Looking Back: The Day I Should Have Left

July 2, 2004

My soon-to-be-ex and I went to my obstetrician’s office to see our babies via ultrasound. After nearly five years of infertility, two minor surgeries, and three injectible IUIs, I was finally three months pregnant with twins. ART babies are carefully monitored. I had already seen my babies several times on ultrasound, and heard their tiny hearts beating. My refrigerator was covered with images of them, two little white dots, one a bit smaller than the other.

To someone who finally got pregnant after infertility, there is nothing happier than an ultrasound. You get to see the babies and assure yourself that everything is okay – that you are really and truly pregnant at last. Such joy.

But that day my OB grew quiet as he looked at the image. He moved the wand over my stomach carefully, back and forth between the babies. Finally back to the first one. “This is baby number one, and it looks good,” he said quietly. “But baby number two no longer has a heartbeat. I’m sorry.”

The room was silent except for me mumbling, “No, no, no, no,” quietly. My OB said he was sorry again. It was a vanishing twin, he explained, very common early in the first trimester, less common later on. It would hopefully reabsorb into my body and eventually disappear.

Then he left the room to let me and soon-to-be-ex think about this horror.

I burst into tears. My babies were in their second trimester. I couldn’t imagine one without the other.

But soon-to-be-ex did not cry. In fact, he was was looking down at his phone. He gave me a hug and told me that he was so, so sorry, but that he had a business meeting and had to leave.

“What business meeting?” I asked, stunned. He had never mentioned a business meeting.

“I’m so sorry, I’ve got to go,” he told me, staring at his phone, which was beeping away. “But I will meet you at the airport in a few hours to fly up to your parents’ house for the holiday.”

And then he left. I sat there, staring at the dark ultrasound machine, all alone.

So then I got up. I was getting used to this sort of treatment. People say that if you throw a frog into a hot pan, he’ll jump out. But if you put him into a nice cool pan and slowly turn up the heat, he will stay there until he dies. That was me in 2004. The heat was slowly rising, and I simply couldn’t figure out why I was getting so uncomfortable.

Finally I wandered out of the ultrasound room and into my doctor’s office for the rest of my appointment.

“Where’s your husband?” asked the doctor.

“He had to go to work,” I said, and shrugged.

“To WORK?” he asked, and shook his head in disgust.

And that’s when I realized that my husband simply didn’t care. It took another person’s reaction to validate my feelings.

But even with this knowledge, I didn’t know what to do, so I didn’t do anything.

Later on the airplane on the way to my parents’ house, I cried silently and watched the rain sweep against my window. I missed my poor baby, and I had already done some research that indicated my other baby might also be at risk. I turned furiously to soon-to-be-ex and said, “You don’t even care, do you? You don’t.”

He looked at me and said the perfect words, “Oh, of course I do. I do, I feel terrible. I’m so sorry.”

And I remember my rage because then I knew by the tone of his voice. My husband didn’t care at all.

July 2. The day I should have left.

This post was written in response to the DPChallenge: Time Machine.

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20 thoughts on “Looking Back: The Day I Should Have Left

  1. Your post made me cry. My best friend is still suffering from infertility and I’ve been involved with her journey for the past 6 years. I can’t imagine feeling so abandoned and alone even with the father of your twins physically beside you. I am so so sorry you experienced this all. It takes a very strong woman to know when to leave. It takes an extremely strong and brave woman to actually do it.

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  4. Wow! So powerful and gut-wrenching. I’ve thought about the many times I should have left as well, and they add up to many. I may have to write about them now that your memory brings back so many of mine. Our ex’s are very much the same and it’s so sad they are so self-absorbed that they will never see what we do. Thank you for sharing!

    • Thanks, Lori! I find it really awful and embarrassing and shameful that I didn’t realize things sooner. Why didn’t I leave earlier? Part of it was that I didn’t trust my instincts. He said that he was sorry and that he felt sorry. So it was just my gut telling me that he was lying.

      I didn’t trust my gut when it went against everything he was saying out loud to me.

      Also, what I didn’t describe well here in this post is an NPD’s glib, superficial charm. And the manipulation.

      I’m just glad that we got away from them.

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  7. Oh my god. First of all let me say how sorry I am for the loss of the baby. I cannot imagine that. I teared up reading this. Secondly, are you talking about my husband again? I had surgery to remove MY twin that I absorbed in my lung when my mother was pregnant. When I woke up I couldn’t see and they learned I had a stroke. Where was my husband? Went back to work. Had to run practice. (he’s a coach)

    I feel your pain. Xoxoxoxo

      • Yes!!! He was more concerned with me showing HIM love. I had just had twins and then six months later my stroke. All he thought of was himself! Thank you for sharing this!

      • I’m just glad you’re getting away. For me, I’ve found the trick to happiness is detaching. Don’t talk to him unless necessary. Keep all communication to emails. Stay pleasant and distant. And don’t tell him anything he doesn’t absolutely need to know.

      • I wish I could do that. I am a very impulsive person…I am not nice at all to him. I am trying really hard to detach myself. I am writing a post tomorrow on my whole story. You’ll see why it’s difficult for me. On the flip side it shouldn’t be difficult because he’s a narcissistic, lying jerk that mived in with his girlfriend while we were going to counseling. Ok ok…if I keep going I’ll be awake all night!

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