This time of year is hard for me. July 27 is especially rough. Three years ago, July 27 was the due date for my third baby. I didn’t get that far though. In January 2009, the month was not going well. We had just come home from a trip to visit family in BC, and had come home to realize that in our absence, a pipe had burst in our basement and partially flooded it. Thankfully, our landlord’s daughter had been feeding our cats, so the damage was not severe, but it was no picnic either. Then, on January 2, a Friday, the transmission on our van completely failed. Hello, $3000 repair bill. The worst was still to come.
I was about 11 weeks pregnant with our third baby at the time. I had already sketched a quilt for the baby, which I felt very strongly was a boy. In fact, my husband and I had, in absolute record time, already decided on his name: Felix Henry. Since we usually debate the name well into the end of the third trimester, that was a feat indeed. We had just told our families the good news on our very recent visit to see them.
I designed this simple Irish Chain in blue and green. I tried a more subtle green, but in the end went with this nice shade of lime. I love bright colours, after all. I had already started sewing the blocks together.
Then came January 4. I had some bright red spotting, but wasn’t horribly worried since I had no cramps at all. Still, my husband and I thought it was a good idea to head into the ER anyway. A friend watched our other two children, and we headed out. After waiting what seemed like an eternity, they finally called us in. The doctor did an internal exam, and was gave me tentative good news, since everything was tightly closed, just like it should be. She couldn’t find the heartbeat on the doppler, but I have a tilted uterus, and they can never find the heartbeat on those things until I’m typically about 15 weeks, so that didn’t worry me. They couldn’t do an ultrasound at the time, since it was about 1 in the morning and all those techs had gone home. So they gave me a rhogam shot (I’m A-) and sent us home. All good, right?
The next morning, the hospital called and said they had an opening for an ultrasound later that afternoon, did I want to come in? I hemmed and hawed, and asked if I could get back to them in a few minutes if I could find a sitter. I called my husband, who checked with his boss if he could come in early, and if he could borrow their truck, since our van was still out of commission. Everything was a go, so I called back to confirm the appointment, still not horribly concerned. After all, I was nearly 12 weeks along, and had never had any problems in previous pregnancies.
I headed in to the hospital, and it was snowing, so the roads weren’t great. I took my time, since I was driving a completely unfamiliar vehicle. I got there in time, and read my book while I waited. They did an ultrasound, and then asked if I could drain my bladder so they could do a vaginal ultrasound (for the record, those are no fun). Finally, after lots of uncomfortable poking (TMI, I’m sorry), she turned the screen to me. “Your baby is measuring 9 weeks when it should be at 11.5, and there is no heartbeat.” She didn’t have to say anything else. If she would’ve, I doubt I would have heard or remembered anyway, since the rest of that day was just a blur.
I went to see my family doctor, a complete blubbering mess. He gave me a private room to wait in, and arranged for me to get in ASAP with an OB-GYN. I had a D&C the next day. My mom came to visit. My brother and SIL gave me a plant. That’s about all I remember of the next couple of weeks. It’s strange to me how I remember nearly every detail of before, but after, I just get bits and pieces. Every now and then, something will trigger a memory, but it’s still pretty hazy.
I got into a frenzy and felt compelled to finish the quilt. It was like something just took me over. After all, he was still my baby, even if I never got to hold him, and he deserved a quilt just as much as the other two did, if not even more. I changed the design a little. I took out the blocks in the centre to leave an empty hole, just like the hole in my heart, and the hole in our family. A hole that will never be filled.
And then I just couldn’t finish it. The top was done in record time, but I just couldn’t finish it. It was like I was finally saying a complete goodbye if I finished it. I couldn’t let him go. So I didn’t finish it. I would take it out every year about this time, determined to give him a birthday gift, but I still couldn’t, and can’t, do it. I still can’t let it go.
And maybe that’s ok. Maybe it will never get finished. It’s the only concrete thing of his that I can touch. It’s almost symbolic: I couldn’t finish making him, and I can’t seem to finish his quilt. Sometimes it helps to look at it, and sometimes it hurts, but I’m still glad that it even happened at all. I got to have him for a little while, at least.