Miscarriages, a Frog, a Wish Granted

It's the summer of 1999. I'm pregnant. P and I are vacationing in Myrtle Beach with my family. We find ourselves at an outlet mall and soon wander into a Carter's outlet. I'm far enough along that I've started to feel confident about buying stuff for the baby. I pick out a green frog made by Gund. It has a bell/chime in its roly-poly tummy and the noise just makes me smile somehow. It is perhaps the most satisfying sound I have ever heard and I cannot resist it - I toss it into our cart.

A couple weeks later I begin to bleed. It's a Saturday. I had had some bleeding early in the pregnancy and I told my OB/GYN that something was wrong. I asked for an ultrasound. The doctor informed me that I was just a first-time mom and didn't need an ultrasound. He told me, "You're supposed to worry! That's what moms do." And besides, their office didn't have an ultrasound machine.

But now they can't ignore what is obviously happening. I am sent over to the hospital for a thorough ultrasound. The technician is silent and methodical as he scans my uterus. Afterward, P and I are sent to sit in a small waiting area. I hear the technician call my doctor. "Something something something fetal demise something something." I fall onto P and will my own heart to stop beating. Back at the doctor's office I endure a D&C while I am sedated but still conscious. It is harrowing. It is one of only two times I have seen my husband cry.

Little did I know that I would repeat this nightmare three more times – each time I would miscarry a bit earlier in the pregnancy. On my third pregnancy I saw my baby’s heartbeat on the monitor when I had an ultrasound. That was an amazing, surreal moment and I've replayed it in my head a thousand times. Two weeks later, that beating heart had fallen silent.

Eventually I pulled out some boxes and began packing away the things I had purchased for the nursery. A tiny pair of Carter’s jeans. A little white cardigan. A bottle from the House of Blues that was imprinted with the words, “Don’t cry, blues baby.” And the frog. I put the boxes in the basement.

From time to time I would find myself drawn to the boxes when I was doing laundry, but I would almost never allow myself to look in them. I got used to the aching feeling in my arms. I stopped dreaming of the brown-eyed boy who would have looked so much like his dad (but with my nose).

In the summer of 2004 we found ourselves contacting an adoption agency. For us it was never matter of thinking that adoption was second best. It was a different way of building a family and besides, biology was never important to us. Soon we were on a waiting list to get the homestudy process started. By Halloween we were filling out mountains of paperwork. We’d fill out a packet and send it in, and another packet would arrive. My friend Nancy helped me create a scrapbook to give to the agency. We filled it with photos of our dogs, our niece, our nephew, our house.

In February of 2005 we were invited to meet with a potential birthmother who had reviewed our profile. She was bright, articulate, pretty. We tried not to act like complete buffoons. A few days later we got the news - she had formally chosen us. We would be parents in three months.

Three months! Ack! I was giddy as I began preparing the baby's room. I painted, I sanded, I decorated. My mom sewed curtains and began shopping for the baby like it was her full time occupation. I dug out those old boxes from the basement. I gave the frog a little shake and set him on the dresser next to my Kermit toy that sings "Carribean Amphibian." And then I waited. And then I became a mom. One of these days I will chronicle the story of my daughter's birth so that she can read it when she is older. I hope it will always bring her comfort to know that her birthmother loved her so much that she chose for her a life she could not provide. And that she chose parents who still wake up every day and wonder how they got so lucky. Even when our little buttercup bites us, throws a tantrum, or refuses to sit down in the bathtub. Still lucky.

Today the frog lives in a colorful room with a talkative little girl. The frog gets to listen to the same Laurie Berkner CD every single night. He hears Elmo saying good-night (usually at the wrong time, because we forgot to update Elmo’s software last time daylight savings changed). He sees a plastic kitchen where the room’s resident serves up milk and doughnuts on pink and purple plates. He hears Dora saying "Let's go shopping!" All of the toys talk, some completely at random.

When my daughter, with her made-up songs and her curly mop of hair, pulls the frog off her dresser and carries him around, I hear the chime and a shadow rolls over my heart. He is a symbol of all that I have lost and all that I have gained. He is the bold wish that I made (“would someone out there like to give us a real live baby to love and raise?”) I tell A that I always hoped to have a baby who would love that toy. And now I do.


Mrs. Collins said…
I think this is a beautiful post and it gives me hope. I bought several toys for my first child that was stillborn three days after his due date and I hope and pray that I will get to use them soon.

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