This topic is not one I’ve talked much about openly but one that I think deserves a platform. And while my blog might not have the biggest audience if it reaches even one woman struggling with pregnancy loss then I consider this post to be a great success.
About a year after the birth of our first son my husband and I decided we’d love to give him a sibling. We didn’t “try” for long before I got pregnant. We were thrilled! Discussions quickly turned to baby names, gender guessing, and how we would rearrange our home to fit a new nursery.
Fast forward to Week 8 when I started spotting before bed one night. I tried not to panic and didn’t even mention it to John until the next day when I woke up to full-on bright red (no longer a little spotting) and knew something terrible was happening. That something terrible was my first miscarriage, which I passed at home in the most painful way both physically and mentally.
I was crushed. All the hopes and dreams you carry for your baby even if for just a few short weeks are instantly gone in the blink of an eye. To top it off nobody wants to talk about it. Nobody knows what to say and they feel uncomfortable and I get it but I don’t get it.
I’ve always been pretty transparent. I speak my mind and I don’t hide much. So when this happened I didn’t treat it any differently than any other topic I wanted to discuss.
That’s when I learned how many people had experienced pregnancy loss that had kept it to themselves.
Even friends who were more than acquaintances. Why had so many women suffered in silence? It shouldn’t be that way (unless that is how you choose to grieve of course).
Life continues on and we felt the best way to move forward would be to “try” again. By no means would getting pregnant again replace the baby that we lost but we knew we wanted more than one child and what better way to fill the void in our hearts than with a new life? We didn’t have to wait long.
I got pregnant again several months after losing our first. I tried to convince myself that what had happened was a “fluke” and surely wouldn’t happen again. Those first weeks were a roller coaster of emotions and I couldn’t help but worry every time I headed to the bathroom that I would start spotting again. Was that minor cramp that I felt the onset of history repeating itself? Thankfully, other than your normal first trimester nausea (which is always a good sign of a healthy baby so I gladly took it) everything was moving along as planned.
I counted the days until Trimester 2. That’s when it’s safe, right? That’s what “they” say anyway. If you make it to the second trimester your chances of miscarrying go down significantly. I made it! That magical day arrived and I felt such relief.
That feeling of relief didn’t last long. At my first ultrasound appointment the ultrasound tech told us she could not detect a heartbeat. She continued talking but I didn’t hear a word she said. I started crying uncontrollably. It was awful. I feared the worst. That I would never watch our son be the best big brother I knew he would be because we couldn’t provide him with a baby brother or sister. To explain the despair I had is impossible. I have never been more distraught. I left that office and spent the next day in bed and on the couch as much as our two year old would allow. Not only was I experiencing such emotional distress from knowing the baby I was carrying was never going to be part of our lives as we knew it but we were faced with the decision of how to officially terminate the pregnancy. My doctor had given us three options:
1. Pass the baby at home naturally which would be very painful and could be a very long process that may not start for weeks since I had not shown any sign of miscarrying.
2. Take a pill to speed things along and (again) pass the baby at home in a familiarly painful way.
3. Have a D & C in the hospital.
My choice was #4. None of the above. I wanted a baby, not to be burdened by having to make this decision. Why was this happening again? I couldn’t understand and I was now beyond feeling sad and sorry for myself. I was angry. Nobody had answers.
Having already experienced what it felt like to miscarry at home I ultimately opted for #3 and I was to return to the hospital the following morning for the procedure. In the hours that remained before my premature baby was unnaturally removed from my body I had time to consider “what if.” What if the ultrasound tech was wrong and missed the heart beat? I couldn’t understand why my body was showing no signs of a miscarriage. I requested a second ultrasound with my doctor minutes before the D&C. I decided that I would always wonder if some mistake had been made had I not had them double check. As stupid as I may have looked it was worth it to me and they honored my request.
Along with our doctor the ultrasound tech who broke the news to us the day before was in the room and unbelievably was quite cold to us. I’m guessing she didn’t appreciate us questioning her finding by bringing a doctor in to confirm. Her attitude definitely didn’t make this day any easier and it’s something that has stuck with me years later. Why be so unkind to someone who is suffering so greatly?
Moments later our doctor confirmed that there was no heartbeat and I was admitted for the out-patient surgery. I was anesthetized for the procedure and sent home shortly after.
It was a dark time filled with dark emotions. Nobody could answer my questions. Nobody could make me feel better. I had more than one person tell me that, “at least you have one child.” True. But that comment actually made me feel worse…guilty for feeling sad because there are plenty of people in the world unable to have children at all.
In recent years they call babies born after a pregnancy loss “rainbow babies.” The twins were conceived about a year after this nightmare and while this was before this term entered our culture they truly were a rainbow that lit up the darkness within me. Their pregnancy, a crazy roller coaster of a story meant for a different blog post, gave me hope. While I certainly think about my angel babies from time to time I choose not to dwell on what cannot be changed. I don’t mark the dates nor remember when exactly they occurred.
I am definitely not asking for sympathy. I have three friends lose babies either full-term or close to it and have attended funerals for two of them. My lost pregnancies don’t even come close to the loss they still feel. I simply believe it needs to be said that women (and men) should never have to suffer alone when they experience a loss of pregnancy no matter how far along the pregnancy was carried. You have hopes and dreams for that child as soon as you learn of his or her life growing inside of you. If you are experiencing a loss of pregnancy, don’t be afraid to reach out. People who care about you are willing to listen and support you through this time.