The first step is to penetrate the clouds of deceit and distortion and learn the truth about the world,
then to organize and act to change it. That's never been impossible and never been easy. ~Noam Chomsky

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Hope Shaped

Hope is the thing with feathers
that perches in the soul
and sings the tune without the words
and never stops at all. Emily Dickinson

On the last day of September 2013 I peed on a stick in my aunt's bathroom in Flordia - in transit to Haiti.

Negative as usual. That's fine. Just taking an extra precaution since I'd soon be popping malaria prophylaxis like candy.

The next week I was crabby and bleeding. And have I mentioned crabby? The poor women who joined me in Haiti. I was silly and then silent and then crabby. I cried! It was a lot of emotion in a very short period of time.

In mid-October I was very sick and by late October I was in the hospital with what they thought was Dengue Fever. 2 days of IVs and anti nausea medications being dumped into my veins... and chills and sweats. So much fluid was pumped in me that my wedding rings were stuck on my giant sausage finger.

By early November I was bleeding again which seemed normal and on time. And then the bleeding didn't stop.

I was in bed by 8:30 every night in October and November and napping for big portions of the afternoons. I felt weary. So weary. Even making dinner was too hard. We agreed that this was complete mental and emotional exhaustion from the new delays in Haiti.

Then there was this day. I think it was a Monday. I drove to the store, bought a box of cherry pop tarts and One after another. I could not stop. The hunger for those pop tarts was out of control. A few friends online joked that I had a pop tart baby growing in me.

J was in Haiti. It was the holiday week. I began to wake up from my fog and think about the light bleeding. I dug around in my bathroom drawer, found a several year old pregnancy test, threw it in my bag and Ariam and I drove to our friends' house in the mountains for Thanksgiving.

I don't know what made me do that. I was sure it was nothing. Weird hormonal fluctuations. We were diagnosed, both of us, with infertility a long time ago.

A few days into our stay at our friends' house I pulled out that test just to get it over with. (Anyone who has ever spent many many years never being pregnant knows that getting that big old negative is a real loser moment. you dread it and dread it, put it off, and then finally just rip off the bandaid and do it.)

Except it wasn't negative. It was positive. Very very positive.
And in my pajamas, with crazy morning hair and unbrushed teeth I screamed for my friend to get up to the bathroom. I don't think I'll forget the way time stopped in that bathroom.  We were on the floor staring at each other with huge eyes. No words can describe it.

We spent the day in the sunshine. We talked about how the next Thanksgiving there would be FIVE kids between us!! I drove home the next day in a cloud of surprise, glee, giddiness. Shock.

I called a friend. I told J on skype by holding up the test. I took 4 more tests. I bought prenatal vitamins.
We calculated that it was just 4 weeks along most likely.

Sunday morning I sang in church with a secret smile on my face and a hand over my tummy.

It wasn't what we were planning. Actually it wasn't something we could plan.  It wasn't ideal timing. It wasn't convenient or affordable. But it was a baby! And a baby that was immediately beloved.

Sunday afternoon I bled. A lot. And ached. And could not get off the couch. Ariam watched kids' shows. I tried very hard to act normal.

Monday I went to the ob/gyn. I told them I knew it was too good to be true. The baby was gone. They told me not to be fatalistic.

I lay on my back in a dark radiology room, listening to his heartbeat in the wrong place. In a fallopian tube instead of in the safety of a uterus. My eyes filled up but I didn't cry because I knew, I had known, it wasn't going to happen for us. He wasn't really meant to be ours.

I challenged them to move him down to the uterus. They said that isn't a thing. They said he had to go or he would kill me.

The month of December was filled with shots that made my hair partially fall out, my body ache, and put me on my back with nausea. I had to eat constantly or I would feel sick. I gained weight that should have been baby weight but wasn't. The doctor decided that what they were doing wasn't working. He was growing (turns out he was 9.5 weeks when I was diagnosed and 10.5 weeks when I had surgery.)
Heart still beating they wheeled me in to an operating room and took him out.

I am left with 2 scars, an extra flabby tummy, about 1/4 less hair, and the memory of that 1 completely happy day back in late November.

My left fallopian tube is now gone.
I don't know how on earth this little guy arrived, set up a heart beat and then got stuck a few inches from being able to grow and be born.

We hope we will see him someday after our lives here are done.

The sermon last week at church was about heaven. About how we are designed to be hope shaped. How we strive for goodness and light and happiness now, or how we work through the hard brutal parts of life now, because of what we hope for in the future. On earth or in heaven.

I am hope shaped. We are hope shaped. And we keep going.


PS. It turns out a lot of women I know, and don't know, have lost a baby. I had no idea how common it is to experience this kind of loss or how it stays as such a big part of life's story. Why don't we talk about it more often?


  1. Oh God, Amanda. I just. I am so sorry. Not in the pity way but in the "I've been there and it was the hardest thing I've ever gone through" way. I'm grateful you're physical "ok", even if you don't feel that way. I just wanted you to know I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. Wish I was there with you to give you a hug, imagine it from there. Love you.

  2. I think about that moment too... and I'm so glad the day was sunny. That you had some sunshine for a couple more days after that.

    My heart aches for you, but man- I am so, so glad you are hope shaped.

  3. I am so sorry for your loss.

  4. I'm so sorry to hear this. Thoughts & prayers to you.

  5. This made me sob, because I have lost both of my fallopian tubes that way. I know how it feels to hate those stupid sticks and then to have the hope and then... well... I am so very sorry for this incredibly cruel loss.

  6. I had never read this until tonight and it made me so so sad again for you guys. I'm very sorry you lost your precious little baby person.


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