This story is about a baby conceived, but never delivered. It’s about the thrill of finding out you’re pregnant, and then disappointment you feel when suddenly you’re not. It’s about miscarriage, but it’s also about chickens and abysmal record keeping. Random, but related.
When my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child, we were overjoyed. I knew I was pregnant only days after conception. I just knew. A pregnancy test confirmed it and I went to the doctor for a blood test to be sure. We told our families right away because that kind of excitement just can’t be contained. We made plans, discussed names, researched strollers.
I couldn’t wait to share the happy news with my class of grade two students, but I decided to wait the obligatory three months—which never came.
At nine weeks I miscarried. We went through the usual panic—trying to fix it, trying to stop it, trying to save it. Of course you can’t stop nature’s course. Mother Nature is stubborn. She does what she wants, when she wants, for reasons only she knows.
My husband called my work to say I would be off the next day. I needed a day to recover; physically and emotionally. I was sad. I also felt some guilt. I worried that because I had been running, training for a fun run, that somehow all the jostling was to blame. Of course that wasn’t true, but we always struggle to find an explanation.
I returned to work the following day, shaken but thankful for the distraction. When I entered my classroom, dark and quiet, my eyes fell upon the large aquarium beside my desk. We were hatching chicken eggs as part of our science program and four fluffy yellow chicks had recently hatched. I checked on them and was stunned to find only three chicks alive. The fourth was lying lifeless and twisted in the corner. I found out later that two curious students had snuck back into the classroom shortly after the supply teacher had left for the day. One lifted the heavy ceramic water dish and accidentally dropped it on the baby bird.
I asked the custodian to dispose of the chick before the students arrived. I just couldn’t do it. Then I hid away in the staff washroom and cried. With my back against the wall I began to sob and slowly slid to the ground. I nearly laughed in spite of my tears because… really?? The slow teary backslide down the wall is such a 1980s movie cliché.
I soon came to learn how *incredibly common miscarriages are. Anywhere from 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage. And those numbers increase with age. I had no idea. This knowledge didn’t make my experience any less painful, but talking about it with others who had been through it definitely provided comfort and hope.
A few weeks later, I was feeling positive and hopeful and more like myself. The phone rang. It was my (former) doctor’s office with test results.
“We have your blood test results. Congratulations Mrs. Thornbury, you’re pregnant!” the cheery receptionist told me.
I was confused. But then I got it. “You’re calling with pregnancy test results? I miscarried. I was in to see Dr. W. right after it happened. You’re calling me right now to tell me I’m pregnant?!”
I promptly burst into big ugly tears while I felt the loss all over again. It’s amusing to me now. That poor receptionist…
Mistakes happen, but that’s some seriously messed up record keeping. I switched doctors after that.
A few months after that I found out I was pregnant again. Nine months later our perfect, healthy son was born. And now two beautiful children fill our lives in every way, and we are thankful for and humbled by the miracle of it all.