Another Year, Another Perspective

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

I joke a lot that people should be forced to work in food service, because it makes you a better person. It gives you a perspective that can’t be duplicated elsewhere – you see the best and the worst in people and it changes you, makes you more considerate and more understanding.

When it comes to understanding others, most of us can sympathize – empathize, even – but unless you’ve been there, you can’t really see things from their perspective. Perspective is something you can only learn through experience.

Of course, not all perspectives are welcome, or easy to learn.

For me, one particular perspective has been over two years in the making.

Two years ago, I first broached the subject of miscarriage on this blog.

Two years ago, my first post on the subject came from a raw, painful place. I was reeling from our second loss and struggling to come to terms with the fact that this very normal, though very painful, journey was the journey we were on.

Last year, I wrote from a calmer but still anxious place, as we were just over a month away from meeting our little boy, but still harboring fear that something could always go wrong.

This year? This year I’m writing from a place of such disbelief that I’m not even sure words can describe it (but obviously, I’m going to try, otherwise what am I doing here?).

The past year has been a whirlwind, watching this tiny person I hoped for arrive, thrive and grow, making my heart simultaneously overflow with love and tremble at the sheer immensity of what we’ve done. I mean, we created a person that we are now wholly responsible for, and for the most part, have no idea what we’re doing.

And this person – this tiny little person – has all but erased the memory of what it was like, two years ago, to be writing a post to tell our friends and family that we were hurting.

How, in such a small amount of time, has he changed everything?

And how is it fair that I was given this perfect little person, while so many people never get that reprieve?

This is the part where people usually say things like, “everything happens for a reason” or “you are where you’re supposed to be.” And while those comments are generally well-intentioned, they’re not particularly helpful. Yes, I’m grateful to have this beautiful child and yes, for me, the pain has subdued, but when these seemingly harmless platitudes are made to women and men who aren’t currently holding their silver lining, they can be downright hurtful.

I will never say I’m grateful for the experience that brought us Franklin. Going through three miscarriages while we waited for him to arrive was gut-wrenching. What it did, though, was give me a not-so-unique perspective into what so many people are going through behind closed doors. And by talking about it, I’ve been able to open a dialogue with friends and family, many of whom have confided in me their own struggles.

So once again, I remind you that tomorrow, October 15, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. At 7 p.m. in your local time zone, join me in lighting a candle for an hour to participate in an International Wave of Light to remember those lost too soon through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth or as an infant.

Though their lives may have been short, the mark they leave on our hearts is real.


Oh, what a difference a year can make

It’s crazy, how a little bit of time can pass and everything starts to look a little differently.

Take today, for example. Today, I went in for my routine pre-natal checkup. I’ll be 24 weeks tomorrow and everything today looked great — Baby Manet’s heartbeat was chugging away and I’m measuring on track (actually, a week ahead).

Everything is as it should be. And did I tell you, Baby Manet is a boy? A beautiful, healthy baby boy.

Baby Boy 20 weeks

Baby Manet 4 weeks ago at our A/S.

In fact, I’ve been blessed this time around by a completely boring, run of the mill pregnancy, and the incredible miracle of that fact isn’t lost on me. I’ll never take a boring appointment for granted, because I know too well what a non-routine appointment looks and feels like.

So today, I smiled throughout my boring appointment. I gleefully reported the “All Good!” to my husband, my mom and my sister.

When I got home, I turned on the TV and scrolled through the usual stuff on my phone to catch up: Facebook, Instagram and Timehop.

There, one year ago today and stored on my camera roll, was the picture of the positive pregnancy test that told us we were expecting what would turn out to be our second loss.

One year ago today, I was going through the ups and downs of excitement and fear, not knowing whether this would be it (but thinking, surely, it had to be).

That loss turned out to be more devastating than I could have expected. We had tempered hopes — we’d been down that road before — but never had any inclination anything was wrong until our first appointment at almost 11 weeks.

That was nearly nine weeks of blissful ignorance; nine weeks of thinking it was our turn. Nine weeks to find out it wasn’t, to discover that boring then wasn’t what boring is now, followed by months of waiting for the all clear to try again. Months of being tormented by anger, grief, sadness and helplessness.

All of that started, one joyful moment, one year ago today.

Yet, as I sit here typing, our baby boy is bouncing around inside my belly, reminding me this time that boring means everything is OK. That boring is a good thing, a wonderful thing, and I can’t help but be so incredibly happy.

I’ll never forget the past year, of course, but being only 16 weeks away from meeting this little guy is making it sting so much less. Blurring the edges. Making it all worth it.

It’s only been a year, but oh, what a difference a year can make.

Holy crap, it’s really happening.

I guess now that I’ve been out in real life for about a month now, it’s probably time for me to announce it on here…

I’m pregnant!

I almost can’t believe I’m finally writing a happy post about this topic, but here I am. I’m 14 weeks today and feeling pretty great, aside from some lower back/hip pain over the last few days.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me give you the lowdown of what’s been happening the last few months, and I apologize in advance for being a bit wordy.

How we got here

If you’ve read any of my other posts about our history, you know it’s been a bit of a bumpy road over the last year as Darrell and I tried to grow our family. We took some time off from trying after our loss in September (per doctor’s orders) and in January, unfortunately had another loss.

Since we reached the medical standard for recurrent pregnancy loss (3 consecutive losses), we decided to reach out to a local Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) to start recurrent loss testing.

Recurrent loss testing, at least in our case, consisted of several blood tests for common concerns like blood clotting disorders and antibodies, a full genetic karyotyping, and a saline sonogram to check the shape of my uterus and the general health of my reproductive system.

After being poked and prodded (me much more so than Darrell), everything in our bloodwork and ultrasounds came back completely normal.

The doctor was disappointed to not have a problem to fix, but Darrell and I were both thrilled that nothing was wrong. As we’d always assumed, our losses were simply attributed to bad luck, and the doctor told us to call when we were pregnant again.

In March, we very happily (and anxiously) made that call.

Our RE had me come in for blood draws to check my beta-hCG levels (aka the pregnancy hormone) and brought us in around 6 weeks for my first ultrasound.

6 week ultrasound

6 weeks!

Perfect! Everything was perfect and we were even able to see and hear the baby’s heart beating. It was the most amazing feeling as we’d never been able to see a heartbeat before, let alone hear one. We were over the moon, almost in disbelief that everything seemed OK.

Of course, it was still very early, so the feelings of relief and happiness didn’t last long. Luckily, we had another appointment just two weeks later, where we once again saw baby, who was measuring slightly ahead and had a good, strong heartbeat of 174 bpm.

8 week ultrasound

8 weeks!

The RE said he saw no cause for concern and “graduated” us, updating my due date to November 24th and sending us off to be monitored the rest of my pregnancy at my regular OB.

Baby Manet is really on the way!

Since leaving the RE, I’ve been able to see my OB, hear the heartbeat again and go over all the standard paperwork and bloodwork. My doctor, being the awesome person she is, even offered to let me come in for a heartbeat check any time I wanted, something I took advantage of once and have since reined in the crazy on.

It’s such a relief to finally be considered just a normal pregnancy patient, but the wait between appointments is torture! We won’t get to see the baby again until we go in for our anatomy scan, which seems so far away. But, all I’ve wanted was for this pregnancy to be normal and boring (meaning no scares, no issues), so I guess I can’t complain that I’m getting exactly what I asked for!

Tomorrow I have my 14-week checkup, which I assume will be just another heartbeat check with the doppler and a quick review with the doctor. Even so, I can’t wait for the reassurance that everything is fine, baby is growing, and we’re getting closer and closer to meeting him or her!

Thank you all for your kind words and thoughts as I’ve shared most of this story with you. It’s been a long, hard path, but I know in the end it will all be worth it. I know I’ll never be able to fully relax, to just enjoy being pregnant like someone who has never gone through the pain of loss, but at the same time, I think going through everything we have has brought us closer together and has prepared us to be the best, most loving parents we can be.

Or at least, I hope that’s true. I guess now is when I start freaking out about actually becoming a mom, right?

Oh boy.

Or girl.

I guess we’ll find out.

November baby announcement

Can’t wait to meet you, baby!

Grief is weird

So, you guys remember how I applied for that Damn Fine Words scholarship?

Turns out, I won!

I’m excited about this opportunity to help develop my writing skills. You know, seeing as how I work as a writer from time to time. Classes started yesterday, which means precisely two things:
1. You’ll be hearing a lot more from me over the next 10 weeks.
2. I’m going to have to figure out something to say over the next 10 weeks.

So what should that be?

I’ve gotten quite a bit further into my personal life here than I ever thought I would, but it’s turned out to be a pretty good thing. I know that since I wrote about the struggles we’ve been having over the last year, I’ve had several people tell me that they’ve found solace in their own losses. That’s all I could have ever asked for, that maybe by being open about how absolutely awful this whole trying to start a family thing can be, that maybe someone else would feel a little less alone.

But of course, that also means that practically everyone knows what’s going on in my life, in my head, and that’s a bit trippy. Questions that were once polite conversation starters now take on such a somber tone, as if people are afraid I’m going to break down at any second.

“So, how ARE you?”

“Anything new?”

“How have you been doing, you know, with everything?”

I know that talking about this is difficult for people. They don’t want to say the wrong thing, or do the wrong thing, or be insensitive. But here’s the thing: If I want to talk about it, I’ll talk about it. If I have news to share, I’ll share it. If I’m on the verge of some mental breakdown, you’ll sure as hell be able to tell.

More than anything, don’t pity me because my life went a little off-track this year. As low as the lows were, there were also some pretty great high points this year, too.

Grief is such a strange emotion. It isn’t something you carry around at the front of your mind, all day, every day. Sometimes it takes a back seat to the wonderful things going on around you. It lets you appreciate the good things, the sunny days or the goofball dog at your feet, and it gives you a break from feeling sad.

And on those good days, seeing pity in your eyes doesn’t do me any favors.

I don’t want this to come across as a list of dos and don’ts, because quite frankly, it’s not so simple as that. There are no hard and fast rules on how to get through this, not for me and certainly not that can be applied across the board.

So if you want to know how I’m doing, ask, but know that it might be a longer answer than “fine.” Trust that if there’s something I want to tell you, I will, and don’t assume there’s anything wrong unless I say so.

Who knows, I might even have good news one of these days.

Life on hold

It’s been a little over a month now since our loss, and while I wish I had positive news to report, I’m afraid that life has been temporarily put on hold.

At our post-op follow-up appointment, where I was sure we’d get the all clear to start trying again, we learned that the pathology report had not come back yet and that the pathologist suspected a potential molar pregnancy. Once we heard back from the lab, that suspicion was confirmed: Our loss had been a partial-molar pregnancy, and I would now need to be monitored for persistent disease.

I won’t go into all the details here, but essentially, there’s a chance after any molar pregnancy for what’s called persistent Gestational Trophoblastic Disease (GTD). GTD presents itself by keeping hCG (aka the pregnancy hormone) levels elevated even after a pregnancy has ended, so the monitoring consists of blood tests to measure that hormone. While all things are looking good so far through weekly blood draws (yay, negative numbers!), we’re on hold until spring before we can start trying again.

I think hearing this diagnosis sent me reeling back several stages in the grief process. OK, I mostly just hurtled back toward anger and lingered there for a few days (ahem, weeks), but at this point, I’ve more or less accepted that waiting is the only option. Luckily, with a partial-molar pregnancy (as opposed to a complete molar), risk of disease is extremely slim. And since my numbers are already negative, all we have to do is wait and confirm that I’m in the clear.

Wait, and wait, and wait. Patience is a virtue, right?

Yeah. If anyone who knows me is reading this, you probably know patience is not a virtue of mine.

It’s going to be a long, long winter.

The secrets women keep (and why it’s not doing any of us any good)

Stereotypes say we talk; we gossip, we blab, we were born with a voice. And yet sometimes, it seems we shut up about the things we should really be talking about.

I’m here to tell you, staying silent isn’t doing us any favors.

This week, my husband and I found out we’d lost our pregnancy at eight weeks. Unfortunately, this is the second time we’ve heard similar news — it was an echo of a heartbreak we’d already suffered in April.

This Friday, I went through surgery for the second time, closing the door on our second attempt at creating a family.

Two people, hoping and trying for a child, now 10 months into the process and starting over.

Sadly, this happens more often than most people know. An estimated 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage, but for whatever reason, we women feel the need to suffer these losses in silence.

Etiquette tells us to wait until you’re in the “safe zone” of the second trimester before sharing your happy news, should anything bad happen. But even that safety zone is a myth; too many women have suffered the devastation of a second trimester loss. The real truth is that we’re afraid to suffer those first trimester losses in the eyes of others. We’re operating under the understanding that early losses are to be mourned as a family or just as a couple, not shared with others.

It’s like we’re afraid it says something about our womanhood, about our ability to be a mother. In reality, early term miscarriages are rarely caused by any fault of the mother, but are rather an unfortunately consequence of a chromosomal abnormality. But even though miscarriage could be as common as 1 in 4 pregnancies, keeping silent means keeping each other alone in our suffering. No one talks about it, so it’s hard to know exactly how common it really is. People all around the world are putting on a brave face because they feel as though it’s not their right to burden others with their bad news.

But a burden shared is a burden lightened, and we’d all be better off remembering that. In fact, we’d all be better off remembering that:

Not all childless couples want to be that way.

Not all women who get pregnant get to bring home their child.

That just because she’s pretending everything is OK doesn’t mean it is.

That when you ask someone when they’re going to have kids, you may be speaking to someone who’s grieving on the inside.

I consider myself lucky in that I have family members who understand all too well what I’m going through. And it can work both ways: I know that discussing our first loss with my mother brought her some closure after nearly 29 years of not truly understanding her own loss. Nothing makes it easier, but knowing I’m not alone helps me continue to hope for a happy ending.

I think if we could all be a little more honest about how hard building a family can be, maybe we’d all feel a little less alone.


October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Please be kind to each other.