london bridge is falling down, my fair lady

i do not love being pregnant. i love having babies. but, being pregnant... not so much. i cannot express the relief i am experiencing now that i am no longer pregnant. but, when i was just into my second trimester and i started bleeding... i would have given anything to stay pregnant.

it was the middle of the summer, and i hadn't been outside for months apart from the car ride to the doctor, hospital or acupuncturist - all attempting (in vain) to alleviate the severe morning sickness that was slowly stopping my body from functioning properly. i was about 15 weeks along when my mom and my sister had come from michigan to help take care of my kids since i was bed-ridden and attached to a home IV. i started throwing up (not unusual), but i also felt cramping (unusual). i realized i was bleeding quite a bit and i was instantly terrified.

i collected myself before i went downstairs because i didn't want tom, my mom and sister to panic. i think i was calm, but i am not really sure about that detail. i just said that i was bleeding and that we needed to go to the hospital right away. we left immediately and in the car ride, the bleeding got much worse. i was sure i was having a miscarriage. i was crying, and just kept saying "no, no, no, no..." tom was crying too. we sort of took turns being stable. i would panic and he would calm me down, and just when i started to believe him, that maybe "everything will be okay..." he would take his turn to freak out and i would take a shot at being rational and calm.

it was a horrific drive to the hospital. in my mind i felt like i knew i was having a miscarriage, but i never would have said it out loud. when tom called our obgyn to tell her we were on our way to the ER, he said "yes, hello. i think my wife is having a miscarriage." i couldn't believe it. i knew I was thinking that, and i knew that HE was thinking that. but i didn't want it to be true, and in that moment, i felt like saying it out loud would make it true.

we got to the emergency room and it was packed with people who were groaning, sleeping, or just waiting patiently. i walked in sobbing, checked in and sat down next to a groaning lady in a wheelchair. i waited. and waited. nobody called my name. i looked down and realized that there was blood on the bench. tom went to the desk to ask when we would be seen, saying that i was getting worse. the man handed him a towel and said to wait.

we left and went to another hospital. i couldn't believe that i was getting back in the car. i was in so much pain. i felt like i was having contractions, and all i could think of was the long days and nights that i had spent throwing up, feeling like i had the flu for 4 solid months, and how i prayed for the nausea to go away. i thought of how i couldn't even keep a sip of water down. how i felt like i was dying. and how i prayed for the pain to stop, for the slow, miserable death to come quickly.

now, here we were. on our way to hospital #2, and my prayer was coming true. god was going to grant me this one horrible wish, that the nausea would go away, but so would my baby. i felt so guilty, as though wanting the miserable pregnancy to end, had actually brought on a miscarriage. i regretted every single thought i had. every second i had wished away, every prayer for relief... i knew that i was responsible, and this was my punishment.

when we finally got into the second ER, we were seen almost immediately. i still remember the nurses asking all the questions, and their sad faces when i gave my answers. they gave that face where you put your lips together, pull them both in tight, kinda more to one side than the other. the face that says "you poor thing." the pity face. i knew what was happening. i know what bleeding this much during your second trimester means. i didn't need tight, crooked lips to tell me that much.

we waited for a while for the ultrasound technician to come in to give us the final say. at this point, the bleeding had slowed down a bit... so i had some hope. i laid in the cold, sterile bed imagining the scene that would play out in the coming moments. the tech would come in. she would search for a heartbeat, and she would not find one. she would say "i'm sorry, i cannot find the heartbeat." i pictured myself getting enraged. i pictured myself grabbing the little microphone thingy and yelling at the lady. i pictured myself screaming that "this baby was created by the god of the universe, so don't tell me that there is no heartbeat. there will BE a heartbeat." and i imagined a heartbeat. i believed that there could be a heartbeat.

about 5 minutes later, the tech walked in. she squirted the gooey stuff on the microphone and she pushed the wand into my still-flat belly. i thought of how small the baby must be in there, all alone, hard to find. she searched on my right side for a while, then slowly slid the wand over the middle, then finally down to the left side. she seemed to listen for so long. several times we heard the swishy sound, but it was too slow... it was the sound of a big heart, my heart, and it was breaking. we needed to find a tiny heart, with a quick beat.

finally, just as i had imagined the scenario going, she said it.

"i'm really sorry. i'm not finding a heartbeat."

i hesitated. just for a moment. did i believe my pretend monologue i had daydreamed about giving in this moment? did i really believe that the creator of the universe had knit this baby together in my womb? did i really believe that he could restore it's life, which had surely been lost by this point?

i did. i believed all of that. so hanging onto a hint of faith that god would restore the quick and tiny beat of my baby's heart, i put out my hand and said "can i just try?"

now it was her turn to hesitate. i think out of pity for my desperation, and that alone, she relinquished the ultrasound wand to my control. i laid my head back and closed my eyes. tears were rolling down my face, but just like she did, i swept the wand around my tummy. first on the right side. nothing. then down below my belly button. still nothing. then finally over to the left side. and there it was. that perfect, sweet, swishy, little washing machine sound.

my baby was alive and also a warrior. i was a rock star for not giving up until i could prove it. and my god had breathed life into her that was meant for something big.

this would mark the beginning of what would become the longest pregnancy of my life. riddled with various complications, including an amniotic band which threatened to harm, deform, or even kill our baby, the pregnancy dragged on until i was 8 days overdue. my wonderful hippy of a midwife broke my water and told me "do whatever my body told me to do." and five hours later, my body told me to push. then, she came. little london claire. a perfect peach of a head, and the sweetest little piglet nose you ever saw. a fine and elegant lady, she was.

my friend erica was capturing every perfect moment, expertly avoiding any scandalous pictures. and i might have imagined this, but i am pretty sure my other friend sam leaned over and whispered "she is a masterpiece." i am not totally sure that happened, because it was all a haze at that point. but, even if i made that part up, it was true. she was a masterpiece. knit together by the god of the universe. fought for by her mother. and welcomed by a roomful of family and friends who already loved her.

matthew 15:28 "then jesus answered her, 'o woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.' and her daughter was healed instantly ."