This is a post I have been wanting to write for a while now. October is Pregnancy and infant loss awareness month, so I figured is the time to post this. We have always gotten pregnant very easily. One of the girls I work with, jokes that all I have to do is think about having another baby and BOOM I’m pregnant. That itself is a blessing because I know multiple couples who have struggled with infertility. I can’t imagine how painful that must wait for months to years for a baby. I won’t event try to pretend like I can understand how agonizing that must be. Though we have three healthy kids now, our first child is waiting for us in heaven.
We were eleven weeks pregnant with our first baby, Thursday September 5, 2013. Our family was in full on wedding preparation mode. Adam and Alli’s wedding was just two days away and there was so much to get ready. I had the day off of work and the weather was perfect for arranging tables and chairs under the reception tent. I was in a great mood knowing our ultrasound was that afternoon and we would soon hear our baby’s heartbeat. Everything was right with the world.
We anxiously arrived at the hospital for our ultrasound and I was all settled on the exam table when the ultrasound started. She was looking at my anatomy on the ultrasound and telling me what my uterus and ovaries looked like. Not that I cared about that I wanted to see our baby!
Then we saw a little bean with a head. The cutest little alien type creature I had ever seen. My baby. I have no idea if our baby was a boy or a girl but over the last five years I have felt very strongly that our first baby was a girl. I have no logical reason for thinking that. I really didn’t care if it was a boy or a girl but I guess we will chalk it up to mother’s intuition.
As the ultrasound started to progress, I soon realized something was wrong. I am by no means an expert with an ultrasound machine, but we use it in the OR quite frequently and I could tell that she had to keep repositioning while she was looking for the heartbeat. Then she pressed a button that should show blood flow and I saw nothing. I started to panic. She tried for about 10 minutes to find a heartbeat. I was screaming in my head.
“God, where is her heartbeat?! Why can’t we find it? Please don’t let this be real!”
I am not making this up. I remember what I was thinking. I will have this day burned into my brain for the rest of my life.
The ultrasound technician didn’t really say anything to us. She just said that she couldn’t find the heartbeat and that we needed to go next door and wait for the doctor.
We went next door and sat down. And Jordan turned to me and asked what was wrong. Why couldn’t they find the heartbeat?
I turned and said to him “Our baby is dead.”
My OBGYN explained that our baby measured about 7 weeks even though I was 11 weeks pregnant. Her tiny heart must have stopped beating 4 week prior to our ultrasound. I was baffled. The pregnancy was going great. I was nauseous and my stomach had started to swell. Everything was going along just as it should.
He said that 1 out of every 4 women have a miscarriage. ONE IN FOUR? I had only known of one other person who had lost a baby. How could this have happened? My mom and my sister each had three children and neither of them had ever lost a baby? Did I do something to hurt her? Was there something I could have done to protect her? Why are there so many people that have children they never meant to have and I lost the one we were so excited about raising?
My doctor assured me there was nothing that I could have done to prevent the miscarriage. That there was probably a genetic abnormality that made it incompatible with life. This logically made sense, but it still didn’t help the ache in my soul. He went on to explain my options for completing the process. I could have a suction D+C in the operating room. Well, I hadn’t even been working in the OR for a year yet and I certainly wasn’t going to have my new coworkers operate on me. Only a couple of them even knew I was pregnant and I didn’t want them to know that I had lost the baby.
My other option was to wait for my body to realize I wasn’t pregnant anymore and naturally pass it. I chose the latter but that didn’t happen for almost three weeks and the feeling of carrying around a child that wasn’t living anymore, in my body, haunted me.
I called my mom and my sister and they took care of telling everyone else. When I am in crisis mode, I don’t want to talk to anyone until I have answers and my family knows this about me; so thankfully my sister took care of everything.
We had Alli’s bachelorette dinner and I was not going to put a damper on this celebratory weekend. Bless Alli’s heart, she is a fantastic sister-in-law and she told me I didn’t need to go to the bachelorette dinner. She was devastated for me, telling me to let her know if there was anything at all she could do for me. I had debated whether we should tell them but they were glad that we did. She was the absolute opposite of a bridezilla caring for her almost sister-in-law on a weekend that should have been all about her.
I rode with my sister and Jordan’s two sisters to the dinner, who hugged me and graciously ignored asking me any questions the rest of the night. I made it through the dinner but I was numb. I made it home to Jordan and absolutely fell apart. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed some more.
The rest of the weekend was spent sobbing at home and splashing cold water on my face to reduce the swelling before going to the rehearsal, the dinner, and the wedding.
I had already agreed to sing Hillsong’s “Oceans” at the wedding and that was the hardest I have ever work to sing a song. That song will forever be the song of the baby girl I never knew.
“So I will call upon your name and keep my eyes above the waves. When oceans rise my soul will rest in your embrace”
The reception is where I learned a lesson I will carry with me the rest of my life.
NEVER ask someone if they are pregnant.
I bet no less than 15 people at the reception asked when Jordan and I were going to start a family.
Yep. That hurt.
You never know what a couple is going through. Maybe they don’t want to have kids and it’s a fight in their marriage. Maybe they have been trying for months and can’t seem to get pregnant. Maybe they just found out 48 hours ago their baby’s heart stopped beating.
They will tell you when they are ready. Don’t ask.
We made it through the wedding weekend and I cried myself to sleep for the next month. We had to have the tv on in our bedroom when I went to sleep because the silence drove me crazy. I was still nauseous and my clothes didn’t fit. I think my body still assumed that I was pregnant.
It was hard and I relied very much on God and Jordan. I still don’t know why God allowed this to happen but he has a purpose for everything. We might not know his reasons until we get to heaven, but I do know that I want to serve a God who is smarter and more powerful than I could ever comprehend. So I have to trust that He knows what He is doing, even when my small mind can’t wrap my head around that. I am not saying that’s easy but that’s faith.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
I was still so embarrassed and ashamed that this had happened to me, but what’s crazy is, once I started to share what had happened to me, I learned of so many other women who had lost babies. The advice they had for me was much welcomed. So I will share a few of the things that were told to me.
“Your baby never knew the pain of this world. All your baby knew was your love and warmth.”
“It helped me heal when I gave my baby a name.”
“It is the loss of a loved one and should be grieved as such.”
“Your baby is in the arms of Jesus waiting for you.”
“I picture your Grandma Jean up there rocking your baby.”
What I have learned most from losing our first baby is that I will never take my children for granted. They are precious and a gift from God. I think of our first baby often and I still cry over someone I never got to hold, but I know I will see her one day in Heaven.