Dealing with 12 miscarriages over 4 years has taken its toll. We've hoped and grieved over and over in a cruel cycle our entire marriage.
We both had to wait to find each other 'til later in the game. Ben had a previous marriage full of heartbreak. I watched all my friends marry and start families. We were 27 and 28 when we finally found each other and married, and we planned to start a family fairly quickly after taking a few months to get settled, since it was something we both deeply desired. We had already talked about the whole "trying to conceive," and agreed that we didn't want to go down that road. We were all about just leaving it up to God, because if you do that, you can't go wrong, right?
A few months in, we were unexpectedly pregnant, and although shocked, we were ecstatic. It might not have been perfect timing, but seriously, when is it actually a perfect time to have a kid?? Never, is the answer, lol. So we embraced it and began excitedly dreaming of our future family. Lots of kids…we wanted a whole house full of children. I wanted a mini-Ben with blue eyes and a smile that could charm everyone, complete with his big heart…the friend to all. Ben wanted a little girl, he had always dreamed of a girl named Isabella, whom he would affectionately call Belle (no, not from Beauty and the Beast lol).
Then…it happened. Excruciating pain. Bleeding. Loss.
Loss of a baby. Loss of a dream. Loss of an entire future.
We read up on miscarriage and loss, and it seemed that it could just be a fluke. A fluke. How can loss of life be a "fluke?" It's such a dismissive term.
Yet this really does happen, apparently. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, a shocking statistic. I had no idea it was that common, because it's such a taboo topic. Women don't talk about their loss, instead, they keep it quietly to themselves and grieve privately, holding their pain inside for the duration of their lives. How tragic is that??
Anyway, the very next month, I found myself surprisingly pregnant again, something I didn't even know was possible. Come to find out, you can be extra fertile following a miscarriage, and I apparently had been. Once again, ecstatic, yet fearful now, we scheduled our doctor's visit. The day after the tests turned positive, that familiar bleeding began. Then the back pain, the horrible, excruciating pain that I now recognized as more than even my normally-debilitating period cramps.
One loss was horrific. But a second one? While we were still processing and grieving the first one? We had only been married a few short months. We were in no way equipped to deal with such heartbreak.
We went to doctors, who again said that it was a fluke. One or two losses was "normal." We were free to "try again," even though we had never tried in the first place.
We searched for a way to cope, but lacked the right kind of support or answers.
We lost our first baby in September of 2013, the second one in October…and then…at Christmas, a seeming miracle. I was pregnant! Again by "accident," but when I passed the 5 week mark, the longest I had previously been pregnant, we were SURE this was our miracle baby! We had endured our two "fluke" losses, and now, a 3rd baby was our happy start to a family of little living children running around and driving us nuts.
We progressed further… but the doctor's office wouldn't see me until 8-10 weeks, despite my history of loss, so I begged to get in right away at 8 weeks. I cut all alcohol, medicine, I didn't even take tylenol. I was sick as a dog, but I had a BABY inside of me, and I was so full of joy! I skipped skiing, anything that could potentially lead to injury. It was a Christmas full of hope and happiness. We took the family photo, and Ben's and my hands were on my belly, and I dreamed of the following year, when I'd be holding our precious bundle in the next photo.
But it was not to be.
The day before my much-anticipated appointment in January, I began to spot. I called in, scared to death, but they assured me it could be fine. But I knew it was not.
That loss was even more devastating than the first two. We had begun to buy baby things, we even bought a family vehicle. Everything we dreamed of and planned for had died in an instant. It seemed fitting that snow and the winter chill that had seemed so festive around Christmas now seemed miserable and dreary. It depicted the change in our hearts.
We didn't know how to cope. We began to be distant in some ways, while clinging to each other in others. Ben hid his pain to be strong for me, yet I thought he didn't care. It led to more isolated grieving.
In June, I was pregnant and again was sure it would be our miracle. We were traveling back to Arizona to visit family on Father's Day weekend, and I had purchased an "I'm getting promoted to Dad" t-shirt for Ben, and a "Great dads get promoted to grandpa" one for my dad. This would be his first grandchild. Two days before Father's day, we found out our baby had no more heartbeat. My body wasn't passing the baby naturally… I had to walk around for weeks knowing I had a dead baby inside of me, and eventually had to take medicine to induce a labor process that was one of the worst things I've ever experienced. I was in bed for weeks, and ended up losing my job because of a horrible boss with no sympathy, despite paperwork from my doctor ordering me not to work for a couple weeks. This, after Ben had just quit his full time job to pursue firefighting more regularly, since my job was covering our expenses.
It was a new low. So incredibly hopeless. Devastation. Loss. Loss of baby, job, financial security, hope…faith.
The years that have followed brought us a total of 12 losses to date. Twelve. How is that even possible? Most of the pregnancies were accidents, even conceived while trying to prevent. Which made me wonder why God would allow me to constantly get pregnant against all odds, if he only planned to take my baby from me?
After I think my 3rd baby, I gathered a small group of women in an online support group for loss, since the mega groups were full of ridiculous drama, and I didn't feel safe enough to open up about the struggles I had. It became my safe place, to talk about loss, the pain, baby announcements, shower invitations, etc.
Fast forward to now.
The other day, grief and emptiness hit me, and I realized as I mentally went through my list of friends… I don't know who I can talk to anymore.
My infertility friends are all getting pregnant.
My miscarriage friends now have their rainbow babies.
One by one, everyone has endured their share of months to a couple years of waiting, and then received their miracle, and most of them plenty young enough to have bright childbearing futures.
And then there's me. 31 years old, been pregnant 12 times, but still I have empty arms. For 4 years I've dreamed of and longed for a child. For 4 years I've waited. For 4 years, I've endured the cycle of hope, then loss, then hope, then loss…and on and on.
Who can I turn to?
Infertility isn't the same thing. You wait and wait for a child, but the moment the test turns pink, you can happily announce that you are pregnant, and start planning the nursery colors. When the strip turns pink for me, I sob. Sob for the baby I know will never take a breath. The child who will never spit their food back in my face. The adult who will never change lives.
Miscarriage isn't really the same, anymore, either. Most miscarriage mamas either had a couple losses and then a rainbow, or have had losses scattered throughout their several living children. They get to hug and kiss their living children goodnight.
I'm not saying either of these is better than my situation, but they certainly are different.
Recurrent loss without living children is a horrific beast that only a few know about. I can think of 2 off the top of my head out of the hundreds of infertility/miscarriage women I know who can identify with it.
While I long for someone who understands, I also wouldn't wish this on anyone. It's hard not being able to really turn to a friend when the weird and twisted pain of loss combined with empty arms hits. It's hard trying not to be jealous of the girl who waited 2 years for her baby get her answered prayer, or the 20-year-old announce her second pregnancy.
It's. So. Hard.
I sometimes wonder if there are other women out there in this situation, outside of the 2 that I know. I wish I could have a support group with this population, because as hard as loss or infertility is, the small group where the 2 intersect is a unique and horrific kind of pain, that only other women in the same category can understand.
It's time to come together. It's time for the medical world to start valuing life from conception, so we can find answers and treatments, instead of being told over and over "there's nothing wrong with you, just keep trying."
My babies matter.
Yes, I've seen countless doctors, and bankrupt us with medical bills we racked up trying desperately to save them.
And no, I don't want to come to your baby shower. Not because I'm not happy for you, but because it's an ENTIRE EVENT revolving around the birth of a living child!
Ok, now I'm rambling. I know most people don't realize how insensitive they are to this situation, and they are that way because it's not a common thing. But even though I may be "seasoned" at loss, and even though I try to appear like I'm fine…deep down, I am not. I face this pain every day. For FOUR YEARS I've faced this pain. This loss. This longing. This emptiness.
I just want someone to understand that I'm doing the best I can.