Matt and I got married in August 2010. By the time November rolled around, we were already talking about having kids. I look back now and think about how fast it all went. The very first month we tried to get pregnant, we did.
Everything fell into place so quickly and so perfectly.
I took the test one December morning-the 29th to be exact. I went to the bathroom and knew it was positive before Matt even left for work. It was so difficult not to tell him, to try and hide my smile and excitement. But, I didn’t want him to have to leave right after finding out, plus, I wanted to do something cute to break the news. I did some brainstorming with my best friend and eventually landed on the idea of making cupcakes. (Even though hubby isn’t much of a sweets guy… Pinterest, where were you then?)
I went to the store, and with my mad baking skills (I am a much better baker now), bought some box cake mix, some frosting, and some pink icing in a tube. I drew a plus sign and a happy face on one of the cupcakes. When Matt got home from work, I gave him the cupcake. He immediately asked me why I would draw an “X” with a happy face. After I explained that it was a plus sign, it didn’t take long for him to figure it out and wrap me in a hug. I don’t think he even ate any of the cupcakes.
That night, we celebrated.
We couldn’t stop talking about all things baby, we even went to a book store to get me a pregnancy journal.
The very next day, the nausea and sore breasts set in. I remember feeling so hungry but only being able to eat pretzels. It didn’t even feel surreal. This was happening, and being so close to New Years, we kept saying “2011 is going to be our best year yet!”
We couldn’t wait to start telling people. I knew there was some sort of secrecy around the beginning of pregnancy and you were “supposed” to keep it hush-hush for a while, but I never really thought about why. Of course, I knew it was because of the risk of miscarriage but I didn’t think it happened that often. I was also pretty sure that my mother had never had a miscarriage and I ignorantly assumed that genetics were in my favor. And, it would never happen to me.
So, we told a few close friends here and there. I even went shopping with a great friend of mine and got a couple gender neutral sleepers from a consignment shop. I can’t remember exactly why, but we didn’t want to tell our parents just yet. Probably because we were still living at Matt’s father’s house while we were saving for our first home.
After a few more days, my symptoms started to fade.
Hell yes-I’m so lucky the soreness and nausea barely lasted a week! The next day, January 5th, which was exactly a week after I took the test, I woke up to get ready for work. I went to the bathroom and noticed I was spotting. It was not a lot of blood at all, but I knew that it was not normal. Frantically, I started texting with my husband and my best friend, trying to understand what was happening. I was really freaking out.
I needed to call my mom.
For some reason, I had to be sure that she never had a miscarriage before. Again, I don’t know why I had this perception that miscarriages had to do with genetics. On the phone, I was crying. I hate that I had to tell her about my pregnancy through tears over the phone. After talking to her for a few minutes, I calmed down and justified it to myself that baby and I were fine. I figured, I wasn’t bleeding much. I needed to relax. Continuing to get ready for work, I went about my day. Throughout the day, the bleeding only got heavier. At this point, I knew it wasn’t normal and Matt and I decided to go to the ER when we got home.
We arrived there early in the evening, it was already incredibly busy. I had only been to the ER one other time before in my life. The first time I was called back, it was just to answer some questions, and get a history. When was my LMP, age, etc. There were so many questions that I don’t even remember, but I remember feeling that they were questioning my pregnancy.
I kept feeling like I had to justify it, and validate the tests I took.
“I took more than one test, I took a standard and a digital, and I’ve always kept track of my periods and they’ve always been regular”, I kept telling the nurses. There was no doubt, I knew I was pregnant and I couldn’t understand why they were making me feel like I wasn’t, even though that may not have been their intention.
They took my blood, gave me a few cups of water and told me my bladder had to be full so they could do an ultrasound.
Then we waited for two hours. Two hours.
For two hours I had a full bladder. I was bleeding very heavily at this point. But, I couldn’t even risk going pee because they would make us wait longer if my bladder wasn’t full. The uncertainty of what was happening, on top of my physical discomfort, was very taxing.
Finally, they called us back. Thankfully, the tech that performed the ultrasound was incredibly polite and comforting. She explained to us that she saw a sack, but no baby. It was possible it was too tiny to see because I was still so early. I was exactly 5 weeks along that day. She was done, and I could pee, at last. Then back to the waiting room we went.
I don’t remember how long we waited after that. I want to say it was at least another hour. The doctor finally came by, and in my heart I already knew what he was going to say. My hCG levels were a little low and I was in fact miscarrying. The moments between then and getting my discharge papers, are somehow a blur and clear as day at the same time. I just cried and cried. Matt hugged me while I broke down in that waiting room. I remember feeling people staring at me, but it didn’t feel like judgment. There was a woman there, and while she never said anything to me, I could tell she knew what was going on and I could feel her sympathy.
I called my mom after we left and told her we lost the baby.
She found out that I was pregnant with my first baby, and that I miscarried in the very same day.
The following morning, I called out of work. Matt went to work at first, but came home after a couple of hours. He told his foreman what happened the night before and he sent him home to be with me. I think, after he got home, his mom called to check up on me. I believe we talked to a couple of other people on the phone.
We sat in silence for a minute and his head fell into my lap and he started sobbing. That is a moment I remember most vividly. He held it together for me, up until that moment. No, he didn’t go through the physical loss, but he lost his first baby too. The image of my husband breaking down, just that one time, is burned into my memory and will forever hurt my heart.
I went to work the next day. I could barely pull myself together and I remember a coworker asking me what I was doing there, after losing our baby just two days before. Her support meant a lot to me.
By far the hardest part about it, other than the loss itself, was telling everyone that I wasn’t pregnant anymore.
I was mad.
I had Matt throw away my pregnancy journal because I didn’t want it in the house. Thankfully he took a picture of the one page I filled out, so I still have that memory.
Something I learned and would like to bring attention to with pregnancy loss, is what the father is going through. I will always remember how that loss brought us closer together and I’m glad that he felt like he could express his emotions too. I’m thankful that we had so much support, but he was my rock during that time. It was important for me to surround myself with friends and family. Even if I didn’t feel like talking about it, just knowing they were there to talk if I needed to, was enough to get me through. I don’t know if I would have made it, especially if not for my husband and my best friend.
Five years later, we have two healthy children.
Jakob Landon was born in April 2012, my rainbow baby. And he now has a sister, Marissa Willow, born in August 2015. Eventually we figured out that all the men in my husband’s family seemed to have girls first. Knowing that, and comparing how I felt when I was pregnant with our boy, then our girl, we know in our hearts that baby was a little girl, even though I was only pregnant for a week. Had she been born, she would have been named Ava. So that’s what we call her when we talk about her. Her due date was September 5, 2011.
All in all, it’s true that you learn some of life’s most valuable lessons during traumatic events. If you are a woman that has gone through pregnancy or infant loss, you are still a mother. You are not at fault, and you are not alone. You are nowhere near as alone as you feel like you are. If you are a father, you are entitled to your feelings too.
Don’t be afraid to grieve your loss.
Learn more about this series, a letter from the Breastfeeding World Team
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