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.