Grieving for a baby I never met
TW: talks of miscarriage, pregnancy loss
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. It’s so commonplace (1 in 4 women experience a loss) but it’s not talked about often.
I’m 1 in 4. I lost my first during the first trimester. I didn’t even know I had lost them until I went into my 12 week appointment. I didn’t have an ultrasound that day since it was just a routine check up.
12 weeks is when you can start to hear the heartbeat using a doppler. My NP asked if my husband and I would like to hear it and we enthusiastically said ‘yes’. But that excitement went cold quick when she couldn’t seem to find it. And then she pulled out a mini sonogram, but couldn’t find anything on there. Finally I had to get an actual ultrasound to confirm my fears.
The fetus stopped growing at 9 weeks. That was 3 weeks of me carrying a fetus that was no longer alive. Three weeks of me planning for the nursery, the registry, the names…
There was no reason to this loss. “Sometimes, it just happens.” The doctor said. “Your body just knows.”
But the nightmare wasn’t over. They had stopped growing, which meant my body should have already rejected the pregnancy and expelled the fetus. But it didn’t. This is called a missed miscarriage and it’ll most likely end up in interventions like an induced miscarriage or a retrieval by the doctor.
I chose inducing at home after waiting two more weeks of hoping my body would naturally abort. It was (at the time) the most excruciating pain I would have ever had to endure, both physically and emotionally. I will spare you the details but even after unmedicated labor, I still think that was the worst experience.
In the end I had to also get a few minor in office retrievals done since my body didn’t expel all the “tissue” from my uterus. They called everything a tissue afterwards to not upset you. But you knew what they meant. It was the placenta. The thing that was supposed to keep my baby safe and alive.
It was a very traumatic experience having to come to the doctors every day, then every other day, then every week to check my empty womb, my hcg levels, and my mental health. I hated waiting in the office and seeing all the pregnant women. I was so bitter. I just remembered thinking how it wasn’t fair. I wished they would’ve just brought me into the back or separated me from the pregnant ones.
The hard part was me having to tell my family and friends how I lost the baby. I had just announced the news a couple weeks prior. I wanted to crawl in a hole. I hated the looks of pity. The questions being thrown at me about the how and why. The “Are you sure it’s gone?” question got asked a few times before I induced. I wanted to yell at them to shut up. I didn’t need a second guessing on whether or not they were still alive. I trusted my doctor and I didn’t want to feel any semblance of hope when it’ll just get snatched away.
It took me a long time to grieve. Longer than what most would think it should. But after a year and a half, I got my rainbow. The rainbow unfortunately didn’t take away any of the heartache I feel. I still carry it with me to this day.
No one ever told me about the triggers that would occur when you end up carrying to full-term after experiencing a miscarriage. I didn’t realize how many times I would be holding my breath at each doctor appointment. I made sure to get my first appointment scheduled at 12 weeks so we knew for sure they had survived. I didn’t tell anyone until after the first trimester. I felt robbed of my pregnancy experience in the beginning because I was so worried I would lose that one, too.
It’s been a long journey since that day, but I feel that talking about it helps me heal. Thanks for reading my story. I hope it sheds a light on how a grieving mother never stops loving a child even if they never met them.
Please check in on your loved ones who’ve suffered a loss. Sometimes they are still not okay.
On October 15, 2021, at 7:00 p.m., in all times zones across the world, light a candle for all babies gone too soon; they call it the Wave of Light. Please take a moment to light a candle, whether you are directly affected or not.
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