“I heard your heartbeat, and my body grew so still. I looked into your mother's eyes, and I knew you were alive.I long to meet you and show you all I know. Hand in hand with this new love, this life means so much more.” - Sevendust "This Life"
Father's Day will never be the same to me again. I've always been one who takes life as it comes without getting too married to one outcome or another before it's upon me because, frankly, we can't predict (or even influence) a lot of things that happen in our life, and we don't always know what's coming. Part of this outlook is that when drastic changes happen in my life, while I may know something has happened on a factual level, it typically takes visual proof of something being different for it to sink in.
The first time my family moved that I can remember, I was in the second grade. I didn't feel any difference until my first day in my new school. When I graduated high school, I didn't feel any different until the next fall when I drove past my former high school on their first week and saw a full parking lot of a student body that no longer included me. Even after that, I didn't fully realize how much different my life was until I spent my first night at my new college dorm, and I realized that besides a couple loose acquaintances that also happened to pick my college, for the first time since I'd moved in second grade, I didn't know ANYBODY that I would be interacting with on a daily basis. Not to mention, a guy I'd only met mere hours ago was now sleeping a few feet away from me (as was his drunk girlfriend). Likewise, when I graduated college, I didn't really feel any different until a few months later when I wrote my first student loan payment check, rather than signing student loan promissory notes. When I got engaged, it never really set in that I was actually getting married until the night before my wedding, at my rehearsal, as I watched my soon-to-be-bride walk up the aisle towards me with her bouquet. When I quit Friendly's after a decade working there, it didn't hit me until I turned in my uniform and store keys.
And when I learned a few weeks ago that I was going to be a father, though I knew what was happening on a rational level, I didn't feel like a father yet. I got my “Dad's Guide to Pregnancy for Dummies” book and I've been thinking a lot about it, but it didn't really sink in that I really had a child on the way. Until Father's Day. And by until Father's Day, I should point out that I don't mean when I woke up on Father's Day and my wife and soon-to-be Baby Mama said “Happy Father's Day”, or anything like that. No, by until Father's Day, I mean until about 9:30PM Father's Day, when my wife, crying, came out of the bathroom and told me she was bleeding.
The word “miscarriage,” I believe, desensitizes people to what is really going on. We say “she had a miscarriage” because we don't want to say “her baby died,” which is what it is. But by saying someone had a miscarriage, it loses the emotional impact of what's really going on because we're talking about it as though it's just another unfortunate but normal medical condition that you'll recover from in a couple months and you'll be perfectly fine.
We talk about women who have miscarriages like it's no big deal. “Don't worry about it, you'll have another one.” “So-and-so had a couple miscarriages before she gave birth and now she's got two healthy kids.” These things might sound inspirational to people who haven't just lost a child, but to those who have, they're patronizing and insulting. I will never understand why so many people feel like they always have to say something to make people feel better, when what they say just makes it worse. Let people grieve in their own way. Don't minimize or downplay what happened. Don't tell someone who just lost a child that it's okay and they'll have another one, because that's not always the case. Some women in miscarrying can lose the ability to have a child in the future, and some who miscarry may have had a long-shot pregnancy to begin with and it may be extremely difficult (if not impossible) to get pregnant again. My wife and I tried to conceive for years(enduring countless tests, medications, daily peeing on a sticks to check for ovulation, and even surgery) before it finally happened and some doctors said she would never be able to conceive. We were able to conceive once, but that's not a guarantee it will happen again. And even if a woman who miscarried does get pregnant again and gives birth to a healthy baby, she's still lost one. This isn't a situation like when you drop your cell phone and it breaks, so you get a new one and everything's okay. You have still lost a child that you made from your body and your DNA, even if that child didn't live to see the outside world.
I'm not the kind of person who has always wanted to have kids. I'm not necessarily a kid-type person. I don't have much experience with them, and I don't know the first thing about raising them. Honestly, I've never really even enjoyed being around them that much. As a matter of fact, if you have kids, I probably wouldn't like them if I met them. No offense. I'm sure you like them, and that's cool, just don't expect me to like them, too, because I probably wouldn't.
Mind you, I was never against the idea of having kids or anything like that, I just determined early on that I would accept whatever lot life dealt me in the kids department. I decided if I married someone who wanted kids, we'd have kids and that would be great and I'd enjoy being a father, but if I married someone who didn't want kids, we wouldn't have any and that would be good too and I would enjoy having extra freedom and spare time. I also was never one who was against adoption as a means of raising a family. I had thought if we wanted kids, but couldn't have them, we could just adopt because at least that way we wouldn't pass on any health problems we had to another generation. But at 9:30 at night on Father's Day that changed, because the woman who was carrying my child was showing signs of a miscarriage and my fatherhood was about to end (or at least be put on hold) before it began.
We arrived at the hospital and there were about forty people in the waiting room. I never realized it until that night, but apparently a trip to the local hospital is a family event for some of the poorer segments of society. There was a family of four who all claimed to have a different ailment that required ER attention. And these people made an event out of it. One family brought their laptop with them, and one couple we later found out had actually come in the night before and liked it so much they came again and took turns on being the sick one. Some of the people were on a first-name basis with the staff, including the middle-aged crackhead who was walking around with his shirt pulled over the top of his head like he was doing an impression of Cornholio. There was even one particularly large black woman who looked like she walked straight out of a Tyler Perry movie who brought (I swear to God) a bucket of Popeye's fried chicken with her, and she was eating it in the middle of the ER waiting room. As my wife and I sat in the waiting room for over two hours, I couldn't help but think that under any other circumstances, I would have been far more able to enjoy the scene of a crackhead Cornholio and Madea eating her Popeye's chicken in the middle of an ER waiting room.
But that fact was I couldn't concentrate on anything other than my own anger at everything. Here I sat around a dozen families made up of terrible parents who obviously weren't supporting their children via their own means, while we were there to learn if our own child was still alive. For two hours I sat doing nothing but thinking about how people on welfare who abuse or neglect the children they have are able to squirt babies out without thinking about it, while my wife and I (who are more than able to support a child and would put its' welfare above our own) tried for years to get pregnant only to lose our child. I was so angry I couldn't see straight and I couldn't even speak.
Finally, we were taken back to a room where we waited for another half hour, only to have my wife given a pregnancy test, which proves nothing since the hormone pregnancy tests actually test for would still be in her body since it had only been a few hours. About an hour later, the doctor did a pelvic exam and took a blood sample and said it would be about an hour to get the results, and hopefully they would get them by 2:00AM because that's when the computers all reset so if it wasn't done by then, it would take longer.
A little after two, we were told that my wife's levels were good and since the bleeding had stopped and wasn't as much as a normal period flow, it looked like she was still pregnant, however, she was also showing signs of an ectopic pregnancy (which is when the egg implants outside the uterus, leading to miscarriage and possible damage to other reproductive organs making future pregnancies difficult or impossible) so she wanted to check for that. That, however, required calling in an ultrasound specialist as it was after 2:00AM and none were presently on duty, so we had to wait for that. Finally, we got to the ultrasound room and the specialist did her thing to see if it was indeed an ectopic pregnancy or if our baby had made it to the uterus before implanting.
What happened next is engraved into my mind for the rest of my life because it was the single most beautiful sight I'd ever seen. There, in my wife's uterus, was what looked like a small, black and white, grainy kidney bean in a circle. A few seconds later we had audio, and for the first time, we got to hear our baby's heartbeat. In six hours I'd gone from believing I'd lost my baby to seeing it and hearing its' heartbeat. I couldn't help myself, I just started crying and couldn't stop.
For that moment in time, Father's Day turned from the worst day of my entire life, to the most beautiful day of my entire life. When I look back on that day now, everything about it is beautiful. My wife was beautiful. The hospital was beautiful. The ultrasound specialist they called in at 2:00 in the morning who let me see and hear my baby for the first time was beautiful. The cranky receptionist was beautiful. The salted peanuts I bought from the hospital vending machine that gave me the shits something fierce were beautiful. The families of ER regulars that made the wait unnecessarily long with their welfare attention-seeking family night out were beautiful. The crackhead Cornholio was beautiful. And Madea eating her bucket of Popeye's fried chicken in the ER as I waited to see and hear my baby was beautiful.
But most of all, that small, black and white, grainy kidney bean on the ultrasound was beautiful.
Oh, and this doesn't change anything. I still probably wouldn't like your kids.
people think falls is dangerously close to talking about my f**lings