sharing your stories and remembering your children
Fifteen years ago, I woke up bleeding. I had only had a positive pregnancy test a few days before, and we had only been married a few months and weren't trying to get pregnant. We were still very much wrapping our heads around the idea of a baby, but it had never crossed our innocent minds that we might not even end up with a baby in our arms in nine months. Suddenly, that morning, my heart was racing and we were driving to the ER, where they would confirm a "spontaneous abortion." I hated seeing that word "abortion" on my paperwork and wondered later if my bloodwork showed that I had really even been pregnant.
We hadn't yet had our first OB appt. (It was scheduled for a few days later, and of course the doctor’s office called to remind me of it the next week, even though the pregnancy was over). We hadn't seen a heartbeat. I only had one positive pregnancy test and a few other symptoms.
I've always wondered, because of this, if there really was a baby or for some reason my body just thought I was pregnant. It is surely hard to see the heartbeat and then have a loss, but it's also hard not to have ever seen that heartbeat - at least for me.
Clearly, we had thought we were going to have a baby, though, and we mourned that loss. The baby we weren't sure we wanted we suddenly wanted more than anything. We hadn't yet said anything to our parents, and when we called them that evening to tell them of the early morning visit to the ER, they were full of unhelpful comments like, "Well, it's probably for the best since you just got married," "You're young and have plenty of time to have children," and even, "Well, I'm not ready to be a grandpa yet anyway." What?!
Physically, I was fine pretty quickly, but emotionally, I didn't know what to make of my great desire to get pregnant again as soon as I could. Now aware that every pregnancy didn't end in a baby, I couldn't stop worrying that we were going to face this cross again and again. All of my thoughts about the future and prudential "family planning" were out the window. I just wanted a healthy baby, or babies, as quickly as possible.
We didn't really talk a lot about our changed perspective (that I can remember), but we made no effort to avoid pregnancy from that point forward and I happily, and frighteningly, got pregnant on my next (delayed) cycle. The early days were met with much trepidation and I said a prayer every time I pulled my pants down to use the bathroom. I did have some spotting (of course while we were out of town and I couldn't easily get to the doctor), but it resolved without any issues.
Nine months later, we welcomed our first child (do we call her that? I never know...) with no major complications, thanks be to God. We've gone on to have six more children since then and no more losses. But that first pregnancy ending how it did changed everything for us. We didn't really plan to have a large family. I didn't really think of children as a gift from God, but really more of a semi-controlled natural consequence of marriage. I quickly learned that we're not in control, and even without further losses, have only become more and more aware of that as I've watched dear friends struggle with infertility, miscarriages, and stillbirth.
Other friends struggle with more frequent, unexpected pregnancies than they feel they can handle. Or spouses who aren't open to more children that a mother desperately wants. Or health issues that make it extremely imprudent to seek out another pregnancy even when more children are desperately wanted by both parents. Crosses and suffering abound when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth, but so does joy. Some people just get different proportions of both, for reasons only God can know. Even well removed from my loss, I have never really been able to enjoy pregnancy, and I wonder how much of that is just because of that first stressful experience of it.
You never forget the children you lost even when you have a houseful of others. Every other pregnancy and child born is "impacted" by that loss--you never stop thinking about how if that child had survived, you likely wouldn't have had "x" or "y" child--or maybe all of them if that loss hadn't come first. I don't know exactly why God "put us through" that first loss, but today I can primarily look back with a feeling of gratitude, as without that experience, I expect I would be leading a completely different life. I would be a very different person. I never would have accepted children so willingly, joyfully, and thankfully from the Lord. I would not have such firsthand experience and awareness about how much in our lives we cannot control. I would not be surrounded by all of this love without that spell of sorrow 15 years ago. Not that I am really glad we went through it, but the final fruits feel beautiful this morning, even amid the sadness that always comes with this day,
Written anonymously by a loving mother and friend of the EPLA on the 15th anniversary of her loss.