01 Oct The Heartbreak that is: Pregnancy Loss.
“No one else will ever know the strength of my love for you. After all, you’re the only one who knows what my heart sounds like from the inside.” ~Kristen Proby
I longed to be a mother for as long as I can remember.
When I was little, I remember adults asking, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My response was always the same, “I’m going to be a mommy.”
As I grew older, I watched several of my friends experience pregnancy and struggle to maintain their schooling and education. I saw many left to become single mothers. I witnessed them struggle with really tough and emotional decisions: should I keep it? Should I have an abortion? Should I adopt them out?
Photo Credit: Amber Caldeira
I remember vowing to myself that I would not have children until I knew in my heart that, firstly I was ready and secondly, that I was involved with a man who would be a good dad even if (God forbid) it didn’t work out between us.
I didn’t find that man until five years ago, when I was thirty-three.
We started trying to conceive almost a year into our relationship. We had discussed getting married (at some point) but neither of us is conventional.
While the act of trying to conceive was always fun and randy, it only took about a year before it became tedious with basal temperature readings, tracking cycles and ovulation times, organic supplements to promote fertility, ovulation kits, and so on.
Each month ended in disappointment and tears as my menstrual cycle would come.
Finally, in August of 2013, I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. I took an additional three tests (just to be sure) and made a visit to my doctor who confirmed I had finally conceived.
I’m not even sure how to express how excited and happy we were. I was over- the-moon-happy. I jumped in, feet first, and was unable to contain my excitement.
I immediately told all of our friends and family, though some cautioned I should not be making announcements until after my first trimester.
I threw caution to the wind and started picking baby names, neutral crib sets, bassinets—you name it, I was on it. I felt elated and was consumed with this child growing in my belly.
At five weeks, I had my first ultrasound. They did it early due to my age. At thirty-five, I was considered “high risk.”
I walked out, happy, as everything looked fine and seemingly, I was where I should be and everything looked great.
Not long after, I started having “morning sickness.” But for me it was more like all-day-sickness. I became concerned as I literally could not keep anything down. I was assured this was “normal” and before long I was living on a diet of crackers and ginger ale.
At six weeks, I started spotting after intercourse. Concerned, I called my OBGYN who assured me that this happens to a lot of women. She suggested alternative love-making techniques that would not impact my uterus.
At seven weeks, I started experiencing a lot of pain in my lower back and abdomen. Again, concerned, I called my OBGYN who stated this was also normal. She assured me these were “stretching pains” and I had no reason for concern.
At almost eight weeks, the pain became increasingly more regular and excruciating. Thinking I was being dramatic, I became obsessed with my heating pad (set on low) to ease my frequent back spasms.
At exactly eight weeks, I went to urinate and felt gripped with fear as I realized I was bleeding—not just spotting.
Timidly, I shared the news with my child’s father. He immediately called his mother, who is a nurse. She recommended I lie down and if the bleeding persisted to go to the emergency room.
Forty-five minutes later I was doubled over in pain.
I went to the restroom to find I was not just bleeding but also passing tissue.
We immediately went to the emergency room.
I was rushed back fairly quickly and had blood drawn. They kept me lying down with my pelvis raised.
Each hour blood samples were taken and the pain increased. Finally, an OBGYN came in to inform me I was in the process of having a miscarriage and my hCG levels were dropping drastically each hour.
She said she would need to do an exam and clear the tissue as there was nothing they could do to stop it from happening. She said it wasn’t a viable pregnancy.
To say I was devastated and utterly heart-broken would be an understatement. My sobs were uncontrollable.
The OBGYN, herself, was eight months pregnant. I remember staring at her full, round pregnant belly and in that moment, I hated her.
Before I knew it, I was up in stirrups with her removing the “tissue.” I wanted to scream, “It’s my baby! It’s not just f*cking tissue, you heartless b*tch!”
But I knew in my heart it wasn’t her fault and it was grief coming in waves of anger.
A few moments later, a nurse came in to assist. As she entered the room, I felt like it was God’s sick joke as she also had a full, round pregnant belly.
The nurse had a horrified look on her face as she started rubbing her belly. I wanted to scream out, “It’s not contagious! I’m sure your baby will be just fine.”
The nurse seemed to freak out and kept saying, “Oh my God, there’s so much blood. Is that normal? So much blood…oh my God…”
Before I could throat punch her, the doctor ordered her to leave the room.
As they took me in for my ultrasound to ensure everything had passed, I felt numb. I felt as empty as my gestational sac looked on the screen.
I felt the life leave my body and I felt small and powerless.
Words kept ringing in my ears and between sobs, I cried, “There’s nothing I could do to stop it. I couldn’t save you. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry…”
When I was finally discharged, I walked into the waiting room to find the love of my life with red, swollen eyes filled with tears. He pulled me into him, tight, and whispered, “I love you. We’ll try again.”
October 8, 2015 will mark two years since my miscarriage. I still have not conceived.
At almost thirty-eight, I have to come to terms and accept that having a baby may not be written in the stars for me.
I share my story as since that time, I have learned that 10-20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, and more than 80% of these losses happen within the first trimester. 10% of women (6.1 million) in the US ages 15-44 will experience infertility.
On behalf of all the mothers who have either endured a miscarriage or infertility issues, I would humbly request that we all be mindful of the questions we ask:
Asking when a couple is planning to have a child (because you aren’t getting any younger — tick tock). While I know this playful ribbing is not meant to be hurtful — it is. For one who is grieving from a loss or infertility issues, this is a highly personal question that is often difficult to answer.
Do you have any children of your own? I never know how to answer this question, which really isn’t your fault, but, it is a constant reminder of my loss. Therefore, when I answer, please remember it’s not my fault when I say, “I had a miscarriage…” and you become uncomfortable. I have also heard from parents who adopt that this is a really hard question for them to answer as well. They feel the need to go into person details of adoption — which is really no one’s business.
Have you looked into fertility options such as IVF? Before you delve into your meant-to-be-positive-and-uplifting story of someone you know who had great success with this procedure, please know I have looked into it. I have also come to find the starting cost for most IVF procedures start around $15,000 and only 22.4% result in live births. With our income — IVF is not an option and discussion about it only makes me feel worse.
Although we are a very open society, some things are meant to be private and personal. It’s never okay to pry into someone else’s business, no matter how well meaning. We all need to be mindful as we truly never know what struggles others may be carrying.
Author: Mary Rogers
Editor: Sarah Kolkka