On July 22, artist Curtis Wiklund and his wife received the devastating news that their pregnancy was over at nine weeks. In their car, the couple sobbed together for more than an hour. Later, he captured it through a sketch.
Most don’t talk about it. I just didn’t know what else to do, but draw on that day. It more accurately journaled how I felt than anything I could write. I hope by sharing it, those others out there who are quietly hurting, some far worse than we are, are comforted knowing at least, that you are not alone.
On March 30, this was Brett and I. We had just gone to a routine ultrasound when we received the life-changing words that there was something wrong with our pregnancy. Our baby was alive but was suffering from a cystic hygroma, a large growth of fluid on the back of his neck. Sometimes, these cystic hygromas can resolve themselves. However, the earlier in the pregnancy that they are found, the more grim the outcome usually is. We were just around 14 weeks, just outside our first trimester.
The doctor provided us with a lot of clinical information about cystic hygroma and recommended that we follow-up with a larger hospital with better ultrasounds and more genetic experts for counseling. She said we should do some research online to find out more and read other stories. We went from hearing our baby’s heartbeat and seeing him flutter on the screen to having our world come crashing down. I was in shock and couldn’t help but have the tears flowing down my cheeks. We sat in that little exam room alone for several minutes, frantically searching for tissues to wipe our eyes. I didn’t even care that we couldn’t find any. Brett just held me close in a comforting embrace. I just felt so scared and alone in that moment.
I tried my best to compose myself in the OB’s little bathroom and to dry my tears, and wash my face. My make-up was everywhere. We went to the front desk where they scheduled the appointment so we could go to the other hospital for a follow-up two days later. We left the office, and went to our cars. We drove separately since Brett came from the office. I just sat in my car crying for at least 15 minutes, the late winter sun and warmth coming through the windows, other people passing in the parking lot heading on their way to their own cars or appointments. I was just numb and dumb-founded. How could something so beautiful and so wonderful change so quickly? I kept asking, “Why? Why my baby?” I just held that ultrasound picture next to me thinking how perfect my baby looked. How could something be wrong?
I do a lot of crying in my car these days. It’s my little safe haven where no one else can see me. It’s my tiny bubble of security where I can sob and moan as ugly as ever. I’m not a pretty crier. I’ve been in the grocery store parking lot, waiting at a red light, just in the garage. I never know when something is going to trigger a crying spell. Sometimes it’s a song on the radio. Other times it’s just seeing a baby. Then there are the times where I just think about how much Emmett is going to miss out on all the wonderful experiences that life can behold. I keep a bunch of napkins in the glovebox but I also have a box of Kleenex these days just to be prepared. I’ve been in the drive-thru getting my coffee or a soda and I’ll have dried tear stains all over my cheeks. Now that my sunglasses are in the middle of the Atlantic (see yesterday’s post about the girls weekend for details), I don’t have those to hide behind. No one has mentioned anything to me when they have seen me that way.
Our world is so preoccupied with themselves these days. No one seems to notice when someone else is crying or in pain. If they do, they don’t say anything, mostly probably out of fear that they’re overstepping their bounds. I wish people would care more and have some sympathy for others and not be afraid to express it. I suppose people also don’t really want to know why you’re crying, afraid themselves that you may actually be honest with them and burst their little imaginary bubble with your honesty, pain and anguish. Because if you let them know your own pain, they may have to then deal with their own personal pains which they’re trying to hide from in their bubble.
We can’t all be wrapped up tightly in plastic bubblewrap like the glassware when you’re moving to a new house to protect ourselves and others from our emotions and experiences. Sometimes, I think we need to pop all of those damn bubbles and break out of the cushiony shell that we’ve built up and just embrace the hurt. It makes us more human.