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Chapter 1: Our First Loss

I was in love. Not just the warm and fuzzy kind, but the sold out kind. It is a truth that can't be taught, only experienced, but when people tell you that your children are special to you, they are doing the best they can to describe something that they know you won't fully understand.  

We had just found out that Kristi was pregnant with our first child and I was ready to take it on.

We had been married almost two years and everything was going so well. My work was stable enough that we had been able to let Kristi stay home for almost a year, just to make sure that we were used to living on one income and to build that routine. Our marriage had been amazing so far, we had found a way to avoid a lot of the first year struggles that so often come with the newlywed experience, and we were on our way to the next logical step: parenthood.

When Kristi woke me up one morning with a positive pregnancy test, I was so excited, but also immediately anxious. The clock has started, we only have 9 months! I was approaching this pregnancy the same way I do most things, I research articles, I find all the "tips" for new parents, I ask others what their experiences were and I compile it all in a mental notebook that I can draw on whenever a given situation comes up. Of course, along with all the wonderful things you learn, it doesn't take long before you start hearing about all of the risks. 

Miscarriage, SIDS, developmental issues, you have to know what you are getting into, but it's such a foreign concept at this point. Sure, I know people who have had miscarriages, but that sort of thing is super rare and isn't something you assume can happen to you. It's like the side effects to a medicine or any other of the hundreds of warnings that we are bombarded with every day: I am sure it happened to someone, that's why they warn you, but that's not us. The numbers are in our favor. 

As the days went on, I come to find out that there are rules that go along with getting pregnant:

  • You don't tell anyone until the heartbeat appointment.
  • You don't announce anything publicly until you are out of the first trimester, because then you are "in the clear", so to speak.

Ok, I guess that's just what you do, but I was already so excited to tell everyone!

I wanted to talk to our baby in Kristi's belly. I wanted to pray for our child, that he or she would be blessed even while in the womb. I was ready to start setting up a nursery and getting all the "stuff" that we needed.

I was ahead of myself though. You take things in stages, this is a process, and the first step in that process is the heartbeat appointment. That's the milestone that gets us to where we can start letting people know about our soon to be expanding family!

I take the day off and we go to get our first ultrasound. Waiting in the office to get called back was nothing but excitement, everything was going to be good, I knew it. I had no reason to think anything would be wrong, but there is always a little nervousness the first time you do something, but this was more than just "something", we were about to see our little one for the first time!

This was the culmination of the first phase of our life together. We were about to move from just a couple, to a family. All the planning, all the conversations, and really all of our lives were in preparation for this moment, where we begin the process of pouring out our love on a new life and preparing the way for them to be as happy as we know how to make them.

We finally go back to the ultrasound room and Kristi gets up on the table, the ultrasound tech gets everything ready and I am on the edge of my seat. You wait for them to put the baby up on the screen and you see the little flicker of a heartbeat for the first time. That's when you can relax and breath, because everything is 'ok'.

She starts the ultrasound and we are fixed on the monitor…and we wait…and wait. Maybe it takes a little bit to find them the first time…or maybe she is checking other stuff first just to make sure. How cruel!! Just show us our baby! I knew it was a possibility that we were a little too early and we wouldn't be able to see the heartbeat just yet, but what I was seeing on the monitor looked like a bunch of random shapes and lines, not the little round ball of life we were trying to find.

After what felt like too long, my anxiety started to shoot through the roof. Something is wrong. She removes the ultrasound wand and has a defeated look on her face. She turns to us and says something that I didn't understand:

 "The baby is in your fallopian tube. It's called an ectopic pregnancy, I am very sorry. The doctor will come talk to you in a minute", then she turned and left.

Wait, what? What does that even mean? Can you move it? Why would she just leave without telling us what is going on?

I look at Kristi and I don't remember if I said "what does that mean?" Or if she just read my face. Through the beginning of tears she says "it means we don't get to keep our baby".

My soul shook.

That's not possible! The baby is alive, it has a heartbeat. We can fix this. We just need to get the doctor to fix it. I am sure there is some kind of surgical fix, I am sure it's risky, but our baby is alive and surely this isn't something new, they have to be able to fix it.

No. They can't.

We spoke with the doctor and he confirmed my fear, which Kristi already knew to be true, there were no options to save the baby. Now, to make it worse, we are having a conversation about the surgery that she will have to have to remove him from the tube. The doctor tells us that he will do everything that he can to save the tube, but he won't know until he gets in there. If he does remove the tube, it could jeopardize our chances of a future pregnancy.

While we were talking to him, I realized something. The baby is alive, isn't he? "Yes" was the doctors response. The implication of my question and the weight of his response didn't require further explanation.

"And what happens if we do nothing?"

"He grows until the tube can't hold him anymore, then it ruptures, killing him, and most likely Kristi as well."

No. Other. Option.

I had to hear it. There isn't a slim chance, there is no Hail Mary procedures. This isn't a choice of convenience or probability. It's over.  

So, now we have a surgery to prepare for, which just adds a physical component to our emotional pain. I was in shock. This isn't how this is supposed to happen. We were there. It was supposed to be a happy day. I don't even remember what happened after that. I think I went back to work (what was I thinking?), but I was just numb.

At that time, I didn't have a category for grief. Now, our child, who is very much alive, but not viable, is going to be removed from my wife's womb.

The next day, September 7th, 2011, she had the surgery and our baby was gone.

It would be several years before I would realize just how much I changed that day.

Return to the Prologue                                Continue to Chapter 2

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