Friday is February 1st. While for many, this day is just like any other, meaningless in itself, for me it holds two very conflicting significances. For one, it would have been the due date for my son, Oliver, had he not had to come into this world early (more on that another time). So on this date I feel led to celebrate that I now have a beautiful, healthy, growing, breastfeeding, cloth diaper wearing little boy who has been the perfect addition to my family. But this date holds a darker significance for me as well, which makes it challenging to release myself to celebrate the way I feel I should. February 1 marks the anniversary of one of the darkest days of my life: the loss of my first child.
My whole life, I wanted to be a mother. At least, deep down, I did. On the surface, I denied those feelings, telling myself and others that all I wanted to do was work and make a difference in the world. In reality, I never felt as though I would find someone who could/would love me enough to want to be with me for life and would find me desirable enough to make me a mother. So I fought the urges by convincing myself that I didn’t want it, and satisfying my love of children by babysitting and teaching Sunday School.
But then it happened. I went to college and met the most amazing man who I eventually went on to marry. He uncovered this insatiable want… no need in me to be a mother. To bear his children was the thing I wanted most from pretty early in our relationship. But he was not ready. So I waited. Sometimes it hurt to wait because becoming a mother was something I wanted so badly, but I did for him.
After 6 years together (3 dating, 3 married) he finally said the words that I had been waiting years to hear. He was ready. We were on a romantic trip to the mountains, just after Christmas, and he gave me the best gift ever: the gift of motherhood.
Well lucky for us, it didn’t take very long. It was early January that we found out I was pregnant. We were so happy and excited; we told everyone. We talked to the baby every night and spent hours discussing our plans, baby names, and our future. We had never been happier. However, this happiness was very short lived.
Less then a week after finding out that I was pregnant, I started to bleed. Immediately I feared the worse. The bleeding, coupled with the fact that the few symptoms I had felt that led me to test (sore breasts, nausea) had all but disappeared, I knew deep down that something was very wrong.
My husband and I went to the ER and began a long wait to see what was wrong. After hours and hours, we were told that my ultrasound showed nothing and my pregnancy test came back as negative. They told me that I wasn’t pregnant at all. I told them that we had already confirmed it with my ob and that I had tested seven times at home. I cried and cried and told them that I was bleeding and something was wrong. I begged for their help all the while feeling my hope slipping through my fingers. The doctor at that point shrugged and said off handedly, “Don’t you bleed every month?” I was shocked but managed to tell him that I did bleed every month, but not while pregnant. The doctor then said his final words to me so casually and flippantly that I couldn’t even respond. He said, “Well, you were either wrong about being pregnant and this is your period or you really were pregnant and your miscarrying and your body will get rid of everything on its own.” And with that, he left and we were discharged. I cried all night, being held by my husband, all the while my bleeding getting heavier and heavier.
The next day my ob confirmed that my hCG levels were going down and I was indeed miscarrying. I had never felt as devastated as I did at that time in my life. I went through the emotions of life over the next two weeks while I bled, a constant reminder of the loss I was experiencing.
A few days after receiving the news that I was losing our baby, I began to have excruciating pain in my left side. I tried Tylenol, Ibprofen, Vicoden, and nothing would get rid if the pain. It would come and go, sometimes lasting hours, and leave me unable to walk, unable to really do anything but lie down and cry myself to sleep. I assumed it was all a part of the miscarriage.
Many people in my life were supportive. I began attending a support group at our local hospital for people who had lost children. Though talking to them helped some, i never felt right being there since many of them lost their children closer to term. This compiled with the fact that some people in my life felt that I needed to get over it and move on with my life left me feeling very lonely at times. In fact one person in my life told me that she didn’t understand why I was having such an issue. That miscarriages happen and she’d had one and was fine. Because of comments like these, I waited a couple weeks before seeking help for my pain. I thought I was crazy.
On January 31st, 2011, after a particularly excruciating bout with pain while I was at work that left me unable to even stand let alone teach my class, I went to my doctor’s office and alerted them that I had been bleeding for a couple weeks and that I couldn’t take the pain anymore. I begged for something stronger then the pain medication I had because I was losing the ability to function and the bouts with pain were coming more frequently. Concerned about the amount I was bleeding and the pain, I was sent directly over to the ER (different ER then the earlier one, I never went back there even though I live across the street) for tests. To make a pretty long story a little shorter, after a few hours of tests and waiting for results, it was determined that I had never miscarried. I had an ectopic pregnancy growing in one of my tubes and would need emergency surgery as my Fallopian tube was in bad shape.
I had gone into my doctor’s office at 5pm and by 1am, I was having the baby I had dreamt of and wanted for so long removed from my body so it didn’t kill me. My tube had been so badly damaged that I also had a partial tubal removal which made it so I could only get pregnant if an egg traveled down the right side, making it that much more difficult for me to get pregnant.
I fell into a pretty deep depression after that. I spent weeks in bed, crying and mindlessly staring at the tv. As soon as I could I started drinking. I told myself I was just having a good time, but I was masking the immense pain I felt. I surrounded myself with others because I couldn’t be alone. I threw myself into work because when I was idle, the pain was unbearable. I felt like my body had failed me and I feared I would never be able to get pregnant again. I was unsure of if I even wanted to try again because I didn’t think I’d be able to make it through the pain I felt again.
By the grace of God, I found out in April 2011 that I was pregnant again with my daughter Elliot. This pregnancy went smoothly and she was born January 10th, 2012. Then, in May 2012, I found out I was pregnant with my son Oliver, who was born on January 14th, 2013.
In some ways I am glad for my loss because it has made me appreciate my children more then I think I could have without it. That loss and everything that came after it made me the person I am today, but I still wonder sometimes what if. What if I had carried that baby to term? Who would he or she be? What would they look like? How would my life be different then it is now?