I was so happy to share with you in our August newsletter that my husband Simon and I were expecting out first child. Every story has a beginning. middle and an end. This story's middle did not go as we had intended. Below are the words I put down for myself, for Simon, friends, family and for our baby's memory after discovering we had miscarried. Our story is not over, this was just the tragic middl...
I feel lost. I have so many words inside but when I go to speak none come out. So I have been writing a lot.
I am sad. I am angry. I am confused. Did I mention I am angry? I see a little glimmer of light, deep down there- I think I remember what that is, HOPE. My anger quickly stomps it out.
She would have been my first and most likely only child. Every test was perfect. She was a strong healthy pregnancy from day 1.
We found out we were with child on week 3 - unheard of to know that early. But she wanted us to know she was here. I think she had a big personality. The kind of girl who would have filled up a room with her effervescent spirit.
We heard her beautiful heart beating for the first time at 4wks 5 days- highly unlikely to get a strong heartbeat that early. But there she was, telling us she wanted to live. So she beat that little heart loud so we were all clear she was full of life. 164 beats per minute the first time we heard it. By the next week it was even bigger at 171 BPM. I can imagine her being the little girl bouncing into preschool with tons of energy and a huge smile that says, “Who wants to play”?
The first time they measured her she was measuring larger then her conception date by 4-5 days, the doctor said she is strong. we smiled. Simon was of course dreaming of her winning surf competitions and I was imagining sitting in the audience beaming with love as I watched her captivate the audience as she danced. We knew she was strong she was made of us.
When she was measuring 15 weeks 2 days she gave us her first performance. It was spectacular. The power of 3D imaging we could see the contours of her face. The eyes, the ear spaces, the forehead and jaw line- I got to even see her swallow, preparing her jaw and mouth muscles for when she will take the milk from my breast. Simon and I held hands as we watched all the this, the doctor assured us all was “perfect”. She begin to put on her first show. She had the most amazing moves. Multiple times she made me gasp with awe as she bent and stretched her little little body. She would take her right arm up and quickly bend it across her eyes - like she was dabbing, or maybe like she was being bashful and saying “no more photos please”. Either way it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. Later I found out that babies in the womb do this when light is to bright for them they try to block their eyes or turn their head. She was protecting herself-she was responding to stimulants. She was alive, and living, and responding to life- that was our little girl. That’s just the half of it- she had dance moves on the lower half! Her knee flexion and extension, was outstanding. Back her heel went with ease and then straight out to a full 180 extension. Oh yay that’s my kid I thought. Then she did this move which the doc caught on film where she brought both her hands together under her left leg and did a cancan kick out. I could not believe what i saw a cancan kick in my womb. How could I not feel that I thought, I have a living human being dancing inside me. The doctor says to me “I’m sorry to say, get ready you have a kicker” she smiles as she says this and my smile grows so big it jumps off the sides of my face. I cannot wait to feel her kicking inside me, keeping me up at night, ruining movie date nights and all the rest that comes with it. Watching her move made me think how she looked sort of like a marionette. What you see at this point in pregnancy is mostly bone and cartilage the skin is opaque so the bones & joints are evident but the muscle is not yet supple. Just like a marionette there was an upper leg bone, a knee cap and lower leg bone(s) and what appeared to be a floating foot and toes just below all moving in unison. Although she looked like a marionette doll I had no doubt that in life she would be pulling all the strings not us.
I didn’t get to see her face that Wednesday. The doctor kept trying, but little Arugula (our in utero name for her) kept turning her head probably to avoid the light. Just like her mom she is light sensitive. I did get to see her face directly once. It was 6 days later, on a Tuesday.
I woke up that morning feeling so alive. I was also having some fears about being a mom, my new #1 job and still being relevant in my field. I had a long talk about this with my accountability partner. I then took a shower to get ready for my Doctors appointment. First I’d be off to see my OB for our weekly sonogram and blood work. Then off to have lunch with my girlfriend who is also exactly the same week pregnant as us- a double miracle I believed - then over to see my Chinese medicine fertility doctor for some acupuncture.
Simon walks in to our bathroom just as I let the towel drop to the floor. He has impeccable timing for this. We stand there study my changing body and I say to him I think I look beautiful. He comes up to me sliding his arms around me, smiling with love in his lip corners “you both look beautiful”. We smile and rock back and forth together, the 3 of us- our 3 hearts beating as one.
On the way to to the doctor i speak on the phone to a women about au pair services and my excitement grows as our plans for when Arugula joins us begin to formulate.
As I walked up to the doctors office building I catch my reflection in the window, wow my body really has changed. I wonder to myself do I look pregnant to other people or just fat. I get my answer right away. In the lobby an older women in her 70’s reaches for my stomach and says “Oh that is just the cutest little baby bump”. I glow !!!! An outsider, a stranger recognized that I was in fact growing a human being inside me. I was pregnant. I was happy. I was definitely glowing.
Inside the appointment room, the doctor layers my belly with the sonogram jelly, she asks me how I’m feeling I tell her great, with some sneak attacks of nausea still. As we make this small talk she is rolling the sonogram across my belly I’m staring at the screen as shading I cannot interpret comes up on the screen, then for a second I see her she is squarely looking directly at us: 2 eyes, a nose and mouth space, it’s gone as the doc rolls across my belly and faintly I hear her say “there is no heartbeat”. I am asking the question “what” as my brain is processing out the vowels and constants she has just spoken. That cannot be right. I just need to rearrange those letters to be different words. Just 6 days ago her heart was beating at 171 bpm , she was dancing in my womb, she was a kicker,
she had passed all her chromosomal tests, the doctors, ALL of them had said “perfect pregnancy”, the week before our risk factor had dropped to normal, we were in the safe zone! Just 5 minutes ago a stranger had validated I was pregnant. I begged her to look again, she did. I will forever hold this next image inside of my broken heart. There was my little girl, no cancan kicks, no dubbing, simply sadly slumped down inside my womb without a beating heart. She looked just like a marionette whose strings had all been cut.
Rest in peace precious
little “Arugula” K. Swart. All she knew in her existence was love. Every day, hour, minute and second of her short life.