Today, October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. I know many of you have experienced this devastating tragedy in your lives, those who have not will never really understand how we feel.
We all have our own stories. Some of us lost our baby early in our pregnancy, others lost their baby much later--no matter when it happens it is devastating. We all handle it differently. But inside all of us are crying, all of us will never forget the baby or babies we lost. All of us have those moments when we stop and think of our child who we never held in arms and got a chance to cuddle with, to watch take his or her first steps, head off to school.
My husband and I lost our 2nd child. My oldest was almost two which was just how much space we'd planned on between our children--unfortunately the best laid plans... On Mother's Day my baby suddenly stopped moving, she wasn't kicking or rolling around. I went from feeling her playing soccer inside me to never moving again.What happened?
The umbilical cord consists of three blood vessels. Two arteries carry venous (no oxygen) blood away from the fetus while a vein carries oxygenated blood to the fetus. When my baby was formed she had one artery, and one vein. One of them collapsed resulting in no oxygenated blood getting to my precious baby.
The hardest part? I was nearly eight months pregnant. So close to having a healthy happy baby.
My physician told me it was 'just bad luck' and that my body would automatically expel my baby so he didn't want to induce labor. So for over a month I walked around, looking like a mom who was about to have a new happy and healthy baby. You know how it is, people you don't know come up at the grocery store or the mall and ask you when you're due date is or comment on your new addition.
Unfortunately they had no way of knowing what had happened, and I couldn't just tell a total stranger the whole story, they were just trying to be nice.
Finally after a month I went back to my doctor and insisted he induce labor. Psychologically I just couldn't take it anymore. The labor took forever. I was in hell, physically and psychologically. My husband had been with me all day and the nurse sent him home saying I wouldn't need him. As soon as he left they upped my dose of Pitocin and I delivered in an hour. My doctor or one of his partners wasn't even there. Just some nurses. I really needed my husband there. Them sending him home was the ultimate cruelty. They knew they were going to push the delivery but sent him away when I needed him most and when we needed each other most. Suffice it to say there are some hospitals and doctors I'll never go to again.
Their next cruelty? They sent me to the floor with all the moms with their new babies! And bombarded me with their chaplins pushing me to talk about my feelings. The things I wanted to say to them were not something I wanted to say to anyone who was a priest or minister. I had come to grips with the loss of my baby, what I had not come to grips with was the cruelty of the medical establishment in the hospital I was in.
Is my story unique? No, of course not. Women lose babies every day. But I felt violated by the way the medical establishment treated me.
The good news? A few years later I had my third daughter. She didn't take the place of the baby I lost. But I was able to carry her to term without problems.
To any woman out there who has lost a child, nothing I can say will make up for it, so instead, a hug, from someone who has been there. Maybe not in your exact shoes, all our stories are different, but we all have many of the same thoughts and feelings.
To those who have never lost a child but know someone who has, just be there if they need to talk, send a card, but the one thing every woman I know who has lost a child doesn't want to hear "I know how you feel" when in fact, unless you've lost a child you have no idea how I feel. So no platitudes, just prayers.
And on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day think about your friends who have lost a child, or think about the child you lost and remember them. I count myself fortunate to have only lost one child, I know so many other women who have lost many more before successfully carrying a baby to term. So today, I'm remembering my special little girl lost and honoring her memory by writing this post, hoping it helps someone else through a difficult time.