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{I Can’t Breathe} The Pain of Miscarriage, and Why it Never Stops Hurting

You came into our world softly and silently and left it so painfully. You were only with us for a small moment, but where you were for that short time there is a hole in our world. Now where your little heart beat, there is a pain that can not be mended or dulled. Instead of kissing your head with a sweet “hello”, my body violently said “goodbye”, and although we never knew your face, we will never forget your name….you were ours…our baby. Time has not allowed us to forget you, it has only allowed us to move forward with the pieces of our heart that remain.

As I write these words the crushing pain in my chest that always arrives when I think of  the moment I lost our child comes rushing to me, knocking the air out, and I just can not breathe. I have mostly not talked about the tremendous pain that my miscarriage brought me and still brings me, but it is time.

The news of our second pregnancy brought with it all of the joys bringing a new life into this world could bring. We started planning, we started dreaming, we started changing our mindset to that of a family with TWO children. Our daughter would no longer be an only child and we would no longer be the parents of only one child. We started talking about names, whether we thought boy or girl, how we would clean out the upstairs bedroom to make room for another child, and mostly how excited we would be to meet this new little person.

I had some worries about how a new baby would affect my daughter and if she would feel replaced or jealous. I wondered how I could have room in my heart to love another the way I loved her. I wondered if I would be a good mother to two children. I wondered what it’s little face would look like and if the baby would look like me or my husband more. The wonder turned into excitement, and excitement turned into planning, and planning turned into waiting.

The first time I heard the heart beat I cried just like the first time I heard my daughter’s heart. It was the beautiful, rhythmic sound of life. I did not know that was the last time I would hear our baby’s heart beat.

artistic blossom bright clouds

One day a couple weeks later, I woke up and I noticed that I was spotting a bit. I knew that could be completely normal so I tried not to be worried. I called my husband and mentioned that it was something I wanted to be mindful of and to pray that it was not anything concerning. Just a few hours later the bleeding became a little worse so I decided to call my doctor. For the sake of being safe they wanted me to come in and just make sure all was well. Sitting in that exam room….waiting…wondering…brought on an anxiety I did not expect. The nursing assistant came in with the doppler and could not find the heart beat. I laughed a little and made a joke about how my daughter always hid when they tried to find her heart beat. It was my way of hiding the crippling fear that began to rise up in my body. She said she often had trouble with the doppler and wanted to have another person come in and try to do it. Looking back now, I do not blame her for not wanting to call that the final try. How do you tell a mother that her child’s heart has stopped beating? The second tech came in and also could not find the heart beat and mentioned that the doctor may want to do an ultrasound to see if they could “locate” the heart beat. I walked into the ultrasound room already feeling my chest beginning to tighten as the realization hit me that my fears of losing our child might be the reality that we would have to face.

I was sure this could not happen to me. Miscarriage was something I had heard happens to other women. I continued to grasp for some shred of hope while I was waiting for the doctor to meet me in the ultrasound room. We began the ultrasound and Dr.T knew that standing between me and the ultrasound viewing screen would be the best move until they were able to really see if there was any of the typical growth that they might expect and if they might be able to find the heart beat that no one else had been able to find. After a couple of minutes of the ultrasound tech moving the wand around and me breathing through a small panic attack, I knew that good news was not what I would hear, as a matter of fact, I would not hear anything, not even a heart beat. Without saying a word Dr.T just reach over and grabbed me and held my sobbing body in the tightest hug she could muster. Words were not needed. The absence of them confirmed my fears.

I walked away from that appointment broken, painful, and empty and there was more pain to come. My body still had to realize that our baby had died, and I still had to give “birth” to a baby that I would never hold. I will spare the trauma and details that followed, mostly because I do not think I could even write them without having an anxiety attack.

Our baby was dead. Our life was shattered. Our child that we had anticipated meeting would never be met alive. I was so broken that I cried on our sofa for hours until my husband had to carry me to bed.

I wish I could say the pain stopped there, but soon after I continued to get bombarded with sharp blows from those around us who did not, could not, understand.

At least you weren’t that far along

Oh, that’s too bad. It’s good that you have your daughter to keep your mind off of it.

I’m so sorry, are you going to try again?

It’s probably for the best…there was likely something wrong with it.

It just must not have been meant to be.

…silence…

No….never….never say those words to a grieving parent.

I remember the next day after the most emotional night of my life we received an unexpected delivery of flowers at our door. They were perfect…so alive. My best friend simply wanted us to know that her family was grieving with ours. It was a powerful, healing gesture. It helped validate our feelings of grief and allowed us to know that we were not alone in a situation that was much more meaningful to us than the rest of the world.

We recently learned of the pre-term loss of the twin sons of my daughters teacher. The news made my chest constrict and the pain return. I was grieving with a family that I barely knew, and I could feel their pain. I could feel their loss. Each time I hear of a mother who has lost a child that same pain returns. It is a grief that will never go away. Yes, we have had some healing. Yes, we have two healthy and beautiful children that I am deeply thankful for. Yes, we have been able to move on. That does not cause us to forget the child we never knew. Nothing will ever cause us to forget.

For the momma (and dad) who has suffered the loss of a baby, at any gestation, I mourn with you….I cry with you….I hurt with you. Know that you are not alone. When other’s good intentions cause you more pain, remember that, unless they have suffered this loss, they can not understand. But there are others, others like us who need our story, need our support, and need to know they are not alone. When it is time, you will tell your story too, and someone else will realize that they are not alone in this pain.

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