To the babies who were dreamed of…
May 4, 2011
Mother’s day can bring about many feelings of joy, but also of a deep sadness for those who have miscarried a pregnancy or lost a child at birth. In today’s very special blog post, Holly reveals her innermost feelings during her family’s recent journey through loss…and renewal.
To the babies who were dreamed of,
But not conceived
To the babies we carried,
But never held
To the babies we held,
But didn’t bring home
To every baby and child
that touched our lives for a moment,
But held our hearts forever.
It has taken me a few months to actually write this. As I do, I find I have to reach back into my memory and heart to find the feelings and thoughts of that moment and this journey.
Naively, I never thought I would have to walk through the experience of losing a pregnancy personally. Instead, I grieved for anyone I supported professionally as a doula or childbirth educator who went though such a loss. In six years as a birth professional, I had encountered only a few heartbreaking situations of couples losing a baby though. Some were early into a pregnancy, and others were upon delivery.
It’s hard to say that I knew, but somehow even from as early as eight weeks into my second pregnancy, I had a nagging feeling something was “off”.
Of course I dismissed it over and over again, even getting angry with myself for such absurd thoughts. Every pregnancy is different, right? It can be normal to not have any nausea at all, right? You’re supposed to be really tired in the first trimester…And on and on.
By week nine in my first pregnancy with my son, we were able to find a heartbeat during a visit with the midwives. It was loud and clear. So I expected to be able to hear the baby’s heartbeat again at 10 weeks, even though my wonderful midwife reminded me that it would be completely normal not to hear anything yet. Still, when we found nothing, my heart sank all the way to my uterus I think. It seemed to confirm my worst fears.
A week later was my birthday, and while at a lovely family dinner at Blue Mountain I started spotting.
Again, could be completely ok, for some mothers-to-be, its entirely normal. I freaked out though. If you know me at all, you would know that I rarely show panic or distress. Inside, I was a mess.
Another visit to the midwives. They assured me again that it could be completely normal. They advised us to wait and watch for further symptoms. Cramping, back ache, excessive bleeding were the signs to watch for. A week later, at 12 weeks, I suddenly came down with strep throat, something I haven’t had since I was young. The pain was excruciating! What I couldn’t explain though was the incredible lower back pain I was experiencing as well. I was trying to not take any pain medications in hopes that baby would be ok. Finally, when I could hardly walk, I decided to take Tylenol. It helped my throat and fever, but didn’t touch the back pain.
Laid out on the couch in the living room, I prayed. I simply gave up my control and cried, and prayed that my body would just do whatever it was it needed to do. I let go. An hour later, the bleeding started.
I am so grateful to have had my mom and husband and our son there to go through the experience with me. My midwives were delivering babies but still calling me and talking me through the process. My husband cried with me and my adorable little man Zac entertained me with singing and dancing, in between lots of hugs and cuddles. The amazing thing for me was the absolute peace I felt when it was all said and done. We were overwhelmed with disappointment, but I also felt so relieved that my body had worked as nature intended it to. Too many times I have seen parents walk through the tragedy of carrying a baby to full-term, only to find they will not survive outside the womb.
I have been shocked in the days since this happened to share my story with close friends, who then told me they had been through it, sometimes more than once. This seems to be a “suffer in silence” topic for both women and men who go through it.
My husband felt the loss deeply but didn’t quite know what to do with that feeling. I took a more practical outlook and went into ‘Move On’ mode. Still, I shared my loss with anyone who was interested in listening. After a season of so much loss in our family, I have learned that you have to talk. So many times I wanted to blurt it out to the lady at the drive through, or to the teller at the bank, “Someone I love has died! How can you just go on with your life like this? The world needs to stop and be still!”
I lost my dad (my best friend) two years ago, my grandpa this year, my dog, our baby, and then our pet hamster. That may seem trivial in itself, but after having to break the news of his baby going to heaven with papa and great-papa, Zac was in denial that Chewy had died as well. We kept his hamster even after he died in his cage in the basement, until Zac was ready to say goodbye. Thankfully, it didn’t take too long!
I’ve found many ways to blame myself for losing our baby. I shouldn’t have carried Zac around, I shouldn’t have taken the Tylenol, I shouldn’t have been so busy and stressed with work, I shouldn’t have shovelled five feet of snow to get into Nurtured Family centre after a snowstorm… But in the end, this wasn’t a pregnancy that was meant to continue, according to my body.
My midwives were incredible after our pregnancy loss as well. I was still in their care for six weeks postpartum, and they took such gentle care of me. They reminded me that it wasn’t my fault, that none of those activities will end a pregnancy. I am blessed in that I didn’t need a D&C afterwards. I am blessed that everything went back to normal by the end of the next month. I know with my next pregnancy, I will have some emotional healing still to walk through. But I’m ready for that journey. We’ve had our season of loss.
Above all else, I was blessed to be given the hope of trying again. As spring starts to come to life, it’s time for a season of new life for our family.
Let’s just say its going to be a busy time in our house over Christmas!!
Baby #2 at 10 weeks