Robb Zimmerman speaks about being a husband through the grief and confusion of two lost pregnancies.
The accumulation of doubt and triumph resulted in tears of joy when I saw a little flicker on the ultrasound screen. It was immediate and unmistakable. Our baby has a heartbeat and is more than likely going to be born in June.
For reasons beyond my comprehension God has carried me in his hands, so things in my life generally work out. When my wife, Sarah, was pregnant for the first time, I assumed we’d be proud parents last March. When she had spotting and we went in for an ultrasound, I knew we’d be ok. I had assumed it’d be a life changing moment to see my first child’s heartbeat on the screen, but it really wasn’t. It was a matter of fact.
But we lost that baby (miss you, snowpea), and then another (xoxo, blueberry), and it has been very difficult for me to watch the anguish that Sarah has felt so much more acutely than I have.
I have felt grief and sorrow, too, but at no point was my biological function in question. We lost the first to a zombie bite. From a numerical perspective, this will not happen again. But it wasn’t my body that endured 106°F (41.1°C) and flying pig hallucinations. So I could be confident to try again, but that didn’t stop the doubt from creeping in for Sarah. I could mourn later, so I had to help her through it.
The second miscarriage amplified the sorrow, disappointment, fear, doubt, and self-loathing. It didn’t end with a bizarre catastrophe like the first. We had nothing but, “This happens in 30% of pregnancies. This is normal.” That’s great when you’re being rational, but it doesn’t stop her from wondering if she isn’t meant to carry children. That is a difficult concept to face, and I did what I could to carry her through. The beauty of a marriage is that we share everything. Usually we’re sharing joy, but sometimes we share desperate devastation.
I was elated that the lab work showed her third pregnancy is healthy. I trust the lab and cumulative data of millions of women. And I’m the optimist between the two of us. But the morning of our ultrasound it occurred to me that maybe something could go wrong with this pregnancy, too, that maybe the baby wasn’t fine. By the time we went to the doctor that afternoon I was back to optimism. Apparently, though, the doubt we shared had accumulated in my heart. I felt like we were vindicated, like I could just feel some joy for my Sarah, for what she had to think about herself in the last year.
I cried when I saw my baby’s heartbeat because of the certainty, the peace it gave her. I was so relieved for her, so satisfied to see her comforted, at least a little.
Photo credit: Flickr / cwasteson