My Journey Through Pregnancy Loss0
The other day I met a new mama friend at one of our downtown baby groups. It was time for our class to wrap up for the summer and we decided to end the morning with a coffee with our babies in tow. One topic led to another and we started to discuss pregnancy loss and the fact that we both had experienced the joy of a thriving baby but also the hurt of a pregnancy loss.
As I meet the needs of a busy ten month old baby right now, it feels like a life time ago that I experienced my 2-3 miscarriages. My first miscarriage at 12 weeks then a second one at 9 weeks and then a chemical pregnancy around 5 weeks. Benjamin snuck up on us a few months later. Pregnancy loss is a sorrow that I can conjure up just by reflecting on the experience. It doesn’t seem to matter what beautiful things happen in your life it will always be something that somehow defines you even in the smallest ways.
I got pregnant quite easily on our very first adventure into trying for a baby and I was pretty impressed with myself at the time. We went to our GP’s office the exact same day that I had gotten a positive pregnancy test because we were that excited. I was elated and scared and already thinking ahead about baby plans. As a perinatal RN I knew that every single pregnancy has a chance of miscarriage and I knew that I was not exempt. I had a scientific mind behind pregnancy and thought that this would help me navigate the emotions that any pregnancy creates.
In retrospect I remember feeling that my first pregnancy didn’t feel quite right. There was always something unknown tugging at my thoughts and to be completely honest I didn’t necessarily picture a baby being born as a result of this current pregnancy. Was it women’s intuition? I had some spotting at week 5 and more spotting at week 8 but my GP told me to hold tight and just relax and let things take a natural course. If things were progressing well than we would know at 12 weeks when we would listen for a fetal heart beat.
It was during an ultrasound at 12 weeks that I learned the pregnancy had ended sometime around week 8. I left the hospital knowing that there was an embryo in me that needed to come out. There was no baby to be born or pregnancy to continue. It was done and I wasn’t sure what to feel or what to do. My husband and I walked home from the hospital and I felt numb.
A few days went by and we told our close friends and some of my family about what was going on. I felt emotional and worried and really alone; I questioned if I could get through this and wondered if something was wrong with me. I ended up taking some medication to induce a miscarriage at home. This experience was not for me at all and I hated every painful moment that it took away from me. I ended up in an ambulance and being sent to the OR for a STAT D+C to remove the products of conception and stop the bleeding. My only positive memory from this miscarriage is the lovely woman OB that was on call and the sweet nurses that took care of me and acknowledged that this was hard and that it sucked.
I really believe that the physical pain caused by the strong induction medication left me with a more difficult recovery ahead. I now had intense emotional pain, I felt like a big pile of crap from the anesthetic and my body was tired from the hours of painful contractions. It was a crap experience followed up by an even crappier ending. I felt empty. To top it all off I ended up getting shingles a few days afterwards. I now have a permanent scar on my forehead to remind me of the shingles brought on by the physical and emotional stress of my first pregnancy loss.
I had a few sweet friends and co workers who were of great support and even some who had traveled this path before me. They offered me tremendous friendship and support and told me that they too had experienced pregnancy loss; some early at 5 weeks and some later at 16 weeks and a few had losses even later with even harder stories to share. No one had talked about this until after I experienced a pregnancy loss. It is a secret world that we should really share with each other. It felt reassuring and made the loss feel more normal for me.
As time went on people expect that you have gotten over losing the pregnancy. That you have moved on and aren’t still thinking about it every day. So friends stop asking how you are doing and instead talk about other things, like the future. The best of friends knew to ask you how you were even months down the road. How amazing that they acknowledge that hardship that you had encountered and to know you might not be over it.
From the time of my first pregnancy loss till the time I gave birth to my first born son spanned just over two years. I know that some people journey even longer on their road to having a baby with even more grief and I acknowledge that wholeheartedly. Having a healthy baby did put some distance between the feelings of loss and those of pure bliss but not until after I held my newborn on my chest seconds after he was born. I always felt that worry of losing any pregnancy because of my experiences. Pregnancy loss is now something that I have lived through and feel deeply touched by.