Posts Tagged ‘miscarriage’

Gone

I’ve lost another baby.

That’s the third I’ve lost, the third in a row, and my fourth pregnancy. Lost before we knew boy or girl or had much time to dream about who might be joining the family.

There’s not much to say at this point, though this third loss magically opens a door to all kinds of testing and lab work and interventions should we choose it.

But I’ll never have the answer I really need: why my babies came to me only to leave again so quickly.

And I don’t know how to regain the other thing I need: hope. Hope that Rowenna might be a sister, hope that a beautiful plus sign on a pregnancy test might end with a sweet baby in my arms. Hope that when I share our news I won’t later be tearfully sharing a loss.

It seems like such a simple thing to wish for, doesn’t it? A child. Something that seems to come so easily to so many people.

It feels like wishing for water but finding only a well run dry. Wishing for food but finding none.

Such a simple wish, such a basic, instinctual thing to want: a child.

And when it’s given to you but taken away again in the blink of an eye there is nothing left but a hole in your heart, a hole that can’t be fixed, and an endless list of questions that can never be answered. Nothing can replace a baby that is lost. That unique being, that single instance of chromosomes and cells and life will never be replicated.

Not much to say, and not much to do but move forward. Slowly. One foot after the next. Wondering, always wondering.

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Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day and I want so much to simply celebrate the girl who made me a momma.

I want to be able to say I’ve been pregnant once and have one beautiful girl. I want to go back to the time when pregnancy meant a baby in 40 weeks, for my family to grow, for my girl to be a big sister.

But here I am, three pregnancies and one sweet girl and the knowledge that babies don’t always stay. Knowing you can watch your belly grow only to have it fall slack. It’s days like these when I long for the baby that should have been in my arms for months now, or to run my hands over a big pregnant belly, just three weeks from Clementine’s due date. It’s days like these I ache with loss, when it seems my entire facebook feed is full of babies and bellies, and I’m here with my girl but also a sense of emptiness.

These kinds of days are few and far between for me now, but the idea that I should be celebrating my motherhood and womanhood just doesn’t ring true this year. It feels empty and like I’ve failed in some way.

Since sharing Clementine’s loss, I’ve heard from many of you, and for that I am grateful. It seems there is a large, silent sorority of sorts – women who carry a secret pain the world cannot handle hearing about, or maybe we cannot bear to talk about. There is no secret handshake or sign to know we’ve crossed paths with one of our sisters. Maybe just a sad smile when they hear you stumble over saying you have one child but hope so much for one more. Or the shared cringe when someone offers some well-meaning, but ultimately hurtful, advice.

We plan to spend the day arranging our flower pots and prepping the vegetable garden. I want to sink my hands in the earth, that cool and calming home for things that grow. I want only to plant and water and nurture. To watch my girl explore and dig and hear her shriek with delight at the sight of colorful blooms.

And that’s what we’ll do, just the three of us.

Broken

I’ve lost another baby.

I was due June 3, two days after Rowenna’s third birthday. The pregnancy had been relatively uneventful. I had some morning sickness and some pretty intense fatigue, but I was grateful to be spared the hyperemesis gravidarum I had with Rowenna and I was starting to make plans for a big girl room for Rowenna to move in to.

We decided to have a cvs with this pregnancy. We wanted to know who would be joining our family and if we were having another child with Down syndrome, we wanted time to process that before the baby arrived. The cvs was uneventful, the ultrasound beforehand was a joy. Baby was in there swirling and kicking. We got a fantastic look at baby’s beautiful little face and a few pictures to bring home for the scrapbook. Results of that cvs eventually showed that the baby was a girl with typical chromosomes.

That night, I had a gush of fluid and the next morning an ultrasound confirmed that there was no amniotic fluid left. I knew the second the ultrasound tech put the wand on my belly that my water had broken. Instead of a full black sac and a baby twirling around there were only the walls of my uterus pushing on a baby, a baby that still had a heartbeat, a baby that was still trying to move. It was a horror and my heart aches that this is the last memory I have of my baby. I burst into tears and I could feel the tech’s unease grow as she took image after image, measurement after measurement.

The maternal-fetal medicine specialist came in, and as I cried silently on the gurney he flipped through a few images. He took a deep breath and said, “I’m sorry. There is no amniotic fluid left.”

I lost it. He offered to leave so I could have a moment and I blurted out “just tell me when my baby will leave me.”

He looked stunned. (I would have, too, that’s for sure. When I grieve, I’m not known for being subtle.) He paused and said that he couldn’t say for sure, that there was a small chance the rupture would heal and the baby would live. All I could do was wait to spontaneously go into labor. And if that didn’t happen, to come back in two weeks to see if the sac had in fact healed itself or to schedule a d&c.

The only consolation in all of this is that it was likely caused by a blood clot they found, not the cvs procedure, and this was all really horrible timing.

Needless to say I didn’t beat the odds. Baby Clementine left us today, November 20.

And now I’m just a broken momma. One sweet girl in my arms, and two that didn’t stay. I had so many hopes for this baby. I was so excited for our family to grow and for Rowenna to be a big sister. I don’t know that I can do this again, have so much hope only to lose it all.

You can sit across from a genetic counselor and hear about your own atypical chromosomes, nodding silently as they list the ways this will affect your fertility. You can hear about all the possible combinations you can make that are never compatible with life (“you’d probably never know you were pregnant at all”) and you can hear all about the things that can go wrong – miscarriage, stillbirth. But you don’t understand it until it happens.

You hear those words. You think you understand them. You talk to your hubby about what it would mean to try for a child and the threat of miscarriage and stillbirth float in the back of your mind, somewhat abstract concepts. That’s something that happens to other people.

You never stop to consider that other things can happen to a pregnancy, things that happen to mothers who aren’t translocation carriers. You can’t think about those things because to do so would let so much fear into your heart and mind that even contemplating another pregnancy becomes impossible.

Then you lose a pregnancy. It’s early and it hurts but you’re optimistic – maybe it won’t happen again. They tell you it’s probably because the baby had atypical chromosomes, a combination not compatible with life. But then it happens again. It happens after you’ve heard a heartbeat, watched her twirl, saw her tiny face. After you’ve named her. And it’s caused by something that has nothing to do with chromosomes – and everything to do with the things you couldn’t even let yourself consider before.

And you feel broken. Everything about you feels broken. All the things about a woman that should make you feel strong and powerful, a bearer of life. Those things are broken, and there are consequences you can never change. Two babies you will never meet or hold or kiss. Babies that you will always love, but the world forgets they were ever a possibility. How do I go on to a fourth pregnancy, knowing I could still have just one sweet girl in my arms at the end?

I don’t know where I go from here. I can say with certainty that this blog is going on hiatus (it was practically on hiatus anyway). I don’t know if I’ll post here anymore. I don’t know if we’ll try to grow our family again. I don’t know how to fix this or to feel better, but I know I will figure it out eventually.

All I know is that I was already in enough support groups – I wasn’t looking for more to join, or more causes to support. Yet here I am, walking a path of grief. Again. Being steered toward various support groups. Again. A different path, a different start, but grief nonetheless.

The shining light in all of this, as always, is my sweet girl. She never fails to make me smile; she never fails to give me a hug. Her hugs and kisses are seemingly without end these days – I know in my heart she can tell how upset we are. I wish so much she didn’t have to feel it. I wish so much these were hugs for a different reason. Hugs for a new baby sister.

Maybe one day.

Loss

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Why is this important to me? Over the summer, I had a miscarriage.

Only 2 people knew I was pregnant – we hadn’t even told my family or hubby’s family. I was scared to tell anyone because we weren’t feeling all that confident about our decision to try for another baby. I figured there was time enough to tell everyone as I slowly got used to the idea of growing our family.

But then I started to bleed, and I knew even before I called the doctor or had the ultrasound that confirmed it that our baby was leaving us.

I felt broken and useless. I felt like a failure. I was ashamed and angry and sad. I felt like it was my fault. I know I have abnormal chromosomes – what gives me the right to try to conceive again knowing I have such a high probability of loss?

It was a horror to feel my baby leave my body. I did it alone while hubby did his best to care for Rowenna as we both crumbled. I cried until I was out of tears, then screamed into my pillow. I quickly reached the point of feeling numb – and in a lot of ways I feel like I spent so much time grieving Rowenna’s diagnosis that I am now simply out of grief.

Since it happened over a weekend, I was instructed to go to the ER where the doctor explained that sometimes babies are just made wrong and don’t survive. On a better day, a clearer day I would have let that doctor know just how much those words hurt when you have a baby “made wrong” waiting for you back home, a child you adore and wouldn’t trade for anything. (I should clarify that I don’t feel Rowenna is made wrong.) When you yourself have an abnormal karyotype and know that babies “made wrong” aren’t a fluke, but the result of your own chromosomes. I just sort of stared blankly at him and shrugged, asked when I could go home and let the whole thing be done.

And now I’m a momma with one sweet girl in my arms and one who decided not to stay.

But what made the whole thing so hard was the overwhelming feeling that I had to keep this miscarriage a secret for some reason. Why is that? Where did that come from?

We routinely advise women not to tell anyone they are pregnant until the second trimester. They might lose the baby, so it’s best not to let anyone know. “Lose the baby” is always uttered in hushed tones, almost as if speaking it aloud might cause it to be. But the consequence of that is if you do lose the baby, now you’re completely alone. Either that, or you’re stuck with the unpleasant conversation starter “well, I was pregnant and now I’m not.”

To grieve, to feel so broken while also having to pretend nothing has happened is nearly impossible, and it feels like an injustice. Very few people celebrated this baby with us, and now the baby is gone without a single glimmer of the hope she once promised. It’s an injustice not to celebrate a life, and an injustice that a mom and a dad must grieve alone because no one knew in the first place.

Even worse is the sense that you should hurry up and get over it because grief makes other people uncomfortable. We grieve very poorly in our society, I think. Everything is buck up, move on, put it behind you – and when people can’t do it so easily, then there is something wrong with them when really they are just doing the most natural thing in the world: being sad that their babies are gone.

I don’t have a solution for that, and I don’t advocate for everyone to announce a pregnancy with every positive test. It’s a personal decision for each family. In some ways it was a blessing no one knew I was pregnant because then I didn’t have to tell a lot of people about the loss.

I just wish that pregnancy loss wasn’t such a taboo. I wish I could share that I had a miscarriage without people advising me to just try again, to just move on. Without saying it was early days and hardly a baby. I wish for the women who do want to talk about it that the right words were out there, and that we were all comfortable enough with loss to know how to support each other. To say (for early pregnancy loss anyway), simply, “I am sorry you will never hold your baby.”

So to those families out there who have experienced this kind of loss, know you are not alone.