I vividly remember the day I found out that I was pregnant. I had this strange urge to grab a home pregnancy test on my way back from work. It hadn’t missed my period and, other than feeling tired that week, I wasn’t exhibiting any of those “tell tale” symptoms associated with pregnancy (I would later come to discover that most of those symptoms don’t even surface until around week 6-8). The next morning, I quietly took the test in the comfort our our master bathroom and was shocked to see a positive result. It was a happy surprise. Joyful tears flowed down my face as I realized that life was stirring inside me. In the weeks that followed before our first prenatal appointment, we shared our happy news only with close friends and family. It wasn’t until after our first ultrasound that we shared the news of our impending arrival with our extended network of friends and co-workers. Like many new expectant parents, we were under the impression that our baby would be one that we would take home from the hospital and love as he or she grew into an independent person. We were mistaken.
In early November, my husband and I headed to a routine prenatal visit where we were excited to hear our sweet baby’s heartbeat via doppler. Elation soon turned into worry as my OB doctor referred us to a prenatal imaging center for an ultrasound. It was there that we would discover that the child we thought we would take home would never be an outside baby. For parents who have never experienced a loss, it’s hard to fathom how heartbreaking that news can be. For several weeks I had developed this relationship with the child I thought would be mine and it was stripped from me. It hurt and I didn’t understand. It was the worst moment of my life. My doctor recommended a D&C in the days that followed after we received the news and I was told that we were clear to start trying again at the end of December 2009 or early January 2010. The prospect of “trying” was scary. There are so many uncertainties associated with getting pregnant after a loss and the thought of losing another baby can be overwhelming but our loss made me realize how much I wanted a healthy baby and I knew we would have to eventually move on and try in order for that to happen.
By April 2010, after months of charting, ovulation tests, and negative home pregnancies, I was losing faith. If I could get pregnant without even trying the first time, why wasn’t it happening this time?! Everywhere I looked, it seemed, other women were getting pregnant, having babies, and enjoying the life that I thought would be mine and I wasn’t. By the first week of June 2010, the realization that our due date was upon me. My husband and I decided to take a couple days off of work to spend together, doing something fun, in memory of the child that never made it home. Later that month, on the 22nd, I found out that I was pregnant with my daughter.
I had just arrived at a good place, emotionally, after mourning the loss of our baby, and I was scared that it might happen again. I feared every cramp and ache fearful that it might mean the worst. I took home pregnancy tests periodically (pretty much throughout my first trimester) just to make sure that they were still showing up positive. Thankfully, Charlotte Grace came into this world in February 2011 after a healthy and relatively text book pregnancy. Not a day goes by that I’m not thankful for her presence in my life. The takeaway that I gained from my experience in loss is that it’s hard and it’s okay to be angry, heartbroken, and sad. It’s okay to mourn the loss of something that should have been yours.
I was certain that our first baby was a boy. So we named him Elijah Steven. I keep a box with his first ultrasound picture, a few congratulatory cards we received from friends and family, and a little teddy bear we had purchased as a gift for our baby shortly after we found out we were expecting. These keepsakes are likely things that I will share with my own daughter one day down the road as we talk about life, loss, and family. If you’re mourning a loss of your own, know that you’re not alone and that it’s okay to be sad. Sometimes sharing your story is a good way to let other women know that they always have support.
In honor of International Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day, I wanted to share with you some information about “Count The Kicks“, a campaign that aims at saving the lives of unborn children in late pregnancy. Although stillbirth is vastly different from what I experienced (which was a miscarriage), I think the Count The Kicks mission is important and I encourage you all to take a look at this video:
To join the movement, start by visiting and liking the Count the Kicks Facebook page.