Mother to Ella, lost to miscarriage January 3rd, 2009
and Angel Baby #2, lost to miscarriage April, 2009
Ever since I was a little girl I have wanted to have children. I think that is what most little girls want. That is why we love dolls so much. So it is no surprise that shortly after I got married, I started thinking more seriously about starting a family. This is the story of my journey to becoming a mother. It is a deeply painful and personal story. I have chosen to share it for two reasons. One is because it brings meaning to my struggle. My pain will not have been in vain and it keeps the memory of those loved and lost alive. The second reason, of equal importance, is so I might offer help and hope to other women experiencing the same loss. Here is my story.
In November 2008, on my first wedding anniversary, I found out I was pregnant with a surprise baby. Although surprised, my husband and I were thrilled. We started seeing the doctor and went in for a routine 6 week ultra sound. The technician told us the baby's heart beat seemed a little slow but not to worry. It was probably just because it had just started beating within the last few days. We did not worry at all. We went on our way without any problems. At 11 weeks we went in for another routine doctors visit and our doctor said we could hear the baby’s heart beat and put an instrument on my tummy to find it. She searched for 10 minutes to find the baby’s heart beat and never did. I began to worry and asked her if anything was wrong. She said, “You had an ultra sound at 6 weeks right?“. I told her I had and she said she was sure everything was fine and the baby was just too little to pick up the heart beat yet. Again we were sent on our way and told not to worry. So we went on our way and did not worry. When I was 12 weeks pregnant I can remember thinking, "Oh good, I am past the first trimester and the worst time for miscarriage". I was relieved. Later that same day, after shopping for nursery furniture, I started bleeding very heavily. It was a Sunday so my doctor's office was closed. I called the ER and spoke to the on call doctor who informed me I was probably miscarrying and I needed to call my OBGYN the next day to confirm this. I asked him if I needed to come in to the hospital that day and he said, "No. If you are miscarrying, you are miscarrying and there is nothing I can do to help you." My heart dropped when I heard him say this and I did not accept this. What if my baby was still alive and just needed some help? So I ignored the doctor and went to the ER anyway. I was admitted and a doctor (not the same one I talked to on the phone) came in to examine me. He said my cervix was still closed which was a good sign but unless he did an ultra sound he could not confirm the baby's condition. We opted to have the ultra sound. The technician came in and quickly found the baby on the screen. He started telling me where the legs and arms and various body parts were and I sensed he was avoiding telling me the only thing my husband and I really wanted to know. I asked him if the baby's heart was beating and he paused and then very nicely and quietly said, "I’m sorry. I am not detecting any fetal heart movement." I said ok and sat silently while he packed his machine up and left the room. Our family was waiting outside the door. As soon as he was gone my husband and I both starting crying and hugging and all I could say over and over again was how sorry I was. When our family came in to see us I just kept telling them how sorry I was. It is interesting, as a mother, how you fully take the blame for a miscarriage right away. Everyone kept telling me it was not my fault, but all I could say was how sorry I was. This was the first grandchild on both sides of our family and everyone was so excited. I felt I had let them all down and their hearts were broken just like mine. I actually felt bad for them. My father-in-law, a man known professionally for being very strong and not emotional at all, put his hand on mine and never let go of me the entire time we were in the hospital room. That was January 3rd, 2009.
We went home and so started a journey for me that would last another 15 months. I cried for hours that first night home. Loud sobbing. I can remember thinking, “This is the sound of a completely broken heart. This is the sound of pure grief”. I kept hoping my cries would release the horrible pain so deep inside. But they didn’t. I finally fell asleep and woke a few hours later in the middle of the night in my dark bedroom and started sobbing loudly again. My husband rolled over and wrapped his arms around me and just held me while I continued to cry. I took the loss of my baby very hard and many days I never got out of bed. I became depressed. I started seeing a counselor who specialized in women’s issues. My attendance at church and other social events significantly declined. I was sad, angry, grief stricken and numb. We went on to find out the baby had actually died around 8 or 9 weeks but my body carried the pregnancy another 3 weeks with no sign of miscarriage, something I found out is common with miscarriage. I had a very difficult recovery with 3 months of non stop bleeding. All I wanted was to get pregnant again and I couldn't because my body was not healing. I switched to a new doctor after my current doctor could not find a reason for my bleeding (and never said anything to me about the baby's heart beat being low on our first ultra sound or about not being able to detect a heart beat at all at 11 weeks. In hind sight these were two big clues there was something wrong with my pregnancy). I found a new doctor who to this day I believe is an angel sent to me by God. On my first visit with her she was so kind and compassionate. She spent an hour with me just talking about what had happened and listening to me cry. She ordered a series of tests to determine why I was still bleeding so much and the first test she was going to do that very day. I had to wait for the lab to get me in though. I will always remember she said the lab could get me in in about 40 minutes. She told me I could wait in her own office for the lab appointment so I would not have to sit in the waiting room with all the pregnant women. It was at that moment I knew I had found my new doctor. I don't know how I would have made it through the next year of my life with out her. We finally determined I had retained tissue from the pregnancy and that is why I was still bleeding so much. She put me on birth control pills to cause my body to have a period and hopefully pass the tissue. It worked and the bleeding finally stopped. I wasted no time. The next month I went on vacation to Hawaii and while there found out I was pregnant. Again, I was so happy and everyone had told me it would be fine the second time. "Miscarriages in first pregnancies are so common", "I know so and so who also miscarried her first baby and now she has three kids", "Everything will be fine next time", etc.... Only a few weeks into that pregnancy and I woke one morning with a terrible feeling that something was wrong. Not a physical feeling, but a “gut” feeling. Something I just knew in my heart. I took a pregnancy test and it was negative. I started to panic and was shaking when I called my doctors office to tell them. My husband didn't believe me when I told him I was miscarrying again. My doctor squeezed me in later that same day and my mom went with me to the appointment. She didn't even know we were pregnant again. I think I wanted to spare my family the pain I felt I had caused the first time if we lost the second baby too. It turns out that is not a good thing to do because if you do lose another baby, you will need those people more than ever. I started bleeding later that day. I lost my second baby in April 2009. My doctor immediately started running tests on me to find out why I miscarried twice in a row and I decided to seek help from a reproductive endocrinologist, another doctor who I am so thankful for and who I am not sure how I could have gotten through my losses without. He ran more tests and after a month of tests all the results were back and showed nothing was wrong with my husband or I. Everything was normal, which was both a relief and even more frightening. If everything is normal, why did my babies die? At least if you find out what is wrong, it can be treated and hopefully you won't miscarry again was my thought. Now I would have to embark on a third pregnancy with this fear that there was some undiagnosed health problem secretly waiting inside my body to come and rob me of my third child. With the help of progesterone supplements, a daily aspirin regimen and weekly doctors appointments and ultra sounds I was given the ok to try a third time to get pregnant.
I remember well the feelings of resentment I had towards other pregnant women when I was dealing with my losses. The mere sight of a pregnant woman, a baby, even a mother with her older child would send me to the nearest restroom to cry and have another melt down. Hearing other women talk about the birth of their babies was something I simply could not hear. If you are currently in the middle of a loss, I tell you the next part of my story, not to make you feel sad, but to give you hope. Never give up and keep the faith. After two consecutive unexplained miscarriages, I did go on to carry a healthy baby to term and she was born almost one year to the day after my second miscarriage. I believe you too have every reason to hope and feel positive about your future as a mother.
If you have come to read this story because you have recently experienced the loss of a baby through miscarriage or stillbirth, I am truly sorry for your loss. I know your pain. I know how alone you feel, I know that most people don’t understand a loss like this, “after all you never really even knew the baby”. I have been in your shoes. I know about a pain so deep that it changes who you are. I know about feelings of anger, sadness, depression, confusion, jealousy, resentment and just pure heart ache. I know about being let down by people you thought would be there and understand you, but they do not. I also know about overcoming. I know about trudging your way through the awful mess one day at a time. I know how important support is and having people to talk to who really do know how you feel. And I know what it is like to be pregnant again after a loss. My heart goes out to you and my sincere hope and prayer is that you will find the hope, healing and support that you need through my story and the stories of countless other women who have suffered the tragedy of miscarriage and stillbirth. I strongly encourage you to reach out to those women. It will make all the difference in your journey to healing. We are here for you and you are not alone.
You can find Morgan on Facebook: Baby Dreams, Pregnancy Loss Support Group
You can contact Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org