Grieving the baby I never knew.

In November 2010 my husband and I decided to finally try for a second baby. We got pregnant right away and were so excited! Our daughter was even more excited! In January 2011 I woke up from a nap and had intense cramping and pain. My Mom was in town and rushed me to the ER. They did an ultrasound and told me I had miscarried. I really didn’t know what that meant and knew nothing about miscarriages. The doctor at the ER told me these things happen and it’s actually very common. They can’t really explain it but usually something is wrong with the baby early on. Because I had the pain they admitted me over night to check my vitals often and scheduled me early the next morning for a D&C and a lapiroscopic surgery. I was terrified going into surgery. All of this happened so fast and next thing I know I am getting prepped to go into surgery. I woke up in recovery in pain. The recovery was two weeks long and I was out of work. I was in pain from the two incisions they did during the lapiroscopic surgery and was on pain medications. I pretty much sat on our couch and did nothing for those two weeks but felt sorry for myself. I eventually went back to work but the emotional recovery was too much for me to handle. After days of crying at my desk and not being able to concentrate on my job, I went to my boss and just told her it was too much for me. I worked for our family’s company from home and slowly the emotional recovery got better. We were told we could try again after three cycles so we did and immediately got pregnant. I had a very healthy pregnancy, went full term, and had a healthy baby boy who was 8 pounds and 6 ounces!

I thought we would be okay with two- we had a girl and a boy- one of each. But when our son was 4 years old it was on my heart and mind to have one more. I have always wanted three children. So my husband and I talked about it and we began trying for baby #3. We got pregnant fairly quick and I scheduled an appointment with my new OBGYN. We went in at about 6 weeks and saw the baby on the ultrasound and the heartbeat..which the doctor didn’t expect to see that early! I was scheduled to go back in 2 weeks for an 8 week ultrasound where they could measure the baby better and get a more accurate due date. When we went back my doctor saw the baby and heartbeat right away and the baby had grown so much since our 6 week ultrasound! Everything looked great and she said I could come back in four weeks. That weekend I had very light spotting just once. I took that as a sign to take it easy and maybe I was doing too much. It stopped and I felt fine. On Monday I had more spotting and this time it was bright red. Something told me this wasn’t okay. I got into my doctor right away, left my kids with my neighbor friend, rushed to the hospital doctor’s office location, she did an ultrasound right away and asked “Did you say you had a miscarriage in between your two kids?” I said “Yes..” And she said “It looks that way with this one too.” I sat up and was in shock. Complete shock. I said “Are you sure?!” She sent me down to radiology for a more thorough (and long and painful) ultrasound to make sure then I had to go back the next morning for the final results. I knew it already though. That drive home from the hospital I was just in complete shock. Honestly, I was confused. I didn’t get it. We JUST saw the baby on the ultrasound and it had grown so much from the ultrasound two weeks before. What happened? How is there no longer a heartbeat?! We had told our kids after the 8 week ultrasound so now we had to sit them down and explain what happened. It was heartbreaking. Our daughter had already gone through this with the baby before our son so she somewhat understood this time. But our 4 year old didn’t understand and for days he would continue to say there was a baby in Mommy’s belly. At school his teacher told me they drew family pictures and he drew a baby and said it was the baby in Mommy’s belly. She congratulated me and said she had no idea we were expecting. I felt so bad telling her what happened and that he just didn’t understand. All of the emotions came rushing back. I was given more options with this miscarriage though which I liked. We chose to let the baby pass naturally instead of having the D&C. I was very nervous about what to expect and when it would happen..but was actually surprised how little pain I had and how smooth the process was. It was at night, my husband was home and with me, my mother in law was in town, and the kids were asleep. It was hard knowing what my body was doing and part of me wanting it to be over but part of me not wanting it to be over and not losing the baby completely. The next few days after was hard. I had already started to show a little since it was our third and still having that little baby bump pooch area was hard to see. And having the exhaustion and morning sickness feelings were hard. It took me a while to recover emotionally. I think part of it was I was in shock that it happened to me again. I guess I thought since I had one already that it wouldn’t happen to me again. With each day it did get easier. It got easier to get out of bed and to eat normal again. It got easier to go out and have fun and smile without feeling guilty like I should be sad and in bed. There were days I wanted to just feel sorry for myself. There were days I wanted to cry. And I let myself. But I also refused to let it knock me down and stay down. I had two other kiddos who needed their Mommy and a husband who needed his wife. As hard as it was I got up, brushed off the dirt, and felt stronger each time that I got out of bed, I ate a meal, I cooked a meal, I went out somewhere, I got dressed, I got something done. I let myself take baby steps and I let myself have the good days and the not so good days. I started exercising again as soon as my doctor said it was okay and that helped a lot! I didn’t exercise at all when I had my first miscarriage so I didn’t have that to help with the emotions and boost the endorphins.

When we got home from the doctor I posted a status with a picture with the kids after we told them the news. It was hard for me to do and my husband said I didn’t have to, but I wanted to. We had just announced it on Facebook and let our friends and family know. I needed the good thoughts and prayers. I didn’t want to be quiet about what happened. It really helped with the recovery by me talking about it..it was almost therapeutic. And what I found is so many women experience miscarriage or infant loss and don’t talk about it. I’m not sure why they don’t talk about it but so many reached out to me after I was so open about our loss and said they didn’t tell anyone or talk about it. Unfortunately it is a very common thing to experience and I found that most women have had at least one. It’s okay to talk about it and ask for thoughts and prayers. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to say you aren’t okay. It’s okay to say you are sad. That baby was a life no matter how far along you were.

My status the day we found out and told our kids the news:

I’ve felt this pain before.

I’ve felt this emptiness inside of me.

I’ve felt every single emotion before.

And I was praying I wouldn’t have to ever feel it again. But here I am..feeling it and experiencing it all over again. To be told not even a week ago that your baby has grown so much since the last ultrasound two weeks before and the heartbeat is strong and everything looks perfect. To coming home and telling our kiddos right away, all of our family on Facetime, and announcing it on Facebook to all of our friends where almost a week later we are still getting congratulations comments, calls, texts, and messages.

To one day all of that changing..being told there’s a baby but it’s the same size as last week and now there is no heartbeat. To have to hold a paper on the way to radiology to get confirmation of reliving one of the most painful things I have ever experienced. To go through a very long, thorough, and painful ultrasound to confirm what we were just told. It made it that much worse. To be told they don’t know why these things happen or what causes it. I’m not sure if that helps or makes it worse. I started to ask myself on the way home “How?! How did the baby grow so much within 2 weeks, have such a strong heartbeat, everything look so perfect..and just like that- heartbeat gone.”

Just like the first time I stopped asking why and how. I stopped thinking about the past few weeks and everything I did, ate, and drink. I stopped wondering if I did anything or could have done anything differently. Because I choose to let my faith be bigger than my fears. I choose to follow His path and plan for me. I am so thankful that my husband was there next to me during the second long, thorough, painful ultrasound and walked me out. I was completely heartbroken and full of sadness until he made me realize when we lost the first baby (between our daughter and son) that we went on to get pregnant soon after, I had a perfectly healthy pregnancy, a beautiful (and big) healthy baby boy who has been the best thing we could have ever prayed and hoped for. So this gives us hope. I might still have tears in my eyes and sadness in my heart, but I am stronger than I was before and I thank my precious angel baby for that strength. I now have two angel babies and I love them just like I do my two babies here with me. I already miss you little one..Mommy loves you!

“I carried you every second of your life and I will love you for every second of mine.”

If you are a Momma that is reading this and has experienced miscarriage or infant loss, I want you to know you aren’t alone. I know it hurts. I know it’s hard. But what I do know is there is hope. I know this because after my first one we were able to get pregnant and have a normal pregnancy and healthy baby. So don’t lose hope! Your story isn’t over yet! After every storm, there is a rainbow!

 

What is normal?

Approximately 10-15% of women suffer from Post Partum Depression. That is a statistic you will find all over the internet. What that percentage doesn’t account for are the many women who keep their depression a secret. Normal women who, under pressure from others or themselves, tuck the feelings away for fear that they will be seen as weak or worse- unfit. Well, I am a normal woman. I suffered from PPD. I hid it and my life was rocked by it.

It all began on the day I gave birth to my son and let me preface  this by saying, my OBGYN was a cruel human and his staff was equally sadistic.

My son was born into a room of misery. I was ignored through my entire C-section. My OB discussed sports with his partner shortly after discussing who was getting what cut of the money I would be paying for my child to be brought into this world (obviously I was paying cash or this couldn’t have been a conversation).  My body shook, as a result of the spinal block,  for the entire thing. I was terrified that it was going to effect the outcome of the surgery. I asked the anesthesiologist, “Is this normal?”, he walked away. I begged the anesthesiology student to tell me if it was going to be an issue and she said, “No.” That’s all. My husband was next to my while this went on, I think he was in shock over it all. He held my head and did the best he could to calm me. Shortly after I held my boy, my husband was whisked away with our son to the nursery.

I laid alone on a table while they stitched me up. Once I was done,  I was subjected to a barrage of  comments about my weight. How many people would it take to lift me? You better get at least five people in here to help! I just laid there crying and numb. It was like a normal thing to see a new  mother cry and not to even acknowledge it.

I was wheeled to recovery to sit in a dark room alone. I begged to see my son, nope, hospital policy that he should stay in the nursery for an hour. I cried in the dark until finally my husband came in. I was hysterical at this point.  He went and got my mother who held me while I was inconsolable. I felt like I was drowning- I just couldn’t breathe. I kept thinking, this is not how it should feel!

I was finally taken to my room and they brought my son to me. I nursed him and felt a small bit of relief from the terrible sadness that was consuming me.  Holding my first born was incredible! I didn’t want to let him go, I barely gave anyone else any time to hold him.( I cried most of the time but when I look back I think those tears were from the all encompassing love and happiness I felt having brought this child into the world.)

It was time for them to take him to the nursery to check him out- again. My husband followed closely and didn’t let him out of his sight. The nurses checked my son’s sugar and in what seemed like a calculated event the nurses threatened my husband and scared him. Our son’s blood sugar was too low and if he didn’t allow them to give formula right at that very moment,  then they would put our son in the NICU  so we wouldn’t have a say. My poor husband had to come back and tell me this. I cried. What else could possibly go wrong?

I discharged from the hospital early, I refused to stay any longer. My son was healthy and I would be better to heal at home in a loving environment. I couldn’t shake these feelings of extreme sadness and fear, and unfortunately  didn’t for a very long time.

A week after his birth, I went to have my staples removed. I told my OB that I was having serious issues. I was crying constantly and couldn’t get myself out of the house.  I was having some strange thoughts and couldn’t control my emotions at all. I was told, of course that’s all normal! After birth emotions run high. That was it. He sent me on his way, perhaps he had an important golf game that day.

Time went on. My life got harder. My husband and I had some personal changes (starting a business)  and we moved a couple of times in the first few months of parenthood. Money became a stress that I had never known before. We started fighting non stop, partly because I had developed a fear of my husband and because I had started keeping financial things from him due to my irrational fear. My thoughts and emotions became darker as I retreated back into myself. Soon a fight erupted between my husband and I at my mothers house. It was catastrophic. There was something wrong here. We all acknowledged it finally. I cried. The depression had taken me hostage,  I had been keeping so many secrets at this point there was no turning back. We started to delve into our issues and try to figure things out but before we could really get things together, I was pregnant again.

My second pregnancy was hard. Even though I had a doctor/midwife team that understood me and monitored me, I was struggling. My marriage was now tainted and if you walked into a room with both of us in it, the tension was palpable. We fought over secrets I had kept and the stress of a new business did not help our situation. We tried hard to keep it together even though I could barely function and he didn’t understand.

Shortly after our daughter was born I went to my OB and told her how I was feeling and how it was affecting my life. She sat with my while I cried to her, she put her hand on my knee and said that it was time to get some outside help. She wrote me a prescription for an antidepressant and said,”I’m writing this for you. What you decide to do with it is your choice.” I left her office and didn’t know what to do with it and I was so confused about what my next step should be.

It took me two weeks to make my decision. I filled the prescription and made my first appointment with a counselor. A 6 month cocktail of therapy and medication and I could finally see the light. My husband and I stopped fighting and started working together to fix the things in our marriage and our everyday life  that needed fixing. We made it to the other side.

When I became pregnant with my third, I was scared. I didn’t want to sink into that abyss again. As soon as I had my first appointment with my new doctor, I told him my history. He told me that he would monitor me and we would stay on top of it. I had a wonderful pregnancy and an absolutely beautiful and healing birth with my third. I kept waiting for the beast to rear its ugly head again, but it never did.

It’s been two years since I had my third. Life is normal and sometimes boring. My relationship weathered a terrible storm and made it out stronger. PPD is serious and it is not discussed openly and honestly enough. Sometimes we need help, sometimes we need medication, we  ALWAYS need support from those closest to us. The number one thing I have learned is that we, as women, as patients, as mothers, as people, NEED to advocate for ourselves. You know when something is wrong. Trust your gut.