When your dad and I found out I was pregnant, we didn't have the capacity to express our joy. We stood hugging in the living room, holding a little gray onesie I gave him to announce your existence, and there we stood for minutes. Just smiling, just hugging, just so in love already with little you. Our lives quickly morphed around your tiny being. In the next several days we researched hospitals, doctors, midwives, and procedures. I had your dad check out books from the library on pregnancy, parenting, childbirth, and more. We started sharing the news, and received such excitement from your aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents, and others. Our little baby bear.
When we went to bed at night we talked about you, and when we woke in the morning we prayed in gratitude for you. You became the center of our small apartment and our expanding world.
Just two weeks later, you were six weeks young. Your heart was beating and beginning to differentiate into chambers, your arms and legs were little buds, and your face had started to become, well, you. Vocal chords, a tongue, and your brain; all present and growing. You were six weeks young when I felt such a pain in my abdomen that it made me nauseous, dizzy, and I nearly fainted on my way to the bathroom where I was sick. I knew pain would be part of this process, but this much pain worried me. Were you okay? Your dad came home from classes to take care of me, and we decided to go in for testing the next day.
The next two days are still a blur. Ultrasounds, hCG tests, hematocrit levels. They said I had fluid near my right ovary. A lot of it. They said the hCG levels should be doubling every forty-eight hours, but mine had plateaued. They couldn't find you in my uterus, only a small blip of fluid with nothing inside. But they found you in my right fallopian tube: cozy, and growing at a rate which that tissue was not made to support. Ectopic. Defined as a pregnancy in which the fertilized egg has implanted outside of the uterus. Nonviable.
We sat at home, processing the news, turning it over and inside out and upside down looking for hope, a mistake, or anything that would let us keep you, that would let you continue to grow. But we knew they were right. We'd seen the numbers and done the research as well. We understood the complexities of human anatomy, and knew you could not survive, and neither would I if we did not let the doctor take you out. Your dad and I alternated sitting on the couch and pacing on the phone when family or nurses called requesting or giving news, respectively. When the hospital called back with a surgery time, they said they had room right then, and asked us to come in immediately. And so, we went.
Probably because of how fast this all progressed, it seemed surreal. We registered for surgery, they wrapped a hospital info band around my wrist, and whisked us off to the pre-op room for prep. Even there, nurses surrounded my small bed and one asked me fifty questions about my medical history while another two probed my veins for blood samples and an IV location. Your dad sat next to me juggling both our cell phones as texts and calls came in from family. The nurses were ready to wheel me off to surgery before my heart caught up with my brain, before I really understood what was going to happen. I made them pause so I could kiss your dad goodbye. I would at least be anesthetized. He would have to sit and wait, awake and aware, the whole time.
As I waited for the anesthesiologist and surgeon, I started to cry. The southern man waiting in the bed next to me asked what I had done, roughly translating to asking why I was here. I told him that my pregnancy wasn't where it was supposed to be, that if left where it was it would continue to hurt my other organs. He said organ explosions didn't sound so good. I didn't want to talk to him anymore. So I sat, crying and trying not to cry.
When I woke up, I just remember more crying. I remember that when the nurses asked me if I needed anything, I would only ask for my husband, your dad. When they finally moved my bed to the room he sat in, I was still crying, and he was crying, and we could finally cry together. The surgeon had taken you, along with my right fallopian tube, from my body. My right tube had split under pressure from your growth, which was the intense pain I had felt two days earlier, and four hundred milliliters of blood had flowed out and pooled in my abdominal cavity. Logically I can understand why they needed to take you out, but it does not make losing you hurt any less.
Then came the sad days and nights after. Even my subconscious knew you were missing. In my dreams I saw children playing whose faces were blurred, perpetually unknown to me. In my dreams I saw my sister-in-law sitting in her car, paralyzed, as she told me that someone had taken her children, and that she didn't know how to get them back. In my dreams I cracked eggs into a bowl, but only clear fluids came out, never yolks. I miss you, and I never even got to know you.
Baby bear, I need you to know some things. I need you to know that your daddy and your mommy loved you so much in the little amount of time your body was here growing. I need you to know that we still love you so much. We know that you are still our baby, and we are still your parents, even if we didn't get the chance to raise your spirit and body here on Earth. We also know that we are going to see you and meet you and hold you some day. It's going to be a while, so we're going to have to be patient, but there is not a doubt in our hearts that we will one day see your smile, and hear you say "Dad," and "Mom." You are our oldest child. You are our baby bear.
Take care out there. You are in gracious hands. Until we meet again.
I love you.