Moving forward through the pain
On February 12th, I celebrated my second son’s 1st birthday. He brings so much joy into our lives. He loves to cuddle and give kisses. He is my little musician who loves to dance and play the piano. My heart is full and the long, hard road we travelled to get to this point was worth it all.
Once we married, my husband Anthony and I immediately tried to start our family. For us, it was not easy and after a year of trying, we sought help at a fertility clinic. It took two years and 8 treatment rounds before my 1st son was conceived. Because of my age, I was considered high risk and monitored very closely until I gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Everyone told me that this pregnancy would open the flood gates for more children and my husband and I decided to not use birth control and let nature take its course. But after a year and half, I did not get pregnant. So back to the fertility clinic.
At this point in our lives, we moved and established care about another fertility clinic and this time the specialist wanted to treat the root of the problem, which is PCOS. Within 3 months, I found out I was pregnant. We were elated. We immediately told our family and friends. This was early December so this was an early Christmas present for us. Our first ultrasound was scheduled after the new year. I was about 7 weeks along. We heard her heartbeat and immediately my family of 3 was now a family of 4. I do recall the doctor commenting that the size of the embryo was smaller than expected and she adjusted my conception date. We scheduled my 10 week ultrasound and we left the office with the sonogram of our little one.
The next few weeks went great. I felt pregnant. The cravings for pickles resurfaced. I couldn’t keep my eyes open past 10pm. This experience was very familiar to me. I started planning our family vacation around the due date. I started thinking about my work schedule and maternity leave. I was already envisioning this little bundle of joy in my arms. My stepdad called me and told me that he had a dream of a little girl with long brown hair and similar features of my son and she was running towards him, calling “Grandpa!” This warmed my heart.
We arrived at the 10 week ultrasound appointment with no agenda other than to hear her heartbeat. When the doctor and nurse came in, we were all in good spirits. Anthony stood beside me holding my hand while I laid on the exam bed. The doctor started the exam and an image appeared on the screen, but she started to look worried as she moved the probe over my stomach. She turned the screen away from us. Anthony quickly went to her side and asked what is wrong. She said that she couldn’t locate a heartbeat and asked the nurse to check the measurements.
After a few minutes, she said the embryo stopped growing about two weeks ago. Before she continued, she gave us a few minutes to ourselves to reconcile this news. Immediately the tears began to flow and Anthony held me. I don’t recall any words between us. Just the tears. I had started building my life around this little being and the possibilities of her life were real and yet in an instant disappeared. When the doctor returned, she expressed her condolences and told us the next steps. We had a few choices neither one better than the other, but this was the only decision I had to be in control. Before we left the office, Anthony asked for the sonograms.
I have experienced bouts of depression earlier in my life, which emotionally and spiritually paralyzed me. Flashes of the past of me curled up on the bathroom floor, balling my eyes out, scared me so before we left I told the doctor that I planed to continue with treatment. Soon after I went to my parents’ house and I told them there was no heartbeat. I did not know how else to describe it. Her heartbeat was our only lifeline. It was pumping our dreams into reality. It was fueling our desires of growing our family. My mother was very perplexed. She repeated over and over again that she didn’t understand. I remember leaving and my younger brother ran outside, without any words, he embraced me. A hug of disappointment. A hug of compassion.
My little sister arrived at my doorstep the next day and once we were in the kitchen, she couldn’t get any words out and started to cry. I hugged her. Actually I started to console her in that moment telling her we will be okay. Like me, she was hurting in our loss. Like me, my mother couldn’t comprehend this news. My loss did not just affect me, but all our loved ones. They too had started reconstructing their realities to include this new addition. I realize now that the best thing for me were the hugs and tears. I didn’t need or want any words. I know the typical words of comfort, but most times they feel empty when they come out. No one really knows what to say when someone experiences a loss especially a miscarriage as if life lived only exists outside the womb. I heard her heartbeat. She lived.
I must have spent days Googling what could have went wrong. Maybe it was my self consciousness trying to find an answer that did not point the finger at me. It is so easy to blame myself, but I was not going to fall into that mental trap. So I changed my search question, “How does one resume life after a loss?” We did not have a funeral. I never had the chance to hold my little girl in my arms. But I did have on thing, the sonogram. It is on my work desk alongside the pictures of my son and other loved ones. My husband keeps a copy in his wallet. I realized that I had changed. Something inside me shifted. My new normal includes two babies, one on earth and one in heaven. I knew that I had to embrace my loss to readjust my reality.
When I was ready, I reached out to a selected few I knew I could trust and shared my story and feelings so that my words could breathe back life into me. Surprisingly God led me to someone who experienced a miscarriage at the same time I did and she didn’t tell anyone. We confided in and encouraged each other and I felt a sense of resolve. Why do we do this? Stay locked within ourselves? Lonely in our pain when the truth is we are hurting. There are many women stuck in this place of sorrow after a loss and this is not the time to blame yourself or lose hope. This is the time to lift each other up and push forward together because this is not the end of your story.
Many years prior, after several failed fertility rounds, Anthony held me and told me as long as he has me that is all that matters to him. And he is a man of his word. I trust him and know that God always finds favor with him. Anthony’s strength gives me the ability to love past my pain. He gave me a sense of security that we will get through this together. I remember Anthony’s grandmother said that funerals are not a place to reunite with loved ones. She is absolutely right. When we celebrate life together, intertwining our lives to inspire and encouraging one another, lifelines are created. And in those times of need, we can pick up the phone, send a text or email, or give a hug when times are difficult to handle on one’s own.
I was able to lean on the good times we created as a couple and a family, establishing traditions like annual family vacations, participating in the breast cancer walk, and game night with friends. Building into our family, into ourselves one day at time strengthens us, and prepares us for the unknown so you do not lose yourself in dark times. I did not want to self sabotage. I did not know why this happened to me, but I was hopeful to keep moving forward and see where the road would lead me and my family because my life masterpiece is still in progress. Today I am the mother of 2 sweet boys and I know their sister watches over them.