Last week, I almost missed a very important day had it not been for my Facebook feed filled with posts commemorating Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day on October 15th. In fact, the entire month of October is dedicated to those who have suffered this loss. As I scrolled through friends’ status updates on their experiences and read heartbreaking blog posts about loss, I was reminded of my experience and the long journey to having my now eight month old son.
Three and a half years ago, I found out I was pregnant with our second child on St. Patrick’s Day. I resisted taking a home pregnancy test before then because I wanted to find out what I had been suspecting on a special day my family would always remember. When the little stick turned positive my husband and I felt pure joy and disbelief at how easy it was to conceive the second time around. This time, I felt a stronger sense of preparedness, having lived through being a first-time mother. This time, I knew what I was in for. And Mia was going to be a big sister!
I went in for a routine ultrasound expecting to see the fluttering of a baby heart and to learn the due date to share with my close family members who knew about the pregnancy. But that was not to be. The little bundle inside my belly was measuring at 6 weeks, 6 days and I was supposed to be 9 weeks along, and the ultrasound monitor was not detecting a heartbeat. I felt the wind knocked out of me and like I was punched in the gut. Even my husband was devastated. Fortunately, my OB was very comforting in this situation and consoled me that miscarriages are more common than we think and that this was an act of Mother Nature. Still, my husband and I chose not to share what had happened with anyone but very close family members because we felt it was a secret that would make others uncomfortable. But why, if it is so common and natural, do we make mothers suffer in silence? Isn’t this the time when we are supposed to shout our pain from the rooftops and get the support we so need in this desperate situation? It just did not make any sense to me.
I chose to undergo a D&C because waiting around for my body to expel the pregnancy on its own would have been too much to bear psychologically. Besides, my poor daughter, who was a year and a half at the time, was probably feeling neglected since my world had just been turned upside down and I could not function normally. Immediately after the surgery, I couldn’t shake the anxiety and jitteriness. The nurses said it was the side effects of the anesthesia. But I wondered – was my body and my spirit reacting to the trauma I just experienced? Even though I was not awake for the procedure, my subconscious knew what my body had been through. For two or three days after, I experienced cramping, some mild and some reminiscent of labor. With each cramp, I didn’t know if my body was weeping for being robbed of the pregnancy, or if my body was trying desperately to get back to normal. Maybe it was both. Adding insult to injury, a day after the procedure, we had friends of ours from out of state stay at our house for a few days. Upon their arrival, they announced they were expecting their second child around the same time our baby would have been born. As I prepared food and fetched water for my nauseous friend like any true hostess would do, I suffered in silence. Again.
A few weeks later, we planted a tree in our backyard in our Spirit Baby’s memory and I made a vow right then and there to be grateful for the beautiful, healthy, and strong daughter I already had, and to never take my husband for granted again. Almost a year later, I became pregnant again. And suffered the same loss, again. This sent me into a tailspin because I started to worry that something was physically wrong with me. I pondered seeing a reproductive specialist, but in the end, decided to listen to my body and take better care of it. I decided to wean my daughter, she was ready anyway, and have my body back to myself before I tried to get pregnant again. The road to recovery and healing was long and bumpy. I can’t tell you how much it sucks when people would ask when we would have another child or how they would warn us that she would be lonely if we did not give her a sibling. There were times I wanted to yell “I just had two miscarriages a-hole!” but decided it just wasn’t worth it.
After three months of soul searching and plenty of Spirit Baby readings from our magical Kate Street, baby Luke was on his way. I was so paranoid throughout the pregnancy, it was exhausting. I worried in the beginning when I wasn’t sick, and then the nausea came and lasted for weeks and weeks. I almost had a panic attack during the ten week ultrasound, but there on the screen was his beautiful, glorious heartbeat! On the days when he was quiet and sleeping in my belly, I feared the worst. I worried about what food I ate, about coloring my hair, whether it was better to sleep on my left or right side at night – you name it – I worried about it. I was so paranoid, I did not make any announcements about the pregnancy on Facebook and people found out about it when they saw me in person in all my pregnant splendor. But every day, even as I felt afraid, I remembered that I took this leap because my instinct told me my family was not yet complete. I believed and held onto the notion that strength means having faith in things you have no control over. I channeled this thought every day and discovered that you are never given a situation that you do not have the inner tools to handle. This long and difficult journey uncovered the courage I never knew I had and enhanced my already existing strengths to carry me through. I just had to keep moving forward, one day at a time.
Then my 8 pound 14 ounce bundle of joy and life came into the world and I knew all was as it should be.
I tell this story so that all the mothers who have experienced this kind of loss do not suffer alone. I remember getting so much relief when I finally got the courage to talk about my miscarriage among a group of friends. As it turned out, I learned that many of us in that group had experienced a miscarriage. I felt less alone and knew I did not have to hide this dark secret any longer. Never hesitate to reach out to your friends, loved ones, or even a co-worker to get the help and support you need. Most of all, be gentle on yourself and embrace your strength – you are always more powerful than you think.