From the depths of sorrow, to finding peace and hope, our members have so much they want to share about this unexpected journey we are on...
This story was originally shared at the St. Mary's Pregnancy and Infant Loss memorial, and we're sharing it again here with permission.
Hi, my name is Beth, and in 2016 I had an ectopic pregnancy. We call Baby Blueberry, because that’s the size they were when we discovered they had implanted in my fallopian tube.
My husband and I had been married for YEARS before we decided we were ready to start a family. For four glorious weeks I experienced that blissful and naïve pregnancy that I’ve since realized is TOTAL fiction, but we convince ourselves is real so we feel like we have control.
I did the things pregnant women are supposed to do. I stopped drinking coffee, ordered my ramen without the runny egg, and lamented the raw oysters I wouldn’t be eating on our upcoming trip to New Orleans. I was going to excel at pregnancy because that’s what I did - I set my sights on a goal and accomplished it.
We all know where this is going. At my first OB appointment, we didn’t see Blueberry on the handheld ultrasound. I was so confident that I literally didn’t register concern as I booked a real ultrasound appointment for a week later. The cramp in my right side also didn't concern me. It blows my mind to think back on - I didn’t give it another thought, other than I was looking forward to the next appointment.
My world came crashing down at the ultrasound. It was impossible to fathom how there could be a problem and we wouldn’t even know until it was already over. It was a hard reality to accept - that there was nothing we could do. We couldn’t think or work our way out of it. And it was a little murky whether Blueberry was still alive or had already passed, but it also didn’t matter because the pregnancy was not viable - and could kill me - either way. My only choice was how we would terminate the pregnancy. I actually didn’t find the answer to whether or not there was still a heartbeat until months later, going over a medical report with a perinatology team.
The piece of pregnancy advice that I followed that I REALLY regret is waiting to let family and close friends know, because what if something happens? We didn’t get the chance to tell our loved ones until we were calling from the emergency room, and Blueberry was never a reality for anyone but my husband and me. And then I went through the loss in silence and with barely any support, because I didn’t want everyone to know that we were trying to start a family after so many years of squashing that question.
It was extremely hard and isolating - especially because the message I was getting was that I needed to get over it, and why was I still feeling sad?
My big revelation - which was driven home after a subsequent loss - is that we want so badly to be in control, and so we subject ourselves to all the advice do all the things. When things work out, we pat ourselves on the back and say “Yes, I did this. I did everything right”. But the horrible flip side to this is that when things go wrong - as they often do - it must also be our fault.
How much control do I actually have over the things that are meaningful to me? It’s a lot less than I thought before I first got pregnant. It’s hard to accept, and I still find myself railing against it. But I also appreciate that - I think - I see the world more clearly than I did before my pregnancy and loss journey. A pop culture analogy that suddenly clicked for me is when Harry Potter first arrives at Hogwarts is able to see the horses pulling the carriages that are invisible to his classmates.
Written with love by Beth, Blueberry and Calvin's mom
A Letter to Loss Mamas
There will never be the right words to convey the depth of my sorrow for the loss of your sweet baby. No one should have to experience the loss of a child, regardless of age or gestation. Please know that while you may feel alone, you are not. You may not know it, but there is a supportive community of other mothers of loss who will be there to guide you. They will reassure you of two things: it’s not your fault and some day you will be able to carry this loss more easily.
It's not your fault. There is still so much we do not know about the human body, which is maddening. Please know that you did everything right with the information you had available at the time. You were a fighter and if your love and strength were the sole factors in a different outcome, then it would have happened. Your sweet baby knows how much you love them and wanted them. You did everything you could, even if it may have meant putting yourself at risk. Please find peace in the time you carried your sweet baby and the way you got to say good-bye. Embrace the memories of the first ultrasound and the first kicks. Know that they felt your love when you’d talk, or sing, or read to them.
Take heart and be strong. I know how easy it is to fall into darkness and despair, but it’s important to look towards the light, even when it feels like you’re drowning. Reach out to your family and friends. Understand that they may not know the right thing to say or do. Forgive them for this. Tell them what you need. Let them comfort you. You deserve their comfort. Please don’t punish yourself for this. Your child would not want you to live your life in despair.
Your child matters and will always matter. Say their name. Look at their picture. Hold their blanket and think of them. Keep their memory alive however you feel necessary: plant a garden, make donations in their name, give them a stocking at Christmas, or include them in your family however feels right to you.
This will always hurt, and you’ll always miss them and wonder “what if?” but please don’t let this define you. You are more than the sum of your losses and struggles in life. Honor your child by living how you think they would want you to live. Care for yourself as you would want to care for them.
The two best guardian angels
I still can't believe we just passed 4 years since we lost Tatum and we are quickly approaching 2 years since we lost Saylor. July 29th 2016 started as such a happy day as we were going in for our 10 week check up with our doctor. My husband had gone to work as it was just to measure and listen to the heartbeat that day but it quickly turned into one of the worst days of my life. I remember feeling like this is a dream when my OB said she couldn't find the heartbeat and I needed to go to the hospital for an ultrasound. There was no way I could drive myself so I called my husband and he picked me up. We had the most quiet ride we've ever had, Neither of us said anything, he just drove with his hand on my belly. We got inside and had our scan that confirmed Tatum did not have a heartbeat and we needed to decide what we wanted to do. A week later we went in for our D&C and I never felt so empty in my entire life. How is this my life? God, why did you choose this path for me?
Life went on and we decided it was time to start trying again. We became pregnant with Saylor and it was such a joyful time. We were traveling home to visit family and shared with some of them that we were pregnant. We had just hit 14 weeks of pregnancy when we got back home and I woke up in so much pain and bleeding. I didn't want to believe what was happening but deep down I knew that there was nothing I could do and that Saylor would never be placed in my arms and I would never get to bring her home with us. Life seemed to go by in a haze, I felt so empty and lost.
No one can prepare you for the way you will feel when you lose a child and how much it will hurt. We celebrate their lives every year with a birthday cake and honor them during the holidays. I sure wish they were running around my living room instead of running around in heaven but I also know they are 2 of the best guardian angels I could have ever asked for.
Nicolle, mother of Tatum Clark Glen Ward and Saylor Hollis Bliss Ward
The dreaded back-to-school season
As another school year approaches, every parent has the safety of sending their children back to school during a pandemic on their mind and may be feeling a little more stress than usual. Many people do not realize that each and every new school year has stressors for the bereaved parent. All the back to school pictures are complicated by the pictures that aren’t there…the babies that never got to go back- to-school shopping or hold the little sign with their dream occupation and anticipated graduation date. This is further complicated for me in that the first day/week of school is usually my dead son’s birthday…September 3rd.
As I anticipate (and dread) this new school year, I hear the reported statistics about COVID-19 in children and going back to school and I want to let loose a scream of frustration. When you are the statistic, the statistics mean nothing. I have had two miscarriages and buried my two-and-a-half month old who spent his entire short life in the hospital. He was supposed to have less than a 25 percent chance of even spending time in the NICU. He was born with a 1 in 40,000 chromosomal abnormality....and would have lived except he had a mutation on his genetic mutation, which in the end, was not survivable. I, myself, have lupus, and possibly psoriatic arthritis. I have had to have my heart cardio-verted at age 41 due to A-Fib and I've recovered from Takotsubo syndrome and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. When you are the statistic over and over and over again...well.... don't quote statistics to me. I'm not willing to risk it.
As I decide how my six-year old rainbow should learn this year, I cannot help but have my decision swayed by the traumas I have endured. Many may judge me for this, but, as a bereaved parent, I have learned that I am living the best possible life I can after having it shattered and putting it back together again. This is my new existence and I am doing the best that I can each and every day. My decisions as a bereaved parent are not the same as the decisions made by the stranger I was prior to loss. That woman is gone and, sometimes, I miss her, too. In the meantime, my Sam would have been 9 years old this year and I should have a fourth grader. He would be the graduating class of 2029. He will never reach that milestone or have a first day of school, but I will always imagine him standing next to his sister for the photo.
Amy Falkner, Sam’s mom
Share your story!
We are taking submissions for articles to share in our monthly e-newsletter. We believe it is healing for parents to share their experiences and valuable for the both community to relate and professionals to gather a better understanding.
Each of these stories was featured in an e-newsletter and distributed to parents and professionals in our community. We hope that parents reading these stories will feel less alone and that the caregivers and professionals that we trust can learn from our experiences.
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