If you aren’t into sadz, then don’t read this one… or maybe you should?
Let me start out by quoting a draft of a blog post that I titled “Welcome”.
I will never publish that blog…
“December 15th, 2014, at 8:40 AM
That’s when I first found out about you. I am typing this only a few moments after. I don’t know if you are a boy or girl. A single or twins. I don’t even know if you will be born or if you will pass in the womb.
I was at work, I usually cannot answer the phone, but happened to be staring at my phone when it rang. Your moms voice was clearly shaking as she tried to tell me. She was slowly choosing her words and I thought she got in a car accident. I wasn’t expecting this news.
I am excited at the opportunity to meet you. I truly hope I will, but, just the opportunity is amazing grace. Should we meet, I have big plans for you. Plans to raise you up on my shoulders. To shape you into your personal best. To help you realize all the potential that is now locked inside a microscopic clump of just a few cells.
For now, I wipe my tears and return to work. Except now I work with thoughts of you.”
I planned to finish and publish that once we made it public that Mallory (my wife) was pregnant. It was a couple days before Christmas ’14 and we told Mallory’s parents and my mom that we were expecting in a funny Christmas card. We all laughed and cried. Even Christmas Eve, as the whole family gathered Mallory and I made eye contact, sharing the joy knowing we would one day soon tell all of our family the good news.
Christmas morning Mallory woke up and was feeling ill. She had stomach pains and I was tending to her. With my medical background I was pretty sure what was happening. Mallory wasn’t sure. We were both silent, not sure how to react. The family all met that day but we stayed home, telling them that Mal was ill and I was taking care of her. We got blood testing a couple days later that confirmed that the baby was gone.
I know we cried at some point, but mostly we suppressed. We decided to start looking for a cheap foreclosure and get out of our house and make a fresh start. Surprisingly, our first lowball offer on our first house was accepted and we would be moving in 2 weeks.
We moved into the new house and were repairing it while living there. We had our trusty dog Katie with us along with a unexpected cat (more on that later). If you don’t already then you should now know a little bit about Katie.
You have undoubtedly heard so many people say that their dog was the greatest dog. There are many extraordinary dogs. I humbly, and as honest as I can be, contest that Katie is better than all of them. If my claims are true then there is not enough space here for me to type out all of the proof. Let me just say that Katie was an unconditional lover. She understood the English language perfectly well. She also had an E.T. like connection to Mallory to where if Mallory was getting sad then Katie would come running in from the other room and jump on her, nip at her, even drag her by the cuff of her pants until Mallory would be forced to abandon sad thoughts to ‘deal with’ Katie. Then once Mallory was better Katie would go lay down.
We were told in 2012 that Katie had cancer and had a few months to live. The story of how she was still with us at this time is a post in its own. Yet here in the new house, Katie’s Cancer returned. Mallory and I nursed her as best we could. We savored every second and did all of her favorite things in those last weeks.
In August of 2015 we lost her.
Paid Our Dues
I’m not sure why timing works out the way it does, but it does. We found out a couple weeks later that we were expecting again. We were hardly breathing again from losing Katie and this added more emotion to our lives. A few days later I lost my job. I don’t think I should have lost my job, but I was so distracted at that time, maybe I did deserve it. Luckily for me there are many job openings and I could be working again shortly.
By November 1st I had several job offers to consider. I was trying to put off picking one because I was trying to get the house ready for a baby. Also, my uncle who normally hosts family Christmas had a terrible house fire and we had the next most suitable house to host. I took the time off of work to really get our house ready. As Thanksgiving was approaching I had selected a job and was ready to start soon. This really lifted my spirits as well as I remember Mallory coming home and telling me that she was able to see the baby’s heart beat on her ultrasound machine at work.
It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day and we had our first official ultrasound scheduled. Mallory had been feeling fine this whole time. We both smiled brightly as the image of our child came on the screen.
Then Mallory’s smile left. She, feigning ignorance, asked the ultrasound technician, “How early do you see the heartbeat?” I remember thinking, give her a chance, we already know there is a heart beat. But there wasn’t. I sent a private message to the few family members that knew.
You know what’s funny. This one was worse, but not for the reasons that you would think. I felt like we paid our dues. After all, I knew ~25% of all pregnancies would never see a live birth. Our chances were 1 in 4 that we would lose the first one. Somehow I just figured that it was our turn to lose one the first time, and now it was supposed to be our time to do what everyone else was able to do. It wasn’t. A 1-in-4 chance is a 1-in-4 chance, every time.
An Unexpected Cat
We were still in our first house when we met Alexander The Cat (Alex TC). We were walking in to the house from the car when this scrawny ferrel cat began weaving in between Mallory’s legs and purring. She noticed it was under weight and had an apparent large infection on his back. She put some food out for him to help him gain weight.
The next day we had the front door propped open to carry in groceries and Alex walked into our living room. I posted this video to see if he was anyone’s missing cat.
My wife knew he was a wild cat. We kept it in a dog crate overnight and Mal took him to work the next day (she works at a veterinary hospital). He was treated for fleas and for the infected abscess the size of a golfball on his back. He weighed 6 lbs. He was going to stay at the hospital for a couple weeks to get healthy, then get fixed, then released.
We brought him home and, well, many of you can guess what happened. My wife wanted to keep him. I tried to resist but… well… this happened….
We got him up to a normal weight of 12.5 lbs. He was a super loving cat. Alex saw us through losing Katie. He saw us through losing our second child. I think he may be the only thing that kept my wife together on the real bad days. Just after Christmas he stopped eating. Mallory took him into work and it turns out that he swallowed a whole almond (we had many out from hosting Christmas dinner) and it was stuck. They would do surgery to remove it.
This was a very common surgery at Mals work. They did them all the time. They always were routine and uneventful. So was Alex’s… except minutes after the surgery Alex suddenly died. We would later find out that he had a genetic heart condition and would have probably already died on the streets if he hadn’t been so well cared for the last 8 months. What a double edged sword for us all.
Which Brings Us To The Present
I started working again in February. Other than that we pretty much stopped doing everything else. I think we spent 4 months just letting it soak in. We had many bad days. In May it was finally real enough to know we had a problem. We started seeing a grief counselor who has been tremendously helpful.
Now it is Fathers Day 2016. My wife and my mother-in-law both wished me happy Fathers Day. It means more than I can express. Me and my wife also have necklaces that our brother John made us that say ‘Mother’and ‘Father’, respectively, in Elvish. These mean the world to us.
In closing I would like to say 3 things,
- If you know anyone struggling with miscarriage, infertility, abortion, or any other parenting struggles.. just be there for them. The man as well as the woman. Don’t be afraid to ask how it is going and then just listen. You can’t fix anything but you can help carry the burden
- Please stop asking people when are they going to have kids. Either them or someone in ear shot may be triggered to feel something you don’t want them to.