Hopeful Readers…this friend of mine is a true testament of what embodies a mothers heart. Although many people didn’t know she was carrying her first child, she still always acknowledges her sweet girl regardless of others reactions. This mama has been a true friend in the face of grief. Thank you for sharing your story.
Our story begins when my husband and I married in June 2014. We loved living life together, but early into our marriage we desired to grow our family. We were prepared for a few “speed bumps” as doctors had told me that I would “need help” trying to conceive. I never really asked what that meant because at the time I was still in college and not really thinking about having children anytime soon. Knowing that I may “need help” eventually though, my husband and I along with my OB/GYN decided to start trying with the least medically invasive method and “see what happens” when we started trying to have a family. My husband and I prayed together every night about having a baby. I remember distinctly telling God one night that I wanted so badly to be a mother, but if it was not His will, I asked that He please grant me the ability and humility to accept that.
With the realization that conceiving may be difficult, my husband and I were both amazingly overjoyed when we learned I was pregnant in December 2014! We told our families over Christmas that we were expecting, but otherwise kept our exciting news quiet. We figured we would spread the news once I hit 12 weeks since that is the “safe” time to tell everyone and statistics tell you the chance of losing the baby drops significantly after that time. So many emotions pulsating through my body, but among all of those emotions, I never feared losing our baby. Looking back I feel so incredibly naive that I assumed once I was pregnant that all would be “smooth sailing.”
I was 11 weeks 5 days pregnant with our baby on January 31, 2015. I woke up early that Saturday morning to drop off my husband at base for a work trip. We kissed goodbye and he kissed my belly to say bye to our baby. I went about my day, busying myself with chores and errands galore because that always helps keep my mind from dwelling on my husband’s absence. I was finishing up some Valentine’s Day and birthday shopping for my husband and while driving home I felt some abdominal cramping. I had been quite busy that day and hadn’t eaten or drank as much as I probably should have, so I didn’t think much else of the cramping. I figured once I got home, I would eat something, relax and all would be well. When I got home, though, I noticed I was bleeding a bit and immediately the panic button went off. I knew this wasn’t good, but I doubted myself and thought there was no way this could be happening. I did what 99% of the population does in order to self-diagnose themselves and turned to Google. I Googled every combination of “cramping, pregnant, and bleeding” you can imagine and whipped out my “What To Expect When You Are Expecting” book hoping for guidance and reassurance that this was not the beginning of a miscarriage. I wanted to be wrong. I called my mom because I knew she had a miscarriage in the past, but she didn’t pick up the phone. I got a liter of water and drank it all within seconds, sat on the couch and called the on-call service at my OB/GYN. I was given the “calm down, bleeding can be normal” pat-on-the -shoulder sort of talk, but I knew something was wrong. I was told to take it easy for the rest of the day and drink lots of water. I avoided letting my husband know what was going on because I did not want to cause him unnecessary worry, especially with him being out of town feeling helpless.
The cramping continued for about the next 4 hours, with them becoming intense every few minutes. Then I felt my water break and I began to bleed more heavily. Although I was sobbing and shaking, I managed to call the answering service back and waited for someone to return my call. I knew my husband was still in the country, so while waiting for a call back, I texted him to let him know I had been cramping, bleeding, that my water broke, and I was pretty sure we were losing our baby. I do not believe it was a coincidence that he was sitting in the Saturday night vigil Mass when he received my text message. What better place to ask for God’s intercession?
After waiting a cruel 40 minutes for a call back from the on-call provider, I told her my water broke and I was bleeding heavily now. She assured me that I must be wrong, and it was not my water that broke. Again, I was told bleeding can be normal during any stage of pregnancy. Again, I knew this was NOT normal. We hung up. I am sobbing at this point, physically unable to form words to speak, and literally falling apart on the floor.
As the bleeding became heavier, I called back and spoke to a different on-call provider who validated my concerns and since I was alone that night, she invited me to come to the Emergency Room to be evaluated. When I told her that maybe I would wait a little bit, she offered to arrange for someone to pick me up. I am never one to want to inconvenience someone or seek help if I truly don’t need it, but with the doctor’s offer in the back of my mind and being in touch with my husband who urged me to go to the Emergency Room, I decided I needed to go. I was in no shape to drive. I would not be able to see the road through my tears. My husband recommended I call our dear college friends who lived in our neighborhood. By the grace of God, they picked up the phone. I actually never said any words on the phone, as I couldn’t manage to form words through the hysterical crying, but within minutes they were in the driveway to pick me up and they drove me to the Emergency Room. After the typical ER visit lasting 3 hours, it was confirmed that our baby had died, my womb was empty, and our hearts devastated. In the absence of my husband, my friend and neighbor, Melissa, waited with me in the ER through everything. She held my hand and hugged me through the tears and trauma of the night. Her husband waited patiently in the waiting room for us and when we finally walked out at 1 am the next morning, he drove me home. My friend, whose daughter was 3 months old at the time, insisted she sleep at my house so I would not be alone. Simply put: God has an amazing way of placing people in your life.
My husband flew home the next day and we fell apart in each other’s arms and our journey of grieving and healing began. We called our families and completely took them by surprise when we explained our child had died. Friends, family, and co-workers poured out their love, prayers, and support to us and our baby in the form of sending cards, hand-delivering homemade meals, and filling our home with flowers. Our church community made us dinner for weeks to come. The flowers seemed to be my favorite as they made the house feel so full of life and bright in light of death and darkness. Although everyone offered to do things for us, no one could give us our baby back, which is all we wanted.
Fortunately, we were both able to take a few weeks off from work to begin to heal. I am so thankful that my husband and I could be together while I endured the ultrasounds and eventual D &C that I had to undergo in those weeks. When I thought about returning back to work, I was scared to have to face the real world. To be questioned about my absence and knowing that I would fall apart when trying to explain. Everyone else is just going about their days while you continue to mourn your baby. People complaining about minute inconveniences when compared to your grieving a dead child. Inside I was bitter and angry at everyone. I would save face while being at work and fall apart when I got home at the end of the day. I quickly realized that grieving and healing is an active process that requires dedication and hard work. This hard work will never end because I will never stop missing our baby. I will never stop grieving all that we never had with our child. At the same time, we will never stop celebrating what we DO have, which is a beautiful life that we have been given by God to honor and celebrate. Our baby may not have experienced “life” as society defines it, but she certainly had life within me. We are thankful for the time we did have with our baby, a time which has impacted us and will last a lifetime. Until we meet our sweet baby again, I know she will continue to be our little guardian angel.