We never intended to take our son to Disney World when he was a toddler. Our plan was to wait until he was 4 or 5, when he had the stamina to enjoy all that it had to offer. But suddenly a business trip to Orlando presented itself—a free flight for me, free for my son riding on my lap, and free admission to Disney because he was under 2. This, coupled with our son’s recent enthusiasm for Mickey and friends, led us to book four nights and three days at the happiest place on Earth.
To add to the excitement, I found out I was pregnant a few days before we left. He or she would be a November baby, a perfectly spaced two and a half years younger than our son. We departed for Orlando a family of four, one child tucked onto my lap and another safely in my belly. We were excited for our trip, for the future, for all of it.
After landing, we checked into our hotel and headed to Downtown Disney. Our excitement grew as we saw our son’s delight at seeing Mickey everywhere. The next day in the Magic Kingdom promised to be one filled with wonderful memories.
But when I woke up the next morning and headed to the bathroom, it was immediately apparent that something was very, very wrong. No. No no no no. This couldn’t be happening.
I crawled back into bed and told my husband, my heart breaking, that I was bleeding. It took a moment for him to realize what was happening, but when he did, he asked quietly, “What does it mean?”
“It means I’m probably not pregnant anymore,” I whispered, tears sliding down my cheeks.
My son woke shortly after, and not knowing what else to do, we got ready and headed to the Magic Kingdom. I left a message for my doctor at home before we left, explaining what happened. We spent the morning going on rides and meeting characters. My son loved every minute, and it helped ease the ache ever so slightly.
He fell asleep in his stroller in the late morning, and my doctor’s office called as we pushed him through Adventureland. I explained that we were on vacation, and the kindly nurse said that while I could wait on blood work, I should get to a hospital to get a RhoGAM shot as soon as possible. We went back to our room and had the front desk call a cab to the nearest hospital. We agreed it would be best for my husband to stay behind at the hotel with my son to let him nap and enjoy the playground and pool, assuming it would be a while.
I kissed my husband and son goodbye and put on my very bravest face as I climbed into the cab. As we approached the hospital, the cab driver asked: “You’re visiting someone?”
I shook my head. “The ER, please.”
He looked at me in the rearview mirror.
“Are you alright?”
“Yes, thanks,” I replied, voice shaking. “Just need to get checked out.”
Even the hospital felt like a resort. It was bright and clean and welcoming, and smelled like coconut. I began to cry as I checked in, and the nurse patted my arm and told me to try not to worry until they knew more, that some women spot through their whole pregnancy.
But I already knew.
The hospital ran a full workup—ultrasound, blood work, internal exam—all to confirm what I already knew, but that didn’t make it easier to hear the doctor gently tell me that I was likely miscarrying.
I returned to the hotel, incredibly sad but also determined to rally for my son. I showered, piled on makeup to hide my puffy eyes, and marched my little family out the door and back to the Magic Kingdom for the evening.
I made it through the rest of the trip and even managed to have fun, saving my tears for bedtime after my son went to sleep, and one night for the dark bus ride back from the parks. My tears slid silently down my face as my son dozed on my shoulder and my husband squeezed my hand.
I forewent the business trip, sure that I would be a wreck without my husband and son with me and wanting to get home to see my own doctor. We returned together, once again a family of three after having so briefly had the promise of being a family of four. I held tightly to my little family, relishing in my son’s sweet laughter and his beautiful face, grateful for his existence, and tucking myself into the safe harbor under my husband’s arm—grateful for his existence too.
If there is a silver lining to this ordeal, it is that I found a kind of strength that I didn’t know existed in me. To be able to keep living when I wanted to hide, to laugh when I wanted to cry, to find joy when my heart was breaking. I am not alone in what I went through—thousands upon thousands of women miscarry every day, and they keep living. They keep on being mothers and wives and sisters and daughters. They get out of bed, they get dressed, they show up, they keep living, even though their hearts are breaking.
And though I would give anything to have my November baby back, I am better for knowing that this kind of resilience exists somewhere inside me.