The 1 in 4: Growth Through Loss
I was dreaming big for 2016. I had goals set and was kicking butt on my to-do list for the year. Our family was busy preparing our hearts and minds for a new baby. We were making plans to welcome a new baby in October 2016. My husband Scott announced the news right away to everyone he came in contact with. He was already patting my belly and talking to the baby! I made some changes to my life to include walking at the park, eating a healthy pregnancy diet, and including a prenatal vitamin in my daily routine. And the kids were already picking out names.
I used to think that nine weeks and five days was a short time to be pregnant. I was wrong. I had a miscarriage in 2007 that was never addressed. I miscarried at nine weeks and five days. I miscarried in December and was pregnant again in January. We didn't even blink, we didn't even stop to meditate on what just happened. Occasionally, Scott and I would talk about it, but we didn't have closure. We both realized that miscarriages are not talked about, and I felt that most women probably handled it the same way that we did. You don't really talk about it, you just move on.
Fast forward to 2016 and four kids later. We always talked about having five kids. I had my nine-week appointment scheduled. I was nervous about this pregnancy because I had a traumatic birth with my fourth child. I had talked to friends and was reassured that this was going to be great. I had even inquired about a doula service.
I found out that I was pregnant on January 29, and on March 2 I began spotting. I didn't really think too much about it because I have spotted during previous pregnancies. The next morning the bleeding became heavier. It wasn't that I was lacking faith, but in my gut I knew something was wrong.
I had an emergency appointment where I was finally able to hear a heartbeat and see the baby was measuring small, but the doctor was still optimistic. That night I had terrible "cramping," that was equivalent to labor pains. I knew that I was miscarrying.
At my next appointment, with my husband by my side, there was no heartbeat. He asked if they could try once more to hear it, but my sac had collapsed and it wasn't going to be possible.
I stared out of the window. I was silent. If you know me, you know that I am never silent. Whether I am happy, sad, angry or excited, I am talking. You will be lucky to get a word in.
This day I had no words.
My husband asked me what I was thinking. I mumbled that I wish I would have never heard the heartbeat.
He called me out on that. He read right through me.
It was a lie. I wanted to hear the heartbeat. I wished I had sat there that day and heard it longer.
Miscarriages are debilitating. At least in my case, physically, spiritually, emotionally, and financially. The next few hours and days are a blur. This was probably one of the hardest things I have dealt with.
My face was cold from the tears on my pillow. I was silent. Scott inquired about my silence. I listed nearly 25 things that I did to cause the baby to die. This included random things like drinking ginger tea, jumping on a pogo stick before I knew I was pregnant, and walking too much.
He and others assured me that this was not true. A friend even reminded me that women ride roller coasters before they even know they are pregnant. But there was no shaking the feeling that I had done something to cause this.
For two months I was very ill. Emotionally sickened. Spiritually paralyzed. Physically tired, weak and literally feeling like I was dying.
I bled for nine weeks. Never stopped. There was an emergency room visit for hemorrhaging. Scott and I broke down several times. I wanted to give up. There were mornings that I couldn't even sit up in bed because every fiber of my body ached. I was anemic, my blood volume was causing heart attack-like symptoms that led to yet another emergency room visit, and I was weary.
My husband became my rock in a way that I never knew possible. We have grown closer, and with the help of God, we were able to pull each other out of a very dark place.
What often happens when you are pulled from a dark place? Brightness. Our whole family, including our children, have grown from this. My due date rolled around, and while we did not name the baby, we planted two trees for each of our miscarriages in the back yard.
There is a song that I particularly love. It's called "We grow," by Tyler Stenson. In the song it talks about how we are like trees, and it says,
"If a seed can grow into a tree And if that tree can grow leaves, I ask, how is that different than me? Because we both breathe and we come from the dirt And that's where we will return When both of our seasons fade. We're entitled to change because we grow."
It also says that if we aren't growing, then we are just staying the same. Our family has grown, and we are definitely not the same. We are stronger.
I can't imagine doing this alone. Since miscarriage is such a lonely place, this has given us a different perspective about people suffering with miscarriages or infant loss. We are honored to be able to be a part of Anna's Grace because our babies are not forgotten, and we are able to support others who have a similar story. There is a community of people who care, who understand, and who can shine light in a dark place… and we will grow stronger together.
To make a donation to the Anna’s Grace Quarter Marathon – representing the 1 in 4 pregnancies that ends in loss - visit https://www.crowdrise.com/AnnasGraceQ
About Anna’s Grace Foundation Anna’s Grace Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supporting families in the Greater Baton Rouge Area who experience miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss. Each and every day one of our neighbors, friends, coworkers, or family members will experience the devastating loss of a baby, and Anna’s Grace is there to provide emotional and financial support so that families can focus on healing. The Anna’s Grace Quarter Marathon is on March 26, 2017. For more information or to register, visit http://www.annasgrace.org/registration.