8 Days Late:: A Vignette of Hope and Grief
I was more than a week late for my period, but too scared to take a test to find out “for real” whether or not this meant anything. Having miscarried six years prior, I knew how much it hurt to know for sure there was a future baby growing in there – and then never get the chance to hold it and kiss it and raise it up alongside my other amazing kids.
That loss just about destroyed me.
So, at this time, I was simply choosing not to take a test yet. I would rather live in ignorance for a bit longer. It was my pitiful way of attempting to guard my heart.
The day before, when I realized I was 7 days late, I called my best friend and asked her to pray for me and my anxious heart. Being this late was unprecedented for me and, having walked alongside me during my miscarriage, she knew both my fear level and my excitement level would be high.
After our chat, I decided to head to the drugstore and buy a pregnancy test. When I got home, I set it on the bathroom counter and looked at it a moment. “No,” I told myself. “I still can’t do it. I still can’t know for sure yet.”
I was so afraid that if the test said yes and then I started bleeding, my heart and mind would break beyond repair. So I grabbed the box, put it under the counter next to my hairdryer and extra ponytail holders, and closed the cabinet door. “Maybe I’ll take that test tomorrow, I told myself. Or later next week.”
Here are some of the thoughts that went through my head over those next few days:
“I’m probably just imagining all this. It’s been so uncharacteristically busy for me lately— my body is probably just stressed out and reacting by confusing me and throwing off my cycle… Plus, maybe I’m not actually very late at all— maybe I didn’t record my start date properly last month…? And also: ever since Ben was born 3 1/2 years ago, my cycle has been all over the place. So, really, I am maybe more like three days late rather than eight — which might not mean anything at all.”
The weird thing, though, was that I had been waking up with horrendous cramps in my calves for the past couple of nights— and that has only ever happened during times when I have been pregnant. And I kept dropping things that I was certain I had a good grip on— another quirk that has only ever happened during pregnancy for me. And also, my chest was seeming larger and more tender than usual. Plus, my lower abdomen area was feeling… I don’t know… heavier? And like it was working on something.
And to top it all off, I had been in an uncharacteristically-crazy “organize mood” for the past week. Disorganized closets and unfinished projects were wholly intolerable to me. When I mentioned this to a couple close friends, they said “Hmmm… sound like “nesting” to me.”
And here’s the final weird thing: I can’t help but acknowledge the fact that I have never in my life had this many days between menstrual cycles before – except for the four other times I have been pregnant.
Thus, on Day 8 of Being Late, as I went throughout my day, washing dishes, running errands, tidying up the house for my daughter’s sleepover that night, I found myself ever-conscious of my tender breasts, my tired womb, and my fluctuation between feeling nesting-energy and wanting to just crash and take a nap on the floor, I couldn’t help but wonder what it all meant.
And thus, against my better judgment, I accidentally started remembering the sweet sounds babies make, the unique qualities of their milky midnight breath, the soft strength of their tiny hands gripping my finger, and the heart-melting effect of their toothless little smiles.
I had been trying to guard my heart all week long, but it wasn’t working out so well. Before I knew it, as I was scrubbing dishes in my sink that afternoon, I found my mind wandering and discovered that I was starting to fall in love with the possibility that a new life might be growing inside me.
And even though I knew how dangerous it could be, I started to let my fearful heart hope. I even did a quick mental calculation and discovered that, if there was a baby growing in there, he or she would be due right around my second daughter’s birthday. “What a fun start to the summer,” I thought with joy. I quickly texted my bestie and admitted to her that I was starting to get the teensiest bit excited. She agreed.
And then I had this terrifyingly awesome thought go through my head: “I wonder if once this baby comes if maybe then my family will feel complete…?” Ever since I lost my other one a few years ago I have always felt like someone is missing. I’ve never known if I’m missing the lost one or one yet to come. “Maybe this will be that someone I’ve been looking for,” I dared to hope.
A tingle of delight and expectation rose up in my heart. I felt happy and like I might be slightly glowing.
I finally resolved that, “Yes, I will take the test day after tomorrow. By then I will be ready to know that information for sure. By then I will be ready to handle whatever it says. But today: today my daughter’s friend will be showing up for a sleepover in about 15 minutes. Today I don’t want my mind to be distracted by the results of a pregnancy test.”
I finished washing the dishes and wiping up the kitchen counter. My daughter’s friend was going to arrive any minute for their sleepover.
All of a sudden, my womb felt super heavy and tightened ever so slightly. I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom, so I headed to the restroom and sat down on the toilet.
When I looked down I saw blood. Lots of it.
I stiffened, held my breath, and felt the world slow down. My throat tightened and my eyes filled with tears.
“Aw man,” I said out loud and exhaled deeply. I sat there for a few moments and mourned the loss of what never was.
“She’s here!” my daughter chirped excitedly from the other side of the bathroom door.
“Okay honey,” I responded dryly. “I’ll be there in a second.”
I took a deep breath, asked God for strength, and prepared myself for a night of pre-teen girls’ giggles and chatter.
In what ways do you try to shield your heart from the ache that comes alongside disappointment and loss? What are some of the ways in which God has met you in your grief?
Please share your journey in the comment section below.