Reflections on Motherhood and Life as a Doula

Saturday, October 15, 2011

October 15th - Understanding Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

I have been working with pregnant women and families on a regular basis for a little while now.  I have had two completely different pregnancies and births, and I find myself able to grasp what a lot of women are going through emotionally and physically.  I like to be that ear to listen and I surround them with love and understanding - because somehow, someway, I usually can understand. 

But not with pregnancy or infant loss. 

The few women I have worked with who have had experiences with a loss have had me digging so deep into my soul to find an emotion or an experience...just so I could try to understand.  The closest I have ever come was bringing myself back to when I was told that Stephen might not live - not being able to hold him, comfort him, nourish him...  The difference:  I was able to bring him home, he is still with me.

Mike and I are fertile.  He laughs when I say we need to "try" for another baby.  He claims that "we don't even have to have sex, we conceive just thinking about it".  And so it happened again.  We conceived the end of July/early August.  He knew I was pregnant as soon as we finished making love, and I knew about 1 week later.  We went about our normal, every day lives knowing that the tests wouldn't show up positive just yet - but there was a bounce in both of our steps.  A few days later I was cleaning and preparing the house for a much welcomed visit from a very old friend.  As I was taking care of the house, I felt a small twinge in my abdomen/uterus area (similar to the feeling I get when I am ovulating).  I thought it was odd, as I have never felt that in any of my other pregnancies.  I went on a little longer with a few more twinges here and there and decided to go to the bathroom to check it out.  Upon wiping, I saw the blood.  I noted that it was odd looking blood - very watery, more pink than anything, and not much at all - but left the bathroom feeling disappointment that I had just gotten my period (way off schedule, by the way) and that my instincts were wrong.  My friend came over soon after and we enjoyed our time together.  She stayed for a few hours, and when Mike came home from work, I informed him that we were not pregnant.  After a few more hours, I went to the bathroom again.  No more blood.  Strange.  I slept on it and began to get excited again.  I had read about implantation bleeding, I looked up the dates, and this would be just about the right time for it.  Hooray!!!  We were pregnant!  We decided to wait a few more days to take a test, just to let those HcG levels grow. 

The night before our test taking day, Mike and I laid in bed giggling about whether or not we'd have another girl or boy.  Our boy name has been picked out for a few years, so we had fun discussing what we would name another daughter - and Oh My!  What would we do if we had another daughter??  That was unheard of on his side of the family (dominated by males).  We went to bed with smiles on our faces.

I woke up August 18th at 4:00am with a shooting pain that started from my back and wrapped around my lower belly.  I told myself it was anything I could think of (I even suggested to myself that I was getting my period - even though I don't get cramping especially something not this painful), and tried to adjust my positioning to ease the pain.  I stayed in bed for about an hour, groaning quietly until I felt the bed wet below me.  I ran to the bathroom to witness my own personal nightmare.  I cleaned myself up the best I could and made my way back into my bedroom.  I whispered into Mike's ear that I thought I was miscarrying.  He giggled for a minute and said "no you're not", and then sat still for a few moments.  He looked over at me and when he witnessed my tears of sadness and pain, he understood what was happening. 

The physical pain lasted about a day and a half.  The blood - that horrible reminder of what was happening - continued for just short of two weeks.  It was heavy, it was weird, and I thought it would never end. 

I reached out to my midwife, a good friend, and a close family member whom I had thought would be my pillar of strength.  The good friend and my midwife said the right things and gave the right advice.  They helped me to get through the initial loss, and my friend has continuously been here for me as I go on.  Never ever did I think that the other person I chose to share my loss with would say the things she said.  I kept my loss quiet because I do understand that some people just don't know what to say and that it may put them in an uncomfortable position.  But when my "pillar of strength" told me that it wasn't that big of a deal because it was so early, I almost vomited.  "It was barely a baby" - Well, it was my baby.  "Most people don't even know that they are pregnant yet, let alone know they are miscarrying" - Well, I knew...and it hurts in so many ways.

Now when I am serving women, I understand what so many have been through - and I wish I didn't.  I can't find a way to describe my sadness.  I love my baby who will never be earthside with his/her siblings, Daddy, or me.  My heart goes out to everyone who has ever had a loss of a child.

We have been actively trying to conceive again.  It is heartbreaking to have my period revisit me over and over.  I've never had to try before. 

I've been trying to write about this loss for awhile now and always end up deleting it.  Part of me didn't want to share my loss with the world, and another part of me just couldn't get the words onto paper.  Although a lot of the emotions I am feeling now are different than I have with each time I've tried to write, there are so many that just won't go away.  This is a post I tried to write a few weeks ago and never completed...

To my baby who lived only for a few short moments inside of me:

I don't know why you are no longer with us.  I wish you were.

I am sorry for not being the healthiest Mama I could be.

I am sorry for my c-section, I know that it made it difficult to find a safe place to grow.

It hurt physically and emotionally to bleed you from my womb.  As I cried and cleaned myself, I prayed that it didn't hurt you too.

Love to all the Mamas and Babies out there today and everyday.  Thank you for your support and love.