Ten years ago today, at this very moment, I sat in a waiting room at my obstetrician’s office, flipping through baby magazines and occasionally glancing at the pregnant women around me, trying to decide who was the farthest along, and if I was above or below the curve in getting too fat, too fast.
I was 20 weeks pregnant. I’d just taken a half day off at the high school where I taught. As I walked away, my newspaper staff was making a big chart on the board, and all my students were placing bets on whether I was having a boy or a girl. I was instructed to call the room after my sonogram, and they’d be there to answer and announce the winners. Many a Dr. Pepper was riding on the outcome.
My husband John came out of the coffee shop with bottled water just as they called us back. I commented as I stepped on the scale that lately I had felt skinnier, which I thought odd. I had been so concerned about it that a few days ago I’d gone to the nurse’s office at my school to be weighed.
“Nope, you’re growing plenty!” the nurse said, jotting down the number. I felt relieved and sat on the exam table. She pulled out a Doppler to get the baby’s heart rate and I automatically tensed. She had struggled with this at both my previous visits, so when she kept moving it around and around and found nothing, I didn’t worry as much as I might have.
“No worries,” she said. “We’ll see it during the sonogram.”
But when my doctor arrived seconds later, rather than after what was normally a lengthy wait, I knew something was wrong.
And when his first words were, “Try not to worry,” this set my pulse flying.
He immediately flipped on the machine beside us and laid the sonogram paddle to my exposed belly. He grimaced as he worked, and John held my hand tightly. I was already crying, but not really noticing as the moment was so intense, so long, so agonizingly slow.
Finally the doctor said, “There’s no heartbeat.”
The rest of the words sort of slurred in my mind. The baby was measuring out at 16 weeks, so had died shortly after the last visit. I remembered that sonogram so well, his heartbeat and the shifting of his shoulders making us realize he was alive, so alive, and going to be with us soon. Here is Casey at 16 weeks, the last time we saw him alive:
The rest of my story is well documented on the site. You can read it here.
So much has happened since then. My life has gone in many new directions. I quit teaching. I had surgery to fix my uterus. I had two lovely girls among complicated pregnancies where I lost other babies. John and I eventually separated.
But today is about little Casey, the reason this web site exists. It has been a long labor of love, at times causing me great anguish, but mostly being a source of strength and pride and comfort for both myself and the wonderful mothers who come here–this site takes 25,000 hits every day.
I am doing a number of special things to commemorate this day.
Early this morning, I created a Facts about Miscarriage Facebook Group that women may join so that we can create a community of women united in our losses, to tell our stories, leave our pictures, and find each other. If you belong to Facebook, join the group and invite others. If you don’t belong to Facebook, take a look at it. It’s sort of a “myspace” for grownups, with fewer glitter graphics and pounding music, but all the utilities for sharing as much, or as little, of your life as you like. Feel free to friend me there.
I have also created a second miscarriage sympathy card.
I enjoy making images that express how I feel about this baby I never got to see or hold. In this way, I get to enjoy my time with him, creating something new and lasting, and not just think of the past and what I lost.
I will return the site to its usual configuration in a day or so. If you would like to see the Common Questions list that usually fill this space on the site, here they are.
Casey Shay (Dec. 1997-April 1998 gestation)
Emily Faith (born April 1999)
Daniel (June-July 2001 gestation)
Elizabeth Grace (born May 2002)
and her twin Emma Hope (August-October 2001 gestation)