We lost the baby.
I feel broken.
I have a hard time talking about it out loud. I find myself either overcome with emotion and can't get any words out or in a numb haze and I have no words at all. Since writing has helped me in the past, I thought I could try to write out everything I'm feeling. For the benefit of those that care about us and want to know, as well as for those that may be struggling with something similar, I have opened up here about this really personal experience. Hopefully this can help someone, at the very least just to know that they are not going through this alone.
Getting to Pregnancy:
This past year has been filled with lots of doctors visits, books, fertility treatments, hormone drugs, IUI procedures and more. Despite all that, every month we got the phone call from the fertility center saying they were so sorry, but it was another negative. We dealt with some pretty serious emotions, but got through it. We thought and prayed a lot about what to do next. We talked about adoption and even went to an adoption information meeting, but still felt like it wasn't the right time. We finally decided to take the BIG step. We had saved some but continued saving up for a few more months and started the IVF process this past July. Up until that point, through all the rest of those treatments, I found myself sad and upset every time we got a negative pregnancy test, but there was always this light at the end of the tunnel. I knew we still hadn't tried IVF. We waited because of the expense and the emotional and physical toll it would take on us, but we always knew it was there. Almost like, if nothing else worked, we still had that and it had to work. We had heard so many success stories that we just believed deep down that it had to work. It was the absolute most we could do and we were both committed to doing anything we could.
It was a hard but really exciting month. I took a lot of medications and started giving myself injections daily, sometimes four per day. I visited the doctor a lot, some weeks having appointments every day to check the status of our follicles and how they were growing. We had 15 healthy follicles growing. At our egg retrieval on July 25th, they were able to take out 12 mature eggs. Over the next 5 days they fertilized them and watched them grow in a petri dish. We knew that a lot of eggs don't make it through this fertilization and maturation process, so we were just hoping and praying that we would end up with something, ideally that we would have enough to freeze extras for later attempts. By the time we arrived at our Transfer Day on August 1st, we had two mature embryos remaining. We were thrilled that it was enough to implant this round, but a little disappointed that we didn't have any extras. It made us very aware that this first try needed to work. But we just kept telling ourselves, all it takes is one. One embryo can become a baby.
After our Transfer Day, we had to wait ten days before we found out whether or not the embryos took. Those ten days were TORTUROUS. August 11th would be the day, and it couldn't come fast enough. I declared to Robbie that since it was such a big day, it was also the day we could celebrate our third anniversary. We weren't able to celebrate it on July 28th since I was right in the middle of the most intense part of our IVF process. I had myself convinced that we should celebrate it the day we got the results from our pregnancy test because if we got a positive result, we could celebrate it all together and if it was negative, I would have something to distract me from the guaranteed devastation that would follow. It probably wasn't the best decision but luckily, it worked out.
I will never forget the moment we found out. We had both been getting ready for our big night out. I hadn't heard my phone ring and when I came back in my room, I saw that I had a voicemail from the fertility center. This was it. I just walked blank-faced over to Robbie and wordlessly held up the phone. Since he was clearly confused, I just said, "We have a voicemail." We both sat down on the bed and stared at the phone for a minute, afraid to push play. Finally, he said, "Ready?" I nodded and he pushed it. All the words on the voicemail seemed jumbled until we heard the word "positive" and then we lost it. We threw our arms around each other and just cried. It finally happened. We were finally pregnant. We could barely get a handle on ourselves. A baby was on its way!
Two weeks later, we had a 7-week ultrasound and were able to hear our little one's heartbeat. It was so fast, but so strong. We were just all smiles and couldn't believe we were finally here. We got a printout of our little bean and looked at it all the time, proudly showing it off every chance we could.
Just days after our ultrasound, the time came for our big move to South Carolina. Robbie had gotten a new job at GE Healthcare and was expected to start September 14th. We decided to make a road trip of it so after a few days of travel, we arrived at our new home on September 8th and got settled in. Since so many of our friends and family knew about our pregnancy back home (since our IVF procedure was pretty public) we decided not to hide it here. We were about 8 weeks along when we arrived and had no signs that anything was out of the ordinary. My pregnancy seemed relatively easy. I did find I was tired a lot and got more emotional than I should about different things, positive or negative, but I didn't get sick or nauseous at all. The lack of nausea did make me a little nervous just because I couldn't feel anything telling me I was pregnant. I didn't have any physical proof, but a lot of people don't experience nausea so I pushed it aside. All in all, I was happy and excited.
It started Monday, September 28th, the start of my 11th week of pregnancy. I was feeling fine and had been running errands for most of the day. Around 3:00 I went to the bathroom and noticed that I was bleeding. At first, I pushed the worry aside. I'd heard that you can have some light spotting through your pregnancy. But then I started to get nervous because it didn't look like light spotting. I texted Robbie and he told me to call the doctor right away.
I don't even know our doctors yet. I was supposed to have my first appointment with them the next day (Tuesday). I called in and at first the secretary said that since I technically wasn't a patient yet, she couldn't give me any medical advice. I just repeatedly asked her, "Could you at least give me some idea if this is normal or if I should be concerned?" Finally, she asked me to hang on for a minute. When she came back, she asked how much blood there was. I told her and she said, "Can you get here in the next 30 minutes?" I told her I'd be there in 10 and hung up. This is when my real fear started. I texted Robbie as I walked out the door, telling him they asked me to come in to check everything out. He called me back as I was driving and said he would meet me there. He had gotten permission to leave work a little early to go to the DMV and an eye appointment but said he would come to me instead. Despite my fear, I told him it was probably nothing and that he should just go to his appointment. I'm so glad he didn't listen. I could not have done this alone.
I met him in the lobby and we both had some panic on our faces. We held hands and walked quietly to the elevators and then into the office. After filling out all their paperwork, they took us back to the ultrasound room. I laid there just praying and pleading over and over in my head that everything would be okay. When the screen was clear, I saw our beautiful, sweet little baby on the screen, and nothing else. No movement. Even before the technician said it, I knew. There was no heartbeat. I heard Robbie gasp and start to cry. I just covered my mouth and sobbed into my hand.
I have never known heartache like I did in that moment. It is physically painful. I couldn't breathe, I could only cry. Our beautiful baby, the baby we had prayed so hard for and wanted for so long, was gone just like that.
The technician said he/she was measuring at 8 weeks and 6 days (too early to know the gender). Since I was in my 11th week of pregnancy, he must have stopped growing two weeks before. I racked my brain trying to remember what had happened two weeks before. What had I done that day? How did I do this? How did I end this little life? I felt so heavy with responsibility. I couldn't protect him. He was gone for two weeks before I even knew. I'm his mother and I couldn't do anything to help him.
The rest of our visit was a blur. We walked from room to room, wherever they directed us, taking care of all of the business that happens after you miscarry. There is so much business. It felt like we were walking around for hours, just in this tear-filled, blurry haze. We spoke to the doctor who advised us to do a D&C surgery immediately to remove all "products of conception." Even those words broke my heart. Our little one was reduced to a "product of conception." He was kind about it but it just hurt. Robbie just asked him what could have happened. What went wrong? He answered that it was likely a chromosomal abnormality and there was nothing we could have done to prevent it from happening. I wish those words could have lightened my heart, but it was still heavy. I still felt responsible somehow. Even if it wasn't a conscious behavior that harmed him, my body couldn't give him a safe place to grow. I felt broken, like my body was broken. I couldn't get pregnant. When that miracle did finally occur, I couldn't stay pregnant. There is a disconnect there and I don't know why.
The following morning we went in for our D&C procedure. It was a long day, 12 hours total, at the hospital for a procedure that only took about 45 minutes. It was a lot to deal with. The only thing I want to remember from that day is Robbie laying next to me in the bed and holding me while we waited.
The past two days have been some of the most difficult I've ever faced. I know deep down that Heavenly Father has a plan for me and for Robbie and for our children. It's so hard to understand what that plan is right now, but I know it's there. One thing that has been made clear to me though is that even if I can't see His plan, I can see His hand in all the details of the last two days. He has never left us, even for a moment. He has sent me small moments of tenderness and love when I have needed them the most. He has filled both our hearts with His tender mercies.
The greatest of His tender mercies to me is my one big pillar of light--Robbie. He has done nothing but hold me and cry with me since we found out. He hurts just as deeply as I do, but he is so concerned with comforting me and helping me cope with our loss. I will be eternally grateful that through a true miracle, he was able to be with me in that ultrasound room. I've found through this journey that it's so easy to get sucked into thinking about what we don't have, but when I take a minute to stop and think of what I do have, I am blown away with gratitude for my love. I never in my life thought I would find someone who could love me for me. Someone who would understand the complexities of my many emotions. But Robbie does. He is my companion and my best friend through all of our ups and downs. He is the one that makes everything okay, even when it seems to be impossible. Whatever comes, I am so grateful to have him by my side.
I have also felt so much love and support from our families. I have never known the value of our call to "mourn with those that mourn" until I found myself on the receiving end. Nothing could be said to take away this pain, so no one tried to. Those we love have just taken it upon themselves and cried with us. They love us so much that they have shared in our heartbreak. They have actually felt it themselves. And I know they would do anything they could to take it away. In fact, both sets of parents immediately offered to fly out and be with us to help us cope. I couldn't be more grateful for all these amazing people we are blessed to call our family.
In addition to these huge support systems, we have also been blessed in so many small and simple ways. One example from today was a friend of mine that happened to be passing through Florence on a family vacation. She stopped in to see me, bringing a grocery bag full of snacks and treats, and sat with me. She had gone through two miscarriages before having their sweetest little boy who is now 9 months old. She brought him with her and surprisingly, being with him and playing with him became a form of healing that I didn't expect. It was so comforting to sit down and talk with this amazing friend who had been through so much hardship and had made it through to the other side.
I have been shown repeatedly over the last two days that the Lord hasn't forgotten us. On the contrary, He has been going through this with us. In our pain and despair, He has made sure not to leave us alone, or even let us feel that we're alone. He has mourned with us. He knows how badly we want this, but He knows it's just not time yet.
So, here we are. Broken, devastated and confused, but also comforted, loved, and infused with trust. A new level of trust. A hope of things to come.
To our little one, you were so loved by so many in your short time here and we will love you always. I know someday we will see you again and it will be a beautiful day.