Saturday, October 22, 2011

I am the Face.

Yesterday, I posted on Facebook that I am the face of miscarriage/stillbirth/infant loss. 1 in 4 women in the US suffer this horrible fate. By opening up about my own miscarriages, I personally have spoken to many women whose lives have been affected by the loss of a child. There are no words for the feelings that arise as a result of losing a baby, regardless of when it happens. For those of us who struggle to have a child, and there are many of us who do, the news of learning you're pregnant is like a weight being lifted off your shoulders. The ups and downs of infertility, the emotional monthly ride, finally comes to an end when that stick has two lines, a plus sign, or simply says 'pregnant.'

Last year, I was fortunate enough to experience that joy myself. After wasting tons of money peeing on that stick, just hoping that it would say yes, it finally did! I was on business travel, and was overjoyed to send the picture of the positive test to my hubby and tell him "We're having a baby!" I was barely home two days from my trip when the spotting started. I knew in my heart that something was wrong - really wrong - with my pregnancy. Three days and a trip to the ER later, the doctor delivered the devastating news - I had miscarried. Our family got to live with the joy for about a week before our dreams were shattered. The shock of the experience sent my head reeling. The innocence of pregnancy had been ripped from me like a child learning cruelly for the first time that life doesn't always go the way you want it to. A million questions immediately began swirling in my head: "What did I do wrong?" "Could I have changed the fate of my baby if I had only...." It seemed like there was no end to the question of "Why?"

It took 7 weeks for my body to go back to normal - eg, have a period again. Those 7 weeks were like torture. I desperately wanted to try again. I wanted to move on, but my body betrayed me. Every day that I didn't have a period was a brutal reminder of what I had lost. It took me a long time to come to terms with the whole thing. After reading about others' stories, I decided to commemorate our baby by purchasing a piece of sapphire jewelry. Sapphire is the September birthstone - mine and my husbands' - and the month in which we conceived our first child. Our baby would have been one year old this past June.

Almost exactly a year later, long after we had given up hope of conceiving a child on our own, we found out that we were expecting with our second child. September must just be our lucky month! This baby's due date, June 10, was only 8 days before our first, on June 18. Joy was followed by trepidation - after all, we had already lost one baby. Because of our history, we were sure to get early tests to ensure that everything was going along as it should. While my hcg serum tests were perfect, my progesterone was low, and my midwife had me begin a regimen of progesterone. That should have been our first clue. 6 weeks in, I was feeling the full pregnancy effects. If there was an early pregnancy symptom, I had it. I took all of this as a sign that maybe, just maybe, we would be able to keep this one.

Yesterday, we went for what was supposed to be a joyous event - an early sonogram to hear the heartbeat. Normally a woman doesn't have her first sonogram until at least 8 weeks. Just like the early blood tests, we scheduled an early sonogram to ensure that everything was fine. Turns out that the embryo was malformed and at 6w6d, there was no heartbeat. I had actually started to look at baby furniture the night before - had dared to allow myself the time to dream about bringing this little one into our lives.

I don't know if I have the strength to go through this again. At this point, I am uncertain about pressing forward with the idea of being a parent. We had gotten the first round of fertility testing when we found out that we were pregnant. So obviously the plumbing is working, but our babies keep having something wrong with them. I know that there is no way to even predict that at the beginning, which is why the idea of going through fertility treatments scares the shit out of me. I mean, what if we go through all of that, and we still don't wind up with a baby? Or worse yet, we have a baby, and everything goes along just fine until one day during the pregnancy, it just doesn't? Just like it had the first two times?

I'm sure that in a year, I'll have a perspective on this that has some meaning. But now, as I am still carrying our second child - a child whose life was to never be - there is no meaning. It's completely senseless. As a relatively intelligent individual, I understand that life is like this. Event occur at random, and we're left to pick up the pieces of our broken hearts. In some sense, I suppose my own lack of faith actually helps me through this - helps me realize that there's no grand design, nothing that's happening 'the way it's supposed to' or anything like that. It relieves some of the stress.

It is slightly easier the second time around. I'm not experiencing the same shock. My innocence about pregnancy was stripped the first time around. But, I am grieving for our baby. I know I will always wonder what he or she would have looked like. Would they have my husband's smile? My hot temper? Would the parental curse of "one day, you will have a child just like you" have come true?

I will always wonder how this baby, our second, would have gotten along with their sibling. Would they have loved each other and taken care of one another? Who would they become? Who would they marry, and how would they have chosen to live their lives?

There's not much else to say about lost dreams and hopes. Other than I am not alone. Countless women have suffered the same. Knowing that gives me strength. For those who have lost a child during or shortly after pregnancy, I am sorry. Please know that you are not alone, and it does get better.