I had to think, hard, about whether my miscarriage took me to the lowest point of my life. And I decided that it probably didn’t. It definitely gets the award for longest low point of my life, or I wouldn’t be here, two years later, prattling on about it day after day. But the actual Lowest Point Award probably goes to my divorce. No other event in my life has caused me to withdraw so completely from the people who love me, because I felt unworthy of their (unconditional) love. Yeah, with no credit to my ex-husband, or the end of the relationship itself, really, my divorce was definitely my lowest point.
I am pretty sure, though, that my miscarriage provided Doug with the lowest point of his life.
A little back-story: When Doug and I first got together, he used to say all manner of romantic things to me. He told me he wanted to marry me, he told me my eyes look like sunflowers (they’re hazel-green, with a distinct ring of gold around the pupil), and then he told me this:
“I want you to get sick – not really sick, just like a head cold – so I can take care of you.”
I’m sure by now he’s sorry he ever wished for such a thing. I am a miserable, near-impossible head cold person. But his well-meant, if awkwardly expressed, point was that he wanted to nurture and protect me. And he’s proven himself to be a real chevalier of nurturing and protecting: he walks me to my car when I have to leave for work at 4:30 a.m.; he’s changed the blade in my box-knife at work on more than one occasion; he offers to go to the store late at night if I say I’m hungry or thirsty and we don’t have what I want (which means when I one day am pregnant, I’m going to be totally hooked up); if I’m upset, he sits down next to me and pokes my side or squeezes my hand, all the while grinning intently in my face, until I start to laugh and forget what I was upset about. Sometimes it feels like his happiness is based almost entirely upon my happiness, which makes me feel a little guilty, although I suppose that in other ways, and with other examples, the reverse could be shown to be true as well.
So the lowest point in Doug’s life, as I see it, occurred on the day of my fourth ultrasound and blood test combo. We were sitting in my car, parked next to the dumpsters behind work, and I had just gotten the call from the midwives that the blood test showed my hormone levels were still rising, and that instead of making an appointment for D&C surgery, I needed to make yet another ultrasound/blood test appointment for the following week. I was transferred to the front desk of the clinic, where, instead of asking for an appointment, I asked that my records be released to another doctor. (I had gotten the name of an OBGYN from one of my coworkers, and when I called, he’d said he couldn’t see me until this set of doctors released my records.)
The girl at the desk told me that I’d have to come back up to the hospital, fill out a release of records form and sign it before they could mail my file to the new doctor – a transfer which would take up to eight days in the hospital’s internal mail. No, they couldn’t use this verbal request as a substitute for the written one, and no, they wouldn’t just give me my file to walk over to the new office. And anyway, my shift was starting in like five minutes, so I couldn’t have gone back up there to fill out the forms even if I wanted to.
“Fine, nevermind,” I said. I calmly closed my flip-phone, then threw it, as hard as I could, at the dashboard in front of me. And then I started to cry. Really cry. Hot, furious tears and the kind of body-wracking sobs that allow no space for inhalation.
And Doug sat there next to me, at a complete and total loss.
When I tell the story of my miscarriage, the dominant images represent my initial joy and then my profound disappointment; a quick rising followed by a slow sinking. When Doug talks about what happened, which he rarely does in any detail, the only specific moment he cites is usually “that one day you threw your phone at the dashboard”; for him, there is no rising or sinking, just a sudden crash. It’s almost as if he experienced Beth’s miscarriage instead of mine.
But Doug had held onto a genuine hope that everything would turn out okay, for weeks longer than I had. Plus, he told me recently when we were talking about this very incident, he “[does] a lot better as long as [I] can hold it together.” When I threw my phone and broke down completely, not only did it finally click for him that we were not going to get this baby, but even worse, no amount of poking and grinning or late-night ice cream was going to make me feel better about it. For the first time in our relationship, he was faced with the reality that he was not a knight in shining armor; instead, he was just a 22-year-old kid in shorts and a t-shirt, and he was totally powerless to help me.