“Oh my god I’m bleeding.” Startled, I looked towards the bathroom door where my eyes meet those of my wife, ten weeks pregnant. I saw the small pool of blood on the sheets as I rolled over. Her pants beside the bed stained as well. I forced out some awkward words of encouragement as she broke down in the shower. As I went to her side I fought to keep that word out of my mind - miscarriage.
A month earlier, I sat on the edge of the bed as Kathryn emerged from the bathroom with home pregnancy test in hand. “Let me see the directions,” she said. “You’ve never needed them before,” I responded. There it was - the word “PREGNANT” with a bright, blue line beside it. The second test reported the same result, only this time with a pink plus sign.
The next five minutes of my life were the most terrifying in my thirty-one years. The thoughts came fast and hard, like blows in a title fight. “We weren’t planning on this. Not this soon. What are we going to do? Are we ready for this? We can’t possibly be ready for this.”
A month is a long time to dwell on just one thought. It is a long time to spend analyzing it from every possible angle. We had only told our immediate families. We knew it was early and of course things can go wrong early. We had decided to tell our friends and social circles after our ultrasound appointment. A month is plenty of time to fall in love with someone you have never met.
The darkened room was lit by a black and white monitor. On the screen, just noise, then, a shape. A little peanut shell of a shape. Sounds came next - muffled at first, and then forming an unmistakable rhythm. Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump. The reality fell like a hammer.
I had never felt so great a desire to be a dad until I heard the heartbeat and saw the sonogram. The technician tried to snap a few photos for us as the little peanut shell wiggled on the screen. “It’s doing a little dance for us,” she said. Overcome with emotion, I quietly wiped away a tear as I stared in amazement at the screen.
Both our phones buzzed as we sat in the restaurant booth. “I just posted the sonogram,” I explained. We looked into each other’s eyes, hardly able to contain the excitement. It was a relief to finally be able to let everyone know the good news. “I’m going to post this on Facebook and Twitter, too.” “Okay!”
That evening we tried to cling to at least some small bit of hope as we drive to the emergency room with Kathryn still bleeding. We didn’t think there was much they could do. We just had to know for sure, one way or the other. Kathryn remained strong as she endured the endless needle pricks, poking, prodding, and, finally, another ultrasound.
The doctor reentered the room to break the news. Though the bleeding hadn’t stopped completely, the tiny heartbeat was still there. Our baby had made it through the night. Kathryn had what the doctor called a “threatened miscarriage.”
Between twenty and thirty percent of pregnant women have bleeding significant enough they see a doctor. Of those, fifty percent go on to have a normal pregnancy. “Fifty percent,” I though. “Not ten, not twenty. Fifty percent. We have to be in this fifty percent.”
The following night I kissed Kathryn’s belly as we turned off the lights, both of us physically and emotionally exhausted but thankful to be home. “Fight hard, little one,” Kathryn encouraged. In the darkness I reached out and rubbed her stomach. Tears ran from my cheek to my pillow. I thought of the black and white screen, the heartbeat, and the dancing peanut. “Please don’t leave us, little baby,” I whispered silently, still rubbing my wife’s belly. “Daddy is here and he loves you. Please don’t leave us so soon.”
Update: The little one is eleven weeks now as we continue to hope for the best.