October 11, 2014

Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month

I have a confession to make: today is my due date. 

Today should have been the day that our second child was born. Yes, I said second. 

October is Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month. This is a topic very dear to my heart, as I have suffered through four pregnancy losses. 

Each of my losses occurred during the first trimester, prior to our first ultrasound appointment. We were never able to visualize our babies' heartbeats on the screen. We don't have any pictures of our babies. I never felt them kick. Very few people knew of their short lives.

Does that make them any less "real"?

Pregnancy loss is such a terrible term. Yes, a pregnancy was lost. More than that though, a child died. Four children died. 

It has been a very rough year for us. A flurry of emotions, doctors appointments, blood work, injections, ultrasounds, x-rays, chromosomal testing, vitamins, supplements, medications. All of my testing has come back normal thus far. I haven't decided yet if that is good news or bad news. I'm grateful to be healthy. I'm grateful I don't need surgery. I'm grateful I can get pregnant in the first place (quite easily might I add). But none of this good news makes me feel any better, because good news or bad, we still lost four babies. And no one knows why. 

It is widely accepted that as many as 1 out of every 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage. Odds are, you know someone personally who has gone through the pain of pregnancy loss. Most losses occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, during the first trimester. Many women chose to wait these 12 weeks out before announcing the happy news, for fear of having to tell anyone if something terrible happens. I didn't. 

Chris and I found out about my first pregnancy on October 11, 2013, at 5:30 in the morning. We had only just decided to start a family, and were delighted at how quickly our dreams seemed to be coming true. I immediately called my best friend. I accidentally told a colleague at work later that same day. We announced it to our parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins the following weekend on a trip home to Pensacola. Chris called a meeting at work for no other reason than to announce that he was going to be a dad. I slowly started telling work friends. We each sent texts to friends and acquaintances, some of whom we hadn't seen or spoken to in months. We couldn't help it! Once we started spreading the news, we couldn't stop. The more people we told, the more real it became. We dreamed of baby names, of nursery colors, of boys versus girls and whether or not we would find out the sex. We were happy. 

On Sunday, October 27, our lives changed again. Chris was across town at baseball practice. I was at home, tasked with finishing some laundry and cleaning the kitchen from dinner the night before. A relatively normal day, until I started bleeding. The moment it happen, I knew. Deep down, I already knew the pregnancy was over. I could feel the loss in my bones. I collapsed onto the bathroom floor and cried harder than I ever have in my life. There are no words to describe the soul-crushing pain I felt. Unless you have been through a miscarriage yourself, you will never really know. I am sure I terrified Chris on the phone that day, begging him to come home to me. My words may have been inaudible but he knew something was wrong. By the time he made the drive home, I had reached a state of calm. I was numb. I was no longer able to cry. I had convinced myself that it was all a mistake, and I was obviously being very dramatic. But that afternoon, in the emergency room, my nightmare was confirmed. Though my blood work still showed a pregnancy, the ultrasound did not. I was 6 weeks and 5 days along. 

My second pregnancy began in January of 2014, but was lost on Valentine's day at 6 weeks 4 days. 

My third pregnancy came as a lovely surprise in May, but lasted a mere 6 weeks and 1 day. 

My fourth pregnancy ended just last week, technically termed a chemical pregnancy, ending at 4 weeks 5 days. 

I'm telling you all of this not for pity, but to bring to light a topic that for so long has been brushed aside. First trimester miscarriage is a silent suffering. Many women have no one to turn to for support. Few may have told anyone about the pregnancy yet when it is lost. Friends and family members often don't know what to say, or may unintentionally (or purposefully!) say something hurtful. Some women may even believe they aren't allowed to grieve their loss publicly for fear of making others uncomfortable. While some women may indeed choose to stay silent for their own reasons, it is my belief that anyone who wants to grieve out loud should be able to! During my losses, I found it very therapeutic to discuss what was happening. I wanted to relive the experience, not for the pain, but to ensure the memories remained. My babies and I were one for such a short time, and I will relive those few happy moments often, and for the rest of my life. 

Capital Area Healthy Start Coalition is a local organization dedicated to helping local at-risk mothers receive the care they need for a healthy pregnancy and baby. Each year in October, they host the annual Walk to Remember to observe National Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day. This years walk will be held on Thursday, October 16 beginning at 5:30PM. The event is held at St. Paul's United Methodist Church and is free to attend. All grieving families and friends are invited to participate. The event will include a remembrance quilt, a memorial service, and a candlelight walk around Lake Ella as a tribute to all the lost little angels. Grief counselors will be available as needed. 

If you are suffering quietly (or blubbering loudly) and need someone to talk to, I am happy to be here for you. I can lend a shoulder, an ear, or simply a smile if need be. 

1 comment:

  1. You made me cry! This was beautifully written, and very touching. I love you!