Break the Silence. Pregnancy Loss Awareness

Miscarriage. I hate that word and everything it means. In some ways it makes it sound like the mother was at fault or did not “carry” her baby properly, so the pregnancy failed. As a mother who has now suffered 3 miscarriages it is impossible to not question what I did wrong, or blame yourself.  Is it that cup of coffee I drank, it it because I slept on my stomach? The guilt you harvest is real.  But, the truth is,  all 3 of those babies were wanted so badly and I would have done anything possible to keep them. Deep down, I know its nothing I did. I did everything I could. The loss of a baby, no matter how far along you were, is heartbreaking. It is life changing. Let yourself grieve, it is a real loss and the stages of grief will be real. After each loss I felt broken, and as I am going through my most recent one I still am. Until my first loss I had never felt a pain like this before. I was in a fog and angry for months. Angry that life continued to go on around me and I felt as if mine was at a standstill. As time has gone on, I understand that life for others will go on and I am trying my best to not let myself get stuck at a standstill, but its a constant struggle. 

8 years ago we saw our first set of 2 pink lines. It was unexpected. Not unwanted, just not expected. It took us about 24 hours to really wrap our heads around how much our lives were about to change. I always knew I wanted kids, 4 to be exact, but was I really ready at that moment to be a mom. I guess I had 8 months or so to prepare.  8 months later the sweetest baby changed me. He was perfect in every way and it just confirmed my want and desire to have multiple children. We were ready for another right away. I remember our little man was only 3 months old and  I told my husband I wanted to try for another. I realize now just how crazy I was for thinking I wanted another after only a few months. I was clearly still sleep deprived and delusional. After several more sleepless nights we decided maybe we should wait a few more months before trying to expand our family. 

The day our first turned 11 months we learned I was pregnant with #2. We were trying and it happened quickly. I felt so lucky. But, I also had a very close friend that had been struggling with infertility and I remember feeling so guilty. Why am I so lucky to get pregnant so easily with 2 sweet babies and she is still struggling to get pregnant. Life just isn’t fair sometimes. My second pregnancy was a “textbook pregnancy,” just like our first. No problems, no scares, and at 39 weeks pregnant we welcomed a healthy baby girl.

Fast forward to when she turned One, I had just finished breastfeeding and my husband and I were on a weekend getaway to New Orleans just the two of us. I remember exploring the town of New Orleans and both saying we were ready to try for a third. Given our past, we joked that we would be pregnant next month. Little did I know it would be 3.5 years before we welcomed our third. 

As you might remember from my previous blog post about our journey to our third, we tried for a very long time before I saw those 2 pink lines again. I was so confused, what changed? Why was my body struggling to get pregnant after 2 very easy pregnancies?  It was a rough journey and I felt very alone in the situation. I knew I should be thankful for the two children I did have, and I was, but it didn’t take away from the desire to have another baby. 

Finally, almost 2 years into our TTC (Trying to conceive) journey I saw those 2 pink lines. I was in disbelief. I remember we had just moved back to Colorado from Louisiana. My husband was at work when I took the test and as soon as he walked in the house I told him I needed to show him something in my office. I showed him the positive pregnancy test. We cried, we hugged, we celebrated. Our dreams were finally coming true. We would finally welcome that third baby we had wanted for so long.

Unfortunately several weeks later our dreams were shattered when we learned we were miscarrying. My body didn’t catch on, we learned by going to our first ultrasound and realizing it just wasn’t right. As the weeks went by I passed everything at home and remember being so emotional. I felt as if I could never get over this loss. I would cry anytime someone asked if we wanted more kids. But day after day, things got a little better. 

Several months later, we received another set of 2 pink lines. I’ll be honest, this one was a little harder to “celebrate” Was I thrilled, Yes! Was I terrified, definitely! I remember walking into that first ultrasound so scared that we would learn that sweet baby didn’t make it, either. Instead we saw the most perfect little bean and a healthy beating heart. We celebrated. We were so overjoyed that things were looking up. After a couple more ultrasounds and hitting the second trimester we couldn’t wait to share the news with our friends and family, we were finally going to have a third baby! 

I wish I could say that months later we welcomed that little bean, but unfortunately it didn’t end well. At almost halfway through the pregnancy we learned we had a “fetal demise,” her heart stopped beating. No explanation. Her genetic testing came back great, she was a perfectly healthy little baby. I delivered her in the hospital, we held her and cried as all of our dreams for her disappeared in an instant. It was by far the hardest thing my husband and I have gone through. I remember crying so much that I felt like I had no tears left to cry. The days following were so hard. It was difficult to pick myself up off the floor, hard to get out of bed in the morning. The simplest daily tasks felt impossible. 

Months later we received another set of 2 pink lines. All I could think was how does this happen? How do we go from no positive pregnancy tests after months of trying, tracking ovulation, fertility treatments, etc. Nothing. And then all of a sudden I am able to get pregnant again several times but now the problem is carrying the baby full term. We were trying for this pregnancy, I knew it would be an emotional journey, but I knew how badly I wanted a third baby. I quickly realized I wasn’t emotionally ready to be pregnant again. It was so hard.  Just as I had with the last two babies, I remember walking into my first ultrasound terrified. 1 in 4 women will experience miscarriage but only 1 in 100 will experience reoccurring miscarriage. I knew it was uncommon to have 2 miscarriages in a row, and even more uncommon to have 3 in a row, but I was expecting to be told I was the unlucky one and was having another miscarriage. To our surprise we saw a beating heart and another seemingly healthy little peanut. We were celebrating, but of course we were very cautiously optimistic.

 Things continued to progress, but each ultrasound was such a trigger for me. I was convinced that at some point I would be told we had another fetal demise. I was seeing a counselor through this time as it really helped me sort out my feelings during this pregnancy after 2 losses.  At 15 weeks I went to the bathroom and found a large amount of blood. I was convinced that was the end. I cried and drove myself to the ER (our kids were already asleep for the night, and I didn’t want to wake them so my husband stayed home with them). To my shock, it wasn’t the end. That little guy was still bouncing around and moving in there and again, seemingly healthy. But, because of the blood and soon after being diagnosed with a subchorionic hemmorage I was told I was at higher risk for loss. Great,  just what I needed. As if I wasn’t already fearful enough that we would lose this baby.

Thankfully,  a few months later, at full term, we welcomed the most beautiful “rainbow baby.” I have never felt such relief. I remember I kept rubbing his face and thinking, is this real? Am I really holding my baby right now,  3.5 years after we started trying for our third. For hours, days really, it felt so surreal.  He brought back so much joy to my life.  

The last 18 months with him have brought so many laughs to our family. He is such a happy baby and is such a perfect addition to our family. 

 A few months ago, my husband and I decided we were ready to try for that fourth and final baby. We were cautious, knowing what we had gone through prior to baby number 3, but we were trying to stay optimistic. To our surprise, we quickly saw those 2 pink lines. We celebrated. We were so thrilled. Was I terrified? Absolutely. But, I kept telling myself, I just had a healthy baby, everything will be ok. My body can do this. 

Weeks went by and the symptoms were coming. I was exhausted. What is it about first trimester exhaustion? I felt like I needed to nap several times a day. I was nauseous, I had a never ending awful headache. All symptoms I have had with my previous pregnancies. All symptoms that gave me hope that this pregnancy would carry on normally and we would welcome our healthy fourth baby. Did I still have doubt?  Absolutely. It is hard to go through pregnancy after loss and not have doubt that you will also lose this baby. But, I kept trying to stay positive and keep hope that things would be different this time. 

Unfortunately, I was wrong. We went in for our first ultrasound and learned the pregnancy stopped progressing. I would soon be miscarrying, but my body hasn’t quite caught on yet.  I cried. Why is this happening again,  What did I do?  You question everything. I went home and hugged my kids so tightly. I was so lucky to have the 3 of them. They are true miracles. With this most recent loss I was “only” in my 7th week, but that is just it, there is no “only. ” Pregnancy loss hurts  no matter how far along you are. As soon as you see those 2 pink lines you have hopes and dreams for the baby, and no matter how far along you are when you lose that baby those hopes and dreams are gone. 

The day after we learned we were miscarrying I woke up to fog and drizzle out the window. As my husband would call it, it felt like an “Oregon Coast” kind of morning. Each year when we visit the Oregon Coast we see so much fog and drizzle.  It is his favorite kind of weather. That morning the fog and gloomy weather was a direct reflection of how I was feeling. My mind felt foggy and I just felt an overall sadness and very “gloomy.”  But, life had to move on. I finished making the kids lunches for school and getting the baby ready for childcare so I could work in my office. I got in the car, started driving the kids to school and I look up and there it is. On the gloomiest of mornings, a beautiful rainbow. 

I took it as a sign. No matter how gloomy today feels, there will be rainbows in my future. Whether or not we decide to try for another baby. I’m not sure if I’m ready to try again and go down this ugly road of loss again. But despite what our future holds, there will be rainbows. Even knowing there are rainbows to come it is still hard to keep your head held high. I wanted to take them to school and come home and climb into bed, but I forced myself to be productive  that day. The next day, the kids had a teacher work day and it was so hard getting out of bed that morning knowing I didn’t “need” to be anywhere right away.  With each of my past losses I went into a deep state of depression. I wasn’t the best mom to the beautiful children I did have, and I wasn’t the best wife to the most amazing husband. I don’t want to let that happen this time.  I am grieving and I am hurting. I will always wonder, “What if?”, with each of the pregnancies we lost. But, I will continue to try hold my head up high and be so thankful that in a world full of infertility, pregnancy and infant loss, I am so lucky to have 3 beautiful babies. I know some days that will be harder than others but I am trying  to be my best self for my kids and husband even on my worst days. 

My body never did catch on that this pregnancy wasn’t progressing as we hoped. Like our first loss, we had to “induce” the miscarriage with the use of a medication called Cytotec. My midwife sent in the prescription and told me to bring it into my appointment. I went to pick up the prescription and I remember feeling scared. What would be their reaction, would they know this is to “induce” a miscarriage because we know it is no longer a viable pregnancy?  As a professional, the tech handed me my prescription, asked if I had any questions and told me to “Have a great day!” Really? Have a great day? I wanted to cry. This was going to be my worst day.

I walked into my appointment with the midwife and as soon as I saw her I started crying. Finally someone today that knew the pain I was in and what I was about to go through. She hugged me and reassured me that they are all here for me and know how difficult this is especially since it is our third time. Just that simple hug and validation of my feelings is what I needed in that moment.

This post is not to look for sympathy. These babies I have lost are part of our story, and I don’t ever want to feel like I can’t talk about them. I know it may be uncomfortable for some to hear about because you don’t know what to say, and the truth is, nothing you say will make it better. But just being able to be vulnerable and share my feelings helps so much with my grief process. After our first loss, not many people knew. It was such an isolating feeling to go through something so traumatic and not be able to talk openly about it. After the loss of our sweet Ava, I learned I personally deal with these emotions by being open and honest.  I remember needing someone I could talk to that could relate. I know there are others that can relate to my story in so many ways. So, to all the Mom’s out there that are struggling with infertility or pregnancy loss. I see you. I am virtually hugging you, we need each other and if you ever need to talk, I am here.  Whether you are as open as I am about your journey or prefer to keep it private, there is no right or wrong. We are all in this together. 

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