3 years ago, I shared the blog post below, about our experience losing our first baby.
This year, on May 2nd, the day after our son turned 2, we walked into the OB’s office full of excitement and fear. There was no reason for the fear, everything was fine, but there was fear nonetheless. It had settled into my bones and I just couldn’t shake it.
During the ultrasound, our worst fears were confirmed. No heartbeat.
I heard those words over and over again with every heart beat of my own.
So in honor of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, I’m sharing our first story of loss with you again, in the hopes that by talking about this subject, it may help someone else going through the same thing. Most women/parents who experience this kind of loss do so in quiet, shame-filled moments hidden away from the rest of the world. I am here to tell you that you do not have to feel ashamed by the loss of a child. You do not have to cry alone and hide your pain for fear of making other people feel uncomfortable by your sadness and loss. You are not alone.
I have not known much for certain in this lifetime. Indeed, it is nearly impossible to – the second you’re certain about an idea, you’re sure to encounter something that’s going to change your mind. As they say, the only constant in life is that nothing is constant.
But one thing I could tell you with 100% certainty, from day one of my life to today, is that I was meant to be someone’s mother. In fact, the first thing I ever said that I wanted to be when I grew up was a mom, and I was two. I’m not really sure why I decided this – probably because my own mom is freaking awesome, and even though my childhood definitely had it’s rough spots, she was always there as my best friend, my rock, and my cheerleader. I would be nothing without my mom, that much else is certain.
Or maybe it’s because I have always been older than my years. While most of my peers were eyeing their future full of the wild abandon of college years, I was waiting patiently for age 30, so my “real” life could begin – with a marriage and family. Being reckless has never appealed to me; but love and loyalty and the responsibilities owed to another always have. I was incredibly lucky, in September of last year, to take those vows of devotion with a man I love beyond words!
So when we found out in March, that we were expecting a little one due this Winter, we couldn’t have been more excited – even though the surprise had us feeling slightly unprepared and a little scared. This was what we had both always wanted. A family. And it was happening! A little earlier than we had planned – but still, if life has taught me one thing, it’s that sometimes the best things to happen to you come straight out of the blue. Which is why we couldn’t wait to shout the news from the rooftops! We shirked the traditional “3 month wait” and shared it with our family and friends (including all of you wonderful readers) as soon as we could. We were having a baby and it was time to celebrate!
Unfortunately, the pregnancy had been rocky from the start. I had been spotting from the very beginning, and the cramps had me worried. Not to mention the nausea. I was on bed rest, not from doctor’s orders, but just based on the sheer fact that it was impossible for me to get OUT of bed. If I was lucky, I made it to the couch for the daytime. I was exhausted, but I couldn’t sleep without getting sick the second I opened my eyes. Let’s face it, I couldn’t move without getting sick, and I certainly couldn’t eat. I could not take care of myself, and Captain America and my mom spent their days feeding me ice chips and ginger tea and chicken soup, trying to keep me from getting too dehydrated or malnourished. There was a week where I literally thought I was going to die.
This was not the way it was supposed to be. Something was wrong.
Something was wrong. The doctors say it was probably a chromosomal defect – during the dividing and multiplying that the cells went through, a catastrophic failure occurred. A birth defect. We lost the baby.
There aren’t really words for anything, after that. The pain is so visceral and personal there really aren’t any to describe it. It is unlike anything I have ever felt and never hope to feel again. The lights went out. Everything just went dark.
I was supposed to be a mom. I was supposed to leave the hospital with my new infant, not the mortuary with their ashes. No one should ever have to go through that kind of pain.
And yet they do – 1 in 3 pregnancies will end in a miscarriage, but most people would never guess the rate is that high, because traditionally couples do not announce their pregnancies until the 2nd trimester, after the threat of miscarriage is over. While I can totally understand this desire to keep such an intense pain to oneself, it also puts miscarriages into the “secret” pile. And when something is secret it begins to feel an awful lot like shame. It’s also a lot harder to reach out and find support, because you might not even know it’s there. Which is why I am sharing my story with you today – because October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and after all we have been through this year, that’s not something I can ignore.
After our experience, I had several people, some close friends, some just acquaintances, come forward and tell me their stories too. Sadly, I had been initiated into the club of loss – and to my surprise, it was a pretty big one. The good news is that for most of us in this club, miscarriage is a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. The sad news is that women are joining the club every single day.
If you or someone you know has suffered through the pain of a miscarriage, I encourage you to please take the time to check out the important resources below: