When I awoke in the hospital room, Aaron sat beside me. I didn't know how long he had been sitting there. I felt only the absence of the baby. The OB stood in the doorway, frantic, talking too fast for my slowly awakening mind. She didn't get everything. She had trouble with the instruments. My cervix was too tight. I might need another D&C. I let her voice recede and focused on Aaron. His expression was serious, concerned. We'd speak first thing in the morning. With this, she left.
Aaron moved quickly to me as the door closed. "Don't worry. We"ll be okay."
"Take me home."
The nurse appeared suddenly in the room to let me know that I could not leave until I ate something, until I urinated. It was 2 in the morning. I didn't want anything to eat. Aaron had anticipated this and pulled out a bag of candy and a gingerale. I picked through the sweets, finished the soda and headed to the bathroom. I expected a lot of blood; there was hardly any.
The same was true the next morning. The OB shrieked when she heard this and told me again that she must not have removed everything. As I hung up the phone, I wondered if it was possible that Pink remained inside me. That this whole thing was a mistake. I allowed myself to contemplate this, even shared the possibility with Aaron. He did not want me to indulge in such thoughts and brought me immediately to another OB for a second opinion. She recommended further ultrasounds. Back to the hospital, to the same room where I'd heard the news the day before. Only this time, my womb was empty. I didn't need anyone to point this out. But the same supervisor confirmed it anyway.
"Don't worry," he told me. "Everything looks great. You will be pregnant again soon."
The new OB echoed this prediction when we returned to her office. Apparently I would be pregnant again within a month, two months tops. There was no need to wait, my uterus looked perfect. And why not tell me such wonderful things? Clearly this inconsolable woman must be consoled. I was no longer a mother but would be and soon. No worries.
The promise of this next pregnancy hung in the air. I breathed it in and out every day to keep me going. Becoming pregnant was all that I could think about. I needed to return to that state of being with child. I honed in on every fluctuation of my body. Two weeks after the D&C, I felt my ovaries prepare to ovulate and told Aaron I wanted to try right away. The OB had given us the all clear so he had no objections. The weeks passed and I did not bleed. I allowed myself to believe that we had conceived. But instead of dancing around with a positive pregnancy test in hand, I found myself on the floor writhing in pain with cramping worse than I had ever experienced. But no blood. I called my OB. She told me to come to the office. It looked like I had ovulated and there was a tiny amount of blood left over in my uterus.
My OB was baffled, suggested we monitor my hormones throughout the next month. "Just relax. We'll get to the bottom it."
Everything appeared normal, better than normal she offered. Baseline hormones perfect, reflecting a much younger woman. Ovulation occurring. A nice ripe follicle with good supporting hormones. Aaron and I tried again. "This should do it," my OB reassured me. Two weeks later, again no blood. But the unbearable cramping returned. A follow-up ultrasound. A little blood left in the uterus. "Let's watch it one more month," she offered.
But where was the blood going? I wondered. I dreamt one night that my child was living somewhere else inside me, in hiding, taking nourishment. I'd heard of some weird medical phenomenon and managed to convince myself at least in dreams that I might actually have some second hidden womb.
The next month was a repeat of the last two. This time my OB determined that the problem must be my cervix. She had seen it happen before. The cervix becomes scarred and the blood cannot evacuate. Instead it backs up through the uterus and tubes and pools in the abdomen. She explained that she could take care of it in her office right then or we could schedule some time in the hospital. I asked her how much it would hurt and she reassured me that it should be tolerable. To move forward, I agreed to get it over with.
When she began, I tried to relax. I focused on my breath, and unclenched everything I could. I felt a burn as she injected me with something to dilate my cervix. Then came the tenaculum and I nearly crawled off the table. She began to scrape. "How much longer?" I asked once, then again. It shouldn't be too long, she answered repeatedly. I envisioned a few monstrous moments. The clock showed the minutes passing. Sweat ran down my brow, and my body began to shake. Five minutes. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. My friend held me down on the table. I imagined it looked like an old fashioned abortion scene. I bit down on my sweater, squeezed my friend's arm. Finally the pressure decreased. I looked toward my OB. Wads of bloody gauze lay on her silver tray. All done. But not really.
The next month was one of tests. How much damage had been done to my uterus by the back up of blood? How were my tubes? One test after another. Finally I learned that I should be able to conceive but my OB did not believe I could do it on my own. She sent me to a Reproductive Endocrinologist who suggested IVF. At my age, it would be best. My argument that I had just made a baby naturally was shot down. I had conceived but not had a live birth. What about the great hormone levels? The regular ovulation? Though I went to his office determined to hold my ground and continue to try naturally, by the time he was done with me, I felt lucky to get off starting with augmented IUIs. I was old. My eggs faulty. My cervix clearly defective. I had no chance of success without intervention. What was I thinking?
I took the hormones as directed and once it was determined that I was ovulating, Aaron and I headed off to his office for the insemination. We did not make a baby. Instead, my ovaries filled with cysts. When I refused to take more hormones, my OB sent me to another RE, who again questioned my sanity. Of course I needed the hormones. I was to start taking them as soon as the cysts cleared up. I knew that this would not work for me. There must be another way. My friend Crissy had given me a book, The Fertile Soul soon after the miscarriage. The evening of the appointment with the second RE, I read it from cover to cover and set off in search of a new acupuncturist.
I had seen an acupuncturist immediately following the miscarriage but I liked her approach about as much as the REs. She'd suggested that if I had seen her during the pregnancy that I would not have miscarried. She also implied that if I had seen her more often following the miscarriage, that the troubles with my cervix could have been avoided. I couldn't return to her. But I believed I needed some kind of help and turned to the Fertile Soul to recommend a new practitioner. Within minutes of receiving the list, I placed the call. I was sitting in his office that afternoon.
I believed that this more holistic path would heal my body and yield me a child. I had refused more hormones but believed the herbs would work. I needed something to hang onto and almost immediately it seemed as if this something was outside of myself. Was this a sign of my lack of mothering? Though the cysts disappeared within a few weeks, I would chase my child's shadow for the next 18 months before finally conceiving my son.