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Thursday, February 21, 2013

I am now a statistic

Note: I wrote this about a month ago, and have waited awhile to publish it.

Yesterday I went to the Scandanavia clinic for my first OB appointment.  When I mentioned to the doctor that I had been having some problems in the past few days, she led me next door to the ultrasound room.  I laid down on the bed, repeating the familiar procedure of pulling various layers of clothing askew, having gel (it's always cold) squirted on my abdomen, and waiting for the grainy little lump that could possibly be imagined to be a baby appear on the screen.

She slid the receiver back and forth over my belly and made a face.  After measuring a few things, she made a worse face.  Then she turned to me.  "I'm sorry," she said, "but your baby has no heartbeat.  It stopped growing some time ago."

I had suspected this news for several days, turning over the various reasons why I didn't think we'd be having our fifth child in August, telling myself it would be okay and reciting all of the reasons why the timing wasn't good in the first place, mentally tensing myself for the blow.

It's funny how that tensing is never quite real, how you always hold back the tiniest part that believes, despite all of the evidence otherwise, the blow will never come.  You hope that all of those signs were just your imagination and you'll look back and laugh at your paranoia when everything turns out just fine in a few months.

But sometimes the blow comes.

Having done some research on miscarriage, I've found that the risk is 10-25%, and that about one in five women experience a miscarriage at some point.  And when I think of all of the women I know with large families, there are very few who have not had something go wrong.  When you play the conception game, you are signing up for the risks and the possibility that things won't turn out.

So far I've been incredibly lucky - four children with no complications, all having come easily with no disappointments.  And so it makes sense that eventually something would happen.  That is, after all, what statistics tell us - that sometimes some things happen to some people.  Everyone's plan, however, is to not be one of those people.

But of course that never happens.  You may not one of those people who get stuck in an elevator for several hours, but maybe you're one who gets stuck in an airport overnight.  You may get lucky and never be in an serious car crash, but instead your kitchen burns down.  Things just happen - it's part of what we signed up for when we came here to earth.  

And so this week it's my turn.  It helps to have been expecting bad news, and it helps to be surrounded by four wonderful children.  I have all sorts of reasons why really, things will work out better if we wait a little while anyway.  There are so many reasons why I don't need to be upset.  I'm healthy.  The children are healthy.  It happened early.  This has never happened before; statistically it probably won't happen again.  It happened after four children.  I'm still young, with plenty of good years left in me.  I'll have a little more breathing room between Joseph and the next one.  We don't have to be gone for three months this summer.

But of course, reason and emotion sometimes don't see eye to eye, and I've still been upset despite all of the good reasons not to be.

However, life will continue on and I'll be just fine.  Brandon and I had plans for a romantic weekend away to celebrate my birthday, so we'll have some time together, even if it's a little less romantic.  The children keep me busy and focused on something other than myself and remind me how lucky I've been so far.

And the next time I fill out a chart at the OB, I'll have something else note down other than four normal, healthy pregnancies.  Just a statistic.  That's all.  


Jan said...


I'm so sorry. I had a miscarriage at 14 weeks between Jenna and Darin and I thought so many of the same things you thought. And I tried to reason away the hurt. But I couldn't. Grieve for might have been and know that every day it gets a little easier to let go of the path that you thought you were on.


sarahflib said...

That stinks, Ashley. I'm sorry to hear about your miscarriage. You are brave to say "just a statistic," but I know that the second you find out you're pregnant, you love your baby and get excited about the possibilities. I hope the past month has brought peace and healing!

PaulaJean said...

It's surprising how you build a life in a few short weeks and it changes in an instant. You may not remember, but I had a miscarriage between Sam and Mike. It hurts, it really does, but it doesn't last forever. Knowing you are a statistic is cold comfort.

nelsonjeneen said...

I am so sorry and I hope that your body will heal. I am so glad you wrote this post, it helps me/all of us think of when the time comes for us to "be the statistic", that we can think of things more positively. But at the same time... it is good to cry!!!

Ashlie said...

So sorry to hear about this. You're all in our prayers.

kelley said...

I can't imagine what you must feel. I fear of losing a pregnancy for a long while after I find out I'm pregnant. I imagine I would tell myself the same things you've said. I would tell myself that it was God's will and that's what matters most. Right? Logic can never rid us of all emotion. I guess that should be a good thing. It makes us more human and real and wonderful. I hope you all get through this time quickly. You are wonderful.

Lydia said...

Exact same thing here. 4 children then a D&C at 16 weeks. In Cairo, no less. It's never easy, but I think if one comes after you've had children, you're sped up a bit on the emotional track & planning parts. Names, EDD, when to go back to the states, etc. And I thought the *exact* same thing on the OB chart. <>

Bridget said...

I'm sorry, Ashley. I appreciated your thoughts on this subject.

Bfiles said...

so sorry for your loss.

Just US said...

I'm so sorry Ashley! Both times I miscarried it took a while for me to be able to express my feelings. I am grateful you were able to write about your experience.