Friday, April 5, 2013

It happened twice

I have long fought with this topic. Wondering if I should broach it here on my blog, a place that is generally happy. I wondered if I could talk about this subject in a positive light. I have drafted several posts and deleted them, not sure how it would be received...not sure that I was comfortable putting it out there. Then, yesterday a friend confided in me and I felt myself called to discuss this here with you. I know many of you have had this same problem or have known someone who has gone through it. Strangely it is something that we generally keep quiet about. I am talking about miscarriage and I hope you will too.

Fall of 2008 I found out I was pregnant for the first time. After years of marriage and a happy life we had decided to start a family.  When I bought my first pregnancy test I couldn't believe it, that I was actually taking a pregnancy test. Then we hovered over that test as we waited. And oh, that magical moment when the word positive appeared in that window. Unbeatable. We took happy photos of the pregnancy test and the joyful tears that followed. We started planning trips to see our families to break the exciting news. I scoured the internet for vegan fortune cookies that I could have specially made to announce the pregnancy. I laid my hand on my flat belly, trying to connect with that microscopic baby inside of me. I tried to connect and I did. I talked and sang to that baby on my way to work. I carefully adjusted my diet. I set up my first doctor's appointment and was eagerly anticipating all that goes with a first pregnancy. Would I have morning sickness I wondered? Would I feel it move soon? Boy or girl? All of that was there I could feel it. I could imagine it and it was beautiful. Amazing. Hope filled.

Then it happened. I can't tell you how horrified I was. I called the doctor I was to meet with the next week. I was panicked. She sighed, she asked a few questions and pretty much just told me to wait and see. I sat on my bed, the curtains drawn, hunched over the phone, still in my work clothes. Eric was nearby, waiting to hear. Couldn't they do something I implored? If I went to the ER was there anything they could do to save it? She knew I was not far along and she told me that there was nothing to be done. She told me it could be nothing, that it could just pass...but it didn't. I lost it. I lost my first baby.

I told nobody. Well, I told Eric, he was right there with me. I went to the store a week later and bought another pregnancy test and this time it was negative. I wanted more than anything to call my mother, but I didn't. She was dealing with the loss of a dear friend at that same time and I just couldn't tell her and break her heart even more. I regret that. I went through a pain that only mothers who have lost pregnancies can understand and I needed someone to lean on. Eric was there and he was amazing and so sad, but he couldn't know how it feels to carry and lose a baby. The questions, the second guessing--was it something I did or didn't do? I couldn't properly mourn.

Then, a short while later, I was pregnant again, this one lasted, but oh the fear was heavy. I was no longer lighthearted about pregnancy. I would wake in the night, quietly listening to my body, searching it for signs that something was wrong. Each trip to the bathroom was filled with fear as I was sure that there would be more blood. I was terrified for my baby for the first 7 weeks until I saw that heart beating on an ultrasound. Gradually I settled into that pregnancy and connected deeply to the baby growing inside of me. I told my mother what had happened with the first. She cried with me and held me like I needed her to. When the due date for the first pregnancy passed me by I cried. I was conflicted. I was so sad to have lost that first baby, but I wouldn't have Cordelia if it hadn't happened. Ultimately I settled in on the fact that there was never going to be a way to comfortably deal with that loss...it will always hurt.

Unfortunately it doesn't end there. In the summer of 2011 I was pregnant again, we were thrilled. We decided to tell my family right away. I wanted/ needed their support from the start. We announced the pregnancy by putting Cordelia in a big sister t-shirt (we didn't tell Cordelia what it was). We were happy, but apprehensive. When I passed the time of my first miscarriage I breathed a little sigh of relief.

We decided to take a trip to visit my brother and sister-in-law in North Carolina that summer. The night before we left we drove down to Denver as we had an early flight the next day. On our drive down we discussed baby names and wondered what life would be like for Cordelia as a big sister. We had dinner and went to our hotel and there it was. I had a feeling. I knew the feeling. I told Eric and all we could do was wait in our hotel. I laid on that bed all night, sobbing quietly and begging that baby to hold on. Maybe it would be nothing, that it would just pass...but it didn't. I lost it. I lost another baby, my third pregnancy ended.

This time I called my mother. She hurt with me and cried with me. It wasn't easier, but at least my grief wasn't hidden. My father was there too. My brothers. They all were there for us.

I took that trip to NC to visit my brother.  I cannot even express to you what I went through emotionally. I nearly fell apart when I was taken into the back at the airport and routinely searched...how vulnerable I felt. When we landed in NC I tried to use that trip to start the healing process off on the right foot, with support. I tried to be present with my brother. I tried to be engaged and normal, but I was hurting.  The thing about miscarriage, or at least mine, is that they happen over days and they hurt. I was glad for the pain though, as though my body was mourning with my soul.

 Perhaps you remember this post from that trip, I used this quote as something of a mantra. I think it was this second miscarriage in which I found my true strength. I found that I could have a broken heart and at that same moment revel in the joys of life. I could go into the bathroom and sob for a few minutes and then crack jokes half an hour later. I already knew from previous experience, that this hurt would actually last forever. I knew that it was OK to hurt, that it was just another layer to the person that I am.

I was pregnant again in the winter, just a couple of months later. I spent those first three months in terror, begging her to hold on, to grow, to be healthy. Elise came in the summer, nearly a year from the day that I found out about the pregnancy before her.

Who I am is forever changed by the losses. Babies that I never got to hold, my arms ache to embrace them. My heart has room for them, but they aren't here and they never will be. Oh it hurts, it will always hurt. Yet, somehow I am glad for this hurt, it is my way of acknowledging that I am, in fact, a mother of 4.

How strange life is, that we can hurt so deeply and feel such joy. Perhaps you are wondering why I chose to write about this. My hope is that someone will read this and feel less alone or maybe you will be more able to understand your friend, family member, spouse as they grieve. Have you been through a miscarriage? Were you willing to reach out to others for support?

19 comments:

Michelle said...

Maria, I am glad that you had the courage to write about this. I think it will help a lot of women. An early miscarriage is still a great loss and it is right to mourn. I am grateful that I did not experience this, but my two older sisters both lost babies and I did a lot of worrying, because, yes, a mother does bond with the baby immediately. So many hopes and dreams, so much love, grow with that wee child. Bless you for sharing.

Grandma Grace said...

I cried as I read this post. I cried for your babies and I cried for Brian Keith and Sally May. Yes, it still hurts after all these years.

Maria Rose said...

Thank you both.

Marie Roxanne said...

Thank you for this revelation. A miscarriage is the worse thing to bear for any mother or father.
I still mourn for Safra, a child I never got to hold.

Anne Marie said...

Thank you for sharing your story. Your pain comes through very clearly in your words, and I am sorry you and Eric had to experience this not only once, but twice. I did not experience the loss of a child, but I imagine it would be similar to any loss of someone near and dear to us. Your grief for your babies is very real, and very understandable. The holes our loved ones leave behind in our hearts will be there for as long as we walk this earth. Knowing I absolutely will see my dad, Grandma Rose, etc., again someday is the only thing that makes such loss even a little bearable for me. Oh, the reunion you will one day have with your children in Heaven!

lovekudzu said...

You are very courageous to address this topic. My heart goes out to you.

I am currently pregnant with my second child. While I have never experienced a miscarriage, I understand the constant fear of losing your child. It is as though you are holding your breath until your child's birth. Bless you for sharing your story.

Vada said...

I am so sorry for you and Eric. How brave you are to share your story and I am sure it will be of help to others who have experienced the same thing.

When pregnant with my daughter, I was relieved when I hit 13 weeks because they said most miscarriages happened by that point. Within days of that milestone I began spotting and it scared me to death. Turns out it was due to a low placenta, but the fear that I was going to lose that baby was very real for a little while, so I got just a little taste of what you had to go through.

Sarah Purdy said...

Your resilience and bravery never cease to amaze me.

Carmen said...

Maria I'm so sad to hear of both your losses. I haven't experienced a miscarriage myself, but have too many friends who have. Love to you.

Mom said...

Thank you for warning me to not read this post while I was at work. Yes, I cried...and then cried some more. I cried for the siblings I didn't get to know, the babies I couldn't carry to term and the grandbabies I didn't get to hold. Mostly, though, I cried because I could not erase your pain.

I am so proud of you, my brave daughter.

AKM said...

Thank you for sharing this with all of us. I am amazed by your strength, as always. I have never experienced this loss myself, so I can't imagine your grief, but I can say that I grieved for the loss of those two precious ones as I read this. I am sorry that you and Eric had to go through that.

How blessed I am to know you, a woman who can take her own story of pain and sorrow and share it so that others may find some comfort and not feel alone. Much love to you and yours today, my friend. <3

Allen said...

I'm So SORRY .

Tina said...

As my heart aches for you, your mom, and your grandma, I remember the fear that I would join in this heritage of loss. I also think of all the mothers that purposely end their pregnancies, and wonder how they cannot feel the connection right away, or mourn the loss. Thank you for sharing your heart. It makes me want to grab both of my kids and hug them tight, and thank God for the blessing of them.

Tonya said...

You are so strong. My first pregnancy also resulted in a miscarriage. It was the most painful experience of my life, physically. Emotionally, it was very tough, even though it was an unplanned pregnancy. Several months later, I got pregnant with my now 17-month-old, who was ironically born on the same date that I found out I was pregnant with my first one, one year later. I wouldn't have my daughter otherwise, but I sometimes wonder about the first- if it was a boy or girl, ect. My daughter is the smartest, most beautiful human being I have ever known, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Thank you for being brave enough to share your stories. I am so sorry you had to go through this twice. Lots of hugs.. Xoxo

Kate said...

One of my pregnancies was twins. We got past the "dangerous" stage, we got past the stage where one twin generally "vanishes" and I thought I'd have two babies. I lost one when the pregnancy was nearly have finished. I don't talk about it often and very rarely to anyone outside my family. In fact, I think I can count on one hand how many people I've talked about this to, but obviously people knew there were two babies. Most people assumed the first 20 weeks ultrasounds were off, that the midwife had made a mistake, that I had maybe misunderstood. I don't explain that by 19 weeks, we'd had 6 ultrasounds (a result of an already complicated pregnancy), that both heartbeats had been recorded. That name lists had been chosen, nursery themes and photo themes considered. I don't feel ready usually and maybe I never will. What a gift that you've given us a safe place to feel. Thank yo. I'm sorry for those babies whose smiles you'll never return. I wish there were other words, but there aren't.

Maria Rose said...

Thank you for sharing Kate, my heart aches with yours.

MD said...

Thank you for writing this. My second pregnancy ended in an early miscarriage. I don't want this to come off too strange but at that time I happened to be reading through some of your blog entries thinking, "Gosh I wish I could be like her... have two children so easily without any heartbreak mixed in..." Silly, right? Of course I'm so sorry for your loss, and would never want you to have experienced the pain that I, too, am unfortunately familiar with. But by being honest, you let me know I'm not alone. And you show how life moves forward, finding happiness and joy. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm now pregnant at 18 weeks with baby number 2, and so hopeful that all will go well with this pregnancy. Again, thank you for putting your experiences into words: you wrote what has been inside me, and what I needed to "hear."

elizabeth said...

i have not miscarried, but i have two sisters-in-law who have and a dear friend who has 3 times. i also have a sis- and bro- in-law who can never have biological children.

my heart aches for each of these voids where there should be a little one to hold . . .

i have not had easy pregnancies
http://bitsofsunshine.typepad.com/bits_of_sunshine/2010/05/birth-thoughts.html
but i am so grateful for the two kiddos i have!

Kat V. said...

I lost my first pregnancy at 8 weeks and it was a painful & scary experience. It's been almost 3 years since that loss.

I'm now 17 weeks pregnant. I waited as long as I could before telling too many people about this pregnancy. I still worry sometimes--but it's a blessing everytime I go to the doctor and hear that strong heartbeat.

Thank you for sharing this. <3

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