On my birthday in 2005 we found out we were expecting our first, which was a complete surprise. I had to go to the hospital after our apartment complex re-sealed the counter tops in an adjacent apartment and failed to ventilate it, which spread nasty fumes into all of our apartments. I was having tightness in my chest and because I have a history of open heart surgery they suggested I go to the hospital to be check. I still laugh because I WAS “late,” but argued that my cycle isn’t regular and was under a lot of stress. Of course I said it was OK to run a pregnancy test.
I told the doctor while I was in there I thought I might have a kidney infection because I hadn’t been feeling well. He kind of chuckled at me and later the nurse revealed my pregnancy test had come back positive. We were pretty shocked because we definitely didn’t expect it as we hadn’t yet discussed having children! Suddenly all the thoughts of what I had done in the last month haunted me. We had visited my friends and family in Ohio and I had a few drinks while we were out (I was a little different then). I had also drank a TON of energy drinks during the drive up there! I was so nervous! I knew I had to just move on and start taking care of myself and our baby.
It turns out I had a very healthy, easy pregnancy with the exception of being in a major car accident and having to have my appendix removed when I was 15 weeks along. So it was also a very scary pregnancy! We had a healthy baby boy on April 30, 2006 via c-section after 11 hours of labor during which his umbilical cord being less than 5 in long pulled him into an awkward breech position and I was losing consciousness often. I felt robbed of the natural birth I had planned, and to make matters worse I wasn’t able to breastfeed him because my body was under so much stress from the surgery coupled with the postpartum depression – I wasn’t producing milk and had no support on top of that.Despite the rough birth experience we were so happy to be parents (besides the postpartum depression I was battling, which I was unaware of until later), and we knew we wanted to have our kids close together because if we were going to have kids we wanted a few! haha Because of the heart surgery I had it had been recommended I not have children after age 30, and I was 24 at the time of our oldest son’s birth. We opted to just let everything happen in God’s time (not trying, not preventing). My cycle returned immediately since I wasn’t breastfeeding, and we conceived again when our son was 6 months old. Wow, they’d only be 15 months apart! We were THRILLED! My husband has 6 years between himself and his older brother, and I have a little less than 1 year between my sister and me, so needless to say we had very different experiences growing up! We were really excited our kids would be close together because this also meant we may be able to have at least 4, which we decided would be a nice number!
Our first angel baby
I started showing immediately since we had conceived again so soon. We had so much negative feedback about having another baby so soon that I couldn’t really enjoy the pregnancy. I connected with other moms online to share our excitement. I shared pictures of my belly already starting to grow and we started planning on moving into our first home together! We were having a house built, and it was just such an amazing feeling – everything was just so amazing!
I was scheduled for my first ultrasound at 9 weeks – on Dec 18, 2006. I had a dream the night before that I started bleeding that day and was losing the baby. It was somewhat unnerving, but I had many of those dreams during my first pregnancy, so I didn’t think much of it until I went to the bathroom that morning, and I was, indeed, spotting. I was so nervous! Many people assured me if it’s just light spotting and there is no pain it’s probably normal and nothing to worry about. I was still nervous, though, because I didn’t have any of that during my first pregnancy at all. I honestly went to that appointment thinking I would be told something was wrong.
To our delight, though, we saw a beautiful little baby with a strong, healthy heartbeat! My doctor explained it is probably just old blood and that it’s not all that uncommon for that to happen. Once we see that the baby is healthy the miscarriage risk drops considerably to around 10%. What a relief! The baby was measuring a little small for gestational age, but that can be pretty normal. I also ovulate late in my cycle. My doctor did encourage me to drink more water because the fluid was a little low. Overall, though, I was taking care of myself A LOT better even before I knew we had conceived, so I felt so much better about this pregnancy!Because I was spotting it was recommended I take it easy for a few days, so I did! I did everything I could to take care of myself and make sure the baby would be OK. I started drinking tons of water and resting as much as I could with an 8 month old! I spotted on and off for the next week. On Christmas day the spotting turned to bleeding. I was terrified. I talked to people I knew had experienced bleeding during pregnancy and most said if there is no pain everything should be fine because if you were miscarrying you would have intense cramping and pain. I decided to go to the doctor just to be sure.
I got an emergency appointment on the 27th because they were still closed on the 26th due to the holiday. Because my husband had just missed work for the original ultrasound he was unable to go with me to this appointment. One of our dear friends agreed to go with me, and my aunt was kind enough to let me borrow her car and watch our son. I remember feeling so nervous for that ultrasound, and the nurse kept reassuring me that this might be normal and not to worry. What a RELIEF when I saw our little baby! BUT the relief turned into fear when I realized the doctor and the nurse got very quiet. I then realized our baby didn’t have a heartbeat and wasn’t moving. My doctor wanted to find the baby’s heartbeat as much as I did, but our baby had passed away. He took baby’s measurements and determined baby had stopped growing on Christmas Day – when the bleeding had started. Our angel baby went to heaven on December 25, 2006. Our Christmas angel.
I had the option of having the D&C or letting everything happen on its own. My doctor explained it could take months sometimes for a body to respond to a missed miscarriage and that can not only delay the grieving process but also cause hemorrhaging. Because of the amount of bleeding I was already having hemorrhaging was a very real possibility. I called my husband to talk to him because if we chose the D&C it would be performed the next day. I had already cried a little in the ultrasound room after the doctor and nurse had walked out, but I think telling my husband our baby had died is when it really just hit me. We agreed together I should have the D&C the next day. I went and had my blood work done and had the D&C the following morning.
My sister and her now husband had just gotten down to Texas, so although I cried the whole way to the restaurant we’d be meeting them at and cried over the phone with my good friends I didn’t have a chance to cry with my husband until later that evening. I think it took a while for everything to sink in for us as a couple. When it did we grieved. My postpartum depression deepened (but again, I was unaware I was having issues with depression) and everything was very hard at that time.
People tried to comfort us by saying “well, it was just too soon” or “it was God’s Will.” I do believe in God’s Will, but it really isn’t the “right” thing to say to someone who is grieving over the loss of a child. To say it was too soon (which MANY did) I think compounded my depression because what I was hearing was “you shouldn’t have conceived again so quickly. That’s the reason you lost the baby. It’s your fault.” If you’ve lost a baby you can probably relate to that feeling. I bet you felt it, too, even if the words that were said to you weren’t exactly the same. If you’ve never lost a baby you may think “wow, that’s dramatic!” Perhaps it is, but it was a very real feeling and a very real grief. There are many “what ifs” that run through your head and wondering if it was something you did was definitely one of the main thoughts that crossed my mind!
It was advised to wait 3 months after the D&C before trying to conceive again, and we did, of course, partly because we NEEDED that time to grieve and partly because I was so worried that if I didn’t do exactly as recommended something bad would happen again. We found out we were expecting again on our son’s first birthday! It was a very stressful, hormonal, and crazy pregnancy with dizziness and fainting spells, which resulted in an early c-section (required repeat c-section – boo, I know!) on Dec 21, 2007. Our daughter went to NICU for a few days and got to go home on Christmas Eve. So on Christmas Day, the day of the loss of our angel baby, we were celebrating being home with our new daughter! What a blessing!
Our 2nd Angel Baby
Because I was now recognizing I had depression that lingered through the pregnancy with our daughter as well we decided I should start treating it – and hold off on having more children. So, I got an IUD. The IUD was awful for me, but I gave it time to adjust. It never did. I was bleeding and cramping for 6 weeks straight. Within that time my husband enlisted in the Army and was about to leave for Boot camp. Because he was enlisting as Infantry his Basic Training and Advanced Training is rolled into one meaning he would be gone for 4 months straight. I knew I couldn’t take care of a toddler and a baby by myself and live with this pain and bleeding. Obviously I wasn’t going to get pregnant for at least 4 more months, so I had it removed. After he returned from Training we got settled at his first duty station as a family. We decided to once again leave conception in God’s Hands. Because I was exclusively breastfeeding our daughter my cycle didn’t even return until she was 15 months old!!! Isn’t that crazy (and wonderful)?! LOL
We conceived immediately after my first cycle (which I guess would technically be the 2nd cycle). I knew before the test came out positive that I was pregnant. I was SO excited! The test was very faint so I re-took one a week later just to be sure, and this time there was no mistaking that + sign! I was so incredibly excited but definitely feeling incredibly sick! I had let most people at my work know as well because I was working part-time training dogs, so I knew I would have to take it easy a little bit because of my last pregnancy plus I had my diagnosis of Fibromyalgia by that time. I scheduled my appointment for 12 weeks because that was the soonest they see their patients at that military hospital after the confirmed pregnancy test. I explained I had lost a baby before, and they said it didn’t matter because if it happens before 12 weeks there is nothing they can do anyway. Although, I know there is truth to that I didn’t like such a blunt answer. Of course, I didn’t have a choice, so I was just waiting with anticipation for that first appointment!
Around 6 weeks I started spotting. I panicked. It was very, very light spotting, but the only time I had ever spot during pregnancy was our 2nd pregnancy – the baby we lost. It was much lighter, though, so I told myself just to take it easy, stay off my feet as much as possible (with a toddler and preschooler? Yeah right!), and take care of myself. It started getting worse, and I just knew in my heart I was going to lose this baby. I was at work when I noticed it had gotten a little heavier. I told my manager to cancel the rest of my classes that evening “because I’m pretty sure I’m losing my baby.” I went to the ER and upon physical examination my cervix was closed and looked good, I wasn’t having any physical pain like cramping, etc., so based on that alone there appeared to be no threatened miscarriage.
Because I had lost a baby before, though, it was recommended I have an ultrasound. Their machine was down, so I was sent to another emergency room. It was the worst experience EVER. The ultrasound technician would not allow my husband to be in there with me because it was an emergency situation. At one point I had a break in the ultrasound because she wanted to get a different wand. It was long enough for me to tell my husband she couldn’t see a baby. I didn’t see a baby, either. She saw there was a chance I had an ectopic pregnancy as well as a yolk sac in my uterus. Seeing just a yolk sac at just over 6 weeks isn’t that common but it is possible – particularly since I do ovulate late in my cycle. It was recommended I follow up with an OB in the morning.
That morning I was exhausted from not sleeping most of the night due to being in the ER and I sat in the waiting room for a long time because the message didn’t get relayed that I was there for an emergency ultrasound with an OB. I had already started bleeding more heavily. I sat there looking at all the happy pregnant women waiting for their appointments and I admit I felt hurt and bitter. I don’t like that I felt that way, but I realize I’m human! I finally went back and was blessed that the OB I happened to see that day is the mother of 4 children who had experienced a loss in between each healthy pregnancy. She said things to me that only a person who has experienced losses could say. It was no surprise we didn’t see our baby in the ultrasound because I was bleeding more heavily and cramping had also set in. We went back to her office where we just talked some more about losses, grieving, and hope. She wasn’t able to say I had, for sure, lost the baby because, again, there was a yolk sac, but she was able to rule out an ectopic pregnancy and sent me to the lab to have my blood drawn for HCG levels, which turned out to be normal for a 6 week gestational pregnancy. I was diagnosed with a “threatened miscarriage.”
I cried sitting outside her office waiting to leave until after the crying had passed so I didn’t walk through the waiting room in tears. I had to repeat the HCG draw the next day to see if my levels were rising in which case the bleeding truly may be a fluke, or if they were dropping, which meant the miscarriage had already begun. It felt like forever before I got the phone call with the results, and by then I was bleeding so heavily and cramping so much I didn’t even need to know the answer. Nonetheless the definite knowledge felt like closure to me. I was, in fact, losing the baby. I was in bed when I received that call. I felt so numb. I couldn’t believe this happened to us again and I felt like I wasn’t even sure I wanted to try again after that. Our baby went to heaven on June 2, 2009.
Of course, we did conceive again and had our youngest son!
Sometimes people think because we have 3 beautiful children we don’t think about or grieve over the babies we lost. We’re supposed to recognize if we hadn’t lost them we wouldn’t have the children we have. I believe in God’s Plans, His Will, and His purpose, but I also believe those were my babies, and I have a right to miss who they could have been and grieve over losing them. I have a right to be excited when I meet them in Heaven! I know people mean well, but there are things you shouldn’t say to someone who has lost a child – and things you should! I have provided links and resources to Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness. Please visit my Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness post for more.