Monday, October 3, 2016

October, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

I will never forget that October morning. We were moving our work office from one building to another, and I was carrying files all morning back and forth. Six weeks pregnant, I was ecstatic that hubs and I were finally going to add another little one to the family. (That's me, on a work trip to DC, taking my first monthly photo!)

The cramping started and I didn't pay much attention. Then the bleeding. Panicked and in tears, I called the doctor's office from the pristine white-tiled work restroom. A soft voice on the other end told me, after consulting with the doctor, that I could be having a miscarriage or it could be bleeding that some pregnant women experience. I should go to the hospital for an ultrasound.

I left work early that day, unable to halt the waterfall of hopes and dreams cascading down my cheeks in sorrow and worry. I waited for that appointment, waited to call my husband. I wore a baseball hat to the hospital because I worked there and didn't want anyone to know it was me. And once there, in a cold, white sterile room, I learned our baby no longer had a heartbeat. Crushed isn't a strong enough word to describe what I felt.

I called my hubs, who still didn't know what was going on, and between sobs begged him to come pick me up. He did, shocked, and we went home in relative silence (aside from my crying) and tried our best not to discuss it. The doctor told me what would happen: I'd essentially go into a mild labor and may potentially have to undergo a D&C. I wanted to throw up every time I thought about it.

I had told everyone we were pregnant right when we found out. I was excited! We'd already had one healthy baby during the most stressful time of my life (when mom passed), and so I thought this pregnancy would be a breeze. We'd been trying for months to get pregnant and I couldn't wait to shout it from the rooftops.

When I told people who excitedly asked how the pregnancy was going that I was no longer pregnant, some would say, "at least it was early," or "at least it wasn't a baby yet." I understand that people don't know what to say in these situations, but those words stung. He or she was a baby, our baby. And yes it was early, but my heart wanted that child so badly. My poor husband - I asked him to tell everyone. I told a few people, and asked them to leave me alone. I sobbed. I sulked. I hid. I felt ashamed and could barely look at my sweet husband, who did everything he could to comfort me. I'd let him down, I thought. My body failed to make a safe home for this baby. No words otherwise could reach me; I was broken-hearted.

It was around Halloween and I can remember getting our son ready. That's me and the cutest Batman ever, as I try and somewhat hide my tummy. I didn't want any pictures of me that day, because the slight bump of my belly would just remind me of our loss.

I ignored the doctor's advice because it had taken so long for us to get pregnant that time, and I figured it would be the same once we began trying again. But somehow we ended up pregnant right away. Like, immediately.

Again, I was so excited. We couldn't wait. I took a first month photo. We were a bit scared, but feeling like this was the one. We were on our way to baby #2! We didn't tell anyone (well, I told some close friends, but no family) and I comforted myself in the belief that lightening wouldn't strike twice.

Then on a cold December day, again, I noticed blood. We were eight weeks along and I was at a department holiday party at work, feigning smiles and laughs. I had begun bleeding that morning; I called the doc; they said the same thing. I already knew though, before the cold ultrasound wand touched my stomach.

Same thing - I went to the hospital, but this time hubby came with me. I watched the screen and there was no movement, no heartbeat, no nothing. In a small little patient room, I was told again there was a loss, but I wasn't crying. I was just...not believing it, I guess. We went to the doctor's office where she hugged me. I love our doctor - she has such a big heart. She talked with me, gave me medicine to induce the labor, and then hugged me some more.

I stared at the medicine for hours. I'd take it in an hour; in two hours; tomorrow, I told myself. I couldn't let go. Turns out the medicine was unneeded - the next day, early afternoon, I began cramping. I had a holiday party with friends to go to that night that I swore I wouldn't miss. No one had known I was pregnant, and I didn't want to raise any flags. I sent my husband out with his friends. He didn't want to leave me, but I told him I was going to the party and wanted to just go on and celebrate the holidays. I was cramping again and knew what was coming, and I didn't want him to be there for it. It was embarrassing and awful. This handsome, kind man wrapped me in his arms and reminded me how much he loved me, and I still couldn't look him in the eyes.

We went about the holidays, and I put a smile on my face for my family. That's us on Christmas Eve, and me trying to hold it all together. When I felt like crying, I'd escape to the bathroom and will the tears away. And I still don't know which was harder: having to repeat over and over to people that we lost the baby, or to be crying alone on the couch because nobody knew.

Just three months later we were pregnant again, and the excitement was overshadowed by fear. Every step I took, every bite of food I ate, I worried if that would be the day that something happened. When we made it past the first trimester I felt a little relief, but the fear was always there in the back of my mind until our precious baby girl was safely in my arms later that year. I think about women who have lost a child at two, five, nine months and my heart breaks for them. Some may wonder how you can love someone you've never even met, but as a mother, it's absolutely possible. From the moment that test said "pregnant," my heart grew, as it does for mothers everywhere.

The heartbreak and disapointment are immeasurable when you lose a baby you wanted. To all the men and women who have lost a child, whether it was at five weeks or 40, my heart is with you. You aren't alone. Sending hugs your way.

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