Flicker

There it was, clear as day: a big, fat plus sign on the pregnancy test. 11 days late, not wanting to get my hopes up, but unable to wait any longer. It came as such a shock: no luck trying in October and then the decision to wait until the new year, when finances were better, after all the parties and the drinking, when our insurance plan was much more conducive to starting a pregnancy.

And yet.

I was ecstatic.

Then the plans started. Buying a tiny stocking with the word “baby” stitched on the outside to place on the mantel next to ours. Sharing the news with our families at Christmas. Double strollers, side-by-side nurseries, a family of four by next Christmas. We were over the moon. Weeks passed, slowly ticking down to the day we’d get to share the excitement with our families. Torturously unhurried, the anticipation nearly boiling over, as we struggled to keep our secret.

Packages came: a big brother shirt for Chase, a photo calendar for my mom on which we’d circle the due date. It was all falling into place.

We were positively giddy.

Then, the Saturday morning  before Christmas, baking cookies with Chase, a rush of warmth between my legs. I excuse myself and walk hurriedly to the bathroom. Red. Dizzying amounts of red.

I yell for my husband from the top of the stairs, “Call the doctor.” We play phone tag, describe the symptoms. “Tell her I’ve had a miscarriage before,” I remind him, as if he’s forgotten, as if either of us can think about anything else.

The offices are closed, she says, you’ll have to wait until Monday for an ultrasound. Unless you want to try the emergency room. Okay, thank you. He hangs up.

“Our insurance won’t cover an ER visit,” my husband says calmly. “It will cost us at least $3,000.”

“How can you ask me to wait two whole days to find out if my baby is still alive?” I scream at him, my anger misplaced. “It’s up to you,” he says, with sincerity. We’ll do whatever you need to do.”

“I know where you stand,” I say bitterly, “we’ll just wait until Monday to find out our baby is already gone.”

Two long days. Mindless TV shows loop continuously. We cry; sometimes I yell. The bleeding continues. I count off all the things we’ve lost, memories that will never be made, wonder if Chase will be our only. I mourn for that first Christmas magic he’ll never get, the excitement we can’t fake as we open gifts and struggle to keep our voices high and light. The Christmas lights stay off, the house dark except for the TV.

Time passes slowly, torturously unhurried. Two losses in as many years.

We are absolutely devastated.

Monday finally comes. I want to see you in my office, the doctor says. We pack up Chase and get in the car. It feels like we’re driving to a funeral.

Lay back on the table with your knees up, the ultrasound tech instructs. She angles the screen away from me; I angle my face away from hers—I don’t want to see the look on it when she reads the proof in black and white. She points the screen back to me. I brace myself, white-knuckle grip Adam’s hand.

“See that little flicker?” she asks. That’s the baby’s heartbeat. 164, nice and strong.”

I can’t believe it. My eyes well up, Adam squeezes my hand, Chase squirms in his arms. It’s so improbable, I wonder if she made a mistake. But no, there it is, that little flicker, the best sight I’ve even seen.

Then, immediate guilt. I gave up. I don’t deserve this baby.

And yet.

There is a 4-centimeter bleed in your uterus, the doctor explains. Some women have much bigger bleeds and go on to have perfectly healthy babies. Some miscarry. It’s all a waiting game. I wish I could tell you something more definitive.

I smile, because that flicker is the only definitive thing I need to know today. Our baby is still alive. So there’s always hope.

Christmas is all about believing in things you can’t see. The fictitious: Santa Claus, reindeer, elves and the North Pole. The real: God, the baby Jesus, Bethlehem and the manger. It’s about trusting when you have scarcely little proof, about choosing to believe despite the doubts in your mind.

This Christmas, I choose to believe. I believe that I will still get my side-by-side nurseries and double stroller, that we will be a family of four next Christmas. I believe I will get the chance to look down at my swollen belly in the summer heat, that Chase will get the chance to be a big brother. I believe that the bleed will get smaller, the baby will get bigger and everything will turn out just fine. I believe because it’s the only thing I can do.

For now, we will be happy. No cautious, just optimistic. Because, when a real, live Christmas miracle lands in your lap, there is simply no room for doubt.

Our miracle baby, Samuel Irving Mowry, was born on August, 2, 2015. I thank God for him every single day.  

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Melissa Mowry

Melissa Mowry is a stay at home mom to 3 year old Chase and the slightly younger guy, Sam. She is the main voice behind One Mother to Another, which she started in July 2014 as a way to connect with other moms who felt just as lonely as she did some days. She is married to her high school sweetheart, Adam, and they live in their home state of Rhode Island. Melissa's work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Mamalode, Coffee + Crumbs and Mamapedia, among others. Her book, One Mother to Another: This Is Just Between Us is for sale on Amazon.
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14 Responses to Flicker

  1. domesticlala February 19, 2015 at 8:20 pm #

    OMG! This totally made me cry. This was so real, so vulnerable, so personal… Your story is very well written. I could feel your emotions through the words. I struggle with whether or not I should share my truth in my own blog, but your story really inspired me. I really needed to read this today. Thanks!
    LaLa
    Domestic-Diva.com

  2. Alyssa May 24, 2015 at 9:17 am #

    I technically have two miracle babies. My first was conceived after two years of trying, and two weeks after we were told we wouldn’t be able to conceive naturally based on the test results we’d received (and confirmed with additional tests). I was so terrified during those early months of my pregnancy, knowing that if I miscarried I’d likely never get pregnant again.

    Thankfully everything went smoothly. After having my daughter, I didn’t bother going back on birth control since my odds of conceiving naturally were so low. I thought that maybe we’d get lucky again years down the road, but in the meantime I was caught up in the madness of baby-raising and wasn’t giving conception a second thought (and, let’s be honest, there weren’t a whole lot of opportunities with a newborn in the house). So you can imagine my surprise when I conceived again when my daughter was 9 months old. And I was still breast feeding! At first I was too shocked (and exhausted) to view it as a joyful thing. But having these two girls…these close sisters who have such a tremendous bond…is the greatest blessing of my life.

    • One Mother to Another May 27, 2015 at 10:26 am #

      That is such an amazing story, Alyssa. The fact that you had your first after 2 years of infertility and then to conceive your second while breastfeeding AND being told you couldn’t have another…wow. Just goes to show you that there’s always a plan and it’s usually very different than the one we imagine for ourselves. I’m so glad you have your two sweet miracle girls 🙂

  3. Heather May 24, 2015 at 11:40 am #

    I’m holding out hope for a miracle baby. I have PCOS (cysts on my ovaries) and a big thing with it is infertility mainly due to the lack of periods and extreme hormonal shifts. We’ve finally decided to try because I finally shared with my husband how much it’s been killing me inside not to. Financially we shouldn’t, but emotionally I can’t handle not. I’m waiting for a referral to a specialist so that I can start on hormones, hardly anyone in my life knows. I don’t want their judgements or added pressure because I have no idea how hard this journey is going to get. I kind of hold out hope I could already be pregnant, I’ll take a test next weekend, but with no period to miss it makes it hard to say, plus I don’t think it could ever be that easy.

    • One Mother to Another May 27, 2015 at 10:24 am #

      Oh, Heather. I am hoping and praying for your miracle baby, too. There are so many women on this earth who gave birth to babies after being told they could never conceive one at all. You truly never know what the grand plan is. I will be praying for you guys and thinking of you this weekend. xoxo

  4. Annie Reneau December 2, 2015 at 1:20 pm #

    Oh, what a sweet and heart-wrenching story. Congratulations on your miracle baby. 🙂

  5. Ashley Alteman December 2, 2015 at 1:38 pm #

    Oh, Melissa <3 This made me cry. Thank God for your beautiful family and miracle baby, Samuel <3 <3

  6. Crystal Renaud December 2, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

    Tears down my face. I am so happy you get to hold your miracle! Happy Holidays!

  7. Kenny December 2, 2015 at 7:49 pm #

    Hello,

    I know the same scenario. We were pregnant with our fifth child last August. My wife started to bleed, too. However, we lost our child at 8 weeks. It is still hard to see everyone who has babies around the same time we were due. We talked over the spring, if we wanted another one. We, both decided four was enough. However, secretly we both wanted another one. We decided in October five was our magic number. God blessed us with our fifth pregnancy. We are due at the end of June. My wife is still scared until she gets to weeks thirteen and fourteen. I believe everything will be alright.

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