It was 20 years ago that I nearly lost my unborn son.
It was in the middle of the night. Four and a half months into my second pregnancy, I woke up in a pool of blood. And it became quickly obvious that I was miscarrying. A call to my doctor confirmed my fears. It was about 3am, so I was told I might as well rest a couple hours before coming in, and that I had a long day ahead of me.
Amidst the various bits of information over the phone, my husband and I were made aware that at this stage of pregnancy, there’s not much that can be done to save an unborn child. That the main concern at this point was my own life and the rate of my bleeding. I was told that I needed to go to the emergency room if my bleeding increased to filling a menstrual pad every two hours. There was blood all over my bed, and I had no idea exactly how much I’d lost. But an hour and a half later, my fresh pad was full. I had no fear for my own life. I didn’t feel weakened by the blood loss yet, but I knew I was going to lose my baby. That I would experience what my own mother and grandmother had gone through before me.
I’m no stranger to trauma, so I did what came naturally to me. I braced for the blow that I knew would come. No fear about it really, just systematically getting ready to get through one more traumatic event that would shape my life as I knew it.
There was no doubt what was happening and there was no reason in my mind to see things any differently. I was going to lose a baby. Women have born this pain for ages. I was not unique in this and there was no reason or time to whine. It was just time to face it and get through. I could fall apart later.
I had accepted that I was indeed losing a child. And for many really good reasons. My mother and grandmother and sister all had before me. And I was readying myself for it. But I had much more reason than most to so simply accept this fate.
Once upon a time, I couldn’t have children. It was absolutely impossible. I was baren. Until I had a full open surgery for endometriosis. In fact, it wasn’t until after the surgery that I even found out. Up until that point, I’d already had to embrace the understanding that women with endometriosis as bad as mine simply have a lot of trouble bringing pregnancies to term. But I was only 23, with the scar tissue damage of someone more than twice my age. It had begun to affect my other organs. I was getting sicker and sicker and something had to be done. Surgery was part of the answer.
However, it wasn’t until they went in that my surgeon discovered that my tubes were completely closed. That meant something quite profound: it was impossible at that point for me to ever conceive.
And so he fixed me.
After the surgery, my surgeon told me that without having me open on the table, there was no way with just a scope they could have seen that my tubes were closed.
I would have tried my entire life to have kids, never knowing why I couldn’t.
That said, the surgery wasn’t 100% successful. I still had problems with endometriosis. But, I lived a much more normal life than before.
So as you can see, I wasn’t surprised to be losing a child.
And as I felt life flow from me, I lay there in the dark preparing myself for the emotional pain ahead, getting my head and heart ready – knowing that after so much already, I was strong enough to endure even this.
And then one of the most powerful things happened and broke me down.
It still makes me bawl to remember it to this day. In fact, my face is a soaking wet mess now as I type.
The experience was that powerful.
Nothing fancy. It was simply this…
I heard a voice. Clear as day.
And it said, “Mommy, don’t give up on me.”
That’s all the voice said.
And it was then that I knew that my son was alive.
I don’t care what you think. I really don’t. Whether you believe my story, or think I’m lying or you think my mind created the experience because I couldn’t accept my reality or whatever.
Because I know better. I know exactly where my head was. And I didn’t even try to hope.
I spent that first day going through all the things they do in a situation like mine. Doctors everywhere consoling me about what I was about to go through.
My bleeding slowed and days would pass. My doctors would continue to check the heartbeat and have me come in to see them every day. They would send me for ultrasounds to evaluate the new hole in my uterus that caused the whole situation. Doctors continued to tell me that I needed to face the reality that I would lose my child. That I was too calm and not processing the situation as I should. This child was not destined to live. That I needed to get a grip and prepare myself for this impending loss.
But I wasn’t phased. I knew.
It would be 9 weeks before we knew for certain that our son was going to make it. Nine weeks of doctors telling us that we should not hope too much because the odds were so far against us. Until finally, they said one day, well… maybe he’ll be OK after all.
I continued to bleed throughout the rest of my pregnancy, though just a trickle. And a month early gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
So there you are, little one. Thank you for making mommy believe in you.
For years it seemed we had an unexplainable connection. Every time I woke up, he was soon awake. Not crying, not upset or fussy, just awake and ready to be with mommy. It was so prevalent that sometimes I’d wake up and lie there quietly and think to him, no-no-no honey please do not wake up. Stay asleep. But he usually woke up anyway. Other times I’d wake up, and sneak a peek at him while he slept, only to find him awake and looking at me. And I’d think to myself, You little stinker! Are you deliberately waking me up? Or are you just being there for mommy? It wasn’t every night, but this unexplainable connection continued well into his school years.
He is 20 now. And 19 months ago we found out he had a very rare form of kidney cancer unheard of in anyone under the age of 20, just 5 months after the death of his father.
I faced the mortality of losing my baby that night, more than 20 years ago. And an unexplainable voice gave me hope. Gave me faith.
I think about that miraculous experience from so long ago and wonder if I might hear it again.
Will a voice in the dark give me hope? Comfort my soul?
And then, my son comes home from his late-night college class.
And while I am working away on yet another project,
he hugs me and whispers,
“I love you, Mom.”
Copyright © 2019 by Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved.