Saturday, August 22, 2015

Milos -- My Shooting-Star-Make-A-Wish Child

A Poem for Milos

You should feel like a stone,
A dead thing, heavy with lost hope.

Deep inside, not ready to come out.

But you are light -- all light,
And radiance, and goodness, and love.

Love, my little Love.

More love in your brief,
Shooting-star-make-a-wish life,
Than I've ever given anyone.

For the life I've lived --
It was not enough to know
What you taught me in a few days.

A dream, a sigh, a touch of divinity,
You were fearfully and wonderfully made.

You were fearfully and wonderfully loved.

You're not heavy.

You stay there until you're ready.

Visit me in my dreams,
I'll hold you there.

You'll grow up there,
And we'll have each other.

Visit me when you miss me,
I'll wait for you every night.

Love, my little Love.


Just three days ago I got back from a three-month-long tromp around the world. I saw ten beautiful countries, and interacted with hundreds of magnificent people. Best of all, I got to travel with my wonderful fiance and my favorite (and only) sister. I experienced a little of this and a little of that, happy and sad moments that now seemed utterly trumped by the emotional whirlwind that my life turned into during the last three weeks of my trip. Now all that I had to share about my travels, well it seems so pointless in light of what I lived right before coming back to the States.

Shortly after leaving Australia, around mid June, my body started to act and feel differently. By mid July I was certain that I had some terrible terminal illness that would result in a slow and painful demise. I couldn't hold a single meal down. I was suffering from awful nausea. It didn't help that we were traveling through Europe right in the middle of summer when temperatures reached nearly a 100 degrees in Spain, France, Italy and Greece. The food that I saw looked completely unappetizing, which made no sense at all. After all, hadn't I been told that I was going to taste some of the best meals of all my life in places like Italy and France? The truth was far from that. Food tasted like ash. I had a singular craving for bananas, a fruit I have never been particularly fond of. My hair was falling out and it was so dry and brittle, and my poor skin -- it looked awful.

Pregnancy didn't cross my mind until my sister, who joined us in the last three weeks of our journey, mentioned it. Even then, I was doubtful. Although I have always dreamed of having children, it seemed like a distant possibility for me. And yet, after the nausea got worse, I saw no harm in taking an over-the-counter pregnancy test. 

We were on the Greek Island of Milos when I finally decided to try the test. It was July 28th, 2015. Dutifully, I followed the instructions as best as I could -- although I couldn't read a single word of Greek. I mean, really, how hard could it be? You pee on the stick and then you wait for a symbol to appear. A plus sign means your pregnant and a minus sign means you're not. Simple. 

Except it wasn't that simple.

I stood over the sink staring at my pregnancy test and the double, parallel'ed lined result. What did two lines mean versus one? Nervously I looked at the box where the pregnancy test came in -- it was still in Greek. The curiosity, anxiety, excitement, and hope (yes, a touch of hope) all got the best of me and so I snuck out of the hotel room and went in search of the hotel manager. Well, to be honest I was looking for his grandmother who also worked in the hotel, but she was taking a nap. The young hotel manager looked so concerned for me and so willing to help that I finally gave in and handed him the test box. I pointed to the results and I asked, "Which one means positive? Which one means baby?" He looked at the box, and then pointed to the double lines and said, "that means positive -- baby."

I burst into tears right there in his office. He laughed and hugged me, and got teary eyed. Then he held me at arms length and looked at me very seriously and asked, "is this happy news?"

I laughed and cried and nodded my head. "Very happy news," I said. We continued to celebrate, and then, he told me he would send his sister down to see me later in the evening because she was a midwife. Grateful and giddy, I thanked him and left. 

I couldn't wait until I made it back into our hotel room (it was actually an apartment), so just as soon as I walked onto our small deck, which overlooked a great valley and the ocean far bellow, I started calling out for Nathan, my fiance. He came out looking confused and worried. He knew how sick I had been feeling. He knew that I wanted to see a doctor because I had convinced myself that something was seriously wrong with me. He did everything in his power to find me food that I could keep down -- white bread and white rice is what I had been craving earlier that day along with a banana milkshake. But now he was standing with me outside in the hot afternoon sun with the stunning white and blue buildings that the Greek Islands are so well known for behind us. His sweet worried look will stay with me forever. I savored it because I wanted to see how it would change.

"We're pregnant," I said with fresh tears streaming down my face. His worried look melted into shock, then bliss. Yes, sweet, beautiful bliss. I was up in his arms and his mouth was open in a perfect O. His eyes were big, and he was stuck somewhere between hugging me and holding me so he could stare at me. 

We were going to be parents. I think we both immediately felt that we already were.

We decided to skip the rest of our island tour -- it was really too hot. We were suppose to head to Santorini next -- but we took a ferry back to Athens the very next day. On July 29th, 2015, I got to see my baby. She was 7 mm long and her heart was 193 beats per minute. I loved her instantly. Nathan couldn't come in with me, but he marveled at her first portrait, and grinned as he tried to make out tiny hands and feet. I didn't have the heart to tell him quite yet that at a mere 6 weeks, our sweet little baby looked more like a kidney-bean than a human. 

I would like nothing more than to go on talking about how happy we were -- how happy we are as expectant parents. However, the unfortunate and painful truth is much different. We got to enjoy our little baby for about a week. It was long enough for us to share our news with our parents and a handful of other family members. Sadly, on August 6th, after spotting a bit of blood, we headed to the doctor in Rome and found out that our baby no longer had a heartbeat. The doctor was unwilling to give us a definite answer after what she saw, and instead asked us to meet with her in the hospital where she wanted to re-examine me with a different ultrasound machine. It was in the hospital, separated from Nathan (men weren't allowed in that area of the hospital) that I lay on a bed with my legs spread open in the air, surrounded by four Italian women who all stared at the small gray and black screen. They spoke to each other quickly in Italian, and took turns pointing at the screen that was turned away from me. I lay there and stared at the ceiling, tears soaking into my hair -- hoping beyond hope, but knowing by the feeling in the pit of my stomach what was about to come.

Nathan stayed strong until we were out in the hall away from the other patients. That's where the doctor caught up with us and explained to us the situation. She said that if there was a heartbeat and now it was gone, then there was a very probable chance that we had miscarriage. She touched my shoulder and assured me that this didn't mean we couldn't have healthy pregnancies in the future. Her kindness fell on deaf ears.When she left us, Nathan and I stared at each other for a while and then melted into each others arms.

His tears made me strong. I lead him away to a bench where we sat wrapped up in each others arms sobbing. I realized in that moment, with a bitter-sweet sense of comfort that there was no one in the world I would rather share such happiness and sorrow with. He felt my pain because it was his pain. He loved this baby just as much as I loved her. No one else, in my world, could comprehend my grief.

Of course we sought a second opinion, and then a third, and finally a fourth. Nothing changed. The heartbeat was never found again and we finally made peace with the diagnosis -- fetal demise.

I call my baby a girl because she visited me in a dream that first night, on August 6th after we were told that the heartbeat could not be found. That night I cried myself to sleep. The next thing I know I was on a beach, walking after someone. In my arms I held a baby girl -- she couldn't have been more than nine months old. I assumed that I was chasing after the baby's mother, but I was never actually able to reach her. I could only see her ahead of us -- her long dark hair falling down her back, her arms stretched out and waving as she weaved in and out of the water. At some point I stopped trying to catch up and instead focused on the infant in my arms. She was gorgeous. She had a sweet round face, and big brown eyes. Her lips were a perfect cupid's bow and they were always in a darling pout. But what made the biggest impression on me was how bold she was. This sweet little child kept leaning toward the water. She would throw her soft little arms towards the waves, as if she wanted to swim.

She was just like I use to be, absolutely fearless.

I loved her in my dreams, and when I woke I knew it was my little baby who had come to see me. I won't say that it made me feel better or that it gave me much comfort, but it sort of did. Some small part of me felt satisfied. There was my child in my dreams, my little Milos, and some part of her is immortal -- and she came to visit me, and she will come again -- of that I am sure. But most importantly, someday we will finally be together. Someday, all three of us (plus hopefully other little siblings) will get to be a family. Not in this world, but in a better place. But, like I told her in my poem, and like I tell her in my prayers, and every night before I go to sleep -- she's always welcome in my dreams.


  1. Oh hunny this hurts me to read, to have such happiness ripped from you. I am very emotional in my own pregnancy, and find myself crying reading every word of your experience. It saddens my heart to know someone sweet like you lost something so precious something so dreamed of. I am truly sorry. <3

  2. Oh, Gabby-my heart aches for you and your fiance!! Your precious star girl visiting you in a dream is a gift. I know it hurts, but truly you will be all together someday in the web of silver, gold and light~ Even if for a short time-she was a joy! You will heal and try again-I had this happen twice~ Do, whatever you need to do to heal! Hold a ceremony under the stars, send a white balloon to her, whatever helps your heart cope~ I am so sorry for your loss-both you and Nathan!! Hugs xo

  3. So sorry for you. Take time to heal and let her float in your dreams, you are right , she will always be there waiting. Big hugs. xox