After trying naturally for what felt like forever, we are preparing to start the IVF journey. The meds have been delivered and sit on the dining room table. So, it was a shock to us both, when Jen shared a positive test with me, without intervention from our fertility doctor. It was not supposed to happen this way. We hug. We smile. We celebrate.
Theresa was our ultrasound tech at the IVF office and we could not have asked for anyone better. We had appointments to monitor our child weekly. I remember the first ultrasound and seeing this small speck on the screen Theresa identified as our baby. She wrote “Hi Daddy” on one picture and printed it out for me. She puts up the volume on the machine for us to hear the baby’s heartbeat. PAUSE. I feel lost looking at this grainy picture of my child and listening to a heartbeat. I am in complete awe. My first bit of anxiety hits when Theresa recognizes our child is a bit smaller in growth than expected, but says she has no concerns. Happy tears at this moment.
So, we go in each week for ultrasounds and pictures. I leave happy, but continue to feel the small anxiety in my stomach as the growth does not match up to what is expected. Jen and I read a phone app each week stating how big our baby is. The baby is the size of a poppyseed. And such, our baby was named Poppy. Coincidentally or not, as we have just taken the older kids to see the Trolls movie this week. Our little Poppy was growing, slowly, but absolutely growing.
Week 9: A normal morning appointment for bloodwork and ultrasound. Our normal room for ultrasound, but a different tech is there. Still, a normal day. Normal questions and information during the first part of the ultrasound. And then the tech stops. Like stops dead in her tracks and says she needs to grab someone else. My stomach starts to drop as I feel my anxiety rising. I look at my wife who has the same look. It feels as though an hour passes as we wait. In walks Theresa, and I have a small sense of relief. Theresa knows my child. Everything is ok, I tell myself. But, it was not OK. I learn our baby has stopped growing and no longer has a heartbeat.
I could not hear anything else. It feels like there is humming around me and the room is expanding leaving only my wife and I in the middle. Both with tears in our eyes. I embrace her and start thinking of how I need to be strong and supportive of her. I need to help her through this. Whatever I am going through can wait. I wanted to yell, throw something, hit something. I feel pain, anger, loss, guilt and emptiness. So many thoughts went flying though my head like “How do I move past this?“ How can I ever come into this room again?” “Wear this orange thermal shirt again?” “See the movie Trolls again?” Stay strong. Tell her we will get through this. Tell her it will be ok. Be there for her in whatever way she needs.
We stay for awhile in the ultrasound room talking about next steps. After we hug everyone there, we are escorted out the secret door. The door no couple ever wants to be escorted out. Our doctor recommends a DNC and it happens the very next day. I remember Jen saying “just get it out to me” and I teared up once again.
I now stand in the waiting room, looking for the most isolated spot. I find a spot in the corner, sit, put in headphones, and start to read the pamphlets given to every parent (or no longer a parent). I am purposely trying to look as unapproachable as possible, glancing at the screen to see where my wife is regarding her procedure. Pause. I am in my own world. I do not know how much time passes nor can I tell you what I was listening to. I barely notice the doctor approaching me. I rip out my headphones and stand up to talk. He directs me to a private room off to the side. What the hell am I doing here, I think to myself. Is my wife OK? Talk to me doctor, SAY SOMETHING!!! Then he talks. He tells me Jen is ok and recovering, and I can see her soon. He has papers with him and tells me he was able to take a sample from my child and this should tell us what happened with HER.
Her…my daughter…my baby…my Poppy. The humming is back, and I am back in the daze. I see Dr. Miller’s lips move but cannot hear anything. I am alone in this room. I want to drop to the floor. I want to scream again. Throw something. My eyes are full of tears and the doctor must have seen what was going on in my head because he stopped talking and just looked at me. I am sure he has seen this look before in his years of practice. He then placed a hand on my shoulder and said to me, “we are going to make this happen. I am not giving up on your both. I promise.” This brought me comfort in the moment.
Back in recovery, we hold each other and assure one another we are going to get through this. I am trying to hold on and be strong for my wife and all I want to do is collapse with the pain of losing my child. Losing HER. No one wants to think this will happen to them. No one wants to talk about it. Keep everything a secret. Let’s not talk about miscarriages, stillbirths, infertility, or the ridiculous price of the medications just to prepare to get pregnant. Nope, got to be strong.
I still have every ultrasound picture in a box on the top shelf of my closet. I still will pull them out and look at them from time to time. I still curse Trisomy-16 for taking my little girl away. I still struggle to watch Trolls. I still think of Poppy when I wear that orange shirt. I will tell you it gets better, but the hole in my heart stays.
Jace was born via IVF about two years after we lost Poppy. I’m so very thankful for him. But it does not mean weeks do not pass without me thinking of Poppy. I love you, Poppy.