A few days before Christmas, I received a phone call from the fertility clinic my husband and I had been working with for over two years. At this point, I associated the clinic’s number popping up on my phone with agony of receiving bad news. I’d see that number and my heart would drop. As if the anxiety of awaiting test results wasn’t stressful enough. I developed coping habits such as planning ways to treat myself to things I wouldn’t be able to indulge in if I’d received a positive result like wine and dying my eyebrows (Yes, I dye my blonde and barely there eyebrows. Don’t judge!)
Earlier that day I visited the lab at the clinic to leave my monthly blood sample which would determine if I’d become pregnant. I chatted with the phlebotomists, who I had personal relationships with by now then went on with my day. On my way home I picked up a bottle of wine which I would enjoy later that night no doubt and a box of hair dye to maintain those pesky brows.
Hours later, the phone rings (heart drops). I left the room to take the call privately so Tim wouldn’t have to hear my reaction to another negative result. Of course you can imagine my shock to learn that I’d become pregnant. The amazement quickly moved to fear when the nurse mentioned “Your (hCG) numbers are low so we want you to come back in two days for a repeat blood test.” This was a familiar diagnosis for us.
Artwork by Olivia Mabrey
Over the past two years Tim and I had suffered through two pregnancy losses. The grief and total devastation of our most recent loss in September 2016 (at 8 weeks) lingered in the atmosphere around my life. Fearing that the low hCG levels in our current pregnancy would lead to another loss made it difficult to celebrate and find bliss in our little miracle. To this day the uncertainty attached to the threat of miscarriage is palpable and literally haunts my dreams.
During each ultrasound we were granted instant and much needed relief of the heavy heartedness in seeing our baby, healthy and growing. With weeks between ultrasounds, that relief was and remains to be fleeting. It’s only a matter of days after our visit with the OB before I get a bit of heavy cramping or feeling different in any way from previous weeks which sends my anxiety spiraling. The most recent loss crushed my spirits and I am still plagued by ‘what if’. It has become a big part of the constellation of my journey to motherhood.
At 16 weeks we felt satisfaction upon reaching a “safe point”. For the first time we felt we were able to share the good news of our healthy pregnancy with family and friends. Since then, I’ve designed more time around living in the moment and establishing a connection with this little life inside of me. I’ve started a pregnancy journal with the hopes that I will one day share it with my child. I’m constructing lists of songs and poems I want to share with my baby. I even ordered a headphone jack splitter so baby and I can listen to the same music (mostly Miles & Nina) through headphones together.
Artwork by Olivia Mabrey
The myriad of emotions I encounter at any given moment is not unlike drones in a hive, all working in synchronicity for the benefit of the ultimate mama. Thoughts of pregnancy’s unpredictability continue to permeate through my mind. Often times women who are faced with similar challenges convey a multitude of emotions all at once. For me, it is natural to be outwardly happy while silently harboring fragments of fear. Speaking openly about that uneasiness generally leaves it feeling frivolous. People who’ve not been saddled with infertility or multiple pregnancy losses typically find no value in “dwelling” on the possibility of a negative outcome. I’ve been told on several occasions “not to dwell on that stuff” or “just let it go”. This may be the most frustrating advice I’ve encountered on my journey.
The fear is my pain and it is part of my history. It is the story of the children I’ve lost. It is the physical and emotional scars left behind. It is a marriage which remains steadfast and filled with love after many trying rounds of fertility drugs and two miscarriages. It is the unstoppable strength I found in my darkest times. It is my relentless devotion to becoming a mother. I value my feelings and hope to never let go of how powerful the drive to motherhood is, whenever that time may come.
Artwork by Olivia Mabrey
Statistically speaking, 30% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Initiatives have begun to surface shedding light on this topic. I’ve found a number of resources and communities dedicated to lending navigation tools to couples and individuals struggling through similar situations. I will happily share what I found the most useful here in this post. I am open to speaking to anyone privately as well. Please feel free to reach out through the blog if you have any question or comments. Thank you for visiting our blog and taking time to read our story.
- Resolve New England
- Jessica Zucker, Ph.D. @ihadamiscarriage Instagram campaign
- Pregnancy After Loss Support
- The Art Of Waiting by Belle Boggs
- Yes You Can Get Pregnant by Aimee Raupp
- WomanCode by Alisa Vitti
“A miscarriage is a natural and common event. All told, probably more women have lost a child from this world than haven’t. Most don’t mention it, and they go on from day to day as if it hadn’t happened, and so people imagine that woman in this situation never really knew or loved what she had. But ask her sometime: How old would your child be now? And she’ll know.” —Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams