I had fallen into a deep hole so cavernous that I could only see darkness ahead. All of my senses were heightened yet I could not feel anything. Numbness and disbelief and a steady stream of denial. The dream was gone. The weeks preceding my miscarriage were full of appointments with specialists and even graduation to a “regular OB”. We had heard the heartbeat. We had seen the sweet silhouette of our baby on an ultrasound I was slowly beginning to trust again until it was all over.
It was a fairly uneventful day when I arrived for my 14 week appointment. These appointments had become routine and although I was nervous as hell before each one, I felt some comfort as soon as the doppler hit my belly and I heard the familiar ga-goosh sound of our baby’s heartbeat. This time however was different. I remember the doctor saying the baby had probably just turned and so we should do a quick ultrasound to check on it (we did not know the gender because despite what my husband will tell you, I love surprises). As I looked up at the screen I saw our baby but there was no movement, no sound. Just quiet the sound of nothingness until I let out a guttural cry. This could not be happening again. We had come so far, we had crossed the 12 week “safe zone”. My doctor was compassionate and we scheduled a d & c the next day. I had never had a hospital procedure in my life and my first one would be to say goodbye to our baby.
I don’t remember the car ride home, I just remember crawling into bed and crying for what seemed like a century. One of the first thoughts in my mind was “how am I going to tell everyone”? I had waited until 12 weeks to share our news and now I had to unshare it. I felt a deep sense of failure and shame. Why had my body let us down again? I wondered if my husband would have better off with someone that had a better uterus.
24 hours passed quickly and before I knew it I was awaiting my surgery. My husband held my hand and assured me that everything would be ok. I was nauseous and scared but soon the sedation set in and when I awoke I was in recovery. To this day, 12 years later I will never forget the emptiness and how a piece of me was gone forever.
I took a few days off work and returned in a fog. I had shared the news of our loss with mostly everyone but it felt like the world had gone forward while I was stuck in the quicksand of my grief. Expected to act like life goes on when all of the world was crumbling around me. People were supportive and tried their best to offer words of support or wisdom but it all just felt so hopeless. One of the worst parts was still feeling pregnant. I was still nauseous and hormonal, but in a detached, “Your body hasn’t realized it yet” kind of way.
Weeks later when my testing came back it was found that our baby was a boy but that I also had a “partial molar” (I hate that term) pregnancy. Lucky me, I not only had lost my baby but now if I were to try to become pregnant in the next 6 months I could risk developing cancer. Would this ever end?
As this was my second miscarriage I was now able to see a miscarriage specialist. It was a 2 month wait. By the time I met with her and we did all of the testing (I hold the world record for filling numerous vials of blood without passing out) it had been almost 3 months since our loss. The doctor told me the one thing I absolutely did not want to hear, “you need to wait to get pregnant, if you don’t you could be risking both your health and your future baby”. It was yet another blow. I was ready to keep moving, you see that is what I do, I throw myself into forward movement, I plan for the future, I do it! I am not used to waiting around and being patient when it comes to goals. I am and always will be chasing that dream.
I begrudgingly accepted that at this time I needed to move my focus to something other than having a baby. I worked on myself. I attended acupuncture and Reiki sessions to balance my body. I worked with a compassionate therapist who allowed me to express my grief, raw and exposed. She helped me to realize that I could go on even when it felt so painful to do so. Throughout all of this I slowly built up some resilience. I wrote out my thoughts in a journal, I avoided baby showers like the plague, and began to develop a sense of hope and resilience. I felt as if I was always taking one step forward and two steps back but each step meant some progress.
I share my story because I never want another human being to feel alone in their grief and pain over losing a child.
I have channeled my losses into a passion for helping individuals and couples have a safe place to share their journey and grief. Miscarriage and infant loss are considered “taboo” topics, we as a society are not good with discussing death especially when it comes to a child. I want to normalize the grief and pain for individuals and couples going through these horrendous losses. I am also on a mission to one day ensure that those who have gone through losses have their own waiting room area and trained staff that is sensitive to this. You would not believe how many times I was asked my due date when I returned for my weekly blood draws to ensure that my HCG was dropping toward zero.
I write this also to bring hope. Not in the “things will happen in time” toxic positivity sort of way. Moreso in your darkest hours there will be a glimmer, the glimmer will grow to a ray and you will begin to see the light again. I am fortunate that eventually we figured out why I was having miscarriages. The specialist I was seeing ordered an experimental test that ultimately named my previously unknown reason for my losses. After an additional miscarriage, which happened to be an ectopic pregnancy, I eventually got and stayed pregnant and was both happy and terrified every day until I met her on the outside.
If you or someone you love is experiencing infertility and or loss please take their lead for what they need. Although it may be tempting to offer advice they have most likely left no stone unturned in their quest to figure out why this is happening. Listening and letting them know that you are there, checking in periodically, and just being there is more than most people ever do.
I now have two children and I hesitate to even share this for those of you that are still waiting on your baby. I hold space for you and your journey is your own. There will be incredible highs and difficult lows. Know that support is there whether it be through someone who has gone through it, a therapist who will listen without judgement, or a friend or partner that “just gets it”. Your grief is honored.
Please contact us if you are in need of thoughtful and caring counseling for infertility, miscarriage or postpartum support.