It was September 23 2010 and I was going for what I thought would be a normal 19 week ultrasound.... It ended up being the beginning of the worst event of my life. After that ultrasound I was sent to Sunnybrook hospital for another ultrasound and other tests. It was then determined that my baby boy Coby had Thanatophoric dysplasia. I was told by the doctors and paediatrician that if I carried him full term he would die shortly after birth. So, thinking I was doing the right thing based on their advice, I was induced a couple weeks later, putting me at 21 weeks. I went in on October 6 and delivered Coby at 8:10am on October 7 2010. He fit in my hand. It is a day I will never forget. The care at Sunnybrook was amazing. The days after leaving the hospital were not so good. They sent a nurse to my house for a couple of weeks and then after that I was alone. I called a support group but my boyfriend at the time would not go and I didn't want to go alone so I never went.... wine became my best friend. I knew I couldn't keep with that so I started a journal but other than that I kept everything in. It wasn't until 2014 that I finally went and saw a counsellor. I had a breakdown at work and knew I needed to get help. It wasn't until then that I was truly able to forgive myself for not carrying Coby full term and knowing that the doctors were looking out for my best interest as well as his.
I recommend more than anything, when dealing with something that you think you can just hide inside and it will go away, don't. Reach out for the help and even if friends and family don't know how to be around you, there are people who do. You are never alone.
I am now at a place where I can let myself think and talk about Coby and know he will always be with me.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story
I remember the night the pregnancy ended. It was a Friday in August 2015.
My husband was at work, I was alone in our apartment. I laid down in bed, meditated and allowed my body to do what it needed to do.We had started trying for our first child and within 3 months and far too much money on pregnancy tests later, I finally got my positive test.I was excited. This is what we had wanted. Even though so many other things in our life didn’t feel sorted out and the natural nervousness existed, we were ready for this stage of our life to begin.
I was newly pregnant and happy for 2 weeks before things started to go wrong. I started to spot blood and then it quickly turned darker—it was bright and never seemed to let up.I went to the hospital and they checked my levels and did an internal ultrasound. Everything was fine—business as usual I suppose. But they sent me home with the warning that if I indeed was miscarrying this pregnancy there was nothing anyone could do about it.The process of bleeding- hospital visits, family doctor appointments.. so many blood draws went on for nearly 3 weeks.I didn’t have many cramping episodes and generally felt fine. I was just bleeding. It became a part of my life- every time I wiped I would check.. Yep, still bleeding. After a while among all of my sadness and frustration it became sort of like a game. I would pee on pregnancy tests once or twice a day- Yep, still pregnant. This baby was really holding on.But eventually it wasn’t a game anymore. I felt like a prisoner. I was isolated- no one understood what I was going through. I didn’t want to talk about it yet at the same time it was all I wanted to talk about. Everyone around me was planning for fun end of summer weekends away and I had an upcoming back yard party to welcome my husband to the country (he had just immigrated 4 months prior).I started being mindful- I told this little baby every day that it didn’t need to hold on. It was okay to go. I was thankful for the lessons it taught me and I would be okay if it was just too hard to stick around. I wanted to move on, I didn’t want to be a prisoner anymore.The fateful Friday night it happened… my never to be baby finally let go. I went to the hospital with my mom on the Sunday morning and was told the news that I indeed had miscarried. On the way home my doctor called me to tell my HcG’s were too low based on a test done on Friday. I let her know that it had happened and thanked her for her call.I cried for a while, told my husband and he comforted me as best he could. I laid in bed for the day and for the following weeks to come one side of my life went on like it had never happened and the other side was a terrible, mess. I was angry at my friends for talking about it among themselves but not actually addressing me with kind words or recognition of my difficulties. I was angry at myself for allowing this to happen, even though I knew deep down it was out of my control and I was generally just angry at the world. Everyone around me had successful pregnancies and beautiful children—and I couldn’t make it past the 7 week mark. In my head I was a failure. I had effed it all up. The thing was I didn’t want to go back to the time of not being pregnant and of not thinking of myself as a mother – I remember telling my girlfriend that it seemed so foreign to me. I wanted to plan and be excited and move forward with this stage of my life. And the truth is people don’t know what to say—I always got the typical “Well atleast you weren’t farther along..” or the typical “these things happen..” Really? I didn’t know anyone it had happened to. And yes, I wasn’t farther along—how horrible that would be for a woman who had carried longer and never got to successfully deliver. But frankly that sentiment enraged me and only further confirmed that people just didn’t understand. Some of the closest people to me just didn’t understand. I was angry for months to come. As I look back in retrospect now I realize how traumatized I was, how frozen I was with grief. For the next year, even while moving through a successful pregnancy I always expect to see blood when I go to the bathroom. I didn’t go to the doctors for 9 weeks after I found I was pregnant again with our son. I remembered what the hospital said- if I was going to miscarry there was nothing anyone could do. I decided to do everyone, and myself, the favour by just waiting it out. I wanted to know I could get past the point I never made it to before. A few nights ago I laid in bed watching my now one year old son sleep. Thinking about writing this, very unsure what I had to say about the whole experience. Sure, I could talk about how this experience brought me to my beautiful son and without it he wouldn’t be here. I can’t imagine my life without him- he brings so much joy to everyone he touches. And while the above statement is true, frankly the whole experience still makes me very sad. I will always remember those weeks leading up to that fateful Friday night. When I was pregnant with my son I always dreamed of a little girl. I was told that is the next baby in queue—I prefer to think that she was the one who never made it.
Sometime early in April 2015 I realized my cycle was late. I have never been very good at tracking these things but, we’d gone away in early February and I had to spend $10 on 8 tampons (seriously. $10. For 8 Tampons. I had to ration them because I didn’t want to buy more) so I knew approximate timing. We were a happy family of 4 with a 4.5 year old girl and an almost 3 year old boy. We live in a 3 bedroom house. I was back at school studying to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). Life was good. Life DID NOT include plans for a baby. My coping mechanism was to just deny. I did nothing. So my cycle was late, no big deal. It would come eventually. Around the middle of April I went out to dinner with a good friend. I remember telling her that it was all okay. Yah, my cycle was late, but I had some cramps – surly that meant that I was going to start my period that day. Remember that feeling when you’re trying to get pregnant? All the little symptoms that are so minor but become such a big deal? ‘Is that tenderness in my breasts?’ ‘I think I have to pee again, surely that’s more frequently!’ This was the opposite – ‘my breasts are only tender because I’m getting my period.’ ‘I’m not peeing any more than normal, it’ll come! It’s fine!’ About another week later I finally decided I needed to know. I bought a test on my way to a support group at the hospital. Took the test in the hospital bathroom. It was positive. Pretty quickly positive too – none of this ‘wait two minutes stuff’. I think I went into shock. We weren’t trying for another baby. We had a great life with what we had. Another baby would just change our lives so much! And what if this new baby was sick? What if I got sick? I don’t do pregnancy well, what if something happened this time?
I had all these thoughts, and more, in the 45 second walk to the room I was going too. I walked in and saw a good friend who instantly asked what was wrong. I just shook my head. She grabbed my hand and took me to another space. We got there, she shut the door, and I collapsed. I was sobbing. I couldn’t control my panic. All these worries hit me like a tonne of bricks and I was completely overwhelmed. Eventually I calmed down and we went back to the group. I sat quietly in the corner completely immersed in my own thoughts. A couple people messaged me after asking if I was okay and I tried to be funny with my answer, ‘I’m not okay, but I will be, in 9 months’. I think I figured if I can be funny and make it a joke I’ll feel better about the whole thing. I came home and called my midwife. I think I broke down on the phone with the receptionist and my wonderful midwife called me back right away. We had a very candid conversation where she let me know I had options. I didn’t have to keep the baby if we didn’t want to, but if we did, she would be there to support us. Doing something like that was never an option for us, but I did feel a bit better knowing I had options at least. I calmed down a bit and made my first appointment, on my birthday. We figured I’d be about 13-14 weeks along.
Over the next week or so, I went through periods of panic and periods of elation. I worried about the age gab between our kids and what that would mean, then I thought about all the fun things I could do with a new baby. I called people in tears, then shared my excited news with close friends and family. Eventually I stopped crying so much and started to get excited! A new baby! I get to be pregnant again! Experience that post-delivery high! Wrap my baby up while they slept on me! I could justify buying a new wrap!!! (Want to learn more about wrapping a baby and baby wearing? www.jandyberesford.com)I would get to breastfeed again! On Tuesday, May 19th I noticed a bit of blood when I wiped. It was dark brown though, and I knew that was common in early pregnancy, so I didn’t worry. By Wednesday it wasn’t dark brown anymore. It was red. I was scared and nervous and in denial. I called my midwife and she suggested an ultrasound just to make sure everything was okay. Now I was scared. I called my husband who left work to meet me and we dropped of the 3 year old with a friend. It didn’t take long for us to figure out something was wrong during the ultrasound. The tech was lovely, but it’s pretty clear when they turn the screen away and start asking how sure you are of dates. I started sobbing and shaking. It took so long for me to get used to the idea of wanting this baby and now the baby was gone? How was that fair? I got the official word from my midwife as I was picking my son up from a birthday party. She called me and I stood on the driveway sobbing and crouched over. She explained that my body was slowly rejecting the pregnancy, that the baby had died, and that I could expect the bleeding to increase over the next couple days. At some point, I would have heavy bleeding and serious cramps. She told me if I could feel free to take any pain meds I needed too since the baby was gone, and that if I filled a pad in an hour or less to call her or to go to the ER.
The next two days were a blur. I walked around in a total fog. We sent a notice to the friends and family that we had told. People dropped off flowers and food. I think my kids ate? I don’t really know. The thing is, because I was still only spotting, part of me kept thinking ‘maybe they’re wrong? Maybe it will still be okay? I haven’t lost the baby yet, I’m still pregnant. This is all a mistake.’ On Friday around 2pm I started cramping and bleeding really heavily. My wonderful parents invited us for dinner (I think so they could be sure their grandchildren ate!) so off we went. I lay on the couch in my parents family room with a heating pad held to my belly as I cried and went through early labour. I kept getting up to change the pad and eventually noticed I was running out. I had brought enough for about 6 hours which should have been plenty, but I only had one left. The next time I stood up I felt a huge gush of blood and got a bit light headed. I told my husband I needed to go to the hospital. We were both in decent spirts, joking around and just trying to be funny. We saw a doctor who asked why we were there. ‘I’m having a miscarriage’ ‘You think you’re having a miscarriage?’
‘No, we know. It was confirmed. That’s why I said I was having one. One of my biggest frustrations with the medical system is how they (in general) make you question everything about your own health. I know when something is off. Trust me. It’s my body, and no one knows it as well as I do. (Anyway, I digress). We moved to a second waiting room and sat and waited. For some reason I got up and went to walk out of the room. The next thing I remember I was on the floor and people were running around me. My blood pressure had dropped dangerously low. I got hooked up to an IV and moved to a bed. I passed out twice more that night. Most notably, coming out of the bathroom wearing a pair of depends and a hospital gown, in front of two ambulance attendants. Not my finest moment. I spent that night in the hospital hooked up to an IV and bleeding. The next day I had an ultra sound and learned that despite all that, I still hadn’t passed the baby. That wouldn’t happen for 3 more days. I felt it happen. It was on my birthday, the day I was supposed to have my first midwife appointment. I had a LOT of emotions after this all happened, and a lot healing to do. A miscarriage (even one that doesn’t require IV’s and hospital beds) is hard on your body and I needed to take time to recover physically. I also needed time to recover emotionally. I had A LOT of guilt. I hadn’t wanted this baby at the beginning. Did I do this? Was it somehow my fault? What about all that time I was in denial? Could I have been doing something then that would have changed the outcome? Obviously they answer is no, but it took a long time to come to that. This whole experience made my husband and I decide that we wanted another someone to join our family. About 3 months later I got pregnant again and we welcomed Max almost exactly 1 year after this experience in April of 2016.
We kept our angel baby in the freezer and planted her (with Max’s placenta) under a pink rose bush in our garden. Something worked because despite my husband and I being horrible gardeners, this rose bush has bloomed beautifully for the last two summers! I can honestly say that this was one of the worst experiences of my life. I did learn that despite everything though, regardless of what’s going on, I can keep moving forward. One foot in front of the other eventually gets you to where you want to be. I also learned just how common my experience is. So many people said to me ‘oh, I had a miscarriage’, or ‘I’ve lost two babies’. If it’s happened to you, first? I’m sorry. It’s awful and it sucks on so many levels. Second? Reach out. Speak to people. You’ll be surprised where you find support and trust me, you’ll find some.
I will never forget this baby that I didn’t get to meet. She holds a special place in my heart and I think of her as a guardian angel for Max- without her, he wouldn’t be here.
A huge thank you to Jandy for sharing her story. xo