Saturday, October 15, 2011
Losing a Baby
I have been pregnant four times. Three of those pregnancies ended in miscarriages. This isn’t something I talk about and not something people ask about. It’s generally understood to be one of those topics we all avoid. Discussing miscarriage makes people uncomfortable.
The pain of losing these unborn children has lessened over time. It sits in the back of my heart, the pain just a smaller shadow of what it once was. When our heartbreaking losses were still fresh, I wondered when, or if, the pain would ever go away. It hasn’t left completely, at least not so far. It is a part of who I am, adding to my stores of compassion and understanding.
Miscarriage is a complicated subject and doesn’t always just happen suddenly. Two of my miscarriages were “missed miscarriages”, which means that the baby had died weeks earlier, but my body was not letting go of the remains of the pregnancy. These miscarriages both required a D and C, a surgical procedure performed under general anesthesia to complete the miscarriage.
The first of these happened near the end of my first trimester. The emotional pain Fred and I experienced at these times was unimaginable and remains indescribable. We were helped through these events by our love for each other, and with prayer and the love and support of family and friends. There were also several doctors and nurses that helped us through these terrible ordeals with their kindness and their careful attention to my health needs. Unfortunately, there were also some that made things even more difficult.
I remember meeting with an anesthesiologist soon after learning that my first baby had died, and I couldn’t stop crying. This doctor didn’t understand why I was so upset, because, as she said, “you can have another baby”.
The last missed miscarriage happened well into my second trimester. The doctor who treated me thought it best to have me deliver the deceased baby rather than performing a D and C. I would have preferred to have the D and C and get the whole thing over with, but he was unwilling to do the procedure. I was hospitalized and given drugs to induce labor, but other than making me sick, the drugs had no effect on my body. Eventually, the doctor had to do the procedure after all.
Miscarriage is the most common complication of early pregnancy and occurs in as many as 25% of pregnancies. But even though it happens so often, people sometimes don’t know what to say. They want to say something to help ease the grief but never having been in this situation may say things that aren’t helpful at all.
I remember people sometimes offering words meant to comfort that weren’t comforting at all. There were phrases like, “there must have been something wrong with the baby, so it’s probably for the best that you miscarried”, or, “miscarriages are fairly common”, or, it was God’s will”. I learned that there really isn’t anything that can be said that will make grieving parents feel any better after losing a child, except maybe a simple, “I’m sorry for your loss”.
There came a time when Fred and I decided to stop trying to have another child. I was experiencing health problems, and we felt it best for me to devote what energy I had toward caring for our daughter and for myself.
It was so hard to let go of the possibility of having more children. Even now, years later, I sometimes wonder, “what if that child had lived”, briefly imagining this unlived life. But life goes on, and we have always felt grateful for our precious daughter.
Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. For more information visit Share.