October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. And, October 15 is World Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
I meant to write on that day. To write something. Anything.
But, I mostly avoided the computer for the whole week.
It seemed that anything I could write would be… not enough.
Ten years ago, I started my ten year journal. Ten years ago I had an almost six month old baby. Ten years ago, I was so naive.
When my current ten year old turned one, my husband and I decided that we wanted to have four kids. Really, I decided the second she was born. I looked at her and I knew I wasn’t done. Fast forward a year and a half and I found myself pregnant with my first fall baby. Everything seemed to be moving along. I felt overwhelmed by the thought of having another baby before I’d found myself again, but we were moving forward.
And then we weren’t.
We took our kids to the “big city” for the 12 week visit where we would have the pregnancy confirmed and we would take the kids out to celebrate.
Except there was no celebration.
The midwife couldn’t find a heart beat. She seemed bummed, but told me that it was very common. A few weeks later I miscarried. At home.
I bounced back fairly quickly. I looked at this as a hiccup. Our midwife told us that 25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. It’s very common. And, the reasons are poorly understood. She also told us that it was very unlikely to happen again.
We got on with our lives. Without a new baby, I decided to take up running. I did the Couch-to-5K program and started running races. At the beginning of 2012 I signed up for my first half marathon. Within the month I found out I was expecting again.
A week before the half marathon I started bleeding. Gushes of blood. My midwife sent me to the hospital for an ultrasound. No heartbeat. No baby.
They sent me home and reassured me that this was normal. I was told that I would probably miscarry within the next week or two.
I spent the following week in the biggest funk of my life. (In truth this funk lasted for months, maybe years) I felt like a total failure. I couldn’t even keep a baby alive. What kind of worthless body did I have?
I decided, probably one of the dumbest decisions of my life, to run the half marathon anyway. It would have been fine to run it, because I wasn’t bleeding yet. But, I had spent the week before eating very little and being very sad. I was a wreck – emotionally and physically – and this race seemed to be the only way to be able to claim some sanity for myself. I finished the race with a surprisingly respectable time, but the aftermath of the race was something else entirely.
Within a few weeks I had recovered. I hadn’t told anyone about this second baby. I didn’t want to tell anyone until I heard the heartbeat and I had been 9 weeks with this baby.
I started running again. And, I got pregnant again.
This time I was pregnant with a spring baby. The rest of my children were born in the spring so I felt like this was almost meant to be. But, when I went in for my 12 week appointment, there was nothing there, no heartbeat. I was sent home to wait to miscarry and my midwife seemed at a loss.
I felt completely abandoned by her during this time.
I felt like a total failure.
And, I felt very alone.
Six months later I found a new midwife and went in to get tested to see if they could find a reason for three miscarriages in a row. I underwent blood tests and a very invasive ultrasound. But, they found nothing.
It was almost a year after that appointment before I got pregnant for the fourth time.
I signed up for a marathon for my 35th birthday year. I told my husband that the year I was 35 I would either run a marathon or have a baby. But, that it was time to move on with my life. Sure enough, mere weeks after signing up and paying the fee for the marathon I was pregnant again.
It was terrifying.
I have never felt so much anxiety in my life. Every second I was sure that this baby was going to die.
My husband wanted to tell people. He wanted us to use the community that we had built to support us, but I was too terrified.
Because of my history (or maybe this is common practice now) they let me come in at 9 weeks and they did an ultrasound. The new midwife office was really supportive and kind. And, this time we saw a heartbeat!
Our friends celebrated with us, but it was still a long way from that ultrasound to a healthy baby in my arms. Those nine months were filled with a special kind of terror.