Jules, that would have been my baby’s name.
I was 30 years old, and already had four kids. When I found out I was pregnant, after having just attended an aerobics workout and vowing to get myself back into shape, I was ecstatic. Every child is a blessing and a miracle. And I got so excited that I immediately picked out a name. It would be Julia if she were a girl, Julian if a boy, and we’d call our baby Jules.
I thought that after having gone through four pregnancies, the fifth one would be a breeze. I was wrong.
My Ob-Gyne had taken care of me through three of my pregnancies, and I was confident that she would be there for me on my fifth. Having known her for many years, it was like I was visiting a girlfriend’s house rather than a doctor’s office. She asked about my other kids, and we both marvelled at the passing of time.
When she started her examination, I knew that something was wrong the minute I saw her face. She was trying to find my baby’s heartbeat, but she just couldn’t hear it. An ultrasound confirmed what my doctor had suspected, I had a blighted ovum. This happens when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine wall, but the embryo doesn’t develop.
I was devastated.
I didn’t understand what the term meant. I couldn’t figure out what happened. I’ve had four successful pregnancies, and have four beautiful kids. How could I have botched this one up?! I tried to think of what I did for the past few months which could have caused this. My doctor assured me that these things just happened and that nothing I did or do could have prevented it. I shouldn’t blame myself, she said. But I did.
We had to wait for my body to naturally miscarry, which it did so in a few days. It was heartbreaking looking at the ultrasound image, seeing the egg, my baby, broken into many pieces. Once again, for the fifth time in my life, I went into the operating room. Only this time, I didn’t have with me a bouncing bundle of joy when I was wheeled out. I had nothing.
I don’t remember much of what happened afterwards. We spent a week in my parents’ house, where I stayed in my room all day, sleeping. Sometimes I’d wake up and stare into space. I don’t remember eating much. I just remembered feeling empty, like there was a great big void inside of me, and I didn’t know how to fill it.
I didn’t cry until much later, until I was well enough to go home, until my parents thought that we could manage on our own.
Honestly, I didn’t know how to deal with it. Sometimes, I’d find myself writing my baby’s name on my notebook, over and over again. Sometimes, I’d just stare blankly into space, not really thinking of anything or anyone. I was fortunate enough to have family and friends who acknowledged my loss. It was comforting to know I wasn’t so alone. I went back to work a month later, hoping that deadlines would distract me. They did, sometimes.
A year passed and then another, and I found myself thinking of my baby less and less. I guess you just come to a point where you let go.
It’s been almost two decades since, but the memory of carrying Jules, of feeling Jules inside me is still real. I have to confess that I still tear up at the thought of my baby, but now the feeling isn’t one of pain. It’s one of sadness, of what maybe could have been. Perhaps I’ll never completely get over this feeling, and frankly, that’s just fine with me.–Jing Lejano
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