around what would have been the due date of our first child.
Last Christmas, E and I were spending the holidays with my family in Country House outside of Small Town inside of Large Midwestern State. Let's call it Monotony.
E had done her 5th IUI, medicated, a few weeks prior. She had gotten her period a few days before we left, and the disappointment was threatening to suffocate the few days we had off for the holidays.
Christmas was celebrated with the family, who were bouyant and compassionate about our repeated failures to get pregnant. They consoled E and engaged in much frank discussion about the trials she had endured thus far to get pregnant. Which was good, because I had grown surly with the perpetual talk of frozen sperm and anonymous donors and injectables and the whole damned medicalized process.
Frequently, when I woke and stumbled to the kitchen for coffee, I would find E and my mother quickly hushing their conversation and rather loudly discussing the weather or the dogs. I'd scowl and march off.
At this point on our path to parenthood, I was rather ambivalent about the whole baby thing. Moreover, I was almost wholly uninvolved. Our initial plans to do home inseminations with a known donor did not work out. Having been initially quite determined to make it happen naturally, we were disheartened to have to find an RE, and the news that E had high FSH was an even bigger blow. We gave up the notion of making it ourselves, and started medicated cycles. My job prevented me from attending E's frequent doctor appointments, and trying to conceive was nearly the only thing she talked about. I was feeling more and more peripheral to the process.
That, in a recap, is where we were when it happened.
A couple of days before our holiday vacation ended, we were milling about aimlessly in Monotony. E popped into Depressing Drugstore for some Advil before we drove back to Country House.
Later that afternoon, E approached me, wild-eyed, and asked that I accompany her to the bathroom. There on the counter lay a stick, with two very dark blue lines. What she thought was her period was actually implantation bleeding.
This was the first time in her life she had ever been pregnant, and she was lit and shining with the thrill and the terror of it.
And there it was, for a long and wild 6 weeks. I was alternately sick with apprehension and filled with a a soft, warm, spreading happiness. What a ride it was.
Our first ultrasound showed a little sac, the fetal pole just a bit small for what it should have been at that point. Just a bit.
The second appointment was the biggie, The One When You See The Heartbeat. E was nervous, but oh, we had hope. It had only been a bit small.
When we got there, E clutched my hand, glowing as she had been for weeks. I looked at her - she was pregnant, without question. The physical manifestations were there: she often had a faint sheen on her face (sweat from the persistent nausea), and her belly felt hard. She had changed shape somehow over the last few weeks, although obviously what was there was not big enough to show. Maybe it was just her happiness.
I squeezed her hand and felt only blind optimism.
It took a while for the doctor to do the ultrasound. He kept moving the wand, and there was what felt like a deafening silence.
There wasn't a heartbeat.
E folded in on herself when the doctor left the room, and I wrapped her up and took her home.
Her body clung to that little fetal pole for three weeks. We refused the D&C, and instead she took one tiny pill on a Friday night, and we holed up for the weekend. We called it our Miscarriage Party. I rolled a joint, and we took the dog for walks.
And we loved eachother endlessly.