Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pregnancy Loss - My experience with miscarriage

This is a post I've been thinking about writing about for a while now.  It's a tough one for me, and it's something that I am sure will resonate with at least a few of my readers.  I've been asked to write about this subject by more than one of them.

This is about how the loss of a baby alters every future pregnancy.  How you never get to go back to the person you were before.  How it stays with you forever.

I write to communicate my personal experience with it, and how it irreversibly altered the way I would experience all future pregnancies.  I write to let other women know that they aren't alone.  I write to explain our hesitations, our fears.

Why sometimes what should be the happiest time in our lives isn't.

Before I had all my babies, there was another.  I had a miscarriage.  I was just a few days shy of 12 weeks when the doctor informed me that my baby had died. 

In those 12 weeks, I made plans.  In my head, I designed a nursery and planned birthday parties.  I imagined what she would look like, who she would grow up to be.  I saw her entire future laid out before me.  I knew what she would smell like, how soft her skin would be.  I dreamt about all the adventures we would have.  I knew how much I already loved her. 

I became a mother in my heart the second I found out I was pregnant.  I was bonded with that baby immediately, our lives forever intertwined.  She was a part of me, and I of her.

I never saw her face.  I never got to hold her.  I never knew who she would be.

I mourned the loss of that baby for a long time.  I still do.  Today is the anniversary.  11 years ago I was sitting in a dark exam room crying, wondering why. 


A miscarriage doesn't just ruin one pregnancy. 

To some degree, it ruins them all.

Having a loss, however it happens, changes things. 

I know that for me, when I was pregnant the first time, I was aware of the chance of miscarriage, but it was peripheral at best.  Yes, it was there, I knew it could happen, but I never imagined that it would happen to me.  I was happy to be pregnant.  I was joyful.  I was optimistic.  I looked forward to the future. 

I was excited to start wearing some maternity clothes.  I started picking up baby things at the store.  Everyone knew I was pregnant.  I couldn't wait to share my news. 

My husband was happy, thrilled even.  In our case, we'd had a very short window of opportunity to try.  And, by some miracle, it worked.  Knowing that it could be our only chance to conceive a child without help made it even more a miracle. 

Then, one day, I found myself sitting in a dark exam room staring at a screen that wasn't flickering.

It took a while, a long while, for me to get pregnant again.  We knew it might never happen without assistance because of the radiation treatments.  It wasn't until a few weeks after being told we couldn't have children that I got pregnant.  So much for scientific accuracy.

Again, I got pregnant against the odds.  Another miracle.

It was different this time.  I was different. 

Sure, I was happy, but it was a guarded joy.  I spent half the day being excited, the other half convinced something was wrong.  I didn't want to get attached, just in case.  I tried to disassociate myself from the pregnancy.

I didn't tell people.  When I finally did, I asked that they not share the news yet.  The excitement was gone.  I didn't want to have to untell anyone ever again.

I cried and cried and cried the day of my first ultrasound.  Before the appointment in nervous anticipation, and after in relief. 

Every month was a roller coaster.  I'd be okay for a couple weeks after a check-up, then the panic would slowly start to creep in.  I'd count days until the next appointment, the next chance to hear that heartbeat again. 

The times it took more than a second to get the heartbeat to register on the Doppler were agonizing.  In my mind, I just knew there was a problem.  It wasn't that the baby was active and hard to locate, there was something wrong. 

I'd worry if I didn't feel sick.

Once I could feel the baby move, I obsessed about it.  If more than a few minutes went by with nothing, I'd poke and prod myself trying to get a response.  I'd wake up afraid more nights than not. 

I wish I could say that it got better as I got further into the pregnancy, but it never did. 

And it didn't ever go away.  Each pregnancy, filled with the same fears.  Even with AJ, I was still nervous. 

The naive joy I felt the first time around never came back.  That innocent happiness, gone.  I could never just enjoy being pregnant.  I knew better.

The sad truth is that a miscarriage isn't something that just happens.  It changes you.  You never really get over a loss. You move on, but it stays with you forever.

People who haven't experienced it don't really understand, even if they try to.

11 years ago today, my experience with pregnancy was forever skewed.  I lost a baby but gained an angel.   I became acutely aware of how precious life is by learning also how fragile it is. 

I've never been the same since.

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