Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Roller Coaster: Empty

This is the eleventh post in a special bi-weekly series.  It's a sequel to The Longest Weekend of My Life series.  Please check back next Wednesday for Part 12, the final part.

Part 11: Empty

The day I calculated I was 11 weeks along I started bleeding. It had been almost exactly 5 weeks since the bleeding had started before. Just a few days earlier I had thought to myself “Well, I haven't started another period, so that's a good sign,” and here it was.

I was crushed. I didn't know what to think or what to do.

It was early morning, and I had to get my kids to school. I didn't have a lot of time to think about it, but I took what time I had to consider my options. If I bought a pregnancy test after taking my kids to school I could take that. If the result was negative I would know for sure I had miscarried already and was no longer pregnant. If the result was positive, it could still go either way. I considered making a doctor's appointment for more quantitative blood tests to check my hcg levels and see if they were still multiplying. That would take at least a couple of days to get any conclusive results, but short of an ultrasound it was probably the best way to know if I was in fact still pregnant.

I decided to start with the pregnancy test and go from there. If I got a positive result I would move forward with the blood tests.

I dropped my boys off at school and carried the two little ones into the store with me. I got some fresh produce we needed and proceeded to find the pregnancy test. The pharmaceuticals had been moved, and after searching several aisles I had to ask a store employee where to go for the “medication aisle”. It's embarrassing enough buying a pregnancy test without having to announce to the world what you're doing, and I'd really been hoping to get in, find the test, pay for it, and get out. When I found the right aisle, the tests were nowhere to be found. I searched, once again, aisle after aisle, re-checking aisle's I'd already checked, just in case I'd missed it. I didn't want to have to ask the nice young man where I could get a pregnancy test, so I found a female employee and asked her.

She explained that the pregnancy tests had been moved to the courtesy booth because they were being stolen so often.

Go figure.

I had to go to the courtesy booth and specifically ask for a pregnancy test there.


I tried to be as nonchalant and friendly as possible as I took my 2 year-old and my 1 year-old with me to the empty booth and waited for someone to help me. A nice lady came and asked what I needed and kindly handed the box to me. I took it to the cash register along with the food I was buying, and my 1 year-old decided he wanted to hold the box, probably thinking it had something yummy in it for him. Um, don't think so. I had to pry the pregnancy test box from his fingers as he screamed, just so the cashier could scan the darn thing in!

So much for nonchalant.

I tried handing the box back to my toddler to calm him down, and he threw it at me, no longer interested. I took my kids, my produce, and my pregnancy test to the car and headed home.

I was too nervous when I got home. I felt like I couldn't pee to save my life! I put the food away and tried to get the kids settled, and I drank some water and tried to calm myself down. I grabbed a small cup to pee into (since the test kits never include a cup and I hate trying to pee on a stick) and headed for the bathroom. Once I got myself to go, I was able to get a good size sample in the cup. I dipped the wonderful test stick into the cup and let it soak for a full ten seconds. I replaced the cap and set the test down on the bathroom counter.

The test instructions said to wait at least 3 minutes to read the results, but I couldn't make myself wait that long. I watched as the white test strip gradually turned pink, as the fluid moved from left to right. A plus sign in the left window, followed by a vertical line in the right window, would indicate a positive pregnancy test. That's what I was watching for.

As the pink gradually moved to the right there was no vertical line in the left window, only the horizontal line.

No, it can't be! I was pregnant! I was having symptoms! I had a baby in me!

I jumped onto the counter and switched on a second light to make sure I was really seeing what my eyes were telling me they saw. It was the same. A solitary horizontal line in the left window, followed by a vertical line in the right window. I checked the clock. It had been more than 3 minutes by then. I double-checked the instructions with the possible results. It wasn't a faulty result, and it definitely wasn't positive.

My husband was sleeping, and I awoke him with the news. He immediately broke down crying. I couldn't cry. In my head I knew I probably should, but I couldn't. I searched myself for feelings, and found nothing. I felt nothing but emptiness. I consoled my husband and talked with him, trying to help him feel better. I didn't know what to do for myself. If I felt something then I could do something about those feelings, cry, scream, pray, anything. But I felt nothing.

I went through the whole day like that. I went through the motions of life feeling empty inside, and nothing else. My womb was empty, and so was my heart.


  1. Oh Cherylyn, I don't know what to say except that I'm sorry. Lots of love to you.

  2. Just reading about you seeing the solitary line made me cry. Hugs.