As strange as it is to think of, the most surprising thing in this is how caught by surprise we were. We were surprised at each step of the process, and continued to be surprised by how everything is unfolding.
We were surprised when we were at the ultrasound. Mika’s other two pregnancies, while having their difficulties, were really quite remarkable in how well they went. I always worried before the ultrasound, usually about things like whether the baby had all ten fingers and toes. Despite my worries, I never actually expected anything to be wrong. During the ultrasound this time, I noticed that the sonographer kept mentioning how hard it was to look at certain things in the baby, even though in previous pregnancies he was able to see these things fairly easily. I shouldn’t have been surprised when he was eventually concerned at the low levels of fluid, but I was.
We were surprised by the meeting with the OB. I fully expected that the meeting with the OB would be a fairly simple affair where they told us that things were serious, but that there was a chance of things being OK. However, as Mika later pointed out, they don’t schedule things so quickly when everything is OK. I was surprised when Mika told me about how all of the major causes of low amniotic fluid usually result in the infant’s death.
We were surprised by the meeting with the perinatologist. I, perhaps foolishly, assumed that the meeting with the perinatologist was just a precaution. That we would get a stern warning about the dangers of low fluid levels, and that Mika would be put on bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy. After the first ultrasound, Mika sent me an email that they were having trouble finding the baby’s kidneys. Even then, I was surprised when she showed up in my office in tears. I was shocked when she told me that not only was our tiny baby, the one who I had felt kick and move, was sick; but the baby was so sick that it would not live. So sick that there was not a single thing we could do. So sick, that the doctor’s used phrases like “the baby’s condition is non-compatible with life inside or outside the womb.”
I was surprised at how devastated I was. I had always heard growing up that parents love their children equally. I never understood this. I understood it a little bit better when I fell in love with Mika, and there just seemed to be more room for love in my heart. Even then, I worried when we were pregnant with Evan, that somehow having a child would result in a entropic transfer of love from Mika to Evan, where there was ultimately less love than there was before. Again, I was pleasantly surprised when it seemed that my capacity for love grew upon Evan’s birth, and again at June’s birth.
However, with both Evan and June, I only noticed the love when they were born. I remember feeling the swelling that my heart had grown when I first saw them. I assumed that it was their birth that led directly to the increase in love. When Mika told me that there was little chance our baby would be born alive, I was surprised to find how much I already loved the baby. I was already to love this child that I had never met. It was like finding out that there was a hole in a place in my heart that I didn’t even know was there. I am left wondering: how am I supposed to fill a hole I didn’t know was empty in the first place?