I looked down at my purple maternity shirt and noticed the fabric was starting to pill. Hours of rubbing my growing belly with each pregnancy had left its mark. My husband shifted nervously in his seat, pulling his gown around him to block a draft. The curtain pulled back and there stood my husband’s urologist.
“Are you interested in sperm banking before the procedure?”
I laughed, rubbed my belly to direct his eye and declined. “We seem to have gotten all the sperm we need.”
I had grown and delivered two babies before. Medically boring, everything was moving along just as it should. I was one of those unicorn women that took well to pregnancy, continued to exercise, and zip about the house shoveling snow or raking leaves or digging in the dirt. I carried the weight well, no stretch marks to be seen, no complaints except interrupted sleep, and sometimes after too much salsa, a bout of heartburn. I would run-waddle into the last weeks of pregnancy and glow with sweat and endorphins. After delivering the baby with no interventions except emotional and physical support, I would melt the weight off with breastfeeding for at least a year. I would work out and nurse, eating cheesecake and losing weight. I am unicorn woman, hear me roar.
Except this baby was a surprise. An unwelcomed one. Conceived post-vasectomy just days from submitting the final sperm sample, we took our chances that Hubs was cleared and made love with wild abandon. Just the one time was all it took to conceive another baby. I was still nursing our second son, who was two weeks away from his first birthday. The idea of another baby just as I was up for parole from Baby Jail felt like conviction without a trial.
So here we were, minutes away from my husband having a second vasectomy. This baby would still have residence while my husband could be cleared for good and then we could adjust our lives to a family of five and only five. No more surprises.
Two weeks after I delivered our third son, my husband would indeed receive his clearance for a successful vasectomy.
Except our baby died. At 34 weeks gestation, his little heart stopped beating for reasons unknown. So. No baby. And no more babies. I remember now, sitting in that plastic chair with my burgeoning belly and my smug disposition. My purple shirt. The only thing that hurts as much as losing our baby is losing the sense of innocence I had about pregnancy and childbirth. Pregnancy equals birth, birth equals baby, baby equals feedings and diapers and rocking to sleep. No one warned me I could give birth and go home with empty arms. There are no guarantees. In one clean swift cut, my unicorn horn was cut off. I’d do just about anything to not know the grief of losing a child.
This is my journey.