My Girl, Katie

Five years ago I was married to another man and had an ectopic pregnancy. It was a blessing, yet the hardest experience of my life.

We were in the honeymoon cycle of domestic violence. The cycle of the domestic violence period before things get bad again. It’s romantic, sweet, fun, you fall in love with your partner all over again and the sex is great!

It was late July, like now. He’d gotten home from school in a good mood. We were out in the backyard laughing and talking. Next thing you know, we were making love under the enormous Redwood tree on a blanket. I’d found a 4 leaf clover not moments later. I knew. I just knew I was pregnant. I was too afraid to even hope it was true with all of the female related issues I had all my life. A baby at 42?

The days and weeks went on. I remember lying in bed and my breasts hurting more than I’d ever experienced in my life. I could hardly find a position to lie in that was comfortable.

I sat in the chair in our bedroom crocheting an afghan in between reading chapters of the book, “The Red Tent”, a friend had given me. I cried through the whole thing. It’s a very liberally stretched version of a biblical story of a woman who had miscarriage after miscarriage until she finally gave up. She became the very best midwife there was. How apropros is that? Of course, I had no idea at the time what fate was about to come.

I ran into a friend from a knitting group I belonged to at the local Farmer’s Market. Her name is Fran. Before I got the words out of my mouth, she told me I’m pregnant. She also told me it would be a girl. It’s what I felt myself.

I went home and took a pregnancy test. Not one, but three! I couldn’t believe what they said. All of them showed the double pink lines indicating I was pregnant. I was beside myself!!! I could finally hope and start dreaming about the life I would have with my child. I can only assume that every woman who’s pregnant does this to some degree.

When I told my ex-husband, he wasn’t happy or excited. He told me I was lying. He threw it back at me that I’d always said I couldn’t get pregnant. We were back into the abusive ugliness of our marriage.

I saw my ob/gyn the next day. He confirmed I was pregnant. As he did the math, he said that either my dates were off or there was somthing wrong. My heart began to sink. I held onto hope the best I could, but from that moment on… I knew something wasn’t right. I started the blood testing every 3 days to be sure my numbers were rising as they were supposed to.

Not two days later, I began spotting. I went in once again and the doctor told me I was having a miscarriage. We kept doing the labs every 3 days like clockwork to be sure I hit zero. This was not to happen.

I had the most agozing cramps of my life! It felt like I was being torn apart. Another doctor appointment, this time I saw a different doctor. He told me there was no reason for so much pain. He sent me to the ER for a workup and ultrasound. Nothing was found. I went home disheartened knowing that something was VERY wrong.

Through all of this, I begged my ex for comfort, support. Go to an appointment with me. Share in the heartache of losing our baby. He would not. He screamed at me for hours on end that I was inconveniencing HIS life and didn’t want him to succeed in school, there was always something I did that interrupted his life. I was losing my baby, my dream… I always wanted children… a whole housefull, AND being emotionally abused by my husband during the most painful moments of my life. Losing my mother wasn’t nearly as hard as this baby.

I layed there bleeding losing my baby thankful that she wouldn’t come into a life like I did. I wouldn’t do that to her. I decided then and there that this marriage was not to last much longer. I wouldn’t stay with a man who I wouldn’t be willing to raise a child with. It took that for me to see that I also deserve better than that.

Finally the call came. A kind, older Jewish doctor who specialized in high risk pregnancies called and told me I needed to get to his office immediately. He was so gentle through the entire thing. He sat across from me holding my hand and told me he’d seen abnormalities in the ultrasound consistent with an eptopic pregnancy. The baby was in my left tube. He told me I needed to go to the emergency room to have the pregnancy terminated through cancer medication injections. He said I should call my husband. I asked if he could do it and explained the cirmcumstances. The look on his face said it all. He called my ex and explained the situation and that he needed to be there.

A nurse wheeled me over to the ER. Again, so sweet and kind. My husband got there not too long after I did. The look on his face was sick. He was terrified. He wouldn’t leave my side or let go of my hand. When the ob/gyn working the ER came in, we were both relieved to see a Nigerian man. My ex is Nigerian. He was newly here. The doctor explained to him, what I’d been trying to tell him for weeks. The baby was in the wrong place and if I didn’t end the pregnancy, I would die along with the baby. The doctor was in and out fairly quickly. The nurse was to administer the injections.

She was cold and uncaring. Not just to the situation, she was a Nurse Ratchett. All business. I was just another face in a sea of patients that she didn’t really care about. She gave me a series of injections, 2 I think. It’s been so long some of the details have faded. She explained the side effects. Told me I couldn’t eat any leafy greens or foods rich in folic acid and certainly not to take folic acid in order for the injections to work. There was certain number of weeks.

I was sent home to lose my baby with cancer medications flushing through my system that made me sicker than I already felt. I layed on the sofa for days because it’s all I could do. The physical pain was horrendous! Again, my ex did nothing but yell at me the whole time and barrage me with blame and humiliation.

The few people who tried to be supportive said things like, “You can always have another baby” and “Miscarriages happen often”. What worse things can you hear when you had to kill your sick baby to save your life? When the doctor told me under no uncertain terms was I ever to get pregnant again because pregnancy would kill me.

Days and weeks and eventually months went by and things felt a little more normal. My sister-in-law got pregnant around the same time. When the baby was born, I wanted to be happy. Really, I did. I couldn’t. My heart broke yet again that my baby should have been born just a few days later. I grieved the loss all over again.

The first 2 Mother’s Days were about all I could handle. All of the joy and celebration for women, just like me, except they’d been able to have a healthy pregnancy. I still hate mother’s day.

Eventually, I found a way to end my torment. I did a very personal ceremony saying goodbye to my little girl. I gave her a name. Katelyn Rose. I would have called her Katie after my grandmother. I bought a little lemon tree and planted it in my backyard. As long as that little tree stood and grew, I’d feel like I had her in some small way.

Years have passed now. I divorced that man! I have a loving husband who does everything in His power to take care of me and keep me safe and happy. He walked by a moment ago and saw me crying as I write this. He wanted to make it better. I told Him what I’m writing and how it makes me remember it all once again. I told Him, too, that writing is the ultimate therapeutic release for me. I’ve written about this yet in all the years.

A few months ago, I dreamt that I was pregnant with Daddy’s child. There was no hurt or fear. There was only love and tenderness… even as we lost our baby. I realized then that I feel totally safe and loved. Maybe little Katie was telling me it’s OK, too.

As much as I wanted that little girl, my life would be so much different. I’d be 47 with a 4 year old bi-racial child. Daddy and I would love and adore her more than I can tell you, but our lives would be so very different!! I’m always going to miss that I didn’t get to meet her and see her grow up. I’m also grateful that she’s safe! She wasn’t exposed to her father and the life we had. She knew me, just as I felt her. I loved her from the moment I felt her.

Whether a child is lost after birth or before birth, there is still the same grief for the parents, especially the mother. I ask that if someone you know, or you yourself, has a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy… treat them with kindness and the love you would a mother who just lost her child. Whether she says it not, it’s what she’s feeling.

4 thoughts on “My Girl, Katie

  1. I am so sorry for your loss. 15 years ago, I was also in an abusive and unhealthy relationship. I became pregnant unexpectedly, but I was excited anyway. He was not. I went in for all my prenatal check ups and everything was going well. At 11 weeks along, I heard my baby’s heartbeat for the first time. One week later, I was standing in the kitchen when I felt this “pop” inside and blood began to run down my legs. I was terrified and I was positive I’d just lost my baby. My mom took me straight to the hospital and they got out the ultrasound machine. They put the wand over my belly and I was afraid to look at the screen and see nothing. To my shock and surprise, my baby was still there. He was wiggling around and his beautiful heartbeat could be seen and heard going right along at 144 bpm. I was prescribed bed rest for the next 2 weeks and told to come back in one week for a follow up ultrasound. The bleeding stopped after just a couple of days and all seemed well. I went in at 13 weeks for my follow up ultrasound expecting everything to be fine. The ultrasound tech got this look on her face that instantly told me something was wrong the minute she checked his heartbeat. He did have one, but it had slowed to just 119 bpm, which is not normal for a growing fetus. My doctor was in the room in what seems like was just a moment, but could have been longer. His face was grim and he held my hand and told me I was likely miscarrying now. I went home and wept for my baby. He was dying inside me and I couldn’t save him. My dog, Scrappy, sat up with me listening to me cry and doing his best to comfort me all night long. He’d lick my hands and lay in my lap. After 2 days and no bleeding or cramping, they did another ultrasound and found my baby was hanging on! His heart rate was now 129. I thought it was the miracle I’d begged God for. A week later, I went in for another ultrasound and discovered he had died. I lost him at 14 weeks and 4 days pregnant. They sent me home telling me I’d miscarry in the next week. I didn’t. I ended up having to go in for a surgery to remove my dead baby from my womb. I remember the nurse saying I was there for an abortion and feeling horrified because that word made it sound like I didn’t want my baby. I also had tremendous fear about whether he was in fact, gone. I’d been through this emotional rollercoaster of excitement, grief, relief, frustration, and loss. How could I be certain the doctors were right this time after they’d been wrong before? I cried so hard laying in that hospital bed waiting to go back for surgery that the nurses had to bring in medication to calm me down. I woke up after surgery feeling empty. My baby was gone and he wasn’t coming back. That night, I had the most vivid dream. I was sitting at a picnic table in a beautiful grassy area and a little boy ran to me and called me mommy. I knew he was my son and his name was Blake. I’d never even thought of that name before, but that was just what I knew to be true in that dream. He hugged me and then ran off into the y’all grass. A few weeks later, the doctor called to tell me they’d done testing to see if the baby had had any abnormalities to explain my loss and they’d also discovered that he was a baby boy. I still have his last ultrasound picture hanging inside a frame I made with his name written in little wooden blocks. It hangs in my bedroom because I promised him that I would never forget him. I believe that I will see him again one day and I’ll recognize him the same way I did in that dream. Losing a child is the most painful thing a parent can experience. I don’t think we ever get over that loss. That life, no matter how short, was a life and their life meant something worth remembering. I am a mother now to a healthy and perfect son and a daughter. But, I’ve been a mother since the day I saw those two pink lines 15 years ago.

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