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Thursday, September 29, 2011

The cat who lived

I had a third miscarriage last week.

This one died on the same day of gestation that my last miscarriage did: 8W6D. Her heart stopped beating that morning. I went for my 9 week ultrasound, and instead of the thrumming little chest I'd enjoyed in the ultrasounds in the previous weeks, there was just a floating body.

It looked perfect, other than having no heartbeat. The little head and arms and legs, sweet little embryonic proportions. It was rather tough to transition from "Hooray, I'm going to have a fourth child at age 40!" to "Looks like this is it, gang."

Last Friday I had a D&C. The experience was vastly better than the D&C I'd had in December 2006, owing to the incredible bedside manner of the OB I have now. I cried, the nurses were understanding. One told me that her daughter had just miscarried her first baby.

But I confess that although I dearly wanted the pregnancy to continue, to welcome another daughter (and I'm sure it was, judging by the acne she gave me and track record) there are silver linings, if not a uterine one.

I have my energy back, I'm no longer throwing up bile every day. I am no longer lurking around in the background, clutching my Salt and Vinegar Pringles and stevia-sweetened soda on ice. I have energy for my family, for jumping on the trampoline, to train for the half-marathon I'm running in December, for homeschooling and household management, for discipline and FlyLady-inspired cleaning sessions.

Yes I wanted that baby, and I'll think of her forever, but I discovered something in the midst of my grief with this miscarriage. For me, something happens when I get pregnant -- my arms grow a little longer to hold a potential new baby, my heart opens up just that much wider, to allow for another little being. And if the baby dies, my arms are STILL longer and my heart is that much wider -- this pregnancy may not have been in vain. I've discovered space and accommodation for more giving and love in my life.

I took the girls over to the Moraga Pear Festival on Saturday, hopped into an ARF mobile adoption van and promptly adopted the kitten who liked the girls the most. This black kitten had been licking at their fingers through the cage bars, eager to sniff and bat at their hands. When I held him, his purr was instantaneous and loud, even when the girls petted him (in Birdy's case, rather ham-handedly).

There I was, still bleeding, still dizzy from the aftereffects of the anesthetic and deep in grief over my lost baby, but I was able to redirect it into this ridiculously fuzzy cat who desperately needed a home.

The kitten, Rehnquist, has made himself absolutely at home. (Of course he was named after the Supreme Court Justice.) He's gorgeous and affectionate. In addition to his kitten chow, he eats any kind of food he finds on the ground -- hooray! And he follows us everywhere. He lets Birdy carry him around, even though she does it badly. He's fantastic.

If we hadn't come along, he'd still be in a cage. And because we adopted him, the ARF staff can save another cat from the local kill shelter. We made room, because I found I had room in my home and my heart -- room I wouldn't have known about if I hadn't been pregnant for those six exciting weeks that ended in devastation.

I think about Rehnquist's gestation. If there had been an ultrasound of him in his mama cat's belly, his heart would have beaten and beaten. He lived all the way from conception to gestation, he was born and he breathed and now he erupts with the most magnificent purr. Because he is alive.

My baby is not alive, she died last week. Her heart wasn't built for growing. But this kitten's heart is just fine. He is sleeping at the base of my chair right now, with his head resting on his paw, waiting for me to just look at him, to have any excuse to blink his green eyes at me and start thrumming along at my heels.
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