“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul”
On December 16th, we were preparing to go to the shore for an epic weekend. The final Sprandio was getting married. That Friday, I was packing up while Zach worked. He would be home at 12:30 and we would jet off for a weekend of fun.
In previous months, Zach and I had begun discussing the exciting prospect of having children. The day we were leaving for the shore, I was about a week late for my period. I had a pregnancy test stashed in the bathroom, so I thought what the hell. I’m probably not, but I’ll take it.
It said, “YES.”
I was pregnant! I began pacing around the apartment, jumping up and down. “Oh my God, oh my God.” I decided I would go to get two more tests just to be sure. I took … “YES” and “YES.” Oh my God. I could not contain myself. I took to my phone. I thought a million things: should I send Zach a picture of the tests, should I call him, should I run down to his office and scream from the street I’M PREGNANT!? The plan was for me to pack the car, pick him up, and go to the shore. It was 10:30. I had two hours to process the most exciting information ever. I texted him that he had to come home first because we needed to talk.
When he walked in, I had the pregnancy tests set out on the table. The look on his face when he saw them was one of pure, uninhibited joy. It is right in line with how he looked when he proposed and how he looked when we got married. As long as I live, those smiles will be etched in my memory. We cried and we hugged. We were going to be parents!
We kept the secret to ourselves all weekend, only discussing it when we were alone. Through the weekend events, I pretended to partake in drinking. Zach would announce, “Here is your rum and coke, Kate.” All the while I was drinking plain soda. We giggled to each other at our inside joke. It was fun that we were the only two who knew the secret.
The wedding was, of course, amazing and beautiful. The love between Shane and Nina was so evident. That love inspired every guest. Everyone was dancing. It was the perfect way to end an era of Sprandio weddings. Zach and I of course danced all night. In typical fashion, I ended up on the floor a few times. One of which involved a head thrashing air guitar session with my newest sister-in-law. I was drunk on life that night. I watched my baby brother get married, surrounded by family and our closest friends, and I was pregnant. Happy isn’t a strong enough word to describe how I felt.
A week later it was Christmas and we began sharing the news with our immediate families. The reactions were beautiful, everyone jumping up and down with excitement. Hugs, kisses, happy tears streaming down faces. This would be the seventh grandchild for my parents and the first grandchild for Zach’s parents. It was the perfect Christmas announcement.
As the weeks continued, my pregnancy symptoms began. Morning sickness struck me and I was on a diet of Gatorade, ginger ale, and peanut butter crackers. I was wiped out at the end of the day and I wasn’t sleeping well. Zach was of course an all star, cooking for us and getting whatever we needed. I felt that everything was progressing normally. People would say, “If you feel sick and tired, then everything is going right!” Ask Zach. I was definitely feeling sick and tired. But I tried to not let it get me down. My mom would say, “Just think, you might feel bad now, but you get a prize at the end of this! A wonderful, beautiful prize.”
On January 19th, we had our first doctor’s appointment. I was 10 weeks. The excitement and nervous energy between Zach and me was palpable. The doctor introduced herself and we went through the motions of a doctor’s visit. After the conversation, it was time for the ultrasound. I was lying on the exam table and Zach sat in a chair behind me. I bit my lip in anticipation, imagining how the little one would look. I watched the doctor as she surveyed the screen. I studied her face. It was stern and her brow was furrowed. My heart began to sink, something wasn’t right. She continued to move the ultrasound stick around.
“This doesn’t look like a normal pregnancy,” she uttered.
All I wanted to do was hold Zach, but I couldn’t leave the table. I was frozen. I stared forward in disbelief and faced this moment in front of me. I felt so alone in those few minutes. The doctor turned the screen towards us and showed us an empty womb. I didn’t understand. Of all the education I have had, of all the things I thought I knew about my own body and how it works, I didn’t understand. I didn’t want to understand. We went in there expecting to see our little baby that was supposed to be the size of a green olive and instead we saw a perfectly formed womb, with nothing in it.
“Okay,” I responded to the shocking news. My voice shook. Even though I couldn’t fully see Zach, I could feel him. I could feel his sadness.
The doctor explained the womb was at 10 weeks development, but the fertilized egg didn’t grow. She expressed how sorry she was and she told me to get dressed and meet in her office. I climbed off the table and Zach embraced me. Anger overcame me. “This is ridiculous. I want to get out of here. I don’t understand.” All the while, Zach gathered strength and held me telling me everything would be okay.
In her office, the doctor explained I had a blighted ovum miscarriage. The fertilized egg implanted in the uterus but it stopped growing in the early weeks. My body recognized there was a problem and took care of it. Meanwhile, I had no symptoms of a miscarriage. I had all the symptoms of pregnancy. All the expected physical changes were happening. Ten weeks of preparation and there was nothing in there. The house was being built but the tenant was not moving in. My own body duped me.
The doctor explained that this was common, that I should not feel alone in this. She stressed that this was not my fault. But how could I not think it was my fault? I was in charge of making sure it all went right, but it went wrong. This is what a woman’s body is made to do. Self-doubt and disappointment washed over me. I couldn’t help feeling stupid and completely responsible. How did I not feel that this went wrong so early? How did I not know that my own baby was not growing? Why did this happen to us?
She told us to go to the hospital to get an additional pelvic ultrasound done in case she was wrong. If the additional ultrasound confirmed her thoughts, she would schedule me for a procedure the following morning to remove the remaining pregnancy tissue. We went to the hospital and the tech did the ultrasound. The radiologist told us what we didn’t want to hear, but we knew we were going to.
“I’m sorry. This was a blighted ovum miscarriage. There is nothing in the womb.”
All we could do was cry. One of my brothers was nearby so he met us at the imaging center. He comforted us with his words and hugs. He ensured us that we would be okay. It was nice to hear, but at that moment I didn’t believe it. We got in the car and went to my parents’ house where we were comforted with hugs and kisses. Zach called his parents. The texts and calls began to flood in from family members. The love and support was endless.
We went home that night feeling defeated. Two of the happiest people in the world couldn’t smile. We held each other and talked through our feelings. We felt comfort in knowing we had one another and we had families that would support us.
The next day we went to the hospital, January 20th, the day of the presidential inauguration. I’m not about to get political here, but I could not believe two things: I could not believe who was becoming president and I could not believe I was watching it happen from a hospital bed. I wanted them to hurry up and sedate me so I could completely forget this horrible reality for at least an hour.
Thankfully all went well and I was in recovery before I knew it. I woke up and a nurse came by and told me to go back to sleep, but I didn’t want to. I sat there alone in my hospital gown, staring at the wall, an IV in my arm, drugs still affecting my brain. The nausea that made me sick just hours before was gone. That feeling that something was growing inside was gone. That excitement I felt just a few days before, euphoric excitement, had melted away. I didn’t feel pregnant anymore. I felt empty.
I could feel that my body had already started the process to heal itself. But my heart, my heart didn’t know what to do. My heart was experiencing something new. This was a different kind of loss than what it has experienced before, a different kind of sadness. I lost part of me. While this little part was only there for a very short period, it still made a lasting impression, an impression on me, on Zach, and everyone we told.
Zach and my mom came back to see me. One of my first questions was, “Is Trump president yet?” Zach said yes. I said I wanted to be put to sleep again. At least my sense of humor hadn’t left me.
These last few weeks have felt very long to me. While my body is getting back to its normal self, I am not my normal self yet. The more time that passes the more I become comfortable with the fact that it’s okay that it’s taking me time to process all of this. The other night I was sitting with Zach and I began to cry. “I don’t feel right. I’m supposed to start feeling better by now. I was feeling so good earlier this week, but today I feel bad.” He said, “Kate, it’s only been a few weeks. Give yourself some time. There’s no rush.”
He’s right. They say that time heals all wounds. But I feel like when something happens to women, they are hard on themselves if they are not back to normal right away. I have this feeling that I should get over it and move on to the next thing. Why do we make ourselves feel that way? Taking my time and being easy on myself is a new concept that I am just starting to grasp.
My sister-in-law told me she tried to explain to her kids what happened to me. Their response was, “Why did God do this?” What an excellent, smart question. Why did God do this? Unfortunately, we don’t know. This event has reinforced the lesson that life doesn’t go according to your plan. But, the important thing to remember is, there is a plan. You have to believe there is a plan. Bad things happen to good people and we don’t know why. What we do know and have control over is how we can handle the bad things. I could be a grouch and get depressed and shut myself off from those I love and seal all my hurt and pain inside. But I can’t do that. I don’t see a point in doing that. That only makes the hurt worse. I have found that talking to someone when you’re sad and sharing your story are good ways to heal yourself emotionally. One of the worst feelings, that I have felt, is feeling as though you are completely alone in a situation. You never know who you are going to affect with your story. Even if you think it’s not worth sharing, if you feel comfortable doing it, share. This world is filled with people who have stories to share. Chances are, somebody has gone through what you’re going through.
One feeling I had was maybe I shouldn’t have told all of my family as early as I did. I expressed this feeling to one of my brothers and he said, “Don’t ever regret that. That’s one of the great things about you and Zach as a couple. The two of you have a joy for life and you share that joy with everyone. Don’t ever regret sharing your joy.” He’s right. We do jump at the chance to share our joy with others. I struggled with if I should share this experience with my blog. After much thought, I decided I am so comfortable sharing my joy that I shouldn’t be afraid to share my sorrow. We all have joy and sorrow through our lives. Sorrow is nothing to be ashamed of. I am confident that I am not alone in this. I have so many who are willing to listen, willing to back me up, willing to love me.
Countless people have said to me, “I know how you feel. This happened to me.” I wonder if they ever had a chance to share their story. I wonder how they dealt with it.. I hope I can comfort them and anyone else who is going through this. My advice is to be strong and believe that you will be okay. This isn’t your fault. It’s nature and while we do not understand why it happens, we must have faith and believe it was for a reason.
I think I believe now more than I ever have. I believe we have experiences to make us stronger and to allow us to become more understanding, to allow us to see life from another perspective. To allow us to more fully appreciate what we do have and to never, never take it for granted. Sorrow, like joy, can bring us closer together. Zach and I have been fortunate enough to not have experience with personal sorrow in our relationship yet. Our tactic thus far has been to focus on the good we have in our lives. We will not forget what happened, but we will embrace it. It is part of our story now. We are trying to learn from it. We are letting it help us grow stronger and closer together.
The other day, a good friend of mine gave me a card. In it was a quote that has resonated with me:
“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the songs without the words and never stops at all.” – Emily Dickinson
My wish is that my experience can give hope to others going through rough times. No matter what kind of sadness you are experiencing; please try to maintain hope that it will all be okay. Thank you to my family and dear friends for giving us hope.
“Where flowers bloom, so does hope.”-Lady Bird Johnson