Last week proved to be the hardest week of my entire life. It was the week in which I lost my baby. And my world broke open. It fell apart.
“Ring the bells that can still ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack, a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.”
– Leonard Cohen
We were so excited on Monday morning, going in for our first official scan at 10 weeks, both under the assumption that everything was fine. I felt pretty good, had not been cramping or bleeding or anything that would cause alarm. So, both Craig and I were confused when the doctor performing the scan couldn’t find a heartbeat. Even then, I still didn’t understand what she meant until she used the word miscarriage. And then there was the shock.
I remember lying there, feeling my whole body scream “No!!!!!” but only lying there quietly, tears immediately coming to my eyes. I remember Craig asking a question or two. I could see him trying to understand what she meant. The doctor was not one of compassion, she was blunt and cold and told me I could go into the toilet and I quickly made my way in, Craig touching me gently as I walked by.
I remember sobbing quietly as I sat on the toilet, still trying to make sense of what had just happened. I had seen my baby on the screen, so small and yet, the doctor told us that the baby had probably died a week before, based on his/her size. It’s called a Missed Miscarriage. This is where the baby has died or failed to develop but is still in your uterus. I learned a lot about miscarriage and this whole other world in a very short period of time. Such as, one in every 5 pregnancies will miscarry before 20 weeks. I was one of them.
As we left the doctor’s office, Craig holding me up at this point, I couldn’t control the audible sorrow coming from my mouth, the tears pouring down as it truly hit me. We were never going to meet our baby. The most exciting and beautiful moments of this past couple of months had just come to a very abrupt end. I have never in my life felt this kind of sorrow and pain in my body, in my heart. I had loved my baby, no matter that I hadn’t yet heard his or her heartbeat yet. I absolutely adored our baby already.
Craig made a call to my Mom, to a few other family and friends. I couldn’t speak to anyone; I was still processing it all. He took me to the beach where we sat in our sorrow together. He found us shells to give back to the ocean, in honour of our baby. I knew, even then, that this was exactly how it was meant to be…yet it did not take away my emptiness.
Our midwife asked us to come in and they sat us down and gave us our options. I could wait for the miscarriage to happen naturally, which can take up to 2 – 3 weeks at times. I could take tablets to bring on the miscarriage or have a D & C, a surgery that removes the contents of your uterus i.e. my baby. I couldn’t yet know what to do or properly take in all of the information. I remember how kind and compassionate they were, I remember her hand on mine. We went home and I wept the entire day. Craig held me close, he had his own sorrow but he supported me in ways that I cannot put into words. I was unable to function and I knew I had to let this process come out of me as it may. I felt sadness, anger, confusion and so much more. I didn’t know my body anymore, this body that created a miracle had all of a sudden taken it away. Or at least, that’s how it felt those first few days.
The next day was much of the same….I woke up crying. I remember feeling so numb at this point. There were messages of love sent from family and friends who I could feel were with us, even those who were very far away. I felt as if somehow, I had let them all down. I had let Craig down. I had let our baby down, hadn’t I? How was this not my fault?
Miscarriage is a very lonely place. You feel absolutely helpless and it is hard to not blame yourself for all that has happened. It is still something that many keep quiet about, which I completely understand and respect. But it can feel so isolating, especially when there isn’t a lot of readily available information out there. Luckily, I found a few support groups online that were so helpful throughout this whole experience. And I also had women friends of my own friends or family who offered their own miscarriage stories, their own support, and hope. It became very evident that I wasn’t alone. And my god, it was the most powerful thing for me to hear these stories. I understood quickly that I had done nothing wrong, that it wasn’t my fault.
As the week went by, I decided to take Misoprostol, which is the medicine used to bring on the miscarriage as nothing was happening. My body still acted and looked like it was pregnant which was a sort of quiet torture in its own way. I took the first dose, and nothing happened. Craig had gone and bought me many supplies and we were ready for whatever was to come. Nothing. I called my doctor the next afternoon and she said I could take the second dose earlier than the allotted 24 hours. I did. And still nothing. She recommended I go in the next day for surgery with her, to perform the D & C. Craig and I discussed it and made the decision to go through with the surgery. We had to get on a flight to the States in a week and we knew I would need to recover beforehand so this seemed to be the best option.
The next day we were at the hospital. I had never had any surgery or anesthesia or spent much time in a hospital. The whole day was full of many firsts. Craig came with me and he stayed with me the whole day. The surgery itself is quick, 15 – 20 minutes but the rest of it is not. The preparation and the recovery hours in the hospital…after the surgery was over, I woke up and they moved me into a separate recovery area. There was a lovely older nurse who came to my bed and asked if I’d ever been through this before…she didn’t finish asking and there were more tears as I realized….it was over. They had cleaned me out. My baby was officially out of my body. She brought me a pamphlet and a beautiful tiny heart that someone had made from yarn and we put this on our altar in our home.
There was a feeling of relief in this day. The waiting was over, I felt that this could be the beginning of the healing process. The tears kept coming. Craig kept holding me close. I had yet to leave the house much, besides getting some fresh air in our yard. I didn’t feel I could face anyone or speak to anyone yet. I was messaging with a few of my family and friends. I had Craig to speak to when I needed but much of the time, I just wanted to be alone. He was somehow holding everything up around us. He was literally the Earth and all that was solid throughout this entire time. I knew that this wouldn’t last forever. I knew I would get back up again. Just not yet.
As we moved into the next week, my body made it clear that my hormones were out of whack and trying to rebalance themselves. I was all over the place. I had migraines every day. I cried at the strangest things. I didn’t know which side was up or which was down. I still didn’t feel ready to interact with the outside world. Social media wasn’t something I could handle, and I deleted my apps from my phone. I didn’t find it healing in any way. I was quick and blunt with what I needed and didn’t need in my life. It’s funny how with an experience of a tragedy, of a trauma; somehow everything quickly shifts, your perspective, your whole outlook, your entire being. I am no longer the same woman I was before, and for that I am grateful. I am not meant to be the same. At some very visceral level, I understand that this is all part of the process in my growing and becoming.
As the days go by, I can feel that there is more light coming through the cracks. The heaviness is still there, and the emptiness lingers, but no longer in that wide-open endless sky kind of way. It is more of a wave. It crashes through and then it’s gone. And I can see the light again. There is something about a loss that completely changes you. And for some, the loss of a child that a woman never got to hold is considered “not as bad” as stillbirth, or losing a child you’ve lived years with….but this I know. I never heard my baby’s heartbeat or held my baby in my arms but I held my baby in my heart. The moment I knew our baby was growing inside my body was the moment he or she had my complete and unconditional love. And nothing can ever take away that I am the Mama to that beautiful soul. And always will be.
I am utterly grateful to my husband Craig, who has held me in body and soul throughout this experience and who continues to nurture and love in whatever way I need. I could not have gone through this without him…at least not in the healthy way that he has helped to provide for me. I know that through this we are closer, stronger and made up of different fabric than before. Thank you to my family and friends who continued to reach out throughout this time…even when I couldn’t respond, your love and messages also held my little crumbling world together.
There is a beautiful organization called Pink Elephants Support Network and I have found their website so helpful and informative while going through this sometimes confusing and scary time. I think the women who have shared their own stories of miscarriage and loss were the bravest and most beautiful for me in my own journey. It was reading their stories that gave me the courage and hope to keep moving forward, day by day. Something that moved me, taken from the Pink Elephants website: “It is believed that when a mother elephant loses her baby, the other elephants stand in a circle around her and allow her the time she needs to grieve and mourn. They gently touch her with their trunks, in a silent show of unwavering support.”
Thank you to my beautiful circle of support. Thank you for holding the space for me to grieve. I do not feel that I will necessarily “move on” from this, not in the sense that this phrase brings to mind. How do you move on from something like this? Instead, I feel that I am changed and moved in ways that will only allow me to open even wider to this life. I have a deeper appreciation for life itself, for my loved ones and for the possibility of new life.
And even after all of this, I have so much hope. Hope for our future and all that it will bring. And when the time is right, both Craig and I have agreed we would like to try again. In no way would we do this to replace what we have lost because that is not possible. Our little baby will always be remembered, and we are going to plant a tree tomorrow in his or her honour on our land.
“Hope is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul-
And sings the tune without words-
And never stops -at all- “
(Taken from the poem by Emily Dickinson)
This little soul has broken something open inside of me, has altered my heart in ways I cannot describe. In many ways, my baby has shown me a greater love and vulnerability than I have ever known.
And I share all of this with you as part of my own healing process but also for any other Mamas out there that need to hear it…I am so sorry for your loss. You are strong, you are courageous and there is a light ahead.