If you are just joining us: Part One.
Ronan was my first of SO MANY things. I learned many of my parenting lessons at his expense. Breastfeeding him well, however, was one of my proudest achievements. I had always known that I wanted to breastfeed a child – from the moment that I learned that the lumpy disks on my chest were meant to nourish a baby. When I was pregnant, I read more about breastfeeding that I had about any other subject. I was well prepared, and my body was willing. Ronan was a happy nurser with no apparent issues, and everything worked well for us. I attribute a small part of that to my preparedness and a large part of it to luck.
By the time Ronan turned a year old, I had already began hearing comments like, “When are you going to wean him?” and “Isn’t he old enough for a cup now?” Regrettably, one of those voices was my husband, and another was inside my own head. My cycle returned when Ronan was 9 months old, and Brock and I knew that we wanted to start trying for our possible second baby around Ronan’s first birthday. My supply always dipped around my cycle, but Ronan was still happy to nurse and we were mindful of the lowered supply and supplemented him with a little more food. In January, when Ronan was 11 months old, we began consciously trying for our second child. I got pregnant on our first cycle, but it wasn’t meant to last. I had a faint positive pregnancy test, and miscarried the next day. It was February 14th, Valentines day, and I lost the baby while I was at work in the hospital bathroom. I was approximately 4 weeks pregnant.
I remember it being the singularly most isolating feeling of my life. I hadn’t even had the chance to tell anyone save Brock that I was pregnant. I hadn’t had time to celebrate. I was excited and joyous to have another babe, and just like that it was gone – in a painful, middle of the night affair, alone and lonely.
A few days later, we celebrated Ronan’s first birthday with a myriad of friends in a lovely party in our home that was just a bit too small for that number of people. I didn’t mention my miscarriage. That was really hard for me… to just pretend to be okay when I was crushed and broken open inside. I knew my body needed some time to adjust, and I was still nursing, so I was hopeful.
Without much effort, I got pregnant on the very next cycle. I tested early and showed positive early. Again, elated. Again, thrilled to be carrying a new life. Again, it wasn’t meant to be. Nearly 8 weeks along, I woke up one morning and realized that I didn’t feel any of the pregnancy symptoms that I had felt the day before. No nausea. My boobs were no longer sore. I didn’t have to rush to the bathroom. I dismissed it as a fluke, and expected the symptoms to return with a vengeance later that day. I decided to take Ronan to the mall for a little bit of running around in the play area. We got all packed up and loaded into the car. We drove the two minute drive to the mall, and parked. I stepped out of the car and around to his side, undid his buckles and lifted him out of his seat. I felt a gush, and knew the life was gone. I cried immediately, buckled Ronan back into his seat, and went home to lose another baby.
It was much worse this time. Much more blood, and infinitely more pain. I called my OB/GYN and asked her what I should do. I was told that I could stay home as long as I was managing my pain, and the bleeding wasn’t too severe… or I could go to the ER.
Since I worked in the ER, I decided not to go in. I knew there was nothing they could do for me. In my experience as an ultrasound tech, I had the thought and feeling many times upon meeting a mother with a suspected miscarriage, “Why are you here? There is nothing we can do for you.”
I had that thought and feeling up until I had my own miscarriage, and realized that, sitting on the toilet in your own home, losing your baby is singlehandedly the loneliest feeling that a human could experience. I had never known loneliness to that depth before – going through a life changing loss… and entirely without support. I was disappointed, and ashamed, and afraid. Disappointed to be losing another baby that I so desperately wanted, ashamed that my body didn’t seem to be able to carry another pregnancy, and afraid that I would never have another child.
I bled profusely, and the pain was incredible. I wished I had gone into the ER just so SOMEONE alive would care that I was hurting and alone. In the natural way of experience, I never again wondered why a woman came into the ER when she was losing her baby… instead, I was filled with compassion, kindness and love. It became one of my highest priorities – to make sure a scared mother felt seen, heard and knew she was not alone in her pain.
Brock and I decided to take a break from trying for another baby for a while. I felt like it was possible that I wouldn’t survive another miscarriage. I became very low, and withdrawn. I was incredibly sad all of the time. In a hasty and uncommitted decision, one morning upon getting 15 month old Ronan out of his bed, I handed him a cup of milk instead of offering him the breast, and he happily accepted. He never asked to nurse again, and within 2 days we were fully weaned. I didn’t expect that. I also didn’t expect the rollercoaster of hormones due to weaning and multiple miscarriages, and sunk even lower into darkness. I hadn’t told any of my friends of my pregnancies or my losses, and I slipped out of most of my relationships. I stopped reaching out and stopped responding, and didn’t really notice when those that I loved stopped coming around.
I immediately regretted weaning Ronan. I desperately missed nursing him, but felt like my depression had maybe gotten bad enough to be medicated. I spoke to my doctor at my next visit and he prescribed an antidepressant. I never managed to take a single pill. I took another pregnancy test in May, and found that we were pregnant again. This time, unintentionally. I didn’t even get excited – I was just too afraid of another loss. I did an early ultrasound on that pregnancy and found it to have a large subchorionic hemorrage (bleeding behind the pregnancy). Anecdotally it has been said that a bleed behind the pregnancy doesn’t necessarily mean the pregnancy will be lost, but I knew better. My heart knew that I was going to lose this baby too.
The ultrasound looked so bad that I went in to one of the doctors at my hospital and showed him an image. He looked at me with sad, caring eyes and apologized. “It doesn’t look good.”
I cried, and prepared myself for the worst. But despite expecting the worst, I remained pregnant! For days and for weeks, I continued to be pregnant, and my hope finally started to grow. Perhaps I wouldn’t lose this one.
There is an incredible thing that gratitude does – my pregnancy wasn’t easier or more pleasant than Ronan’s… but I was SO THANKFUL to be pregnant that I enjoyed every single second of it. Every cramp, every hiccup, every symptom that meant I was still pregnant was welcome and celebrated. I absolutely loved being pregnant after two miscarriages.
And even though the large subchorinic hemorrage grew, my baby grew and grew. I kept an eye on the bleed on ultrasound, and held onto the fear that I was going to lose the baby as soon as I let my guard down. I finally called Dr. S and went into the MFM clinic. He scanned my belly and told me that, yes, there was still blood behind my pregnancy, but he was pretty sure everything was going to be fine. I was ELATED.
I still held that man’s word in highest regard. My baby was going to be fine. He winked at me and told me he also thought it was going to be a girl… and I didn’t believe him. I was only 13 weeks, and I knew it was too early to tell with certainty. In my family, I was the ONLY girl on my father’s side, and out of 20 grandchildren on my mother’s side there were only 5 girls. I had myself convinced that I would only have boys.
I was pregnant, I was happy to be pregnant, and my baby looked beautifully healthy. Life was so good.
To be continued.
Is there a part nineteen??