I’m sad that I’m not sadder
We had our first appointment with Dr. Cleary at Columbia-Presbyterian in early December, 2010. Before seeing the doctor, I was scheduled for a sonogram, my first since being told I was having twins. D and I had decided to keep the twins a secret until further into the pregnancy, so I immediately told my two bffs, Colleen and Bernadette. I mean, there are secrets that maybe you keep from your best friends, but I can’t think of an example right now. Colleen has two great kids: her son is already a grown man in the military and her daughter is in college. Colleen loves babies, all babies! In a way that I don’t. I mean, I love my baby and my nieces and nephews and the children of my friends, well, most of the children of my friends, but, just in general, kids vs. puppies? Puppies win EVERY time with me.
We had also visited D’s family over Thanksgiving and made the big announcement there, so I wasn’t being entirely indiscreet telling my friends. I had decided not to tell my family for a while, because my mother didn’t need the worry. She’s a nurse and knows all the things that could possibly go wrong.
D was with me during the sonogram. The technician found Baby A’s heartbeat right away and took all the readings and pictures, and then started to look for Baby B. After a few minutes, I could tell something was not right. The technician finally sighed and said, “I’m so sorry, but I can’t find a heartbeat.” Even my untrained eye could see the marked difference between the two sacs. The second was much smaller and still. The technician printed out more pictures for the doctor and told us to wait in the waiting room for Dr. Cleary.
My feelings: I’ve promised to be completely honest here, so as much as I’m ashamed to admit it, I will. My first reaction was relief. I feel guilty and sad just writing that sentence, but it’s the truth. I don’t think I’d have my healthy full-term son sleeping in the next room right now had Baby B not “vanished” so early in the pregnancy. That’s the term, by the way; it’s called “vanishing” syndrome. No explanation as to why, but the fetus just stops growing.
We met Dr. Cleary, then, and she confirmed the technician’s results. I felt like a fraud as she told me how sorry she was that this had happened. Several months later, as I sat in Dr. Cleary’s waiting room for one of my regular appointments, I saw a man who was obviously distraught waiting for his wife. One of the other mothers-to-be asked him if he was OK. He told her that they had their first sonogram a few minutes ago, and they had been told there was no heartbeat, only they had one fetus, not two. He just kept saying, “I just want my wife to be OK.” The other mother, who was at least my age and maybe older, and I tried to comfort him. He was young–I’m guessing in his twenties, maybe early thirties. We tried to tell him that he and his wife had so much time, but of course, that was of no use to him at the moment. I do, truly, know how lucky I am, every time I look at my happy, healthy son, and I hope one day I will stop thinking about what might have been.
Next time: No one tells you it’s actually TEN months of pregnancy!
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