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By April Jimenez
I never knew how desperately I wanted to be a mother until I almost wasn’t one.
First, I was told there was no chance I could get pregnant. The doctor was so certain of this she told me, with morbid optimism, that I needn’t use birth control.
Hey at least you can have wild, unprotected sex. (These words are not the doctor’s, only my miserable perception of her actual words.)
This of course, is how I got pregnant. One month to the day that I was given the news.
Five weeks pregnant, I rang in the New Year in the emergency room. I was there for my kidney but the attending physician feared an ectopic pregnancy. While my friends drank champagne in party dresses, I sat in the ER with an IV and hospital robe, praying my pregnancy was viable. This year I felt sorrier for myself than for poor old Dick Clark.
Just after midnight the sonogram came back. The teeny, tiny little dot was in my uterus, where it should. I was indeed pregnant.
Fifteen weeks pregnant, on a Friday night, while watching "Kitchen Nightmares" and gorging on Taco Bell I began hemorrhaging.
More blood than I’ve ever seen in my life. On my pants. On the floor. Everywhere.
We rushed to the hospital. I called my mom sobbing on the way. I knew I was having a miscarriage.
This was nothing like what happens on TV.
I lay on a cold table. The sonogram tech is on her cell phone making plans for after work. My blood-soaked khaki maternity pants are crumpled in a ball on the chair. I can see mismatched socks on my feet. The blood made patterns on my socks that look like flowers. Because I’m over-dramatic I think they are flowers for my baby, who’s not going to make it.
The doctor came in and told me, with the same nonchalance you’d order a deli sandwich: “Your baby is going to die, we’re going to do a D&C.” I heard her but I couldn’t connect the words. They were floating in the air above me. I stared at them, waiting to come down to the table I laid on.
The doctor said my water broke and the baby would die eventually.
The baby still had a heartbeat. I refused to let the doctors take her out of me until she no longer did. Most of me thought, of course doctors know what they’re doing and I should just do what I’m told. A small, timid part of me thought, this baby is alive right now and I’m not going anywhere unless that changes. I made them admit me.
The nurse wheeled me to labor and delivery. I sobbed the entire way. The poor confused girl stopped right in front of the nursery so I could look at the babies and said “Don’t cry, this is a happy place -- where babies are born.” My heart was broken.
I stayed in the hospital for s i x l o n g d a y s.
In that time the doctors and specialists couldn’t figure out why my baby had not passed. They prepared me every day that this could be the last day I was pregnant. I was afraid to go to sleep each night scared my baby would give up while I slept.
We called family and told them the news. I dreaded having to take down my posted-too-soon ultrasound images on Facebook. I cried at the thought of having to plan my sister’s baby shower.
I mourned my baby. I begged her to hold on. I made deals with God. I did crossword puzzles and ate candy brought by well-intentioned visitors.
My husband went home and cleaned up the old Taco Bell left in suspended animation and the blood on the floor. He brought me back comfortable clothes and pictures of the cats to cheer me up. He promised we’d try again as soon as we could. I cried some more.
Finally, when we said our goodbyes, had cried until our eyes were swollen and made an uneasy peace with the situation I told the nurse -- through tears and sobs -- that I was ready and they could take her out.
The nurse called the doctor. The doctor called the sonographer. The sonographer called the specialist. It was time.
Someone, and oddly I can’t remember who, yelled. “Wait! Stop! The baby is doing great! You can go home!”
This isn’t exactly how it happened. It was drawn out and nerve wracking. Nobody shouted with exclamation points but this is how I remember it. In a moment everything changed.
Six months later I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl.
Now I’m not super religious but I can say with 100 percent certainty that she is my little miracle baby.
I wanted to put this memory down on paper so when she’s 2 and won’t sleep at night, or when she’s 9 and talks back at the dinner table, and when sneaks out of the house at 16 to meet a boy -- I can read it and put everything in perspective.
Thank you for allowing me a place to do that.
My story has a wonderfully happy ending, thankfully. Every time I think about it I always wonder what if? What if I didn’t listen to that part of me that said no I’m not going to give up on my baby that still has a heartbeat? What if I fell in line and aborted my pregnancy because that emergency room doctor had told me to? What if this was my only chance to ever have a baby and I let it slip through my fingers on the misinformation of someone else? What if?
After this happened, I sought out others with similar stories and to my complete amazement there were tons. A woman who was told her baby had Edward’s syndrome and she should save herself the heartbreak and abort -- she didn’t. Her beautiful daughter was born as healthy as they come.
A couple whose doctor misdiagnosed their unborn baby and strongly suggested termination, telling them they were young and could try again. They decided against any prenatal invasive testing and chose the path of what will be, will be. Their son was born without any such disorder. The stories are countless.
Sadly, not all of the stories I’ve heard end like mine. I wonder how many people are left to wonder what if?