Before I had my two beautiful kids, I was pregnant with a baby we called Tater Tot. It was usually shortened to Tater, and Josh and I were so excited, if not a little scared to be having a child of our own. I’ll admit it was very early on in our relationship, and entirely unplanned, but we were still so excited and so very happy. Ever since I can remember I have always wanted to be a mom. I have papers from my third grade year where when asked: What do you want to be when you grow up? I wrote “A Mom.” I love kids, I loved babysitting, and I practically raised my little sister. I always dreamed of having a big family with at least five kids. I dreamed of doing things together, going on picnics, summer vacations, the carnival. Reading bedtime stories, eating dinner at the table together and playing at the park often. Making arts and crafts, taking too many pictures and having tickle fights till we can’t breathe anymore. When I found Josh, that started to look like it was a possibility in my life. True, he already had three kids, and as real as that was in today’s world, I had someone never even fathomed the idea. A part of me mourned at not sharing the experience of a first child together, but a larger part of knew that was silly and that each child is a new experience. I love his kids, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. Life rarely goes according to plan, and besides, it keeps things much more interesting.
So there we were, starting our life together. Me getting to know his kids, us getting to know each other. We had moved into a house, we had put the down payment on a truck… life was getting underway. And then, I was pregnant. It was a little hard to believe at first. We had only been together a short while, how did it happen so fast? But the bubbles in my stomach, and the smile on my face were a permanent fixture once I took that pregnancy test. I was going to have a BABY! A child! I was going to start that family I had always dreamed about. Sure, I was nervous, sure I was a little worried about all the details, but more than anything, I was OVER THE MOON! As the day approached for my first doctor’s appointment, we planned a whole day around it. We packed a picnic that day, with the intention of going somewhere nice afterwards to celebrate the fantastic day. I was so jittery and impatient to go in and see my baby on the monitor. To hear the little heartbeat. To make the next step in this fantastic dream that was coming to life right in front of me. When we got there, I was nervous. The silliest things were running through my head. “what will they think of my age?” “what will they think of our age difference?” “what questions are they gonna ask me?” “am I gonna be able to see more than just a blur on the screen, will I be able to tell it’s my baby?” “how far along am I?” All these things were running through my head, but there was one thing that wasn’t….
I got up on that table and met Dr. Lowder for the first time. I didn’t know then that he would be there to watch the entire pregnancy of my next two children and deliver them. I didn’t know how much he was going to change my life. He spread the jelly on my stomach, apologizing for the coldness, and started moving his instrument around looking for the baby. I started to make images out on the screen, or at least imagined I did. He kept moving it around, and I was getting so anxious to hear what he had to say. Eventually he simply said, “I’m having trouble finding the heartbeat. I can’t find it.” Still, I was thinking that maybe the baby was to young, or he just needed to move it around a little more. It never even crossed my mind to expect the worst. “What does that mean?” I asked, or something like that. He turned to me and said, “It means there is no heartbeat. I’m so sorry.” It took a few more seconds to sink in, he just sounded so calm… He couldn’t be so calm with such devastating news could he? But when it hit, my head started spinning and pounding. I got so hot, and I couldn’t breathe. My vision started to go black around the edges, and I couldn’t seem to make out anything that was going on around me. The Dr. and Josh kept asking if I was ok, if I needed to lay down, if I needed water. But I could barely think, barely hear them, barely say no….
The rest of that day was so tough. We had that picnic we planned in our bedroom. I remember thinking that this hurts Josh too, and I had to be strong for him. That we had to make it through this. I remember laying on our bed in all my clothes and just crying while Josh held me. We both were just crying. In that doctors office, after the bad news, he gave us a minute to ourselves. Josh kept saying we could try again, but I could only think, “I can’t go through this again. I can’t do this again.” Our little Tater Tot was dead… and I did what any Mom does… I started searching for what I did wrong. What I could of done differently. It was a terrible time for me. I worked at McDonald’s, and I opened the next day as a manager. I couldn’t call in, there was no way to fill that shift. Besides, I told myself the distraction was just what I needed. I was strong, I could do this. I spent those first three hours at work running to the bathroom to cry my eyes out, or stepping into the office to sink into the chair because I felt so weak. When my boss go there I broke down and begged him to let me go… when I told him what happened he let me leave and I really don’t remember the rest of that day. I am sure I spent it in bed. Crying and hiding from the world.
I was a little short of three months into that pregnancy. My little Tater Tot was still so tiny. I wasn’t showing and I wasn’t really feeling much different. My body never registered that I had a miscarriage. It left me holding on to tiny shreds of hope that the doctor was wrong. That my baby was still alive. I am not sure how long went by, maybe close to three weeks, but eventually the doctor told me I had to do something or risk infection. So they scheduled me for a DNC. I begged them to check for a heartbeat one last time before that surgery, and they indulged me… but it didn’t matter. They had been right all along. Going into that surgery, I had no idea what to expect. I had never had a surgery before, and I was so consumed in grief at finally giving up all hope that my Tater was still there. Coming out of that surgery was probably the worst day of my life. For such a tiny little thing, and for not showing at all…. When I cam to, I could feel that emptiness. It was literally like I could feel a huge hole in my stomach. I could feel the weightlessness wear there used to be life. I could physically feel the loss of my baby and it was too much. I broke down and I just wanted to curl into a ball and never come out of it. I was still thinking, “I never wanna go through this again.”
I love my Tater Tot. I remember my Tater. I long to know what kind of child he or she would have been. What kind of wonderment I would have seen in his or her eyes. How her giggle would have sounded, or what his hair would have looked like. I felt as if I had been cheated out of the one thing in life I had always wanted most, and I was struggling to understand why. I made it through, we made it through, and although I was so certain I could never go through it again, I am so glad I did. Because now I have two beautiful children to hug and love and make my house an ever ending mess. I have the life I dreamed of. Holidays spent doing family activites, nights spent making s’mores in the backyard, playing chase though out the house and more hugs and kisses and hair pulls than I could have ever imagined. I will never forget my Tater Tot, but I will honor that child by loving the two I have, just as I would have loved my first. I will remember.