A year since loss

A year since loss

A year ago, I was pregnant.  I am today, too.  What a difference a year makes.

A year ago, I was nervous about every twinge I felt in my belly.  Something didn’t feel right.  It didn’t feel like the first time.

Today… when was the last time I felt him kick? I try to jostle him awake for my own peace of mind.  C’mon little buddy, tell me you’re there.  I know you were hiccupping last night.  And I felt you move this morning.  But have you moved since?  Sometimes I get distracted and forget to pay attention.  That fear creeps in every so often.  It’s hard to push it away, especially today.  It consumes me… Tick tock, tick tock.  7 minutes later – there you are.  A sigh of relief.  There you are again.  Sweet, sweet kicks.  I cherish them all.  But especially the ones today, on this day.

A year ago, I was googling my symptoms.  Trying to find women who maybe felt what I did, but then had everything turn out okay.  Maybe all of this tugging and cramping was normal?  Maybe I was being paranoid?

Today… I’m googling birth affirmations. I’m working on getting in the mental space I need to for birth.  That place where I feel relaxed yet powerful.  Where everything will come on its own time, in its own way.  Where I trust my body, and I trust my baby, and I know we can do it together.  My excitement about meeting this next little love of mine grows and grows each day.

A year ago, I saw red.  So. Much. Red.

Today… I see my daughter’s face.  I find myself trying to memorize it.  Like I’ll forget what she’s like in this moment, this last time that she’ll be my only child.  I’m falling more and more in love with her every day, which I didn’t even think was possible.  This morning, unprompted, she threw her tiny arms around my neck, squeezed, and exclaimed I love you so much.  How do I make room for 1 more in my heart when it’s already bursting?  I know I will, I already have.  But I’m memorizing her face, all the same.

A year ago, I laid curled up, sobbing in my bed.  The tears were fat and hot and salty.  There was no more what if.  The wondering was replaced with a solid, firm, resounding, yes, this is a miscarriage.  My husband held me until I had nothing left to say, until my throat was hoarse from the crying, until I wanted to be left alone again.

Today… I sit here proudly rubbing my round belly.  Astonished by the miracle growing inside.  Bewildered that it can and does keep getting bigger.  Soaking up this last time that my body will be a vessel for another life.  Swaying my hips back and forth to make my back more comfortable, but careful to not outwardly complain too much, because I’m lucky.  So very, very lucky.  And the feeling is not lost on me today.

A year ago, I searched for stories like mine.  Once the tears had dried up, I looked for comfort in the words of friends who had shared their own losses publicly.  I was just looking to not be alone that night.  What I found was that I was far from alone… this secret world became unearthed.  I was flooded with stories of loss.  And of rainbows after the storm.  These women had survived… maybe I could too.

Today… I’m searching for tiny socks.  Sorting the smallest ones from the bigger ones, matching them all up into pairs.  Organizing them into drawers, ready to grab a new pair the moment one falls off and is lost forever in the depths of my house.  I’m preparing for the chaos I know is about to ensue, despite the fact that I know it’s pointless.  I’m already in the chaos. There’s a little shadow following me around, pulling neatly folded blankets out of drawers and using them for her baby dolls.  She’s trying to climb into the baby swing I took out of storage, and it’s creaking under her weight.  She’s littering baby wipes everywhere as she pretends to be Cinderella wiping the floor. But then she has her lips on my belly, singing sweetly to her baby brother. Chaos can be lovely sometimes, if you just let it happen.

A year ago, I saw an empty womb on the ultrasound, confirming what I already knew.  I felt numb, like I was in a trance.  There were pregnant ladies everywhere in the doctor’s office; I was not one of them.  I was empty.

Today… I heard my sweet baby’s heartbeat.  He predictably always hangs out on my left side – and while that’s predictable, I never take that heartbeat for granted.  It’s the sweetest sound in all the world.  It fills me up; today I am full.  Full of life, full of calm, full of gratitude.

See you in a few weeks, little one.  It’s been quite a journey.

Pregnancy After Loss

Pregnancy After Loss

It’s no coincidence that I felt the need to start this blog when I crossed over the 24 week mark of my pregnancy.  24 weeks.  Viability outside of the womb.  I’m finally beginning to trust my body again, and I think that I’ll look back at this moment as the one that I finally felt “healed.”  As healed as you can ever be after a loss… because I’ll certainly never forget it.

I had known I was pregnant for 10 days before I lost the baby.  10 days might not sound like a long time, but it’s enough time to start planning and dreaming for your future family.  It’s enough time to get attached.  I knew the moment I got pregnant – I could just feel it.  And I knew when I was losing it – unfortunately, I could feel every excruciating moment of that.  I had never heard how physically painful a miscarriage would be.

As I laid there curled up on my bed, doubled-over in pain & crying for our loss, I scoured the internet for answers.  For why this happened, how common it was, and for more than anything else – personal stories from friends.  I remembered 1 friend posting months ago about a loss, so I immediately looked for her post to read.  And then I remembered another friend who had posted about it years ago on her blog, so I sought that out.  It was the stories of friends, not strangers, that comforted me that night.  It made me feel a little less alone.  Like I could survive.  Even though all I felt was alone.  And empty.  So very empty.

The ultrasound the next day confirmed what I already knew, that I had lost the baby.  Of course my doctor reassured me that this was more common than we all think, and that I shouldn’t have any trouble getting pregnant again.  As I was driving back to work after my doctor’s appointment, all I could think was “I hope people are kind to me today.” I realized in that moment, that you truly never know what others are going through.  It was absurd that I continued about my day, my meetings, as if nothing had happened.  But I didn’t know what else to do.  It’s not like it was public knowledge that I was pregnant.

Although it wasn’t totally public, I’m so grateful that I had told 2 friends at work about it – because I needed them more than ever that day.  And after the miscarriage happened, I told even more friends about it, friends who hadn’t known I was pregnant yet.  Why?  Because it was a huge part of my life at that moment.  I was breaking inside, and I needed people to hold me up.  And I found that through telling my story, I found friends who had gone through / were going through the same thing and also needed to be held up.   It’s true what they say – miscarriage is a huge secret club.

I get why it’s a secret.  At least for me, I didn’t want too many people knowing we were trying to get pregnant.  I didn’t want to be on somebody else’s weird time clock, avoiding the burning question that would always be on their mind.  So, are you pregnant again yet?

The months that followed wreaked havoc on my body, literally.  Ovulation during my next cycle was extremely painful – just as painful as the actual miscarriage.  That was a kick in the gut.  Hey remember that awful thing that happened to you last month?  You’re going to feel like it’s happening all over again.  My next two cycles were 6 weeks long.  Another kick in the gut.  Hey you know how you’re trying to get pregnant?  Well I’m just going to make you think you’re pregnant by delaying things a bit, and making you pee on a million sticks that are going to keep coming up negative.  And then, during the 4th cycle, I felt it.  That pinch.  And then that same day I was overcome with the type of exhaustion that stops you in your tracks and forces you hit the pillow for a nap.  And the next day, there it was.  The most beautiful red line I had ever seen.  Of course, I took 5 more tests for 5 more days to make sure that the line got darker.

That kind of paranoia only got worse over the coming weeks.  Every twinge, every cramp – I lived with the fear of being in that small percent of women who have a repeat miscarriage.  When you don’t know what caused the first one, you don’t know if it was something with that particular sperm & egg, or if it’s something with you.  I longed for the blissfully ignorant days of my first pregnancy, when everything was new and happy-go-lucky.  Instead, I had days where I would sob in my car on my way to work, overcome with hormones I couldn’t control, and a growing fear I had even less control over.

It got easier at 8 weeks, when I finally got to hear my sweet baby’s heartbeat.  The instant he showed up on the ultrasound screen, his little arm was moving, like he was waving at me.  I’m here Mom! Don’t worry! I turned my head so that the ultrasound technician wouldn’t see the tears of joy rolling down my face.  When the last ultrasound I had was of an empty womb, the fullness I felt in that moment was indescribable.

The nausea was my reassuring companion over the next several weeks that everything was progressing as it should.  I willed myself to feel confident and calm, for the good of my baby.  And then at 14 weeks, we found out we were having a boy.  Being able to call “it” a “he” was extremely healing for me.  Calling him by his name made my attachment to him grow even further.

And then at 16 weeks, the nausea stopped.  Most women would welcome this change.  But despite hearing his heartbeat on the Doppler earlier that week, I felt like I was waiting for a train.  The nausea had left the station, and now I had nothing to reassure me while I was I was waiting for those precious first kicks.

2 weeks passed, and the first week of June rolled around.  One evening, I was sitting in the exact same spot I am right now.  And the tears started rolling when I realized that it should have been my due date.  I was supposed to have a baby that week.  And almost immediately, there it was.  The first little kick.  And then another.  Hey Mom!  Don’t cry!  It’s okay, I’m here!   The kicks kept coming with a fury, and my tears turned to tears of joy and amazement.  Amazed that my little baby boy had reached out at the exact moment I needed him to.

I realize that in the grand scheme of things, I’m extremely lucky.  I lost the baby very early, and got pregnant again quickly. I already have a beautiful, healthy daughter who kept me from feeling the pain too acutely. But if I’m one of the lucky ones, and I felt as much pain as I did, then I can’t even imagine the pain of losing a baby when much further along in pregnancy, or the pain of infertility I know so many people are facing.

You’re probably wondering how any of this story qualifies as part of “the best season of my life.”  But I told you it was messy.  And sometimes it takes a little bit of messy to get to the good stuff.

And now I’m 24 weeks, 25 tomorrow.  Viability outside the womb. And I finally feel healed enough to share my story with you.  Because if it helps even 1 other mother searching for answers tonight, then sharing it was worth it.  If you’ve suffered a miscarriage, take comfort in this: It’s normal. It wasn’t your fault. It’s common. Way more common than you think.  I can’t tell you how your story will end.  But you will survive. You are strong.  You are a mother.

And my advice to everyone else: Be kind.  You never know what kind of battle someone is facing that day. 

R: You’ll forever be in my heart.