We got pregnant after one try, it was kind of crazy that way. We were a family of four counting Congo for 10 weeks before the bleeding started one morning, it was faint, barely there, but fear set in and burrowed a home in my stomach. We called the midwife and she said to monitor it, but not to be alarmed, bleeding could happen in a healthy pregnancy. I don’t know the order of events, it feels like a terrible dream. My mind was a blur of thoughts, how could I focus when my body was potentially failing me? When the bleeding got heavier and the blood tests confirmed the HCG hormone had risen but not by the amount it should have, my heart knew. I was losing my first baby. He was leaving me and there was nothing I could do about it. We had already shared 11 weeks together, there was this special bond we had created. Christian kissed my belly every morning and I talked to this little baby every day on my way to work. I loved him deeply and my due date was already in my calendar. My baby, my very first baby. I remember crying for hours in bed one morning. The bleeding was so heavy, the pain in my abdomen was settling in, making it all the more real for me. Christian cried with me but also urged us to go to the hospital. I didn’t want to, I knew what they would say, it would be too final, it would make it all real. But I was weak and nothing made sense to me, so I agreed. We rode with red faces and upon getting a room they asked me to put on a hospital gown. I wore it with one of Christian’s sweaters over top. It was bright yellow. We waited there and he held my hand. I remember being numb. Tears somehow kept forming in my eyes, and the thoughts we a mixture of faint Whys and Maybe it’s all ok. When they gave us the news that the baby was no longer inside of me my world fell apart. There could be no deeper pain, no stronger raw world shaking pain that could exist. A knife dug in deep into my chest, the lack of air in my lungs suffocated me, nothing could make this moment less painful and there was nothing I could do to change it. He was gone, my baby boy was gone. We never knew his gender, but a part of me always thought of him as a he, so a he he stayed.
The feelings of losing someone set in like they do. One after the other..
SHOCK & DENIAL
There was a numbness, that came the days after, only Christian and anyone who has gone through something similar can understand. I felt hollow, like the best part of me had been viciously ripped out. An empty shell with nothing left inside of me. Like a black hole lay where my baby used to be. It felt surreal, this wasn’t supposed to be a part of our story. This wasn’t how life is supposed to go, you get pregnant, you give birth, you live life with a baby, the baby breathes… everything was all wrong. Someone had messed up the order of life’s events, he was too little.
PAIN & GUILT
The knife sat lodged in my chest. It was constantly hard to breathe. The world felt like a scary place and I had lost all sense of control. Control, this illusion of something I had. Guilt took place over pain quickly. I needed someone to blame, and who better than me? It was my job wasn’t it? My job to bring this baby into the world, and I couldn’t do it. I failed at this one task and now he was gone. The guilt weighed heavy over me, hurting me daily. Just the word itself is hurtful. MISCARRIAGE, defined as an unsuccessful outcome of something planned – “the miscarriage of the project”. Words have power and although I tried not to dig into it too much, it just pointed to me. I failed in carrying this baby, and that was hard to swallow.
ANGER & BARGAINING
I am the woman. I was the one carrying this child of ours. How could my body fail me like this? Why did this happen to me? What terrible thing have I done to deserve this pain, to deserve this tragedy? Up to that point in my life I was at the healthiest I had ever been. I stayed away from alcohol for months before we even started trying, I ate regularly and healthy meals, I worked out almost every day. I was strong, I was ready. I did all the right things, I took all the right steps. HOW could this happen to ME? I saw a pregnant woman outside the mall, she was smoking. Why me? I saw a woman who was obese ignore her doctor’s recommendations and continue to consume large quantities of soft drinks and junk food carry her baby happily into the world. Why did I even try then? I saw pregnant women everywhere and wondered how I was different, what mistake I had made. It was unhealthy to think this way and I only know this now, but at the time, I felt angry with my body, with other pregnant women and with the world.
DEPRESSION, REFLECTION, LONELINESS
I became upset and sad that I had spent so much effort getting super healthy, to have my body be in the best shape for welcoming new life and seeing that at the end of the day it didn’t matter. I gained weight really fast, I ate pizza every other day because Why did it matter anyways… It was hard to talk about it as much as I wanted to, none of my closest friends could ever understand this loss, nor did I ever want them to have to understand. Mother’s day came around just over a month after our loss. By then the world had forgotten. It was one of the hardest days for me. I was supposed to be pregnant, celebrating the journey to motherhood on this special day. All I wanted to do was crawl into a hole and wait for tomorrow, but family expectations meant we had to not only celebrate our moms, rightly so, they should be celebrated, but also plan the whole thing. I felt like it was the world’s cruel way of hurting me, plan a party for a dozen people to celebrate a day that was going to be yours too. My heart was so heavy and my sadness was so grand. This day, a reminder of what I was on the journey to becoming, or was I already a mother? I felt like a mother who had lost her child too early, a mother with a baby that didn’t get a chance to live in this world outside of my body, but a mother all the same, yet the world didn’t see me that way. Only Christian saw me as a Mother, and in the mail when I checked it that morning, I received a letter from my angel baby that Christian had written. It was the most touching, and the best mother’s day gift I could have received that day. The action will forever live in my heart. I braved the day. I put on a good face. I smiled and I laughed. I planned an obstacle course for all of us to warm up because the day turned out to be super cold and we were outside. Eventually we packed up and went home. I think Christian and I ate pizza for dinner and just watched Netflix for the rest of the night. He held me close and I cried every now and then, but the day was over and tomorrow should be a little less painful.
THE UPWARD TURN
Work became interesting in the coming months, and enough changes were happening at work to create a distraction from the pain. We found opportunities knocking at our doors and incredible things happening in our careers. Both Christian and I took it as signs that this is where our attention needed to be. We had not wanted to try again for a baby. We decided maybe we could take some time to focus on our jobs. We had come out of the fog and the routine of our life was starting to make its way back into our life. The pizza delivery guy was not called any more, healthy food started to be made again in our kitchen, and life continued as it had. The workouts resumed soon after and we spent time on us.
RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH
Christian and I have this incredible bond and connection I could gush about all day. But we communicate, sometimes more than he’d like, haha, and we work through every little thing. Communication is number one for us. Only by doing it together were we able to come to terms with what had happened. We mourned our lost child but we built a stronger unit. We knew we could get through anything having just been to hell and back while holding hands the entire time. We worked through our emotions and we worked on ourselves. I realized my goal had been to be a mother for so long that it had become the reason I did many of the things I did. Fitness had been a part of my life for years but when I started to break down why I had gained all this weight and lost control I realized I had been doing it all for the wrong reasons. I wanted to be healthy, for the baby that would come in our future. I wanted to be fit and strong, for the baby and the pregnancy that would come in the future… The thing was, when this pregnancy and baby came, and then left. I lost my purpose, I lost my reasons, I lost my why. I changed trajectory during this time. I decided to be healthy for ME. I decided to be fit and strong for ME, and this is likely one of the things that allowed me to stay stronger when we lost our second baby last October.
ACCEPTANCE & HOPE
As time passed we grew to accept that this was our story, and this was how life was supposed to go for us. There were many lessons learned through this unfortunate and terrible event. We grew to be stronger, time heals, this I have learned. We don’t live with what ifs, they do more harm than good. We live in love and in hope. We hoped when we decided to try again, sometime in the future that it would be our time, and although we lost that baby too and it took a third try, we are beyond grateful for every experience that has led us to be pregnant with this baby boy today. We love him so much already and we are anxiously, terribly and impatiently waiting to meet him but we live in love and in hope. And every day is a wonder and a blessing, and every moment with him kicking inside me makes my heart skip a beat.
Why share all this?
I know this is incredibly personal, and I know many would choose not to share these words, but I have been continually surprised and delighted to receive private messages from women who have experienced something similar. Women who share in this story in some way and who felt alone and isolated in their pain before they connected with someone who understood them. So I share this for you, the silent reader who I may not hear from, and those that do reach out and share their stories with me. My hope has always been to share in hopes that someone else might connect to the words on the screen and feel even just a little bit less alone.
Photo by Dmitry Bayer on Unsplash