Three

Heidi Pitlor

 

Grief. Long October days of eating blueberry muffins and reading trashy magazines and crying. My stomach shrank to its previous size. I had been told how to handle lactation if it occurred, but fortunately, it never did. I missed my boy. I saw him everywhere still, in the faces of small boys on the street, in the few items of clothing we had received as early gifts, in the ultrasound photos of him that we had been given while he was alive. Friends and family visited, and probably because of their generous sympathy and love, I let myself fall apart.

But I was thirty-six and this had been my first pregnancy. I knew I wanted more than one child—and time did not stop. We had to start to try again soon. I was not emotionally ready, nor was my husband. Still, according to the laws of biology and the advice of my doctor, we really had to try. During the autopsy, tiny blood clots had been found in our baby—this may or may not have been the cause of death, but I was assigned a high-risk doctor for future pregnancies. He suggested if and when I did conceive again, I take shots of Lovenox, a blood thinner, each day as a precaution. “It couldn’t hurt,” the doctor said.

My husband and I went back to work. Christmas and Hanukkah came. We traveled to the Berkshires and, in February, up to Stowe, Vermont. We tried again to conceive—nervously, obediently—and one winter morning, the pregnancy stick showed a positive. We were happy. A little. Looking down at that white stick with the pink stripe, I said to my husband, “I’ll be really happy when I’m holding a baby.”

After six or seven weeks, we went back to my OB-GYN’s office for our first checkup. I’d had some spotting and assumed the worst. So back into the ultrasound room with the same midwife I went. But this time there was no unsympathetic doctor, and my husband was with me. The ultrasound technician flicked on the monitor and squirted gel across my stomach. All eyes (except mine) turned to the screen. The midwife gasped—and my immediate thought: “The baby is gone.” Someone said, “Two,” and my husband’s eyes ballooned. “Twins.” Nurses and midwives rushed into the room. Someone said, “It’s a miracle”; someone else added, “Bless Jesus”; and I laughed, I think, and swallowed hard, because now I could lose two babies.

“It’s unbelievable,” I said. “And poetic.”

Pregnancy number two is inseparable from pregnancy number one in my mind. I lost one and soon after got two. I do not know precisely why either happened. But I am aware that I am profoundly and eerily lucky.

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