October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. While I love that we’re trying to #breakthestigma of miscarriage – I also hope and pray that nobody ever has to feel the sting of losing a baby at any stage of pregnancy. I have shared our story of loss on my Instagram Page quite a bit…. but haven’t really taken the chance to write out what we experienced in 2017. So in honor of this month, here we go.
My husband and I got married on New Year’s Eve 2016 and pretty much began trying to get pregnant right away. We weren’t sure how long it would take us, and we were ready to grow our family of 5 (you know; us, two dogs, and a cat)! After several months of trying, it was tough not to feel frustrated. Why weren’t we pregnant yet? My brain and all logic told me that we had up to one year before I needed to even start worrying. But my heart was yearning for a baby. Each month that resulted in a negative test hurt more and more, even though my brain knew it was “normal.” If only I knew then what I know now. I was so naive. In mid-April, we got that positive test we were looking for. We were ecstatic. I started planning our future, the nursery, thinking of baby names, etc. I shared the news with our family and some close friends. But then a few days later I started bleeding. We went to do some bloodwork, and since it was a holiday weekend, we had to wait five days to know once and for all what we already knew. I had lost the baby. As much as your mind tells you – “This happens to 1 in 4 pregnancies, this is ‘normal,’ you’re not alone, it’s nothing you did,” your heart really questions those things and makes you feel like you did something wrong. Our doctors told us that we needed to wait for three cycles before we began trying again – and so we did. We took that time off to really enjoy our marriage, and we even splurged on a vacation because “WHY NOT?” Some people may criticize us for telling our families and friends so early, but it was the best decision because once we lost our baby, I needed that support. There’s no shame in leaning on those you love most.
After our third cycle, we began trying again. It took a few months, but since this time around I knew there was a possibility that we could get pregnant, I felt much more reassured. When we did get pregnant, we were so excited again, but the faith in the pregnancy just wasn’t there. Every time I went to the bathroom I held my breath until I knew there wasn’t any blood. It wasn’t until about 14 weeks that I felt actually confident in our pregnancy. I tried with all my heart to appear positive and to enjoy the process, but I was so nervous that we would be another statistic. Another “normal” miscarriage. We finally found out that our baby was a girl and we started planning our future, the nursery, thinking of baby girl names, etc. With each ultrasound, my confidence grew. But pregnancy after loss is HARD and scary. Then, a week before Thanksgiving, at our 20-week ultrasound, we got the news I had dreaded but never thought we’d hear. Our baby wasn’t going to make it. Her brain had stopped developing, and if she even made it full term, she would never have a functioning brain. It didn’t look good. We had faith that it would work out, but also knew it was unlikely. I’ll never forget standing in my parent’s living room on Thanksgiving. Out of nowhere, my husband and I looked at each other and KNEW separately that our baby’s name was Hope (up until then, her name was Cora). And it was then that I knew our story wasn’t over and it was going to be “okay.” I felt at peace with God and knew that even though we wouldn’t get to keep her on Earth with us, Hope would be waiting for us in heaven. We had hope for our future. We lost baby girl Hope about 3 weeks later. I was devastated. All those thoughts I had during our previous miscarriage came flooding back. “It was something I had done. We weren’t meant to be parents. It was that weekend away that I forgot to pack my prenatals. It was that sip of beer I took from my husband’s drink.” But every specialist we saw said “NO. This was a complete fluke. Something just didn’t come together with the way it was supposed to.” We got alllllll the testing done and were beyond lucky to learn that it really was just a fluke. Nothing we did or have genetically caused it. This did little to ease our grief, but it did give us hope that we would be able to have a baby of our own.
This time there was no waiting three months. We were allowed to try again as soon as I had a regular cycle. Just one. I almost wish we had been told to wait three months. Those first few months trying were brutal. Every month the rush of emotions came soaring back. IT. SUCKED. And as Hope’s due date neared, I felt the loss of “what should have been” more than ever. Each passing milestone that “should have been,” crushed me. I had to purchase a new planner to avoid seeing “THIRD TRIMESTER” reminders I had put in previously, and I had to close the nursery doors because I couldn’t bear to enter. My husband and I handled it all as well as we could. We went to therapy together and talked and grieved and hurt and prayed. Even though we were getting through it, it wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t fun. We purchased a small stone in a children’s park for Hope and still visit it often. We also have a small stone in the backyard where we planted a tree for her. These small gestures helped us grieve and gave us some necessary closure.
As we neared April, I dreaded not being pregnant. Facing Hope’s due date and the one year anniversary of our first loss was terrifying. But both days came and went, within a week apart of each other. We mourned and celebrated and loved. Sharing our story on Instagram helped me a ton and the support from friends, family, and even complete strangers was an immense help. I could literally feel all of the prayers and positive vibes being sent our way. It really was overwhelming and amazing.
Just a month later we got that beautiful positive test. Again. For the third time in 14 months. I will never take for granted the fact that we were able to get pregnant so easily. This positive test brought more excitement and hesitation with it. We did a ton of early testing, and even though everything looked very positive, I could barely breathe until we passed 23 weeks. Even then, it wasn’t until week 26 that we finally started planning our future, the nursery, thinking of baby names, etc. Pregnancy after a loss makes it impossible to celebrate as wholeheartedly as you want to. You know the risks, and your brain just refuses to get too caught up in the pregnancy. Finally, now at 28 weeks, and beginning the third trimester, I am feeling more and more comfortable. There’s still a chance that we could experience another loss, but New Year’s has always been mine and my husband’s holiday. We went on our first date on January 2nd, got engaged on January 2nd, and then we got married on New Year’s Eve. So, I really do believe that this baby is part of God’s plan for our story! We really won’t feel “in the clear” until we see our baby cry but I constantly hope and pray with all my heart for this baby – due just two years after we began trying. In the grand scheme of things, two years is not that long, but our marriage has grown and moved and changed far beyond what I knew was capable in that two years. And we are entirely different humans. I am grateful for our metamorphosis, even if it’s taken us through some of our hardest life moments.
If you know someone who has experienced loss, make sure you reach out to them and ask them how they’re doing. Send them a card. Venmo them $5 for coffee on a random day. Just text them and let them know you’re thinking of their baby. Even if it’s months or years after their loss. And on October 15th (today!) at 7pm, light a candle in their baby’s honor for #waveoflight.
If you’re someone who has experienced Pregnancy or Infant loss, know you are not alone. All stories and experiences are different, but they bring just as much pain and heartache. I am always here just to listen, pray for you, or even send you a card. Please always feel free to email me.
Thank you for listening to our story and honoring our babies through it.