Everything is still too raw but it’s getting better. I will say that one of the BEST things I’ve down for my self was to deactivate my !@##&^* Facebook account. Babies are beautiful but a newsfeed full of daily baby pictures is too much for someone in my shoes just yet. Why put yourself through the pain? Why read the comments about the joys and pains of motherhood? I haven’t told many of my friends about our situation – and even fewer of my friends that have babies know – I don’t want to diminish their joy. But it’s isolating not being able to share.
Hormonally, I’m pretty sure I had my big “hormone dump” last week. I attempted to work from home. Instead I found a grief counselor to see me and he let me borrow a book called Silent Sorrow. Some of the chapters were for women who had miscarried but some were for people like me – Termination for Medical Reasons. I can’t say the word “abortion” without tearing up. It was absolutely awful to call my insurance to ask if they covered “termination of pregnancy” – I felt like I needed to explain the situation. Usually I broke down in tears and not much else needed to be said.
These are all my random thoughts – I hope to put something more concise together for others in this situation in the months to come.
For now, all I can say is that I definitely feel like I’m a more empathetic person. When I hear of other’s struggles, I can so easily find myself in their shoes. I guess that’s what happens when the unexpected happens to you.
On January 15, 2013, my baby was diagnosed with a cystic hygroma during the first trimester screening. The idea of an abnormality with my baby did not compute. I was excited about the first part of the “screening test” – it meant another look at my baby! The ultrasound took what felt like twenty minutes. No big deal to me at the time. Just seemed like I got to get a good look at my baby! To me, everything looked perfect! The baby did seem a little lazy so the U/S tech made me switch sides constantly and roughly poked at my belly with the U/S wand. Finally, she was done. She made no comments whatsoever and disappeared. When she came back, she handed me the U/S images and I was lead to another waiting room where I waited…and waited…and waited for 20 minutes. At the time, nothing dawned on me. I sat on the patient table covered in paper and looked at my baby. I texted my husband that the baby was lazy :)
Finally the doctor came in. She said, “So we’re here to go over your screening tests and ultrasound pictures.” She said in a normal, sing song manner, so no alarm bells went off yet. She then said “Well, the nuchal scan is a bit high.” “This means that your baby has a chance at Downs or one of the trisomies. We can’t be sure. It’s just a marker, not a diagnosis. I recommend that you get a CVS and see a perinatal specialist. Do you have any questions?”
I did not have a single question. I did not know what any of those words meant. So I said “okay, let’s move forward.”
I was left to sit alone for another 20 minutes as reality slowing started settling in. When the doctor poked her head back in, I asked — What did you say that term was again? And she said “high nuchal fold” – I texted the term to myself so I could figure it out later. Was it serious? Would it go away?
I left the office in tears.
Jumping ahead – it’s still too soon to write about the cystic hygroma diagnosis, the termination procedure, the hospitalization, and the return home. The surgery (D&E) was almost two weeks ago. Our post-op appointment is this week and I’m hoping … Continue reading
Part Two: Sharing the News with our Immediate Family
We heard the baby’s heartbeat at 7 weeks. It was so strong. It was 150 beats per minute. The baby was jumping around and both my husband and I teared up. We treasured the ultrasound pictures and began thinking about sharing the news with our immediate families. Christmas was around the corner and I found the cutest silver frames at Kohls. They said “Coming Soon” – how simple and appropriate! We took the ultrasound photo to Kinkos and made a few copies and put them in the frames. This would have been my parent’s first grandchild and we were excited about their surprise and reaction.
We wrapped the frame and saved it for the last Christmas gift. My mom opened it slowly and stared at the frame. She looked at me and incredulously asked “You’re pregnant?” My husband and I smiled and nodded. She then began crying and left the room. Confused I looked over at my dad. He just smiled and said congratulations. My siblings just sat there stunned with no words to say. It was not the reaction we expected but shrugged it off as a new situation for everyone. People adjust in different ways. I had hoped for a hug and a smile – but maybe that would come with time.
In the meantime, I asked that the news stay private. I was only 9 weeks pregnant. It was still early. I asked that they not buy baby clothes. Heaven forbid, if there was a loss, then I couldn’t bear to see or deal with the clothes.
We left Christmas still excited but a weird feeling was seeping in and I was beginning to feel anxious about the situation. My husband agreed the whole interaction was odd but we tried to keep our spirits up. I checked in daily on “Sprout”, an application that tracks your pregnancy, and watched the virtual development of our baby with eager anticipation.
This is our story of loss. It happened over the course of a 15 weeks but the effects have been devastating. From what I now understand, the mourning of an unborn child will take months if not longer. This is our attempt to pull ourselves back together, share our story, and find our way to peace.
Part One: Our First Pregnancy
We found out we were pregnant shortly after Thanksgiving. It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving and we were shocked to see the two pink lines on the pregnancy test. We were bursting with joy and excitement over the anticipation of a huge life change. Our baby’s due date would be August 4, 2013. We were only four weeks pregnant and kept the news to ourselves. It was very hard because we had to make life changes. For example, I stopped weightlifting and running. I tried my hardest to keep my heart rate under the recommended 140 bpm – which is totally impossible and boring. Cut out the caffeine. Cut out the sushi. Cut out the painkillers. Upped my hydration and nutrition. Started prenatal yoga. Overall, I felt like we were doing everything right. We weren’t prepared for the bad news that was coming in 2 months.