I had retreated into my quietest of places…..a hidden place. It was free there, no thoughts to elude me, no memories to break me, no heartache could penetrate the depth of my hiding. I didn’t dare let the world in, nor did I let Scotty in. This was a place I couldn’t share with anyone….It wasn’t fair; I realize that now. It was selfish to not allow access to my burden, not even to those I hold dearest! I felt all my emotions splitting me open like the earth splits after an earthquake. There were cracks so deep that if I opened, even the tiniest entrance, I would crumble. I didn’t recognize myself, or my heart or the things that my mind conjured up. I was broken! I was a fixer by nature, always have been. Imagine my pain when I concluded the thing that needed fixed this time, was irreparable and the hardest part was knowing I was what needed fixed.
As a child, I had many dreams. I wanted to be a doctor. The irony? I wanted to be an OB, I wanted to witness birth; the greatest miracle. Only later would I realize that I sought a future in a field where no doctor could offer solutions. Throughout my childhood, my dreams shifted. I dreamt some times of being a teacher, or a child therapist…..all the careers that included kids. I loved children, the way they saw things through new eyes, how their imagination took them to faraway places, and the innocence they held. My dreams came in various shapes, shifting at times to a new destination, but the one job that I always wanted that never changed……..I wanted to be a mother.
Even as a very small girl, when memories fade, when they are hard to summons, the days when my young mind was too young to hold onto all of the tidbits of my days……I remember one deep desire. I remember holding my baby dolls, rocking them, snuggling them, and I took this child’s play very seriously. I saw the way my mom did those behind the scenes things that often go unnoticed. I noticed, I saw the way she tended a boo boo with more care than any physician, the way she listened to me better than any therapist could, she taught me things that no teaching degree could ever help me to learn. Mother…even as a child this word, this title was above all others. It was sleep deprivations, skinned knees, and later in life, broken hearts. Perhaps, I was swayed because my mother was so exceptional. I don’t remember a time that she ever tired of listening to my ramblings about whatever I fancied talking about that day. She read me my favorite book at least a million times, never asking me to pick a new one. With clarity, I recall sitting upon her lap, smiling up at her as she retold the story I had heard so many times but never tired of. I loved her so much, my little heart threatened to burst at the seams when I gazed upon her face. She was beautiful in a way no one else ever was. Her blue eyes were filled with this endless love for me, her arms were my sanctuary when a nightmare woke me, her voice was that of an angel never failing to encourage me, and her smile, well her smile, could brighten the blackest nights. I loved her, and I wanted to be a mom just like her. I wanted my child to love me the way I loved her.
After craving this title my entire life……imagine my betrayal when my own body refused to grant me this one simple wish. I needed a baby, I wanted it more than I had wanted anything. Amaze my dismay when my body rejected the very thing that I longed for my whole existence. I sought out a cure. A cure for my body, a body I had grown to despise. A body that continued to rob me of the one plight in life I had always wanted; a baby! My treacherous body, oh how I loathed it. My heart burning for something, and yet my body expelled it. It was designed to nurture, to carry, to bring forth life….yet it was utterly and completely broken.
I had reached my third miscarriage at this point, and this magic “3” was confirmation for the doctors to decide the thing I had already known….I was broken. That was the diagnosis to me, but the medical world had to find what was causing the reason why I couldn’t do the thing I was made to do; be a mommy. So, began the testing….I was poked, prodded, exposed to needles, and referred to leading physicians in the field of the dreaded category in which I now fell…”infertility.” I hated that word and all it’s implications. My primary obstetrician sent me on a two hour journey to another doctor in Nashville, one who could offer me her expertise. I arrived at her office, my mom and Scotty accompanying me. The normal me would have been comforted with their presence, the familiarity that they were on this journey with me, but the abnormal me (the one that I had resided to), well she shut them out. I embraced the sterile environment, the smell of lysol, the stark whiteness of each doctor’s office, they were my new normal.
I had spent my trek to the appointment scribbling questions. I hadn’t wanted to forget the things I needed to know. My research had taught me the right things to ask. “What are the leading causes for recurrent miscarriage?” “What treatments are offered?” “What are my options?” With renewed determination I followed the voice that summons me to the back room. I was only vaguely aware that my mom and husband were with me, they spoke in hushed tones, which only heightened my irritation. I could hear them, I picked up on their concerns as they escorted me through this journey, and the worried looks on their face only added to my heavy heart. They didn’t have to say a word, I could see the concern etched on their faces. Even then, in my insanity, I could see they feared what this doctor would tell me. Fear that the person they loved before these tragedies may be lost and just a few words could send me spiraling over the brink that I tethered tightly to; a cure.
I willed my heart to be still, to shut everything out, and just await the doctor. I was surprised to find myself taken back to a plush office, with chairs built for comfort and a window meant for viewing the world. I didn’t give a damn about that office, I hated it. Where was the cold, dank room with the white walls? Where was the bed that I had grown accustomed to, the one that stripped me of my clothes, my dignity, as I sat in wait wearing a gown that was more like a large paper towel. I was used to that…the uncomfortable feel of being exposed, it gave me purpose that perhaps the next physician would see the physical cause of what was internally broken. This office? This office was where one come when there were no answers. I silently filed it away to the place where dreams were lost. I felt like I was in a consultation room, right before a doctor came in to tell you that someone you love had died. I sat there, ignoring my surroundings, this was my mission……the childless mother in waiting.
She walked in, but she didn’t have the look most of the doctors had, the pity was absent from her eyes. I appreciated that, I hated the pity, I had no time for that. I instantly hated her, the look on her face told me she was going to be the one that sent me plummeting from the last glimmer of hope I clung to. “Mrs. Mangrum, I have reviewed your charts. I see that you have lost three pregnancies.” She was so matter of fact, I wanted to scream that they weren’t pregnancies they were babies but I refrained simply nodding instead. “It appears that your thyroid is normal, and you tested negative for lupus…those are the two top causes for repeat miscarriage.”
“I am aware of this. I have spoke in length with my doctor about that. What else could be causing this?” I spat venomously as I forced a polite smile upon my face.
“I reviewed the labs you had a few days ago. It appears that you have a blood clotting issue. In cases such as this, your blood clots and essentially causes the loss of your pregnancy. I usually recommend shots in your stomach, twice a day during gestation. However, it appears you are miscarrying far earlier than is typical, which makes this concerning.” I registered all these words, my blood, the blood that coursed through my veins was killing my babies! I wanted to have all of it pumped out, and replenished with blood that knew that it’s job. “The only conclusion I can come to is that, when you conceive your body sees the embryo as a foreign object and destroys it.” She watched me closely as I digested her words…but most disconcerting was the way my family was looking at me. I felt their hands find mine but I shook them off, I couldn’t bare their worries, I could barely hold onto reality.
“You can try the shots, the next time you become impregnated but I have little hope they will work. It seems that you are expelling the babies before they can take shape.” She rose from her chair and extended her hand for me to shake, I couldn’t accept her hand. I instead nodded in her general direction, dropped my head, my eyes couldn’t find their way to her’s it would mean I was admitting defeat.
“That is all you got? I need shots to save my future babies, but I can’t carry them long enough to allow the medicine to work? Well, thank you for your time, and the waste of mine!” Anger had replaced all my other senses, tears shot to my eyes and I cursed myself for not holding it together. Before I allowed them to spill onto the unworthy floor of that plush office of forgotten dreams, I spun on my heel and made a beeline for the exit. I could hear the muffled apologies that Scotty and my mom offered, “She’s been through a lot” “She isn’t usually like this.” I wanted to silence them, if I had wanted to apologize, I had lips to do so. This woman didn’t deserve my apologies for me being ill mannered! But right before I reached the other side of the door, I heard her reply.
“She is entitled to feel angry. She is entitled to feel, however she wants. I chose this occupation to help people, to bring their dreams to life, but along with those things, I found I can’t always offer the answers they want to hear. April, will need you now, just be there……she will find her way, in her own way and at her own pace.” I stepped through the doors, and sprinted to the elevator. I needed out of this hospital, away from the voice of reason the doctor offered. I wanted to hate her, why did I have to be the one she couldn’t save?
I remember the ride home, often they tried to engage me in conversation. Then I pretended to sleep my back to them, offering no answers, and listened as they spoke back and forth. “I just don’t want her to go through any more of this.” “She isn’t ready to give up.” “Not sure how much more she can handle.” “I know she wants a baby but I just want her to be alright.” I loved them more than anything. How selfish I was for shutting them out when they wanted to comfort me. I didn’t want to be loved, I didn’t want to feel, I didn’t want their sympathy or worry! I just wanted to scream, “I AM BROKEN! HOW THE HELL DO YOU EXPECT ME TO BE OKAY WITH THAT?”
I kept silent, feeling the burn of the tears as they splat onto the car seat, I was certain that I would have scars from the fiery water that fell from my eyes. They needed me to be okay, and usually I was the first to set my feelings aside to help my loved ones. I was not capable of that, not this time. They wanted me to be the old me, the one who smiled easily, laughed light heartedly, and faced life head on. I needed a baby, a baby that seemed an impossible miracle, and I was scared that I would no more be able to help them find the April they had lost than I would be able to bring my lost babies back to life. I was gone, I was shattered, and I couldn’t feel anything. I was numb to the pain, I replaced it with anger. I hated this person I was becoming. I had been a guinea pig, a failed experiment, an exposed patient, and to no avail. All for nothing? I wouldn’t give up. I may have lost myself through all of this, but it wouldn’t be for nothing. I needed this, at all costs, and I wasn’t turning back. This would be my mission in life, no matter what I had to lose to find it. I would be a mother, if I had to die from a broken heart to have a baby……that is just what I would do. I would keep trying, keep losing these babies, keep dying inside. I would not go quietly into the night. No I would go kicking and screaming, trying no matter how much it hurt at what I faced losing, because giving up wouldn’t have saved me the pain. Giving up would allow only for me to be emotionally dead, so I would face the pain head on. Pain meant I was alive, and I couldn’t live my life as a childless mother, even if I died from a broken heart….it beat dying from allowing the mother in me to die! Little did I know at that very moment life had once again began forming in my womb…..but I would discover it soon enough.