When I was asked to tell my story, I hesitated. It has been 21 years since I had been through losing my first child. I survived a two-year long state of deep depression, I wasn’t sure I wanted to revisit the emotions and the full memory of what I went through. My story is not like yours. Your story is not like mine. They are so different in every way, but the heartache is the same.
I shared my story, mostly when I was able to first stop crying about it. They say you have healed when you can pull that off. I say losing a child is not something you will ever heal from. You just learn to breathe differently to get through life. I was not the girl who grew up wanting the husband, the 2 ½ kids and the picket fence. I never thought about the day I would become a Mom like most little girls. My health was always sketchy when it came to my period and I always felt having kids was probably not in the cards.
When I was 22 years old, I moved from my little town in Upstate NY, to a larger military town in North Carolina. Shortly after, I met my husband, a US Marine. Although we were not trying, we were not necessarily preventing a pregnancy. About 6 months into our relationship, I woke up feeling different. I kept it to myself, not sure how he would react. I bought a test and sure enough, I was pregnant. When he came home, I told him the news. His reaction was anything but excited. He was also 22. He was scared, nervous, not ready. But neither was I.
I had gone to the doctor for the typical visits you need when you find out you are pregnant. The verification appointment. The check ups. Learning what the next 9 months will entail for us. About a month into finding out I was pregnant (I was 2 months along), I started gaining weight at a rapid pace. Thirty pounds in a month was far from normal. I was feeling tired and lethargic for days at a time. I would talk to my doctor about how I felt at my next appointment. I was told this was normal. That my body is changing with the pregnancy. I had accepted what I was told and continued on. On October 28th of 1999, I woke up bleeding. My heart sank. My husband was already at work, so I called a friend to bring me to the ER. I sat in the emergency room at this military hospital, scared to death, but hoping it was just one of those things and all would be fine. What followed unfortunately, was probably the most heart wrenching thing I could have been through, up to that point anyway. I have thought many times how different this would have been for me had I been assigned to any other doctor that day. I wonder if it would have hurt less. If I would have handled it better. There were so many factors about what I went through that made an already devastating situation, even more so.
We were military. It was not unheard of to have civilian doctors contracted to work in military hospitals. The doctor I was assigned to fell in that category. He was well past his prime and his bedside manner was non existent. I was called to the room and waited, unsure of everything, answering questions the nurse had for me. Scared. When the doctor came in, he had very little to say to me. Examined me. And left the room. I got dressed and waited in the waiting room, sitting with my friend. A short time later, I was called back into a room. The doctor proceeded to give me his diagnosis. His words to me were this…
“Your body is naturally aborting your baby. But you are too young to have a baby anyway. You will need to have a D&C to remove what is left. The OBGYN office will call you tomorrow morning to tell you when they can get you in.”
He left the room.
And that was that.
I went home. I don’t remember anything from the rest of that day. I only remember that I spent the rest of it in bed, devastated. My husband finally did show up. He wasn’t the outward emotion type of person. I cried enough for the both of us though. At some point in the middle of the night, the pain started kicking in. The bleeding got worse. I was in the fetal position, barely able to breathe from the pain. Knowing every burst of pain, was my baby leaving me.
The next morning, my husband went to work. He was going to wait until I heard from the hospital and come get me. I waited all morning, in so much pain on every level. The OBGYN never called me. I called them and they told me I was supposed to have been there for 8am. I tried to reach my husband and was not successful. So I drove myself to the hospital.
I checked into the OBGYN. They all knew why I was there. I was taken back into a room to prepare me for what I was facing. If you can ever be prepared for this. I don’t remember hearing anything though. I was numb. And alone. Losing my baby. Crying my heart out. The doctor that came in was different. He approached the entire situation with more care and concern than the doctor in the ER the day before. And as much as that made a difference to me, it was too late. I needed that the day before. I needed that when I was not 100% sure I was losing my baby. He tried to reach my husband for me, but time was running out and I was being sent up to have the D&C. I remember forcing myself to wake up as soon as I was out of surgery. I remember wanting to get the hell out of that room, out of that hospital, out of the State of NC. I wanted to leave the planet. My husband showed up as I was getting dressed. I didn’t have anything to say to him. I just wanted to go. I left my car at the hospital for almost 2 weeks. I had no desire to return to that building. My birthday was 2 days later.
I spent every day crying, barely able to get out of bed. Before I knew it the days added up to weeks. Weeks added up to months and I was barely able to function. I could not hold a job, I became a recluse. Only going out if I absolutely had to. The life of being a Mom to this child was taken away from me. I was angry. Confused. Mad at the world and how unfair it was. Wondering why my husband was not hit as hard with the emotions and the heartache of losing a child. Why it felt like I was going through this all by myself. His reaction when I told him I was pregnant answered that for me…whether it was the truth or not, it was all I had. I came to realize later in life, he just dealt with the loss differently. Only he lost two people that day. https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS AD
Having to tell my family and friends was very difficult. I was miles away from them all. I was given a Precious Moments figurine of a baby on a cloud. This would become my “urn” for the baby I lost. I was also given an angel necklace to represent my baby. When you lose a baby from miscarriage, you don’t have any proof that baby existed. No where you can visit to pay a visit and talk into the wind. You have a medical record you have to somehow tell without losing your shit. That day comes for some. I reached that day a while ago, but that is not to say there is not a lump in my throat when I talk about it. I lost my baby too early to know what I would have had. But I had two names picked out. In my heart, I have always felt the baby I lost was a girl. And if that were true, her name would have been Eimilee Grace. At the time I was pregnant, my sister also was. And my cousin. When I arrived back home for a visit, the first time I saw my mother hold one of their babies, I broke down and left the room. That would have been my baby. I began to resent anyone who could have a successful pregnancy. What made them so special? The “what about me?” mentality kicked in and I wanted nothing to do with babies, ever again. I realize now, that was me in survival mode.
At my follow up after the D&C, I found out that my bloodwork was not normal. That even though I had written on my medical history that Thyroid disease ran rampant in my family, I was never tested. My thyroid levels were through the roof. I was told my thyroid was triggered by the pregnancy, which led to the miscarriage. No one was sure if testing me earlier would have made a difference in the outcome. What I would come to learn was that the thyroid disease, coupled with PCOS, would make it near impossible for me to have a child.
After two years had passed since losing my child, trying for another and the numerous negative pregnancy tests,my husband and I visited a fertility specialist. I was heartbroken when I was told my chances of having a child on my own were slim to none.I was already trying to learn how to deal with my depression and anxiety. That it would take tens of thousands of dollars we did not have, to go through infertility treatments. To be told that NOT being able to have a child is actually considered an elective by our insurance company and not covered. An ELECTIVE. We were given an option to try an infertility medicine that was covered, however we were given no guarantees. Everyone we spoke to suggested adoption. At that point in my life, I did not think I would be capable of loving someone else’s child as my own. I would not want to gamble on that, this would be a human life I would pass my bullshit onto. So I never gave it a second thought. After 2 months of being on the fertility medication, taking my temperature religiously every morning, taking what felt like a pregnancy test every other day, going through the ups and downs of the emotional rollercoaster, we found out we were pregnant. And we told NO ONE. If I had my way, I wouldn’t have told anyone until my child graduated from kindergarten. I was so scared to tell anyone for fear it would be with a follow up phone call like our first. The pregnancy was going without any issues and we made it past the 3 month mark before we told our parents. We told everyone else around the 5 month mark. Our son told everyone around the 7 month mark when he made his early entrance into this world. He comes with his own amazing story of survival. He is my rainbow baby. My angel on earth.
When I was 33, and my son was 8, I was told I had a 40% chance I had uterine cancer. I was given 2 options. I could go see an infertility specialist, the doctor knew I had never given up on having a third child. He recommended I go through hormone treatment for this tumor for a year and then try to get pregnant. We were still married at that time. Rocky but not horrible. Unsure we would be married in a year, let’s put it that way. OR my only other option…a hysterectomy. I decided to leave his office with the plan of hormone treatments. I had fought for 10 years to have another child, my fight was not over. But over the course of the following two weeks, looking at my son, knowing he could lose his mother if I chose another baby over my own health, I changed course. I called the doctor’s office and scheduled another appointment. He refused to do the hysterectomy, stating I was too young. Stating I could ruin any future relationship by not being able to have children. I had learned a lot since the military doctor in the ER, and demanded he respect my choice. I would later find out, the results of my hysterectomy was 100% cancer.
Fast forward to now and I still have the lump in my throat, even as I type this. I would be lying if I said I was able to get through this without crying. It touches on emotions I have trained myself are ok to have, to keep, but put them in a shoebox and place them on a shelf in my closet. Losing a child comes with absolutely zero understanding…but always serves a purpose. My “battle” to become a mother, and stay one, showed me the true meaning of “this too shall pass”. I often wonder if I had not lost my first child, would I have been the same Mom I am today? Would I have appreciated and cherished each day with my child the same as I did over the last 18 years.
Through the years, I have had to learn how to forgive. To forgive the doctor that didn’t see the pain I was in, a young woman who was losing her baby, and only saw me as a lab result. Forgive the hospital for not running tests based on my medical history, and possibly changing the outcome. I have had to forgive my ex husband for his reaction when I told him I was pregnant, and hope he forgives me someday for thinking the way he mourned in silence was the same as not at all.
A friend and coworker of mine lost their second baby. To lose one is an immeasurable amount of pain, let alone two. I passed on the Precious Moments figurine I was given. It was time. It would hopefully serve a purpose for her, and for them.
I will forever hold on to the necklace. This is a photo of my 2 pound 10 oz baby boy in the NICU, kangarooing for the first time, reaching up for the necklace. If only in a photo, my children were connected in that moment.
I will see my Eimilee Grace someday. I can feel it in my soul. But for now, I am choosing to learn from all of life’s lessons. Learn their purposes. That alone will lead me to GRACE.
Owner and Photographer @ Grace Studios