Pregnancy and infant loss awareness month is a chance to bring this topic to the forefront, support each other and show that we are not alone in this matter. It’s a topic most people want to avoid and would rather you quickly get over and shove under the rug. Let’s shake that rug out, beat the dust of shame and awkwardness out of it, and put it into the sun to bring us light and healing.
Can we first acknowledge how amazing our bodies are as woman! If you sit back and truly think about the amazing things our bodies can do, it blows my mind! What we go through, endure and how we come out on the other side is truly amazing!
I was hesitant to share my story. But if sharing my story helps one mom not feel alone in her sadness, its worth making myself vulnerable and putting my story out there. “Courage is contagious”.
Though its been years, I still have nights where I lie awake at night and am overcome by the loss. I cry by myself, when no one is around because you sense early on that you should “just get over it”. Or perhaps since I didn’t carry my baby as long as others, I felt that I wasn’t justified in my grieving. But I know now that every single situation of pregnancy loss is different. I know friends who didn’t seem to be phased by it to friends who went into a deep depression. In spite of what our environment tells us or how uncomfortable it makes others, I realize that hiding from this doesn’t take away the pain I feel. The pain I hide, the tears I shed to this day even though it has been years since I lost my babies.
Statistics show that 1 in 4 woman experience this loss and I want to open the gates to let those woman know that its ok to feel all the feeling that come in this situation. It’s ok to be sad, and feel changed. You are not alone. No one can tell you how long it takes to connect to your baby, to build your dreams and envision your growing family and future with this person growing inside of you. No one can tell you how long you need to grieve. And it doesn’t matter how many times they tell you there was nothing you could have done, you will always go over every detail of what you may have done to cause this.
My son Paxton was 10 months old when we lost of our first baby. We were excited and told only immediate family around 9 weeks. Since I had such a great pregnancy with Paxton, we assumed everything would be ok. It was Christmas time and I bought Paxton a cute elephant shirt that said “Big Brother”. Maybe I should have known. I remember an exact moment driving home from work one day and thinking to myself, “I don’t feel pregnant anymore”. I didn’t believe at that time that maybe I wasn’t. I was actually relieved because I thought I was over the morning sickness and I finally felt good!
No one ever wants to her those dreaded words, “I cant find the heartbeat”. It was during our first ultrasound that they confirmed the babies heart stopped beating. I am just thankful my husband, Brent, was there with me. My doctor sent us home and told me to wait and let my body handle the miscarriage naturally. Again, can I point out that even in these types of situations, our bodies are amazing in what they can do! But this was where it got mentally difficult for me. A week had passed and my body showed no signs of a miscarriage. My head then started playing games with me, “Maybe the doctor was wrong”. “Since nothing has happened, maybe the baby is ok.” “They must have just missed the heartbeat”…etc. Until finally one day, the process started. To say it was an emotional roller coaster is an understatement.
But if I never had this miscarriage, we never would have had our sweet baby girl, Mahlia. She is our rainbow baby. We got pregnant about 6 months after the miscarriage. I can’t imagine our life without this sweet little girl! I couldn’t help how this pregnancy changed and was so different from carrying my son, Paxton. Not only physically, but now knowing the loss of a baby, I had spouts of panic attacks throughout this pregnancy. A lot of people who know me may be surprised to hear this. I tried my best to keep it together but there was a lot of anxiety around making sure everything was ok with our sweet baby girl.
Here We Go Again
When my kids were 3 and 5, we got pregnant again. It was another surprise! I had a lot of fun telling Brent about this one and watching his expression! We were both in shock but again that quickly melted away and was replaced by excitement! The morning sickness was worse with this pregnancy so I kept telling myself that this was a good sign since with my first miscarriage all my symptoms eventually went away.
I had my first ultrasound at 9 weeks and I remember the nausea being intense that morning. Now I know there is no good way to tell someone who they have lost their baby but all I know is there has to be a better way to handle these types of situations. From what I learned with our first miscarriage, the technician doing the ultrasound technically is not supposed to give you any information, and I had respected that. But what they need to understand is that this was my fourth pregnancy, and between all of them I have had a lot of doctor appointments and ultrasounds. When I walked in the room, the technician was very chipper and smiling. As soon as the ultrasound started I immediately could see our baby. And even as I type this today, this still brings tears my eyes. At 9 weeks, our baby was perfect, and I feel blessed that I got a small glimpse that will forever be burned in my memory. But already being paranoid I immediately started looking for the flutter of the heartbeat. I couldn’t see it but kept telling myself everything was ok. The technician, on the other hand, who is not supposed to tell me anything, told me everything with just her behavior. Her demeanor quickly changed from chipper to blunt, not even looking at me, no congratulations, just told me to change and wait in the lobby until my nurse called me in.
So I was sent to sit with the mass of other pregnant women for about a half hour. In that time, I started texting my friend who knew and telling her ‘somethings not right”. She did her best friend duties and tried calming me down and assuring me things would be just fine. by the time they called me back, by blood pressure was through the roof, my nurse was concerned. Well that’s what happens when somethings clearly wrong and you send me back to the masses to wait it out with my own thoughts. Sure enough my doctor finally came in and confirmed my nightmare. They told me to take my time, but eventually had to pull it together, suck it up and pretend I was fine as I had to walk back through the long waiting room filled with beautiful pregnant mommies just to leave the office. And let me tell you, that walk may as well been 10 miles long. Again, there has to be a better way to help mothers through a situation like this.
Since I still had strong pregnancy symptoms and with the history of my first loss, my doctor recommended we schedule a D&C right way. That is a surgical procedure to remove the pregnancy. The next morning Brent and I were at the surgery center with so many emotions. Not only was I morning the loss and idea of our third child, I was scared about being put under. I only had 1 surgery before this and it wasn’t the most pleasant experience. I ended up with greatest anesthesiologist, he was my angel that day looking over me. He came into the room and was emotionally open with us and shared his experience about his wife and miscarriage and made sure Brent was taking good care of me and helped with my nerves of going through all of this. I remember being wheeled down the hallway to surgery and having absolutely no cares in the world. Whatever he gave me was definitely working! Next thing I know, I’m waking up in the recovery room and to this day, I don’t know if this was a dream or reality but I woke up and my anesthesiologist was there asking how I felt and we high-fived because I got through it successfully. Ok, so I’m pretty sure that had to be the amazing drugs he gave me. But with the support of my loving husband and all the amazing doctors, they helped me get through that procedure with a little grace.
I went home that night and was overwhelmed with gratefulness! I was not lost on the fact that not all mothers get to come home to a family. It truly is amazing how God can shine the light on a dark moment. Though my children were too young to know what was going on, they knew exactly what I needed. I remember all 4 of us laying in Mahlias bed together and the kids had all of us put our hands in and did a team family chant. I was reminded and knew at that moment what a blessing it is to have two beautiful healthy children at home. They truly helped pull me through this and I did not want to leave their sides.
A week after my surgery I started experiencing only what I can describe as a hot wave of pain that started low in my stomach that slowly worked its way up. This pain came in waves almost like contractions. The pain wasn’t enough to stop me, but I knew something was not right. After lots of googling and calls to my doctors, I had no idea what was causing this pain and no one seemed concerned.
A week and two days after my surgery I felt I desperately needed to spoil my kids. I was sick of the recovery and having this be all about me. It was a Thursday, the kids had taekwondo in the morning then I packed up the truck with a picnic, blankets and couldn’t wait to take them to the beach! I wanted this day to be all about them! But that morning, the “hot pain” was still there and not going away. I called my doctor again hoping they would know what I could do or take to get rid of this. I had already tried different over the counter medicines and nothing touched the pain. The nurse told me since I had called in a couple of times about this, I better come in and get checked out. At that point I was still not thinking too much of it, I picked up my Mom since she was going to join us that day and we were able to make what I thought was a quick stop at the doctor before we headed to the beach.
Since my doctor was not available, I met with Dr. Driscoll. After a quick ultrasound, she told me that there was still some “pregnancy” left that needed to removed. I of course being on a mission to make the day about my kids and get them to the beach, asked her if we could schedule that for another day. But of course she said that wasn’t possible. In fact starting immediately I was not to eat or drink anything. I would not be going anywhere but heading straight over to the surgery center yet again. At this point, yep, I had a mini melt-down right there in her office. I wanted so badly to put all of this behind me and not to deal with it anymore. What hurt me worse was that I now had to break a promise to my kids. Dr. Driscoll, I am only sharing her name because she was amazing! She showed me such kindness and love. Not only did she let me break down, she listened, she gave me her personal cell phone to make some calls since my phone had died. After leaving her exam room, she called after me in the hallway and gave me a big hug and wished me luck. I am ever grateful for the loved and compassion she showed me that day.
So instead of taking my kids to the beach, my Mom drove me across the street to the surgery center. She was then going to take the kids back to her house and have a “picnic”. My son, even at 5, is very attuned to things. He was upset so I walked around the car and gave him hugs through the window. Paxton kept saying “Mom, just get back in the car, let’s go. Get in the car Mom”. He was very worried about his Mom. I had to muster up all the bravery I had and told him it was all alright, and I would see him later. They drove off with Paxton screaming, crying and myself standing in the parking lot, alone, with a fake brave smile on face, waving goodbye to my children. I’m not going to lie, this day sucked.
Brent got to my side quickly and there we were again, a week later in the same prep room getting ready for surgery. This time it was a different situation and different anesthesiologist, who was not as warm and friendly. I begged them to do what ever they did the week before as they had got me calm as a cucumber. I don’t know if it was because he was a different anesthesiologist or because this time everything seemed a lot more rushed. But I remember every detail of being wheeled down the hallway, brought into the surgery room, being switched over to a different table. I remember laying there very aware and upset, all I could do was take deep breaths to try to calm myself.
I have a theory from the 3 surgery’s I have had in my life. I believe how you go under in surgery determines how you come out of it. This has been true in all three cases for me. Remember me feeling really good going into my last surgery and coming out high-fiving? Well this time I woke up from surgery crying out for Paxton and Mahlia. I was alone in that room for a long time and I felt awful. Not the same experience. The recovery this time around was a little harder and I felt like I had an anesthetic hangover the next day which included a migraine.
Always trust your instincts. Nothing I read online showed my symptoms as a complication from a D&C procedure. And when I called in to my nurses and doctors, they didn’t seem too concerned with it until I actually got examined. I am a firm believer on being your own advocate. If something doesn’t feel right, get in and get it checked out!
Now with every yearly physical, they will always ask, “how many pregnancies have you had”. Then immediately following, “how many births”. I am 50/50, and that’s a hard pill to swallow some days. I am also envious of those who know 100% that they are done having babies. That seems to get brought up quickly after a miscarriage, that maybe I should just call it quits. But its hard to close that door when my heart is not ready. It took me awhile to figure this out, but I have excepted that I will never feel 100% that I am done having babies. And that’s not because I want to get pregnant at this time, honestly, I am not sure I could physically or mentally go through all of this again. It’s because with each miscarriage, I lost a little piece of my heart and I know those pieces are waiting for me in heaven.
I know there are woman out there that have suffered way more than I have and my heart goes out to all of them! As woman, what we can endure and how we come out on the other side is remarkable! I encourage you to share your story. Even if you only write it out for yourself. Getting it out on paper helps to release some of that pain and helps us to move towards healing our hearts and souls.
I love this poem, this helped me through this situation:
Love and Hugs,