I try not to be serious, at least not in a way that is a downer...but today is October 15th which is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness & Remembrance Day. Yeh...hard to be upbeat about that one!
As a general rule I don't talk much about my loss. It's not something that haunts me or that I even thing about weekly much less daily. For me it's simple. Cells didn't split right, it wasn't the right time, God needed an angel by his side...whatever the reason, our first little one was not meant for this world.
Like I said, I rarely talk about it, but this is the story.
In June of 2008 I went off birth control because my hormones were all whacked out from being on it for...oh like 11 years straight. My husband and I had just been married and we agreed that while we were not going to try to get pregnant, if it happened it happened. We had been talking for a while about adding to our already crowded home with a child that would be mine in the biological sense, and figured if it was our time, we would welcome a babe with open arms.
Sometime that year, and I'll be honest, I don't remember when, my father had been diagnosed with CLL, a form of Leukemia. CLL is what they call a "wait and watch" cancer, and while it may contribute to a life threatening situation; it acts more as an immune disease than a cancer so he would "die with it, not from it"...comforting in a sense.
Fast forward to September of that year. I was on a photography trip in Mississippi with my mother when we received a call from my father that my grandma, whom we were all super close to, had been admitted to the hospital. We cut our trip a day short and headed home. Once home, a few weeks passed before they confirmed that her heart failure was in it's last stages and there was really nothing they could do. My grandmother was placed in Hospice care. October 7th was a Tuesday and my mom and I headed down to meet up with my father who was already with my Grandmother. I spent a really nice 4 days with her, great conversation, some laughs...the kind of time that you can only wish to have with someone in their last days here.
While we were with her in the hospital, my dad fell ill. Kidney stones. Not the end of the world...but when doing a CT scan for the stones, they discovered a football sized mass in his abdomen. Forgive me Grandma, because we all kept it from her. She didn't need that stress...nor the stress of my sister and her boyfriend having an epic battle in the parking lot of Quizno's over car keys...but that's a story for another time.
No worries, my dad is fine now. A few rounds of chemo, some heart stopping, a pace maker, an almost deadly round with pneumocys....ya know, I can't spell it but its a really really rare pneumonia...and he's as good as new now.
Back to the story. The afternoon of October 11th I had to very very reluctantly, leave my Grandmother's side and say goodbye. It was a long 4 hour drive home alone, but it gave me some time to reflect on my life with her...and the fact that I was pretty sure that I was pregnant. Without birth control pills to take every day to track the month (yeah yeah, I know...it's called a calendar) I had lost track of the weeks but thought I was late for Aunt Flo's visit that month. I also had this insane massive breakout that almost resembled a rash all over my face...my mom said she couldn't see it, but I had tiny little bumps all over my cheeks, chin and forehead. I knew something was up.
When I arrived home on Saturday, I told my husband that I thought we might have a little one on the way. He was excited. The next morning, I tested positive...I was pregnant! I totally suck at these surprise things...and my way of announcing it to my love was "yeah uhm...there's 2 lines...so that's a yes." Romantic, no?
I was excited, so was he.
The next day my mom came out to visit. I couldn't resist the urge to tell her, she looked genuinely shocked! That afternoon my dad called to say Grandma was not doing well and it would not be long before she went home to God. I told him, I figured everyone could use a pick me up. He laughed. I told him to tell Grandma and he said "hell no! She'll hold on for another 9 months!!" but he did tell her. The last thing my dad heard my Grandma consciously and clearly say was (after a small chuckle) "Good Lord, someone better help that poor girl, she's gonna need it!" (Side note to Grams: I'm doing just awesome handling 4 kids! I don't need help...I learned from the best parents and grandparents in the world!)
My Grandma passed away the next day.
I called my doc and went in to see her right away and she confirmed that I was pregnant. I didn't know much about pregnancy...I didn't know about levels and betas and HCG and all that fun stuff. All I knew was I had to go back in another week for blood work and the week after that for an ultrasound.
On the way to Grandma's funeral, we decided that since the kiddos were so down about, we should tell them the exciting news. Bummer a few weeks later when we found out we lost the baby...but the experience of losing Grandma, the joy of the baby, and losing the baby really brought our family closer together.
At 5 weeks and 6 days I got to see the little one, even as just a little bean looking thing. At 7 weeks 6 days I got to see it's little heart flickering. Only 2 days later, it's heart stopped. I didn't know. I didn't know for a while. It wasn't until 8 weeks and 5 days that I realized something might be wrong. It started as spotting, but right after an exam so I didn't think much of it. It was Friday afternoon and my doc had left that afternoon (literally RIGHT after my apt) for Egypt and would be gone for 2 weeks. I saw the doc taking her place the following week on Monday and it was a horrific experience.
All I can say is this. The doc told me that she wished I would have come in the next day because her ultrasound tech was off and she herself had "not done an ultrasound in over 8 years". Then proceeded to tell me that she "couldn't see a heartbeat" but she advised that I wait until my doc got back before I do anything. She said if I started spotting heavy and had any pain, to call and she would write me a script for pain killers. It was a few days later when I began contracting...the date was November 26th, the day before Thanksgiving.
I toughed out Thanksgiving dinner at the in laws and then at my parents. I toughed out the next few days.
It would be my luck that I was ok until that weekend...when that doc was off and a totally different doc was taking her calls...a doc who had never seen me or heard of me and refused to write a script for pain meds. She told me to go to the ER if I was in a lot of pain, but I knew from talking to some really great girls on thebump.com that if I did that, the ER doc would likely push me to have a D&C procedure done...and I didn't want to do that without seeing my doc who I trusted and hearing her say it was really over.
Over the weekend the contractions got so bad that I felt nauseous at times and thought I was going to black out once. By Sunday morning they were every 3 minutes, steady full on labor contractions. How awesome is that...10 weeks pregnant, with a baby who was likely not alive anymore...contracting for what had now been 5 days. Yeah...this is why I have NO sympathy for the "OMG...it took like 4 hours before I could have my epidural" women. SUCK IT UP you whiny bitches!
On Sunday night I broke down. I called my doc at her home and left a message on her voice mail. Yeah, we're close like that. She called me before she even took off her coat from her trip home from Egypt. She told me to call her at any point that night if I needed her, and to be at her office at 9am. In true typical my life form...we had an epic ice storm that night. I got up 3 hours early for what should have been a 45 minute drive. It took me 4 hours to get to her office. When I finally arrived she had bad news...it didn't look good. I was already mentally prepared for what that day would hold, but I was still hoping that things were ok (I knew better...someone could have stabbed me and I would have bled less).
After an ultrasound confirming that the baby was no longer living, we scheduled me for the D&C that evening. I called my husband and went to my parent's house to spend the day because no way in hell was I driving home in that ice and then back into town.
After the D&C we picked up the kids at my in laws and headed home. There were lots of questions, lots of tears and lots of opportunities to talk to them about God, Heaven, and how life works.
Like I said, I don't live my life thinking about the baby we lost. We had chosen both a boy and a girl name, but since it was so early on and we didn't know what the sex would have been, we named the babe a unisex name: Teaghan. I threw in the middle name Cherish because I will always cherish our lost little babe in my heart. I know that somewhere in heaven my Grandma is rocking little TC and smiling down at us now as she sees the joy our Moose has brought us. For those of you just now experiencing this type of loss...it DOES get better. Does it ever go away? No. And it shouldn't! But is typing this the 1st time I have teared up about TC in over a year...yes. Sometimes things aren't meant to be. Sometimes, at least I believe, a child is conceived in such pure and totally unadulterated love that it is too pure for this world. Our TC was one of those babies. I keep a journal that I was writing to TC. I don't read it or open it, but it's there and it's comforting.
So today on National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day, I tell a story that I avoid telling when at all possible.
But the stories of loss DO need to be told. People need to be educated. Know to ask questions about your pregnancy and understand that AT LEAST 1 in 4 (they estimate closer to half) of all pregnancies end in miscarriage or pregnancy loss. You're not alone. I am the face of loss.
Scars tell us where we have been in life, they don't have to determine where we are going.
Always in our hearts...this is your candle today.