Still pregnant . . .

Four days later, I am still pregnant. The misoprostol I took to induce labor is either working much more slowly than anticipated or my body is resistant to it. Until the last few days, I had no idea how common it was to experience pregnancy loss and yet remain pregnant.

If I had not seen the three ultrasounds, I would still be going about contentedly, thinking and dreaming about my baby. After all, I’m still exhausted, still have vivid dreams, still feel hunger pains every two hours – and if I don’t eat? I still feel nausea creeping in. My pants are still too tight to comfortably wear, even though the scale still shows my prepregnancy weight – when those same pants were loose. While I don’t have a baby bump that is noticeable to others, I see it when I look in the mirror or when I glance down at my clothed belly.

I had begun wearing maternity pants with a bella band over the top. The day of my ultrasound, I decided to try my regular jeans with a hair tie slipped through the button loop and around the button, which allowed an extra inch or so of space.

Neither of those options feel appropriate now, so I’ve been wearing my husband’s wind pants or a long, flowing skirt that used to be a little too big.

While there is no real way of knowing if my body deceived me by not giving my baby what she needed, I do feel as if my body is deceiving me now. I wonder how long we would have been ignorant had my midwife not offered that ultrasound. It felt like an afterthought at the time, “We could do an ultrasound, if you like.”  My next appointment would not have been for another four weeks. Would I have miscarried on my own by then? Would I have developed an infection? Would I have remained happily content, believing the entire month that all was well?

The still-pregnant state of my body can also feed the denial state of my grief. “See? Nothing is wrong. Perhaps the medicine didn’t work because she is still alive. Perhaps all of the machines were defective. Perhaps her heart started beating again just after they stopped. Perhaps with all of my tracking, we were simply two weeks off, and we’ll have a Christmas baby.” I know, logically, that none of that makes sense. The child within my womb is not growing, is not thriving, is not miraculously going to return to life. She is dead, laid down in the back of my uterus like a body in a tomb – a tomb that she does not want to leave.

And I don’t always want her to leave. While she is here, she is still mine. Still the little girl I am carrying. What happens once I go into labor and have to give her up? A friend sent me a note with an email she wrote after losing her first child – she talked about how women pregnant with their first child are considered parents, but once that child dies before birth, you go back to the realm of the childless in many people’s eyes. You have a child, but a child that you will never hear cry, never watch smile, never experience firsts of any kind with. Your child is invisible to all but you as you ache for their presence daily. Who am I when I can no longer hold on to my little girl?

You may have noticed I’m using female language. Allyn and I have believed from the beginning that we were having a girl. On Saturday morning, we named her Avelyn Grace (the “Ave” in Avelyn is pronounced like the beginning of “Av-e-nue”). The Hebrew origins of Avelyn mean life or little bird.

We have since been given a Bible with “Avelyn Grace” inscribed on it (our last name, Harris Dault, did not fit) and a Willow Tree figurine of an angel holding a baby bird, still hatching from the egg, beautiful reminders of our little girl.

I don’t know who we will be or what titles we will hold in the weeks to come. But I do know that we are better because of Avelyn.

Author’s note: This is the second in a series on pregnancy loss/miscarriage. Read the first post, “First ultrasound,” here.

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20 Comments

Filed under miscarriage

20 responses to “Still pregnant . . .

  1. Dorinda Gifford

    Jennifer, we are so sorry for your loss. This is a beautiful and transparent record of Avelyn Grace’s effect on your life as well as your acknowledgement and love for hers.

  2. I’m so sorry for your loss and I can’t imagine the emotions you and Allyn must be experiencing. Take good care of each other.

    • Thanks, Deirdre. I’m not sure if my comment went through on your blog, but I love the work you have been doing, and I’m so sorry it has been created due to pain in your life.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Jennifer. While pain is an inevitability in life, I think it can also help us see the beauty in the world and in ourselves. You and Allyn will make it through this…and the beauty in the world will find you again.

  3. Jennifer – you are a beautiful Mother. I am sorry the delay is causing even more anguish and yet affording more time to hold Avelyn within. Continued prayers for you and Allyn. Kathy

  4. I am so very very sorry for your loss. I had this happen, too. You are all in my prayers, and I send you my love.

  5. Oh, Jennifer. You write about something many women know but so few others understand. I am sorry for your loss at the same time I am grateful for the way you tell your story.

  6. Sarah Mann

    I saw this happen once before when my mother worked at a pregnancy resource center and the baby had not died yet, but was known that it would not live. I remember my heart being ripped out for the parents, and that was only someone that knew them. I admit I prayed that maybe I could meet him in Heaven and have a little brother.

    For the actual parents, getting ready for a new person and then being denied that–it’s a precious kind of pain. Precious because it’s still touching someone that no one but God has yet touched, and you already love her, and yet so very sad.

    I’m proud of how you’re working so hard with Allen to get through this, yet not denying that it’s going to be a journey and God is good but He’s also hard and He’s also sometimes mysterious, in both the English and the Greek connotations. I wish you healing and encouragement and hugs when you need them and silence when you don’t. And I’d also like to be introduced when we all meet again.

  7. Hey Jennifer,
    There are no words to make what you’re going through better. I know it more than I wish I did (I’ve lost four babies to miscarriage). Please know I’m hurting with you and available to listen if you’d like to vent. You can email me anytime. I also wanted to let you know about something that really helped me: http://www.namesinthesand.blogspot.com. It’s a place where you can ask that your little one’s name be written in the sand at sunset. It was really helpful for me to do with our babies. Just a thought. Sending you a virtual hug and praying for God to wrap his arms around you in this awful time.

  8. Pingback: Taboo Topics: Losing a baby – meet Jennifer and Allyn Harris Dault | Irresistibly Fish

  9. Pingback: Miscarriage and Silent Suffering | Intellectual Hospitality

  10. Weeping for you and your family reading this. {HUGS}

  11. Jennifer – I have been where you are, more than once. You are definitely in my prayers. One of the best things we did after our losses was find closure in ways that were meaningful to us. The Bible and figurine are beautiful gestures that will be helpful to you along this journey. I am praying that you are surrounded with the peace that passes understanding during this difficult time.

    • Thank you, Crystal. We are planning to have a service of some sort in the days ahead. We were planning to wait until after the miscarriage had actually taken place, but that seems to be lingering much longer than we ever anticipated. So sorry that you have been here, too.

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