October 15, 2013

National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Today is a day to honor those who have been touched by pregnancy loss and infant death. It is a day to remember that there are women and men near you who have suffered through a miscarriage, a stillbirth, a SIDS death or the loss of a newborn and are most likely suffering in silence. It is a day to remember, even if only for a minute, that there are people who have lost tiny babies whom they loved so much. 

Every loss, whether it be a pet, a parent, a friend, a spouse, or a child, is hard and sad and life-altering. There is something different about losing a child, though. Something even more cruel and heart-wrenching. A life so short just doesn't seem fair. 

It is for these people that I share our story: 

While we were trying to get pregnant, one day in February 2012, I took a pregnancy test. It was (very slightly) positive and we were so happy, but cautious because it was still very early. The next day I began to have some cramping and some very light spotting. I called my doctor and they told me that while those symptoms would be normal for an early pregnancy, to go ahead and come in. They drew blood so that they could test the HcG levels and the doctor did an ultrasound, even though she knew that it was probably too early to see much of anything. After verifying that the pregnancy was not ectopic (which can cause bleeding and is very dangerous), she sent me home to wait for the results. 

The next day, after many hours of wondering and worry, we got word that my HcG levels were very low for the stage of pregnancy that I was expected to be in. I had continued to have light spotting off and on since my visit the day before but since it had seemed to have slowed down, I had let myself get hopeful before my follow up visit. Hearing that the levels were low was a moment when your brain realizes what is happening but your heart just doesn't want to listen. I kept running through the mantra, "Maybe it will all be ok. Maybe it will all be ok." in my head. The doctor warned me that the spotting was probably the beginning of the end and that they would not expect a pregnancy with those HcG levels to persist. I left the office, still hoping, and went straight to my night class. I talked with a friend before class started and she helped :) She said, "whatever will happen will happen and it will all be ok. It is very common to lose a pregnancy this early, it does not mean you're broken." 

By the end of my class that night I had started a full-on period and I knew that it was over. I was probably only 4 or 5 weeks pregnant at the time and if I had never taken the test, I wouldn't have ever known. (The curse of living in such an advanced time...) But the thing was, I did know. Even logically knowing that early miscarriage is very common, and that in another decade we never would have known, and that one early miscarriage does not mean you will have trouble carrying a healthy baby in the future, even knowing all of those things in my head- I still felt heartbroken. I still felt like I was broken and it made me scared that I would not be able to have a healthy pregnancy. 

We are so very lucky to have had, just three short months later, a blissful second beginning to a pregnancy. A few extra doctor's visits, sure, but positive blood results on more than one occasion, a perfect, tiny little heartbeat on the screen at 6 weeks and, now, a beautiful and healthy baby boy sharing our home. 

Even at 5 weeks pregnant, it hurt. Now, looking at my sweet boy, I literally cannot breathe if I think about what it must feel like to lose a child at 10 weeks, or 15 weeks, or at 6 months, or 12 months. My heart breaks along with all of those Mamas who have had to say goodbye to their babies, no matter the age. 

Today, you are where my heart lies. 

And a reminder to those who are unfamiliar with the world of pregnancy and infant loss...a woman who has lost a baby does not cry and share her story while walking down the street, or while working in her office, or when she's at a party with friends. She suffers quietly in her heart, while trying not to cry as she passes the pregnant woman in the grocery store or when she sees a friend's pregnancy announcement on Facebook. She looks "normal" and healthy but, inside, she is grieving. Please remember this the next time you joke to a friend that, "it's about time y'all have kids!" or you ask, for the second or third time, why a couple is childless. For some, it is simply a question, for others, it is heartbreaking. 

much love, L

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