Tonight I remember

I can remember it like it was yesterday. The excitement of having a baby. The thrill of being pregnant. Everything ahead of us. Then in a moment, the earth shattering moment, when I reached down and realized I was hemorrhaging.  The panic in my voice that woke my boyfriend out of his dead sleep. The frantic drive to the hospital, the nurses telling me they had gone through it too. Threatened Abortion. The word that my mind screamed NO at. No abortion isn’t the right term. I wanted my baby. I didn’t want an abortion.

I remember the drive back home from the hospital, after midnight. I remember stopping at McDonalds for a Chicken Sandwich. I remember calling first my Dad, and then my Mom who was on a business trip out of town. I remember the bath. Bathing, trying to relax. Praying to a God that I wasn’t even sure existed. I remember lying back down, and at some point, going back to the hospital.

I remember the exams. One after another. Each painful. Each invasive. I remember the ultra-sound. The tech holding my hand. Though now that I am remembering back on it I think the Ultra-sound took place on the first visit to the ER and not the second.

I remember the Doctor coming in. Explaining how the cervix is shaped, how the uterus is like a lightbulb, and how my pregnancy though viable was implanted in my cervix and not in my uterus.

I remember the heartbeat. When I had the ultra-sound. I remember hearing the baby’s heartbeat. I remember the technician saying that the baby had a good strong heartbeat. Then I remember the Doctor saying there was nothing that could be done. The only way to stop the bleeding was to remove the pregnancy. Remove the baby. He called it a fetus. But to me it was my baby. My future. The one thing I wanted more than anything else in the entire world.

I don’t remember the surgery. I do remember waking up in the ICU. I remember crying, and praying, and talking to the “Father” at the Catholic hospital where I was admitted.

I remember going home after a week. Being told that I was lucky. They were able to fix it where I could still have children. I remember the depression. Deep, long depression that sucked me in, and threatened everything around me. I remember my boyfriend not understanding. It wasn’t that he didn’t want the baby, he just didn’t understand how I could change so much, essentially overnight.

I remember nine years of not being able to function on November 18th. Then I remember the year that all changed. When the doctor, and new doctor told me that they would schedule my induction. I would go into the hospital at 8pm on November 17, 2013, and by November 18, 2013 I would have my baby girl.

I still feel sad. Sometimes, a mixture of happiness and sadness. As I look at my son, now ten and think what life would be like if he had an older sister or brother. I don’t know why, but I think he would have an older sister. I feel like that baby was a girl. So, sometimes I am sad, thinking about what could have been. But there is my light, my joy, my beautiful baby girl who was born nine years to the day that I lost my first baby. A beautiful smiling, sweet, happy, and amazing young girl who is turning into an amazing young lady. Four years ago, my sorrow turned to joy and I embraced this idea, that after nine long years of suffering, depression, and sadness, I was given a gift to celebrate. I still miss that baby. I still remember every vivid detail of the day I lost her. But I am also celebrating. The doctors and nurses whose wisdom and care enabled me to have four more precious children. Today I rejoice.

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Grief Sucks

Grief Sucks, Depression Sucks
It was November 17th, 2004, I was walking from my kitchen to my living room when I hemorrhaged, I knew instantly that I was losing my baby. It took nine years for me to overcome the grief associated with losing that baby. I had a son in 2007, another son in 2012, but it was my daughter born on November 18th, 2013 that finally healed my heart.
On March 20th I experienced another loss, this time, I wasn’t as far along in my pregnancy, and so for a while I was okay. I could rationalize that because I wasn’t as far along that I was fine. For a while that was true. Now, though, these last few weeks have been incredibly difficult.
Whenever I hear a baby cry, or see a newborn, I think that should be us in a few more months. I was due October 10th. As that date approaches, I anticipate that these bouts with depression will continue, that I might continue to have good days and good weeks, but I will also have days when I can barely function when the thought of doing anything more than getting out of bed is almost too much for me.
Three of the common phases of Grief
There are three common phases of grief. Depression, the stage that I am currently stuck in. Trouble sleeping, poor appetite, fatigue, lack of energy, crying spells, self-pity, lonely, isolated, empty, lost and anxious. All textbook examples of grief, and all the symptoms that I experience now almost on a daily basis.
Anger is another stage of grief. I know that I experience anger a lot of time. Anger at myself for not being able to stop the miscarriage. Anger at other moms who choose to abort or abandon their children. However, anger isn’t the primary phase. Instead, I seemed to be stuck in the depression cycle and worried, it took nine years for me to get through the acceptance phase when I had my first loss. I don’t want to go through another nine years bouncing back and forth between depression and anger.
Why did our baby die?
The first time around it was just my then fiancé and me. Our relationship ended shortly after the loss, and so I spent the next nine years wondering why did my baby die. Now I have a wonderful husband and three small children. Our two youngest, three and two, do not know or understand what happened. Sure they knew that we were going to have a baby, and then we weren’t going to have a baby, but luckily they have simply moved passed it as though it is something that normally occurs all the time. Not so lucky is our eight-year-old who just the other day said, “but Mom, I still don’t understand why we cannot have that baby. Why did our baby die?” A question I cannot possibly answer, because I do not know why. No one knows why when a pregnancy ends as early as ours did. Perhaps that is what makes this one difficult. With the first pregnancy, the baby implanted in my cervix, when the baby grew to a certain size I dilated, and they had to remove the baby to save my life, I knew then why the baby died. This time around, however, all I know are the bare facts, I was pregnant, but by the time we went in for the ultrasound at approximately nine weeks there was no heartbeat, the baby had stopped developing somewhere around six weeks, and no one knows why.
Getting in our way
Some things get in the way of the healing process, which makes moving from depression and anger into acceptance. Avoiding emotions are one of the main ways that we get in our way and prevent the healing process from taking place. When we avoid talking about it and avoid dealing with the emotions brought forth by the grief, we get stuck in the anger or depression phase. Compulsive behaviors can also impede or slow down the healing process. Minimizing feelings can also hinder the healing process. When it comes to miscarriage feelings often get minimized. Well-meaning friends and family will tell you that you should be thankful that the baby was lost so early so that there wasn’t an attachment. For us, we found out at approximate five weeks, and when the children were told they named the baby, our baby’s name was Sam, three weeks later Sam was gone, and the oldest sibling already felt an attachment. It is easy to minimize your feelings yourself. After my loss, I thought that it didn’t matter as much because unlike the first time I didn’t hear the babies heartbeat, and unlike the first time I had three children to take care of this time, so I attempted to minimize my feelings.
Knowledge is Power
I learned so much about depression and grief the first time. Still, sometimes I forget, and I have a hard time applying this knowledge. I know that there are several different stages of grief, more so than I have mentioned here. I know that grief doesn’t run in a straight line, that you might enter into acceptance and then go back to depression or anger. I am aware that denial is a stage of grief. I came into the denial stage early this time. We went in for an ultrasound on March fifth, only to find out that the baby had stopped developing. I believed that the doctors and ultrasound technician was wrong, I stayed in this denial phase until March 19th when I began to bleed, and on March 20th I went into the hospital to determine that the miscarriage had in fact taken place. After that, I moved out of the denial phase only to stay trapped between anger and depression. Knowing this, it seems like it would be easier to move into acceptance. I don’t know how to apply this knowledge, but I do know that grief sucks and depression sucks and somehow some way we will just have to get through it.

From great sorrow, I have brought great joy.

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November 17th, 2004 started normally as any other day had for me. Then when I was walking through my dining room to my living room I felt a funny sensation and realized that I was bleeding. I quickly woke my then fiance, and we rushed to the hospital. I was only seven weeks pregnant. The words “threatened abortion” were used so callously by doctors and nurses, exam after exam yielded the same results. Seven weeks pregnant with a strong heart beat. “Go home,” they said and hopefully the bleeding will stop. Early on the morning of November 18th I was back at the hospital. The doctor, my doctor at the time came in, he told me that I had an ectopic pregnancy. He explained that the baby, or in is terms the fetus, implanted in my cervix and that there was nothing that he could do. My only hope was to go through surgery to remove the baby (fetus). My baby was still alive. I was heart broken and crushed. Never in my life would I have agreed to an abortion. The doctor explained under no uncertain terms that my blood pressure was dropping. I was dying and before they let me bleed to death they would remove the baby whether I consented to treatment or if they had to wait and perform life-saving measures. He also warned that if it came to that they might not be able to save my uterus and I may never have children again. I was twenty years old. All I ever wanted was a big family. I agreed to treatment knowing that as I went into the surgery the baby whose heartbeat inside me would soon no more. There would be nothing left by tears.
The surgery took a lot longer than the doctor expected. There were serious complications. He had to keep giving me transfusions. They were finally able to stop the bleeding. I didn’t have to have a hysterectomy. I didn’t lose my uterus, though, at the time, I felt like I had lost everything.
I might have only been seven weeks along, but I coped by naming my baby. I had to put a name to the baby that I lost because it was the only way I could deal with my grief. At seven weeks there is no way to know, at least not yet, whether the baby would be a boy or a girl. I imagined she would be a girl. I named her Bethany Anne. I am not sure why I picked out that name it just seemed right. I didn’t like to refer to her as the baby that I lost. I needed to give that baby a name, even if I had only been carrying her for seven weeks.

Part of losing a baby at any point in the development is that the mother goes through the grieving process. Dad’s do too, but this story my story is about how a mom grieves for her child. I did not know at the time that a miscarriage of an ectopic pregnancy in my case would mean grieving as though I had lost a child. I did not know at the time that the child I had lost was as much a part of me as any of my children are. I knew I was sad. I blamed myself and doubted my bodies ability to carry a baby. I went through all of the stages of grief and did so alone because I didn’t know that I could talk to people about what I was going through. My then fiance was no help. He didn’t understand what I was going through; he couldn’t fathom why I was so upset over a baby that we had barely acknowledged. We knew we were pregnant when we went into the hospital, and we knew when I went home that the pregnancy was no more. He didn’t understand what I was going through and quite frankly neither did I. Our relationship ended shortly after that. A series of fights gave way to his leaving, and later conversations revealed that he didn’t like the new depressed me. I had no one to talk to, and so I didn’t know until later that I was grieving. I couldn’t explain to him. I didn’t know how to explain it to anyone else. I had lost a grandmother when I was twelve but other than that I had not been touched by grief. I had no idea what the process as all about. They say that the death of a child is one of the most difficult things a couple can go through, and most relationships do not make it.

That is not to say that the grieving process has a set time limit. I do not believe that. I do now fully believe that grief occurs in stages. I also believe that we go through these different stages, not in any particular order. That when we finish the depression stage and move into the next stage, it is not necessarily finished. As we can move from bargaining to depression to acceptance right back to depression and then through bargaining again. I went through all of these stages for over two years then something happened.
September 2006

I moved, and I met an amazing man. He changed my life, before that I thought that I would be alone forever the mother of a dead baby. We dated for a short while before we found out I was pregnant again and on November 1st 2007 our son was born premature. He weighed just five pounds and nine ounces and had to spend time in the NICU. He was born with sleep apnea and came home on a machine that alarmed if he stopped breathing. It alarmed twice. After everything that happened I still thought of him as a miracle. My miracle baby just turned seven.

While it is true that our fairy tale romance had it’s problems. We were separated. We had a lot of issues. We got over those issues and were married on July 2nd 2011. It was on July 31st 2012 I gave birth to another son that was born healthy although he was a week late. He is light and sunshine the cutest sweetest little man that I have ever met (takes after his older brother that way).

Last November I was due to have my third child a daughter on November 10th. The due date came and went without her arrival. My doctor said that they would schedule an induction and that the only time that we could do it was on November 18th. With a heavy heart I weighed asking her to wait, just one day or two. I couldn’t possibly go into the hospital and have a baby on the anniversary of the day I lost my first child. I asked so many people what they thought I should do and then finally I kept quiet. I didn’t say anything and on November 17th, 2013 just nine years after I lost my first baby I went into the hospital to be induced.
My daughter was born healthy, sweet and perfect on November 18th. It was only after she was born I told the doctor what happened. I told her that there was something, perhaps even God, that propelled me into staying quiet. I felt that perhaps he was saying after nine years of grieving let me give you a reason to celebrate. You lost your baby but from that loss I have given you a wonderful man and three perfectly wonderful children. From great sorrow, I have brought great joy.