby had made it. We had to walk through a waiting room full of pregnant women. I couldn’t hide the sorrow that was already filling me. I had a crack in my heart and tears streaming down my cheeks.
As the second ultrasound began, the room was very quiet and the Ultrasound Tech was very kind and calm. She quietly finished, shook her head and very respectfully told us that she was sorry. The baby didn’t make it past about 8 weeks. We had her condolences.
Then Emmett did a beautiful thing that I will never, ever forget. Aaron was holding him in his arms. I was crying and Emmett saw my pain and my tears. He was only about 16 months old at the time, so words were still beyond him. He knew pain, though. He knew what hurt looked like and he saw it in me at that moment. So, he did what he knew. He leaned over and gently kissed my knee. It was gorgeous. He saw that I was sad and did the little thing that he could to help.
Somehow, this news struck me as the same thing. Just as I remember the way that Emmett kissed me when I was full of grief, I now feel that my other babies have done a similar thing. I am holding on to this news as a way to tell myself that even these babies whom I will never meet left me what they could. They are a part of the fabric of my life, and I will always carry them with me.
To me, this is a beautiful ending to my story. I believe we all make choices in our memories. We hold on to certain things or let others go because they are too painful. This news gives me a new memory with which to end my story. This is what I will hold onto. I hold the idea that they have given me a piece of themselves even as they left.
Stephanie Olson is a mother of two boys who lives and writes in Seattle. She believes her golden rule in parenting “Just wipe it off on your pants!” will be her epitaph someday. It has gotten us through pretty well thus far! Read more of Stephanie's work on her blog, Ma Swell Vie.