October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. An estimated 1 in 4 (possibly more) pregnancies end in loss. To me 1 in 4 is not just a statistic. It is Me. I have been pregnant four times. I have given birth to only two living children. The other two were lost in early pregnancy. Today I will take time to remember my babies, as well as, all those I know who have lost babies. I want to share with you my story about the babies I lost. I want to share, because it’s a story worth sharing. I want to share, because miscarriage is nothing to be ashamed of. I want to share, so that other women can know that they are not alone in their loss and not alone in their feelings.
In January of 2010, I found out I was pregnant for the first time. I had gone off the birth control pill in November of the previous year due to some of the side effects it caused. My husband and I were not ready for a baby yet. We had been married less than a year, although we had been together for three, but still it just wasn’t an ideal time in our life to have children. We had been careful, but clearly not careful enough. My period was a few weeks late, but I thought this was still due to getting off the pill. I finally broke down and took a pregnancy test. The line was faint. Really in retrospect too faint to be six weeks pregnant, but I knew very little about pregnancy and birth back then. I just knew that a second line was there, which meant life was inside of me. I was pregnant. I cried, not tears of joy, but scared tears. I didn’t want a baby. Not now. Maybe not ever. Still I sucked it up. We would figure it out, and we would raise a child together. I took a test the next day. The line was a bit fainter, but it was still there. And a line is a line. Then two days later I began to bleed. I was confused. I was scared again. I didn’t really want this baby, but still I knew that this baby existed. My body had already changed some. I was bloated. My breasts were sore. I didn’t really want to lose this baby either. And was this what was happening? Was I having a miscarriage? So I did what any sensible person would do and I consulted google. I came to the conclusion that I was probably miscarrying, but still there was some hope. Some people had reports of bleeding and cramping without miscarrying. Maybe that’s what was happening. Only time would tell. I waited a few days. I had painful cramping and a lot of bleeding. More than a normal period. I knew what was happening. I took another test and that second line was gone, and I knew the life inside me was gone with it.
I still look back on that time, and I honestly can’t tell you what my first reaction was. Part of me felt so much relief. I didn’t want this baby. I wasn’t ready for this baby. I’ve always been hesitant to mention that I felt relieved. I knew people would look down on me for feeling that way, but I share it now so that you know whatever emotion you feel is right. It’s okay to even feel relief. My emotions were everywhere. I felt relief. I felt guilt over feeling relieved. I also felt sadness, because though I wasn’t ready for that baby. It was still my baby. It was still living for a small amount of time, and it still died. I felt so many conflicting emotions after that first miscarriage. I felt relief and sadness. I felt like a huge burden had been lifted off my shoulders, but that a new, very different kind of burden replaced it. I was confused, but they were all my emotions, and they were all okay and normal emotions, even if I didn’t know it at the time.
This first miscarriage changed me. We had never shared with anyone that we were pregnant, and after I lost the baby I only told my best friend about it. She was very comforting about it, and a huge help. Still I battled with my feelings. Tyler and I had decided when we got married that we most likely would never have children, and if we did it would be several years down the road. Something about that positive pregnancy test though. It made me want a baby. Then that same friend I had confided in about losing my baby told me she was pregnant after a year of trying. I was so happy for her. She deserved it, but that just made me want a baby so much more. So Tyler and I talked about it. We went around and around for a couple of months. Then finally we decided to try to get pregnant beginning that May. I told my best friend, and she was so excited for us too. We were going to be pregnant together! I mean clearly I had no trouble getting pregnant the first time, so why would it be any trouble this time? And when I did get pregnant, clearly that baby would live. People don’t miscarry twice. Right? Oh how wrong and naïve I was.
In May of 2010, we began to try for a baby. This time we wanted it. I researched monthly cycles and learned all about how to get pregnant. I learned in more detail about how to know when you are ovulating and when to have sex. I knew so much more once we started actually trying. That knowledge was empowering and really helped me to understand my body more, but well it didn’t seem to help us get pregnant. May passed, and my period came. June passed, and my period came. July, August, September, still it came. I felt defeated. My body had failed me. Maybe I couldn’t sustain life inside of me. Then October came. My period was late. I waited a week. I didn’t want to get my hopes up. Then I took a pregnancy test. It was positive! The line was faint, but not nearly as faint as my first pregnancy. We were going to have a baby. FINALLY!!!!! I was so excited. I remember doing the math in my head and realizing this baby was conceived right around the first baby’s due date. I took it as a sign. What an amazing gift! This baby’s due date was in June, and I always imagined it to be a boy. We kept the baby a secret. I told a close friend that I worked with about the baby, but that was it. I wanted to figure out a cute way to tell everyone else. That and in the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but wonder, “what if this baby doesn’t make it either?” I go to my primary physician for all my GYN care, so I began to search out an OB (I knew nothing about midwives at the time). I found one, based on some friend’s recommendations, and gave them a call. They said they would not see me until I was 7 weeks, and they happened to have no ultrasound appointments the week I would be 7 weeks along, so they scheduled it when I was going to be almost 9 weeks.
Another week went by. I took another pregnancy test. The line wasn’t getting any darker. It stayed the same. I also didn't feel nauseous or have any other pregnancy symptoms. This concerned me some, but still at least the line wasn’t getting any lighter, and maybe I just would have an easy pregnancy. Then I waited another week. I was 7 weeks along at this point. I took another test, and the line was lighter. I knew deep down inside that something was wrong. This baby wasn’t growing and thriving, but still I hung on to the hope that there still was a line, no matter how faint. Then one more week passed, and I began spotting. Oh how my heart sunk the second I saw the blood on the toilet paper. I knew what was happening, but I didn’t want it to happen. I wanted this baby. We tried for this baby. How could I just lose it. I called the OB, they said to keep my appointment for the next week, but if I was miscarrying that things would just pass on their own, and I could come in the next week. This wasn’t good enough for me. I needed to know for sure what was happening, and I needed to know now. I called my primary care physician. She worked me in immediately. She had me take a pregnancy test. It was negative. Still she said a lot of women spot in early pregnancy and that maybe my dates were off. They ran blood work, and said they would call me the next day. By the next day, I was bleeding a lot. I was having very bad cramps. I knew that once again I was losing a baby. I decided to leave work early that day, as the pain was pretty intense, and emotionally I wasn’t up for staying there.
On my way home, my doctor called me. She told me my hCG levels were very low, and while she couldn’t confirm it without ultrasound, she did believe I was miscarrying. I told her how much I was bleeding and about the cramping. She said most likely the baby stopped growing a while before. I was just passing everything now. She talked to me for a little while. She made sure I was okay emotionally. I told her I was fine. She told me that it was okay to be upset, and that if I needed anything at all to call her. I told her okay, and once again I told her I was fine. I lied. I wasn’t fine. How the hell did this happen…..again? My body truly was broken. Would I ever be able to have a child? I called Tyler, then I called my mom. For some reason, in that moment all I wanted was my mom. She came over after I got home. She held me, and comforted me as I cried. There was no relief this time. This baby was suppose to live. This baby was suppose to be different. We tried hard for this baby. There was only sadness and pain. There was only grief. There were no conflicting emotions this time. Just emptiness and truly thinking that maybe I wasn’t capable of carrying a child. The baby I wanted so badly, the baby we tried for months to conceive was dead, gone. The little summer baby boy I imagined would never take a breath.
The next week ultrasound confirmed what I already knew. Then I lost it. Not that night, but in the days and weeks after. My grief, laid on top of so much previous trauma (see "I refuse to be ashamed") was too much for me to bear. We decided to stop trying. I couldn’t deal with losing another baby, and I couldn’t deal with anymore disappointment of trying and then not conceiving. The weeks following his loss are hazy still. I’m sure I was just functioning on auto pilot. I didn’t track my cycles. The doctor had advised that I wait at least one cycle before “trying” to get pregnant again. Well I wasn’t trying to get pregnant, but then again I didn’t take the time and energy to prevent getting pregnant either. I never got a cycle back after we lost our summer baby. I waited for it and waited for it. Then finally, January 5th, 2011, just a few weeks shy of one year after I found out I was pregnant the very first time, I once again had a positive pregnancy test. The line was dark this time. Darker than it had been with either of the other two. From the very beginning I felt this baby healthy and strong. This didn't stop me from worrying constantly about losing her. I suffered from very bad morning sickness, and any day I wasn't sick, I spent the entire time worrying if she was alive or not. Still something always told me that this baby would grow and thrive. And my how she has grown and thrived. She is now an amazing, kind, loving, beautiful, awesome, 4 year old, who brings so much joy to my life! I’m so thankful for her and her little sister.
I have had two healthy pregnancies and births since losing my first two babies. I have not miscarried again. I know had either of those babies lived I would not have the children I have now, but that doesn’t make me think about them any less. It doesn’t keep me from wondering what they would have looked like and who they would have been. My girls have brought me a lot of healing, but I still remember those other two babies, the ones I never had a chance to meet or hold or feel move or watch grow. I did love them, even if only for a very short time. I know now that my body never failed me. I know now that there was no shame in anything I felt during those times. I wish I had been more open about them at the time. Maybe I would have been able to heal faster, but I was so ashamed. At the time, I was under the impression that there were just some things you don’t talk about. I was so wrong. I kept my miscarriages quiet for a few years. Then I slowly became completely open about it. Why? Because 1 in 4. As I’ve stood behind and known so many amazing women, friends and clients, who have suffered loss, whether it be miscarriage, still birth, or infant death, I can’t help but mourn with them.
Think about it. 1 in 4. That means there are many other women I know and you know that have felt this same pain and have remained silent. If this is their choice and what they feel is best for them, then that’s okay. But I would never want any woman to remain silent about her loss, because it’s a taboo subject or because they feel ashamed. Other women need to know they are not alone in this. It is not something to be ashamed of. You did nothing wrong. Your feelings are valid. Never be afraid to share about your losses. It may make other people uncomfortable, but if telling your baby’s story helps you heal, then your healing is more important than their unwarranted discomfort.Your baby's memory is more important. Do not be afraid to talk about it. Your story can help so many other women going through a similar situation. Raise awareness. Break the silence surrounding pregnancy and infant loss!