Trigger warning – this post discusses stillbirth, miscarriage and the surrounding experience and emotions. Please consider your current emotional needs when deciding whether to read.
Bereaved Mother’s Day is observed the first Sunday each May and is a day to honor those brave women who have experienced the loss of a child as well as those who have not been able to conceive.
This is the 4th Bereaved Mother’s Day that I have experienced since the stillbirth of my daughter in 2015. This is my first since the loss of my second child this past November.
I chose today to talk about this second loss publicly because I have felt so alone and I hope in some way that sharing my story will help someone else not feel that same way.
We found out we were pregnant with our fourth baby the day after Madison’s birthday in October. We were over the moon. This baby was planned and loved and very much wanted.
We went to our first OB appointment November 8th on a cloud. We were offered an early ultrasound which we happily accepted and received some concerning news that the baby did not appear to have developed enough based on my last monthly period. I was completely devastated, but hopeful that perhaps the dates were off. We were only 6 weeks pregnant so it seemed completely possible that things would turn out ok. After all, we couldn’t possibly go through another loss.
Eight grueling days later, we returned to be given again some very non-reassuring news. The baby had not developed much and a heartbeat was still not detectable. We were told to go home and wait some more, try to stay calm, hope for the best and enjoy Thanksgiving with our family.
Ten days later we were told the pregnancy was not viable by an ultrasound technician we had never seen before who had absolutely no clue the devastation those words brought to Jeff and I. We were offered three options, to either wait for my body to realize the pregnancy was not viable and miscarry on my own, schedule an appointment for a DNC, or take a prescription for Cytotec and a handful of pain pills and do it myself at home.
It is impossible to describe how you come to a decision when faced with those choices. In the end, we opted to do it at home. I felt concerned about disrupting our two boys who were not aware of what was happening and also recovering as quickly as I could so I could continue to prepare to make the holidays as special as possible for my family.
On November 28th at 10 weeks pregnant, I stuck the Cytotec in my cheek to dissolve like the bottle told me to and waited. Imagine for a second what it felt like to take a pill to end a pregnancy that you wanted and was excited about. I understand my baby was not alive, but the act of placing that pill in my mouth felt like a nightmare.
I was completely unprepared for what happened next. My OB did not provide us any information. No supplies. No details. Not even a pamphlet. Only that we should contact the office if I began to bleed through more than one pad an hour. The cramping that I experienced was horrible, but in no way compared to the amount of bleeding and emotional pain of miscarrying my child in this way.
To this day, I have never heard from my OB. Not a call or email to check and make sure I am ok following the loss of my second child. It was the first of many surprising things I experienced after this loss.
I have spent the last nearly 4 years since Madison’s stillbirth working with and talking to women who have lost children. In so many cases, I was told how my loss was so significant because I was 34 weeks pregnant and how different that is from a loss in early pregnancy.
I am here to tell you that is bullshit.
The truth is, with Madison I knew her. I felt her kick. I talked to her. We pigged out all summer on tomato sandwiches. We danced and sang and made plans.
I never felt this baby move. This baby never had a heartbeat that we could hear. The medical community will refer to him or her as a blighted ovum or as it now reads in my chart a “missed abortion”.
I am at a loss as to how to best remember this baby.
I haven’t talked about my miscarriage publicly, because I didn’t know what to say. The sadness felt so heavy that it made it more difficult to share as the last 6 months have gone by. This was compounded by the fact that a few of the people we did share with have been less than supportive which of course brings up even more emotion.
Here is what I know to be true. I have four children. All four of them matter and all four of them will make this world a better and kinder place.
All of our babies deserve to be loved and acknowledged by the people around us. If you have experienced a loss at any stage of pregnancy, please share your story as you are able to. Staying quiet does not help you heal or teach the world to do a better job of addressing your emotions and needs.
I acknowledge you on this Bereaved Mother’s Day and every other day we share this road together.
Jessica Sangutei says
You are a beautiful soul to share your story of your loss of your fourth baby. I read the loss of your first with heartbreak, and I’m right there with you on this one. I lost my first baby at 11 weeks after hearing the heart beat and seeing the baby grow in ultrasound. Within a few short days of starting to bleed, we lost our first in the ED on the day I graduated nursing school. It was, as you said, traumatic because of the short time, because of the way a miscarriage is treated, because of so many factors I was unprepared to face. I am so sorry you did not have any follow up with your care provider and I am sorry you did not feel supported in the way you needed. Even now, with my two happy, healthy boys, I still remember my little one who left too soon. It has been twelve years and I still grieve, not like in the beginning, but I still wish I could have done something different. Peace be with you, Henderson.
Thank you so much for the kind words, Jessica. I am so sorry for the loss of your baby at 11 weeks. It is reassuring always to hear that mothers still grieve after as many years – I think it helps give me permission not to feel like I have this unachievable goal of moving “past” it all. Thank you for sharing your story with me ❤️