Illustration: Erin McPhee
In early February, my wife, Lainie, shocked me with the news that she was pregnant. Instead of feeling happiness and excitement, I immediately started to worry. That night, I could barely sleep. It’s not that we didn’t want another baby. Quite the opposite. We’ve wanted one so badly, but things haven’t worked out as planned.
Lainie has had five miscarriages—one before our first child was born, then she lost the baby who would have been a twin to our second child, and then she had three more miscarriages while we were trying for a third baby. Most heart-wrenching, each loss happened progressively later on in the pregnancy. Our last baby’s heart stopped beating at 16 weeks. We were so sure this one was going to make it—we’d hit the 12-week mark after all—that we told our kids, who were then three and six. We shared the news by giving them cookies shaped as baby bottles and toys. It took a minute for our oldest to figure it out, but when it hit her, she let out a yelp of pure joy.
Then four weeks later, we had to tell them both that the baby was gone. Our older daughter screamed and burst into tears. Her younger sister tried to comfort her by stroking her hair, assuring her it would all be OK. Soon we were all bawling together. We used to feel pangs of sadness when we saw other families with three kids, but after this last miscarriage, we felt angry—not because we didn’t have another child, but because of all the loss and pain our family had gone through.
Even though we’ve wanted three kids since we got married, we were so devastated after losing that last baby that we decided to put things on hold—possibly forever. But now, Lainie was pregnant again, there was a possibility that the nursery that’s been sitting empty would be filled with life, and I was overcome with worry.
It wasn’t just the well-being of the baby I was anxious about. These miscarriages have taken a toll on Lainie, both physically and emotionally. There were many nights when she’d wake me up crying. With our third loss, the baby died in utero at about 12 weeks, and Lainie had to take pills that force contractions to complete the miscarriage. There may be nothing worse than watching your wife writhing in pain in bed and not being able to do anything about it. It’s an absurd version of giving birth, with such a different outcome.
In an effort to save ourselves from pain, we made a pact not to talk about this baby so we wouldn’t get too attached. Still, tears streamed down our faces as we drove to our eight-week checkup, already convinced we’d lost the baby.
To our shock, though, the baby was still growing. At 12 weeks came the turning point. Our last two pregnancies had failed because of a chromosomal issue, so this time Lainie took the Panorama test, a relatively new blood test that tells you within 10 days whether or not the fetus has a chromosomal abnormality. We were at home when we got the results, and I’m sure our neighbours heard our massive sigh of relief when the test came back negative.
Almost immediately, the fear and nervousness disappeared, though we held off on celebrating until an ultrasound at 16 weeks. Everything was as it should be. We saw our baby’s heart beating, little arms flapping and tiny legs jumping—and I watched my wife’s face soften as the stress faded away.
Now, after four years of major emotional ups and downs, we had no reason to believe the baby on that screen wouldn’t make it. We cried in the ultrasound room, we cried on our way to the car, and then we finally started sharing the news. Our baby girl arrives this month.
A version of this article appeared in our October 2015 issue with the headline, “At a loss”, p. 48.
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