On Tuesday afternoon, Ryan and I went in for my 12 week prenatal appointment. I was pregnant and we could not have been more thrilled for the baby growing in my belly. We loved our baby from the moment I found out I was pregnant and began dreaming about what our baby would be like from the beginning. What will make our baby laugh? What will our baby love more than anything? Will our baby be a boy or a girl? Will our baby be independent and curious? Sensitive and smart? Strong-willed or easygoing?
As I hopped up on the examination table, the paper crinkling under the weight of my body, I felt the anxiousness that comes with any prenatal appointment but excited that today would be the day we’d hear our baby’s heartbeat. As the nurse moved the cold gel over my body, we listened for the fast pitter-patter of our tiny baby’s heartbeat. We heard my slow, rhythmic heartbeat and we heard static. And more static. The nurse brought another nurse in to listen and we soon found ourselves waiting for an ultrasound because “sometimes babies like to hide” and it can be hard to hear the heartbeat depending on their positioning.
I felt uneasy and anxious as we waited. Something didn’t feel right but Ryan and I remained hopeful and prayed.
Once the ultrasound began, I knew within seconds something was not right because they never put the image of our baby on the TV screen and the technician kept her eyes on the computer as she maneuvered the gel over my belly.
Out of the corner of my eye, I glanced at the computer screen and I saw our baby. But I didn’t see that wonderful, beautiful flicker that comes along with a beating heart.
“Is everything okay?” I asked.
“No. I’m so sorry,” the technician replied. She explained that she could not find our baby’s heartbeat and that, judging by our baby’s size, growth ceased around nine weeks.
My heart dropped. I looked at Ryan and tears immediately filled my eyes. I never had any signs or symptoms of miscarriage to cause any concern. We had just seen our baby and our baby’s rapid heartbeat on the TV screen a few weeks earlier during my first prenatal appointment. What was happening? The technician stepped out of the room and told us the doctor would be in to see us shortly. I broke down and cried into Ryan’s chest as we both tried to wrap our heads around our loss.
We were at the doctor’s office for two hours. Two hours of tears, questions, decisions. Two hours of the doctor assuring me this was not my fault, telling me that 25 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage and that the issue was likely chromosomal. She told me to let go of any personal guilt I may be carrying but that has proven impossible. She encouraged us to grieve and allow ourselves to feel the confusion, the sadness, the devastation and the loss that comes along with losing a baby you never had the chance to meet. A baby I will never have the chance to hold and cover in so much love.
I felt nauseated when we discussed what would happen next and my options. I quickly made the decision to proceed with surgery – a D&C procedure our doctor assured me was safe and I knew that was the option that was best for me and the way I felt emotionally at the time.
I am grateful I was able to have my D&C on Wednesday. The 24 hours I spent knowing I had our sweet baby in my belly without the ability to help our baby, without the ability to will my body – our baby’s “safe place” – to heal our baby made me feel more helpless than I have in my entire life. In the moments at the hospital before I went under anesthesia for my D&C, I could not stop the tears again, knowing this would be the last time I would have in my life to be physically connected to our baby.
Through this process I’ve felt an immense depth of sadness but I cannot help but feel something that I can only describe as God’s presence. I feel at peace knowing our baby, our tiny olive-sized little baby, is in heaven. Our baby is safe and happy and I have a feeling Mimi was the first one to wrap her great grandbaby in her arms until I hope and pray I will one day.
Though this is incredibly personal and private I am sharing this on the blog today because I am not ashamed. I hate that so many women have felt this pain. And my heart breaks for those who have felt this pain and much, much worse. Truthfully, speaking with some of my very close friends who have been through this journey made me feel less alone and supported the way only a shared experience can.
Right now, I am sad but I am hopeful. I am heartbroken by our loss but I also know it could’ve been so much worse and for that I feel grateful. I know I am so lucky to have the husband I have by my side and a healthy toddler – my ray of sunshine. I am thankful I had 12 weeks to carry our baby in my belly and we will never forget this special little peanut.
Note: Yesterday’s blog post and social media shares were pre-written and scheduled on Monday. I’ve taken the past three days to unplug and surround myself with my family and the kindness of friends at this time. I hope to respond to blog comments and emails soon but plan to follow my heart and take time to breathe and grieve without a plan at the moment. Thank you, truly, for your understanding and support through the good and the bad and the unexpected on this blog. I appreciate it so, so much.
Throughout this experience, I have found myself constantly thinking of those who have experienced multiple miscarriages, those who have lost babies farther along in pregnancy and those who have lost precious children. You have my deepest sympathy, my tears, my love and my prayers.
I must also take a moment to acknowledge how incredibly grateful I feel for the unbelievably kind doctors, nurses and medical professionals Ryan and I encountered through this experience. I know many of you work in this field and are with women and their families as they go through this process and I cannot tell you what a difference it made to me to feel protected, cared for and surrounded by professionals who were sensitive, skilled and compassionate. Thank you for the work you do.