I had been married to my husband for exactly a year. Then, it happened. I had a late cycle, and decided we would wait another week to take a pregnancy test. We had been trying to have a baby for nine months with no success, so I didn’t want to jinx anything by taking a pregnancy test too soon and getting my hopes up for a negative result.
We’re Having a Baby
A week later, nature called at 2:15am. I decided to take the pregnancy test while I was already getting up. As soon as I put the stick in my urine stream, it immediately turned positive. There was no doubt about it we were pregnant. I sat there with excitement, a little anxiety, and wondered if I should wake my husband up immediately and tell him. I could not contain the excitement, so I woke him up. “Honey, wake up, honey, you’re going to be a daddy.” My husband woke up and grabbed his eyes with disbelief. He jumped out of bed and hugged me, as happy tears began to fall down his cheeks and mine. Then, he rubbed my tummy and began talking to our child inside. After looking online and doing research, it seemed we were around 6 weeks pregnant. We began telling our news to a few immediate family members and a few of our closest friends. The excitement spread, and not only was I pregnant, but a few weeks earlier my older sister had spilled the beans that she was expecting. I wasn’t alone and would be going on this journey not only with the love of my life, but also with my older sister who was three weeks ahead of me with her second child.
There’s no heartbeat
A week later, my husband went out of state for training with the military. This is when the morning sickness began kicking in. He would be gone for about three weeks, so I managed to handle it on my own the best I could with keeping busy and taking care of myself and our baby. Valentine’s Day passed, and my husband showered me and our baby with flowers, chocolates, and the sweetest card even from afar. A few days later it was time for our first doctor visit, around the eighth week of pregnancy. The plan was to video call my husband once the ultrasound began. My mother accompanied me to the appointment since my husband could not be there. Before the ultrasound began, we dialed my husband on Face Time and my mother held the phone to the screen. We soon saw our little bean pop up on the monitor. We both grew with excitement. Then, the ultrasound tech stepped out to get a doctor. I knew this couldn’t be good. The doctor came in and gave us news we could not accept. “There is no heartbeat. This must have recently happened because your baby measures 7 weeks, and 6 days old,” stated the doctor. Panic and disbelief ran through my mind, as tears began to fall rapidly down my cheeks, as well as my husbands. I couldn’t hear anything at this point. It was like the world stopped when our baby’s heartbeat did. We were rushed to another room to discuss options of removing the baby with the doctor. The worst part was crying with my husband over the phone and not being able to reach out and crawl into his arms. I cried uncontrollably the rest of the day. How could this be? Why didn’t I feel something? Did I do something wrong? Did I eat something wrong? Did I exercise too hard? Did I lift something too heavy? Why us? Why our baby? Why now? What have we done to deserve this?
How do we move on from this?
After being scheduled for a Dilation & Curettage (D & C) in a week, and feverishly working with the Red Cross to get my husband home a day and a half later, shock, disbelief, and sadness continued to take over. We were supposed to be having a baby! We already had nursery theme dreams and a large dose of love in our hearts for this little miracle. I took a week and a half off work for coping and healing from the D & C; which now looking back was not enough time. I should have definitely taken more time off for myself to heal from this tragic blow.
The D & C was a very painful process emotionally and physically. My body was pregnant, and now all of a sudden it was not. It took a while for my body to get back in sync with that fact. While I was already emotional from this loss, my hormone shift made that emotional roller coaster a little more extreme. Hugs, tons of tears, and support from those closest to me is what I needed most during this time. While some people distanced themselves from us because they didn’t know what to say or do, others held us close. Our families and a small handful of friends were truly there for us. Others who tried to offer words of encouragement just ended up making me feel worse, especially the phrases that began with “at least.”
Three weeks after the D & C, I recieved a phone call from my Doctor with the chromosome testing results, which we hoped would give us answers. My Doctor sadly reported that we had a son and he had Trisomy 22, or an extra chromosome on #22. I thought this would ease the pain, but my heart just shattered more knowing he struggled to live. We would have loved him no less despite his imperfections. He was our son, the one God gave us.
Finding the light again
How do we move on from this? That’s a hard question, and the answer will be different for everyone. Grief is an ugly and painful thing. There is no greater pain I’ve ever felt than losing a part of myself and my husband. We are still trying to cope and get through this devastation, one day at a time.
This is not the part where I will give you a “To-Do” list of items to instantly help you make it through. This is the part though, where I will try to give you hope, peace, and understanding that you only get from someone who has experienced the pain and brokenness of miscarriage. Coping is different for everyone and there is no one size fits all when you are trying to heal from a miscarriage.
After three months since that horrible day, of being told our baby no longer had a heartbeat, life was still tough. Just when I thought I was doing better, something would remind me of our baby and I would immediately have a break down. I would cry sometimes alone in my car, on my husband’s shoulder, and in my sleep. The pain seemed endless, but each day I survived it, the burden of loss ached a little less.
The greatest support I have received has been from my husband. I always knew I married a wonderful man, but after going through this with him, I now know I married a saint. He just let me be. Whatever emotion I was experiencing, he allowed me to go through it without judgement. He stuck by my side and held me tight, while giving me all the time I needed to heal.
Then, another tragedy began to strike. We watched the health of our 13 year old Beagle worsen. Within a matter of two weeks, we had to let our beautiful Beagle go because cancer had rapidly taken over her body. She was my strength and my rock for 13 years and especially when we lost our baby. I held her and cried so many times after losing our son. Letting her go was heartbreaking and spun me back into a wave of grief I thought I was on my way out of. My title of “mommy” had been officially ripped away from me twice within three months. I wasn’t anyone’s mommy anymore. After a week without our beloved dog, I knew that I couldn’t let grief and sadness continue to take over our home and marriage.
I got on my knees and I begged for God to come back in my life. He was immediately there and had never left my side, even though I turned my back on him. The message was loud and clear. If my husband and I didn’t have so much love in our hearts to give, the loss of our child and our Beagle would not have been so painful. I had tried so many things for months to get myself out of this dark hole of depression, when suddenly I knew what I had to do. My husband and I bought a Beagle puppy. Our hearts needed to love again and nurture something and we were not ready to try for a baby again yet. We knew that our life was not complete without a canine companion. While our puppy would not replace the Beagle we lost to cancer, she would bring us a new joy and new hope for happy times ahead. Our home immediately filled with laughter and joy again.
While another baby will never replace the one we lost, he or she will bring us a special happiness that will help us move forward. Love broke us, but it is also healing us. When something breaks us in life, we all tend to close ourselves up and put up walls of protection. I now know that hinders the healing process. Getting to a place of love again is what will truly heal your spirit after a miscarriage. Trust in the good, dream about happy times ahead, have faith, and believe that better days are coming for you and your family. Share the love you bottled up with someone or something. For us, it was a puppy; a new life to care for.
Now, for the list you have been waiting for. Below are a few specific things that helped me on my journey back to hope and happiness.
- I set up counseling with EAP (The Employee Assistance Program through my employer) the week after we lost our baby. When those sessions ran out, I contacted Military One Source, where I have continued counseling for the last six months, and was recently released. Life has been far from easy. Trust me, it is so hard to put a smile on your face when you are crushed and dying inside. Counseling helped me put things into perspective, talk about every painful emotion I was experiencing, and regain my strength emotionally.
- Honor your baby in a way that brings you peace. We had a memorial service in the garden we built for our son. That gave me closure and I felt better after the chaplain blessed our baby. My husband and I also got matching tattoos so he will always be with us.
- Being honest with my husband about how I felt throughout my entire healing journey was necessary. Men don’t understand what a woman’s body goes through after losing a baby, so help them out by sharing exactly what you are feeling and keep communication open and honest with your spouse. This is vital for your marriage to survive this devastating blow.
- I joined a fitness group of women (most of them mothers). I began attending once a week for Body Blast workouts. Heart on a Mission has helped me through this life tragedy by sweating it out with a very positive and sweet group of women a few times per week. They are located at several military bases across the U.S. for military families and the community.
- I began a journey to find my faith. After losing a baby, I lost my faith too. I strayed farther and farther from God, because I could not believe he would allow something so horrible to happen to me. I blamed him over and over and couldn’t understand why crackheads have babies, but a loving couple like us lost ours. Now I realize, it was not of his doing. It was nature, but God will make something positive come from the pain this situation created. Now, I’m finding my way back to God’s graces again through reflection, prayer, and time.
- Build something with your grief. Write about it, or put some sweat into building something tactile. You can build something through your written words. Writing can be healing to you and many others if you share it with the world. Dig in the dirt and pour your grief into a garden. My husband and I built two gardens. One was a flower and herb memorial garden for our son. It’s a sacred and beautiful place that took a lot of sweat, but the hard labor helped us heal. We also built a nice sized vegetable garden, in addition to the memorial garden. It was extremely therapeutic to work outdoors on these two projects. Click here to read my story about the holistic healing of gardening.
- Adopt a furbaby, or hug the one you have close. Animals are extremely compassionate, intuitive, therapeutic, and help us to heal in many ways. They give us companionship and unconditional love. They’ll let you cry, vent, scream, or whatever without passing judgment. After all a “Dog is Love.”
When should you try again? This will be a different answer for everyone. After seven months, I’m finally getting to a place mentally where I’m not afraid or paranoid to get pregnant again. Sure any pregnancy will be scary after a miscarriage, but you cannot spend too much time worrying about the “what-ifs.” It took me a lot of tears, sadness, anger, and reflection to conclude a very important and deep message. My husband and I have so much love in our hearts to give. If we didn’t have such big hearts, then losing our baby would not have been so painful. If that great love is what caused this enormous pain, imagine what that love can do as it grows to fruition.
If love hurt us, then love can and will heal us. The only way to allow that to happen is to try again. If I had let every broken heart I endured while trying to find my mate in life stop me from dating, then I never would have found the amazing man I’m blessed to call my husband. If we let losing a child prevent us from trying again, then we are denying a deserving child a life of love with two caring parents. If we allow fear to dictate the rest of our marriage, our beautiful love story will be overruled with sadness and tragedy. The only way to get over fear is to conquer it. The only way to conquer it is to get up, brush yourself off, and try again.
When you are ready, you’ll know. Life is short, and having a miscarriage proves that life can change in an instant. My heart goes out to any couple who has had to survive this horrible tragedy. It’s a difficult and dark road to travel on in life, but you can and will get through it. It will seek to destroy your marriage, your mind, soul, and confidence. Find what will make you whole again together and pursue it. Then, when your mind heals and your heart is ready to love again, try again, pray, and start over.
© Wendi and Strength 4 Spouses, 2017.
Please share your comments below if this story has helped you or if you would like to add something to help others in this situation.