A Crack In My Armor

  January of this year I pissed on a stick. Pregnant. We had only been trying for two months and, even then, we weren’t trying that hard. I had so many symptoms from heartburn and nausea to the worst case of tender breasts ever. All the signs were there, our second child was just as planned and welcome as the first. We were happy and I could not keep pregnancy a secret to save my life. Our first pregnancy had gone off without a hitch, so why would this one be any different?

We sat down with my dad, brother, and their families to share the wonderful news. My step-mother was very weary about us sharing the news so soon, and at that point I was only 5 weeks and had not had a blood test. They were all happy but no one had their hopes as high as I did.

At the end of January, my father-in-law came to visit and accompanied us to California to visit my husbands mother and brother. The first day of our trip had started very early. We also gained an hour of daylight and walked everywhere. We stayed on the “Queen Mary” docked in Long Beach. (Imagine Titanic still afloat). Finally, that evening we planned dinner with the family. We put a shirt on our son that read BIG BROTHER and took his jacket off at the table and waited for anyone to notice. Mom thought it was a joke about the government. Let me tell you, it is not so exciting when you have to explain it. They were very happy with the news and I was very happy to explain how utterly exhausted I was.

The week in California was wonderful. Our toddler, who was not quite 2, did amazing. We stayed only 3 blocks from the beach and went almost everyday. We went whale watching and saw a lot of grey whales and even a hump-back (which made the entire trip worthwhile for me). We even took everyone to Universal Studios. I walked too much, didn’t drink enough water and ended up with the worst migraine I have ever had in my life.

Along our route to the beach, everyday we passed what I like to call a Sidewalk Psychic. Its a fortune teller with a store front on the main strip solely for tourists. I’ve always been curious about these things and my father-in-law wanted to see if she could tell the gender of our little bun in the oven. My mother in law and I went to the store front which was closed. A sign instructed us to call for an appointment. The woman agreed to meet with me, but we had to drive to her home. I went in alone, which I knew to be a normal request. I paid for a psychic reading and tarot card reading. She asked me to take out an object that was mine and she proceeded to deal the cards in a pyramid shape. The last card she placed face down at the top of the pyramid.

She told me about losing my best friend horribly and still dealing with the aftermath of that trauma in my life. She told me my husband loved me very, very, VERY much but there was not a lot of communication. (I will state, for the record, my husband has very watered-down emotions. He never gets very angry but he never gets overly excited. In turn, when he is dealing with a difficult situation, he internalizes it, and buries it deep, deep down. We will get back to this.) She went on to say how I would live well beyond the age of 87.

Without pausing she told me that we have (present tense) fertility problems. I told her, simply, no. She insisted. She said that she saw 4 healthy children, but we were having fertility problems. My husband and I only plan on having 2 children. I explained how easy it was for us to get and be pregnant both times and I really had no idea what she was talking about. Again, healthy children. Nothing wrong with any child but we were having fertility problems. I brushed her off. I wasn’t angry at her. I just wasn’t convinced.

My first ultrasound was scheduled for 7 weeks and 2 days I believe. I took my son with me because  my husband was out of town for work and did not have a steady sitter at the time. The tech had horrible bed side manner and was not very reassuring. She did not talk to me at all the entire scan. But having seen it all before I knew something was wrong. She told me that she could see the gestational sac but could not find a baby inside or detect any audible heartbeat. The doctor would go over “my options”. I knew something was not right, but I held it together as I wiped the lube and got dressed, gathered my child in his stroller and proceeded to the doctors office. She was nice enough, but was 75% sure it was a blighted ovum.

She did her best to comfort me and did not sugar coat that the 25% chance would either get bigger or completely disappear with the result of another blood test to measure my HCG and compare it to where I should be at the stage of pregnancy.

I went home and cried. It never occurred to me that this process would not be as perfect as the last. And that perfect little boy sat in my lap with a big smile on his face and made me make eye contact with him and mirror his expression. (Its a face game we play. He also plays this when I am angry at him or, apparently, really sad. He makes me smile back at him.) He traced my tears down my face, and in that moment realized how selfish I was. I have never hugged him to tight.

I journaled this time of limbo. Greg was gone for work a lot and he really did not want to dwell on it, where I had the need to speak it and rid my body of the frustration and disappointment. So I wrote…

Day 0-

It’s actually Day 1, but it only just occurred to me to write my story in hopes that it may help someone else. 7 weeks and 6 days I had my first ultrasound with a doctor I have never met, but she had great online reviews. This is my intake appointment and should be filled with heartbeats and an image of a tiny sea monkey growing inside my belly. Instead, silence. And an empty bubble. “I’m not going to sugar coat it for you.” are the only words I remember. My 2 year old healthy little boy playing and pinched his tiny fingers in the stirrups. I hold him. We cry. At home he sits in my lap and traces the tears down my face, looks into my eyes and smiles. I force a cheese which I can only imagine is quite scary. He laughs and I thank God for this perfect healthy little man. Aside from delivery, his journey into this world was flawless. Why would I ever expect anything else? It only took two months of trying this time. Why would this pregnancy be any less than perfect? We didn’t have fertility problems. Other people do. Hope. I asked and was reassured that there was hope. It’s literally all I need to dry these tears. So I began to research misdiagnosis and asked ladies in my VBAC group. Some of them went thru this, now 22 weeks pregnant. Hope. Many misdiagnosis happen before 9 weeks. Hope.

Day 1-

I feel way better. I’ve told everyone at work. I suck at keeping secrets. I’ve decided regardless of my HCG levels, we will wait 2 weeks to check again. I don’t want them to be right. I don’t think they are. But if they are, I have rationalized in my head a way to cope. There is no child to mourn. Merely the idea. I will be disappointed, like a child that did not get desert after dinner.

More research today. Just reading to keep my mind productive. I tried reading sad stories with happy ones. The more I cant believe this could possibly happen. Staring at the clock in hopes they will call with my HCG, even though I don’t want to know. Can I even stomach waiting two weeks??

“HCG 26584. At that amount, we should have seen a baby with a heartbeat. So we can say this is not a viable pregnancy.” I am not accepting this. I can’t. I will wait 2 weeks. I do not want to go back to this clinic. I want a second opinion.

Day 2-

Nothing new. It is Saturday. Next week is Valentines Day. I have no desire to be intimate or romantic. I flip flop from questioning myself, my instincts to being completely confident that I am right and there is life inside of  me. Too many signs point to a mistake. I’ve been in bed most of the day and it feels nice. I need to eat tho. Jude needs some stimulation. I do not want to go to work tonight.

Day 3-

Blurry morning as I continue the night shift. Going about life like I am carrying life. Every time I share my story (as often as I can) I look for validation. Like I’m not crazy for having hope. Like a hoarder completely oblivious to her problem. I wonder if people agree with me as a form of pity. I would believe them if even one person told me I hardly had a chance. I’m terrified of every time I go to the bathroom. Will I see blood? And then It will be black and white. I’m scared to have sex in case I bleed and become hysterical, like the failed pregnancy was my fault. I’m exhausted. Near delirious. Counting minutes until I sleep and escape the constant fear in wondering if my cramps are this little failure trying to escape my body. With each passing day of continued pregnancy and symptoms, I become more and more angry at the doctor. Maybe 8 years of school isn’t enough if I can do 2 hours of research and discredit her diagnosis. Then if she is right, I have no one to blame in my grieving process.

This was the last entry. That morning my husband and I had sex. I started bleeding a little. I went to sleep. He went to work. When I got up, it was worse and he met me at the ER. The doctor there confirmed the diagnosis, and that was the end of my fight. Valentines Day came and went. We waited for things to “work themselves out” which never happened. The day before my son’s birthday, my grandmother passed away. I waited until after my follow up ultrasound to leave and drive 21 hours without my husband to be there for my father. The day after I got home, I had a D and C to remove the empty gestational sac.

It took me a long time to get over all the loss that happened in such a little time. I really had no one to talk to and could feel myself slipping into a depression similar to what I went through when my best friend passed away. My husband’s form of grieving included NOT talking about it. There was a point where I had to tell him that I was not ok, and WE were not ok, and he needed to be there for me or I was not going to make it. (It meant marriage, dinner, the bed, ect. I love my husband but felt like he wasn’t there for me anymore.) I was super hormonal still, which didn’t help.

It took weeks to be ok. I finally stopped bleeding and we could finally have sex. (I waited two weeks) I had a repeat HCG test, which remained high for not being pregnant anymore. It upset me more. They asked that I retest every month until it was below a certain point. I never went back. I didn’t see a point in reliving the nightmare all over.

I waited for my first period and was reassured that I could start trying again after that.  We half heartedly tried. I was scared of getting pregnant again. Scared to lose it again. Scared that this would be my last pregnancy. wondering if I was even ready for two babies. The first month went by and I had another period. I resolved to make sure I stayed motivated the next go round, but again, half heartedly tracked my fertility days on my phone app…

My husband’s older brother called on Thursday to announced him and his fiancé of five years were expecting. Even if they never married, this woman would always be my sister. But I was jealous. I took a pregnancy test. Negative. I knew it would be, because I  hadn’t tried hard enough. I went to work Saturday night, stocked with an arsenal of feminine products for my impending flow. Nothing. I tested before I went to bed, thinking nothing would be different.. and I saw the faintest line. I had the biggest, cheesiest grin on my face as I walk back to the bedroom to get my phone so I could snap a picture and ask my sister for her opinion. My husband immediately asks “Are you pregnant?” I answered “I DON”T KNOW!!!” It took him a while to come in and look. I used two different brands of digital tests to confirm.

Now I finally feel that my failed pregnancy is behind me. I am still scared, terrified actually, of disappointment. But the psychic told me I would only have healthy children and the chances of another Blighted Ovum are slim to none.

You’re probably reading this, hoping it’s not you. Or you’ve accepted it and need some encouragement. I’m hugging you right now. I want you to know that your feelings are valid. Be mad. Be sad. Be hurt and disappointed. Be frustrated and terrified. But it’s not permanent. You can move on from this. I did. finally.


Dacia Arnold is an author that struggles to find a balance of work, motherhood, marriage, writing, and the occasional craft. Her first full length novel, Apparent Power, is in the works to be released December 2018. Dacia served 10 years in the U.S. Army as a combat medic and deployed twice to Iraq and often incorporates these experiences into her writings both fiction and non-fiction. She currently lives in Denver, Co with her husband, two children, and a fat beagle named Watson.

Reader Comments

  1. It is grief in its truest form. This piece must have felt so exposing for you to write. I’m sure you will help others by sharing this. Such a brave thing to write and it is written beautifully 🙂

    1. Thank you!!! The best way I can explain this is that I had to get this out of my body once and for all.
      I’m such an auditory person, that I can tell my story and get it out, but find that it is like tar and it sticks to my insides.
      Writing it out allowed me to get every single bit of it all at once. *Sigh of relief*

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