life · miscarriage · trying

Quiet Journeys

It’s easy to remember when it happened because it was the late-April weekend I rescued a mouse. I felt like the Universe was underscoring that I was in a maternal mode, with so many living beings happening on one couch at once: myself, my cat, Mr. Mouse, and the tiny seedling inside of me. As I cupped the small being in my palm against my chest and pet its small head, its eyes drooping, its nose stalling its twitching in a pastoral moment of calm in its otherwise hectic life, I felt flooded with shimmering feelings of contentment, rightness, brimfulness.

As I stood up later that Saturday from petting Mr. Mouse in his temporary shoebox, I crossed the room a few steps and was struck. I doubled over, eyes squeezed tight, clutching my abdomen, my wind knocked out of me in my living room, my husband asleep on the couch nearby, still bathed in the warmth of the lazy afternoon. As I blinked myself back into the room, I breathed slowly, deep inhalations, attempting to abate the pain, attempting to forestall the dread and disappointment of what this sudden stabbing might be.

But, nature, whether the furry or fetal kind, will do as it bids.

Together we got in the car to the animal hospital: myself; my husband; the quiet, adorable, softest-fur-you’ve-ever-touched mouse in its? his? her? shoebox; and the 6-week old quiet, rather freakish-looking, hairless being in its? his? her? amniotic sac.

I was spotting by now, and the joint surrender of the mouse we’d housed for two nights after I found it hurting but responsive in the woods plus the embryo we’d known about for two weeks after several more months of timed trying felt staggering.

It was my first time, you know–getting that positive test. I’d had some kind of miscarriage in October of last year, and here were those symptoms all back again, but this time I had the proof to back it up. I was so excited. Of course, we all try not to be — but you know what Yoda says about trying. I’d lined up the test strips from the past week on the bathroom counter in order of increasing darkness of the positive test line. Because, wouldn’t you know, I’d been so impatient and instantly disappointed for the week prior that the line wasn’t coming up positive right away that I’d thrown the test strips in the trash… for 6 days! Six positive tests in the trash.

But there, on that Saturday morning, two weeks before surrendering a mouse, there it was: a BFP, as they say in the forums.

Seeing that line, I paused, wondering… I’d nearly thrown this one in the trash as the answer wasn’t immediate… did I do the same already?? Luckily this quarantine thing meant that we hadn’t yet emptied the trash and so I dug them out, these little strips of hope and disappointment, and lined them up and for f*ck’s sake–there it all was. A whole week’s worth of “You’re Pregnant.”

It was a hugely amusing and exciting morning, with J half-awake as I dragged him into the bathroom. (He later said his first thought was, “Why did she take so many tests??”) I explained my hasty discarding, my eyes lit up like Lincoln Center. I squee’d. I squealed. And I tried my best to remember the statistics.

I diligently called my doctor’s office. I confirmed how “far along” I was and made that first appointment when they’d see the heartbeat in just a week or two. I took a very long phone survey about my and my husband’s medical history. We watched videos on choosing which prenatal tests we’d want to opt for. We spoke soberly about decisions we’d agree to make if we had to.

I researched the best “baby tracking” apps, and downloaded three! I signed up to be a part of the “Due in December” message board, and began to research birth plans. I showed J the most fascinating, borderline disturbing 3D video of the development of an embryo up to the date we were at, when it really truly does have a freaking tail! I rewatched it several times, loving my lizard, hoping for my lizard, wanting to meet this, our very own lizard.

And then, the Saturday of the mouse surrender arrived. I spotted in the car, the mouse huddled in the shoebox, both of us quiet.

I delivered the mouse to the Lindsay Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital, and filled out the card about how he’d been found and what care I’d given him (loved clementines and bananas, not so hot on celery) and lied that I hadn’t handled him… much.

On Monday, the doctor looked inside and saw the waning amniotic sac. In the apps, I marked the designation, “I’ve experienced a loss” (which I felt was a nice option so they would remove me from the “Your baby is as big as an orange seed” emails) and I moved the apps to a screen on my phone that I wouldn’t see regularly. Later that week, the wildlife center emailed me back to tell me Mr. Mouse’s injuries were too great and he hadn’t made it.

But I’ll tell you what I remember most, aside from the exalted morning when J, my mom, and I knew something new and fresh and remarkable had happened. What I remember most is that sun-warmed afternoon on a lazy couch with four souls entwined, compatriots for a time.

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