On this day last year, I had my third and last prenatal appointment with Calvin. It was Ash Wednesday. Louie and I went to Mass in the morning at St. Ignatius Church before going to UCSF. (That day, there was a young man sitting in the pew in front of us, and he started sobbing after communion. We didn’t do anything or say anything to him, but we talked about it later and how we felt for him. I think about him every now and then, and hope God has brought him comfort.) It was also the day before my birthday.
At the appointment, we saw a doctor we had never seen before, and when she spoke to us about my membranes coming apart and the risks of the pregnancy, it was like being told all over again about the amniotic bands. We had to tell her, like we told the other doctor and the genetic counselor, we would wait. At the end of the appointment, she confirmed that we were having a follow up Level II ultrasound, and told us we would wait until after the ultrasound to schedule my next appointment. Hearing those words felt like a death sentence for my baby, and just thinking about that moment puts me back in that place. Maybe it was a blessing that I didn’t need to call to cancel the appointment and say “because my baby died.” But it didn’t feel that way then. It doesn’t feel that way now, either.
It wasn’t all bad, though. As she placed the doppler on my belly and proceeded to move it around searching for the baby’s heart, I felt the tears well up. I was bracing myself. But then, after what seemed like too long for hope, she moved it left and down, and there it was: a fast, whooshing, thumping. It didn’t sound like I remembered from my second prenatal appointment, maybe because I was overwrought and ready to hear the words I feared most. But she said that heartbeat sounded fine, and that was enough for us. My baby was alive. It was the best birthday present I’ve ever gotten.
Here I am a year later from that day.
And I have seen that same doctor again. What should have been my first prenatal appointment with her for my rainbow baby became, instead, a confirmation of my miscarriage. My second baby. My second loss.
I don’t know how I feel about turning 28. At first, I felt indifferent. Right now, though, I feel as if it moves me further away from my son. I don’t like feeling that way. Right now I long for where I was last year. I long for the sound of Calvin’s heartbeat. I long for the hope and joy and happiness I felt. I long for the days that came between life and death for my first child. For the way my birthday felt last year. For the Saturday after, when Louie felt him move for the first time. I miss the sound of his heart beating. I miss the swell of life growing inside me. I miss looking forward to seeing him on the ultrasounds and waiting to share the secret of his name. I miss my son. I miss my Calvin Phoenix.