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