This event happened to me in 2012 but I haven’t really written about it and it’s a part of my story so I’d like to include it here.
In August of 2012, I found out that I was pregnant. We weren’t exactly trying to get pregnant but I had just gotten off of my birth control pills. I was over the moon excited. There were so many things in my life that I was clueless about, but one thing I have always known is that I wanted to be a mom. That lifelong dream was finally coming true. I didn’t tell many people, just close family, but I started planning right away. I made a cute Pinterest board of baby ideas, we talked about names and decorating the nursery and window shopping online for all of the things that a baby would need. I was incredibly happy.
On September 9th, 2012 (which also happened to be our second wedding anniversary) I started spotting. We decided to go to the hospital just to be safe. The doctor took some blood to test my HCG levels. It was Dr Chaudhry on call that day. She came back into the room to give me the worst news a new mom could expect to hear – I was losing my baby. It was early, I was 6 weeks and 2 days pregnant. But my baby was alive and real. The doctor had zero bedside manner and told me that everyone has a miscarriage and it’s not a big deal. That just about destroyed me. Michael turned white as a sheet and went into the bathroom connected to my room. My parents were there to comfort me. The doctor told me to just go home and everything would pass naturally. I walked out of that hospital like a zombie. I couldn’t believe that this was happening to me. My world was shattered. I remember going home and laying in bed and just staring at the wall crying. I cried like I’ve never cried before. Eventually I couldn’t cry anymore so I just laid there staring. Occasionally I moved from the bed to the recliner to put my heating pad on to manage the cramping. I went through the motions for a while. Not really living. I was angry at everything and everyone. I couldn’t understand why people were telling me that things happen for a reason. What reason could there possibly be for my baby dying? It wasn’t fair. I saw pregnant women everywhere and it just made me angry. When I heard a complaint about pregnancy or babies a fire burned in my soul. A school acquaintance of mine was due to have her baby the day before mine was due (which was May 2nd 2013), so I had to watch her healthy pregnancy progress as I sat there, empty. I remember doing a lot of walking. I would lace up my shoes, plug in my headphones and try to walk away my pain. My song of choice was The Funeral by Band of Horses. This song was written about seeing relatives at family events feeling like funerals, but for some reason the music really spoke to me. I tend to gravitate more towards melodies than lyrics. I played that song on repeat and angry walked around my neighbourhood day after day. Scarlett probably appreciated all of the walking, but she knew that something was wrong. She was a wonderful support during this time. I don’t think that Michael (my ex-husband) really knew what to do. He was upset but he didn’t take it as hard as I did.
I knew that I still wanted to have a baby so at some point we decided to try again. I had joined an online forum for support and learned more about fertility than anyone needs to know. I felt that the more I knew, the more I could control. I read books. I read articles. I read posts from other women going through what I went through. Looking back, I’m not sure how healthy the forum was. There was support there but I think it also kept me reliving the pain. And month after month (despite using fertility apps, ovulation kits and basal body temperature thermometers), I kept getting negative pregnancy tests. It was probably the stress because I wanted this so bad. When Mother’s Day came after my loss, my (insensitive) aunt – who we don’t speak to anymore – made some comment about me having to wait to eat my dinner because I wasn’t a mom. I just about lost it and had to leave the room to cry.
About 9 months later, I finally got that positive pregnancy test. It was May of 2013, around the time my baby should have been born. I was happy for the positive test, but sad about the fact that I should already have a healthy baby at that time. It felt like an absolute eternity but in hindsight 9 months is really not that long, and I needed the time to process my loss and be able to handle a new pregnancy. My youngest brother found out that I was pregnant and asked if that meant that I wouldn’t be angry anymore. Clearly my feelings weren’t just internalized like I thought. I was nervous every day. I was just waiting for bad news, I couldn’t just relax and enjoy the pregnancy. At 9 weeks, I had some spotting and went into an absolute panic that it was happening to me again. I vividly remember laying on my bed in the living room, elevating my feet and watching Murder She Wrote. Michael must have been working because I was alone. It turned out to be nothing but I was terrified the entire time. 9 more months later, on January 27th, 2014, my beautiful daughter Evelyn was born. There was some birth trauma that doesn’t have a place here, but when I finally got to hold her I just cried and cried. She had the most beautiful, big, brown eyes and she was so alert. We bonded instantly. To this day, that was one of the best moments of my entre life.
I felt a little guilty about being so happy. I had spoken with so many women who had stories that were so tragic that I don’t know how they had the strength to keep going. A loss at 6 weeks of pregnancy is different than a full-term stillborn or a baby who lives hours or days before passing away. But I still feel that any loss is a loss and moms are allowed to feel their pain. Miscarriage is something that happens so frequently and often for unknown reasons, but that doesn’t make it any less painful when it happens.
Evelyn is now 5 (almost 6!) and while this happened 7 years ago, I can still remember the pain like it was yesterday. I am grateful every single day for my daughter. I know how fortunate I am to have her. Not everyone gets a happy ending to their story. Through all of my mental illness episodes, Evelyn is what has kept me going. I had finally fulfilled my dream of becoming a mom and I was determined to be the best mom I could be, even when I was experiencing my darkest days. Sometimes I was in the depths of despair and it seemed like I would never see light again, but my daughter never was far from my mind and she has saved my life several times over.
I’ve struggled with how to end this piece. I would like to offer support to moms who have experienced loss, in a sensitive way. Everyone experiences their own stories and losses in their own ways, so I can only speak for myself. Loss changes you forever, but I also believe in hope. I’ve walked a difficult path in a few ways but I’m plowing through and blazing a new trail in hopes that others can take my experiences and help live their own best stories.