Twelve Years Since the Blue Moon

Once again, I beg the forbearance of my long-time readers with this post, as it’s a re-run (but I’ve added new pictures at the end!). However, because it’s a personal favorite, I hope you’ll hang in there for a re-read…or perhaps for a first-time through.

“Twelve Years Since the Blue Moon”

I got engaged and pregnant on the same day.

Even better, it was “Buck Night” at the local ball park, so I also got to drink eleventy dollars of watery beer on a humid July evening while feigning interest in an All-American sport.

You might be trying to forge a connection between all that cheap beer and my getting knocked up. Damn your clever mind. Does it never rest?

Suffice it to say, though, that pretty much all of my days since then have been anticlimactic. They’re all “go to work, read to the kids, sweat through a run, fold some laundry” and ever-so-rarely are they “get engaged, drink beer, get pregnant” kinds of days. I suppose, though, that a girl can only have so many splendid Whopper Days; otherwise, I’d have a whole lot of husbands, hangovers, and kids. And frankly, one or two of each is about all I can handle. Ask both my husbands. They’ll attest to my treating them with an air of benign neglect. Fortunately, they are a comfort to each other.

So, yes, from that sticky July day came good things. I still dote on my groom, and the issue of that pregnancy is just cresting twelve years old (since I, personally, remember a lot from Age 12, this implies to me that I should start being nicer to Girl, now that the threat of lifetime recall is firmly in place).

It’s all good now, but the growth and arrival of our Girl weren’t as straightforward as her conception. In fact, Girl started out as two.

All I knew was that I was pregnant, and the hospital in our town would confirm that but would not have me see a doctor or midwife until the end of the first trimester. So I took some vitamins, ate a lot of Ben and Jerry’s, exercised, and dreamed an entire life for the child inside of me.

Until one night–the last night of that first trimester–when I got off the couch after watching some bad reality tv and went to the bathroom. After pulling down my shorts, I discovered the pregnant woman’s nightmare: blood. Lots of it. And when I sat down on the toilet, there was an explosion of more blood, along with many miscellaneous floating bits…of tissue.

My brain reeled, of course, and all I could think was, “This can’t be good. I’m pregnant, so this should stop.” At the time, Groom and I weren’t yet married, and he lived almost six hours away. I called him; he lurched out the door and into his car; then I called a Best Girlfriend, and she was at my house in minutes.

We went to the emergency room, where I spent a long, long time with my feet in stirrups. I heard words like “she’s dilated” and “tissue in the cervix” and “no heartbeat.” My friend stood by my side, crying quietly into a Kleenex. My own tears ran down my cheeks into my ears.

After some time, I was told that it looked as though I’d miscarried. But, they told me, I was young, so future pregnancy could happen. And, they told me, a miscarriage is Nature’s way of ending a non-viable pregnancy. It happened, they told me, all the time.

But here’s the thing: it hadn’t happened to me before, and so I was ill-equipped to handle the absolute, immediate grief of losing a life I had already planned. Sure, I’d heard of women having miscarriages, but no one had actually ever brought that experience alive for me; no one had shared their experience publicly–and if there’s one thing I do, it’s find ways to process the world by touching the experiences of others. Yet miscarriage proved to be one of those last female taboos, one of the hidden subjects that no one acknowledged. So all I really knew was that I was in significant physical pain (I didn’t even know enough to realize a miscarriage is actually a mini-labor, with a contracting uterus and everything) and in even more profound emotional pain.

When, at 4 a.m., Groom finally got to me, we just cried. And the next day, and the day after that, we cried. A baby isn’t real to the world until it’s born, but it had become real to us from the minute that stick turned pink.  Even more, the promise of a life we’d made together confirmed our rightness of being.

Some days later, we went to see the midwife at the hospital, to have her check my uterus to see if all the tissue had been expelled that night in the emergency room, or if I’d need to undergo a D & C, to “clean things up.”

As I lay there, again on a table, she palpated my uterus, noting, “There’s still a fair amount of tissue in here. If you don’t mind, I’m going to roll over the mobile ultrasound machine to see how much we’re dealing with.”

I didn’t want to see the remains of the babe, so I stared at the wall as she worked, not registering her words of, “Hmmm. I see a heartbeat here.”

How cruel, I thought. Why is she taunting me?

But. Then. It. Sunk. In. A heartbeat?

My head whipped to look at the monitor, where I saw a most-contented-looking little figure, reclining in the tub of my belly, a strong and regular heartbeat emanating from its chest.

My memory of the next few minutes is the feeling of Groom’s tears hitting my face, as he stood above me, and the midwife exiting the room, saying, “I’m just going to give you guys a few minutes.”

So my grief had prayed for a miracle–for the miscarriage not to have been real, for that pregnancy to still be happening. Suddenly, it was. Gradually, we pieced together that I had been carrying twins, and one of them had not made it. This, according to one nurse, happens more frequently than we know, but it is still a “once in a blue moon” event.

For the rest of my pregnancy, we called the kid inside of me The Little Gripper; I pictured it hanging resolutely onto the walls of my uterus by its tiny, soft fingernails while its twin fell out of me. Assuredly, I will never stop missing The Kid Who Fell, but mostly I can only marvel at the child who hung in there.

Today, March 31st, it has been twelve years since The Little Gripper became our Girl, twelve years during which she has emerged as reserved, smart, sweet, wry, amiable to a fault, Love Incarnate.

The Birth Day: Groom cries some more, as Girl greets the midwife. Under the white sheets, once again relegated to laying on a table, I wonder how long it will be before I can have a bowl of Peanut Butter Cup ice cream.

Girl Was One

And Then She Was Two

Same Dress at Age Three, But the Wheels Were New

Four Was Fun

Five Became Her

She Grew to Six (Plus Two on the Lap)

Then She Was Seven, Feeling Crafty

Eight Flowed Easily

Nine Popped with Color

Ten Took Her Places

At Eleven, Ancient Landscapes Broadened Her

Twelve Promises More of the Same and the Start of Much That Is New

As the years tick by, I love her purity of character above all else.

Even she was six, a wee first grader, her unalloyed caliber was evident. One night, at bedtime, her overtired Brother Wee Niblet (now Paco) cried in his bed, sobbing: “I don’t want to go to sleep, ever. I wake up in the night, and I am alone. I’m always alone. I’m never going to close my eyes because sleep is too lonely.”

We had already pushed the kids’ beds next to each other, strung the room with lights, played music on a CD player through the night, and tried everything to get him to appreciate sleep as an opportunity, not a burden. But no matter what I suggested that night, he cried even harder.

Then an almost-seven-year-old hand snaked its way across his bed and extended itself onto his torso. With all the compassion of two souls, Girl said, “Here, buddy. Just hold my hand while we fall asleep. And when you’re asleep, I’ll just keep holding on to you. You know I won’t ever leave you all alone.”

Happy birthday, Toots. Every single day for twelve years now, I have thanked the sky above for that blue moon.







12 responses to “Twelve Years Since the Blue Moon”

  1. Secret Agent Woman Avatar

    First, happy birthday to her!

    And do you think maybe you miscarried a twin? I had what they call a vanishing twin with my first – I conceived twins and then one was reabsorbed.

    But reading about the part where you were miscarrying or appeared to be miscarrying was hard. I still remember my first miscarriage, 16 years ago, like it was yesterday.

    1. Jocelyn Avatar

      I did miscarry a twin; they pulled out enough tissue that night the ER that it was clear.

      I remember your miscarriage story; you’ve been kind enough to direct me to it.

  2. Friko Avatar

    Happy belated Birthday, girl. You did well.

    Congratulations on holding on tight to twelve; there’s no reason why you both shouldn’t continue to hold on happily now until the bonds loosen all by themselves and she goes off into the happy lands where she provides you with the next generation. But that’s in the future, there is plenty of mother-daughter fun still to come before then.

  3. ds Avatar

    Happy Birthday, Girl!! Twelve becomes you. I predict a smooth and wonderful future for you both.

    As for the rest, yes, miscarriage is a taboo subject; you are brave to discuss it. Your description recalls an Event of my own that has not gone away (in fact, a most wise physician, not my OB, gave the most comfort when she said “you never really get over that”). The one sliver of good is that it does make you appreciate who you have all the more. Which you do. Lucky, lucky them.

  4. lime Avatar

    so worthy a repost to celebrate your girl. she is such a remarkable, resilient, and quietly strong young lady in so many ways. happy birthday to her!

  5. chlost Avatar

    Blue moons apparently bode well for great things. Happy Birthday to your girl. She is a wonder in so many ways. I feel honored to know her through you.

  6. Monica Avatar

    Oh man, she is truly amazing… consoling her brother at such young age like that… brought tears to my eyes this early monday morning in Denmark..
    The “honk/cute” sign; might want to hide it for the coming years.. she can have it back at fourty-something.. 😉
    Happy belated birthday to your Girl

  7. Jess Avatar

    I love this one. You can repost it anytime.

  8. Green Girl in Wisconsin Avatar
    Green Girl in Wisconsin

    She sounds like a gift, that daughter of yours. A few of my bloggy pals have daughters that I’m envious of, and yours is one of them. Since kidnapping is frowned upon, I’ll pin my hopes on an arranged marriage in order to score one of these wonderful girls to have as my own “daughter.”
    But seriously, congratulations and Happy Birthday to her!

  9. magpie Avatar

    Oh, what a story.

    Miscarriage seems like the last taboo – until it happens to you. Then, everyone and her mother turns out to have had one too.

    Happy birthday, all around.

  10. SBW in MD Avatar
    SBW in MD

    I would definitely honk! She is totally cute. I have not read your blog – or posted on my own in almost 4 years. I have missed it! My eleven year old is the same kind of miracle – I feel blessed.

  11. kmkat Avatar

    I had one o’ them miscarriages, too, right between the two good ones. It happens.

    Girl is Something Special, that’s for sure. HB to her!

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