October 15th is Infant and Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Day. As I sit here and stare at that last sentence it becomes difficult to know what should follow it. I will try.
I have lost two babies.
I remember each positive pregnancy test in vivid detail, the excitement and promise held in those pink lines is awe inspiring. In my wildest dreams I had never imagined I would covet and adore something I had peed on, but that is how I felt about that stick.
Yet, as vividly as I remember those pink lines, I also remember the first pinky red streaks. Their contrast with the white paper and the fear that then gripped my heart. I remember the hot tears staining my cheeks as I white knuckled my husband willing the blood to stop. It didn’t stop. The cramping came and went. When it was over I felt empty. I hurt so deeply I felt numb. I cried until there were no more tears, my red-rimmed eyes the only evidence left of my expectation. The days that followed became a blur; I put on a happy face. No one really knew, and it was too hard to say, “I was pregnant and now I am not.” Loss becomes a lonely road.
My second loss was during my time as a Labor and Delivery Nurse. My first day back to work was awful. I just wanted to cry. It is so hard to be happy when everything you were dreaming of is in your patient’s room. Then I attended a delivery of a rainbow baby. The joy in that room when the baby cried was thick and infectious.
I remember that being the first moment I didn’t feel numb. I remember the distrust of my body, and the anxiety as we tried again. I remember those feelings Traci so completely described. There were months when I feared pink lines because what if? I was so anxious my stomach turned into knots and I couldn’t eat.
I also remember someone close confiding in me, it was 5am at the balloon races, and she was ecstatic to be expecting. I remember the first call, late one night and the tears in her voice as she told me about the blood and the cramping. I cried with her, I told her my stories, but still felt like I didn’t know what to say. “I love you.” Was the best I could manage. I sat with her as the worst was confirmed and she cried all over again. I watched the numbness creep in.
I have collected other stories, someone dear to me whose story ended with a liter of blood and a D&C, another whose confirmation of pregnancy ultrasound was the first clue. Loss happens in so many ways, and can happen at any point. It is estimated that 1 in 4 or 5 pregnancies end in loss, about 25%.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss aren’t always openly discussed topics, hopefully sharing my story will help start a dialog and encourage women to share their stories to increase support for mothers who are grieving.
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