A simple blood test, commonly known as the AFP or Spina Bifida test, was done along with all the other genetic tests I requested. I had done them all before with our first child and we had stellar results, but I wanted it done again. This test would put me in one of the worst positions any parent could be put in. The results of this particular test, according to one doctor, meant my husband and I needed to consider a medical termination. I requested more information as a simple blood test was not enough information for either of us and after tackling a local OB, who did not believe anything was wrong, my amazing midwife (my primary care giver during this pregnancy) referred me to an OB over an hour away. I just had to wait three weeks. Just hold on for three weeks. How sick was my baby? Was it one of these famous false positives they talked about on the pregnancy boards?! Would we have to move closer to the city? Would my child ever dance? Would my child ever take his or her first steps? What happened?! Family would reassure me that baby was fine and I needed to just relax.
The day finally came, at just over 18 weeks and three weeks after my results, I was getting my ultrasound and an OB was going to get me through this. After a very thorough interview he rushed me into the ultrasound room and had his tech start my level II.
Days later inserting those pills for the induction was the worst moment of my life. In my eyes I was, in fact, aborting my child. Even though he no longer lived, I was forcibly removing him and that just wasn't right. It was wrong. I would avoid the second dose of pills for hours.
The day my son was born my life changed. My eyes were only for him, the world looked different, I felt different. I wept for weeks, I barely slept, didn't cook and the phone didn't stop ringing. Every day hushed whispers into the phone could be heard as my husband assured family that I was adjusting as well as could be expected. My oldest son, not even 2 yet, clung to me and looked at me wide eyed, "mom, are you okay?" My son's first full sentence, one filled with purpose, understanding, love and concern. My eyes filled with tears as I lied, "mommy is fine, just sad today", I put a smile on my face. I would later hide in the laundry room to bawl my eyes out.
Finding local support was impossible where I lived, but the internet became my sanctuary. I found tons of support and my inbox was flooded daily with condolences and, surprisingly, stories of loss. It made me angry. Here I sat grasping at straws of support from strangers online and all this time 2/3 of women I knew had suffered a loss of their own! Why was I just hearing all this now? Why is no one talking about it?! My anger only got worse as well meaning friends and family used common, ignorant, phrases as words of comfort: "It just wasn't your time", "God needed your baby more I guess", "You can try again later!" I would turn to my husband in anger, "Who's right is it to say when it's my time? Who needs my son more than me?! Another baby wont fix my heart or bring back Noah!!" I even had one family member ask me if I had been drinking during my pregnancy, as if the medical test backing an unknown cause of death was impossible! Someone is to blame, right? I spent hours pouring over the food in my cupboards, re-accounting how many cups of tea or coffee I consumed. Could it have been my nausea medication? In the end I knew it was NOTHING I had done. There was no doubt in my heart.
No one meant to offend me, but no one knows what to say or how to react. They want to say something, but how can they pick the right words when no one talks about loss, healing or the process itself? I see constant posts online from other mommies-to-be asking what the signs for miscarriage are. The worst part is telling them there are no clear signs. It just happens. Why are miscarriages top secret? Why are we not banding together and educating one another?
It's been nine months since Noah was born sleeping and placed in his cherry wood urn, with his name of course and Noah's ark engraved on the front. I talk about him as if his short life could fill a book, as if his short stay on this earth was years, not 18 weeks. I wish more mothers could speak so comfortably about their babies as I do, I wish I could hold the hand of every mother in the process of a stillbirth or miscarriage. The truth is, for centuries we have been having babies and losing babies. We as women have been getting through our grief, each in our own way, we have been getting through the turmoil of loss. For some reason along the way, maybe we just stopped talking about it and sharing? I would hate to think we never have.