I had an amazing mother, but I didn’t always know that I wanted to be one, myself. I dreamed of traveling and working and doing a number of things that did not involve children. However, I married a man who loves (LOVES) children and who is several years older than I, and he was so excited about having a family of his own. In choosing a life with him, my heart also changed regarding motherhood. Once I became a Mrs., I also desired to be a mom.
Learning I was pregnant for the first time was thrilling and surreal. I could hardly believe I had life growing inside me and I was going to be a mother.
I knew my own mother and other women in my family had experienced miscarriages, so I did have the thought in the back of my mind that I might not get to keep my baby. However, that still did not prepare me for the news we received at my first OB appointment: our baby had stopped growing and had no heartbeat.
My first pregnancy ended in miscarriage, and my husband and I were scarred by the loss of our first baby. It was such a painful thing, but we grew through the loss and our hearts became more tender toward one another. We were able to feel God’s comfort deeply and see how He could work in us in unique ways through heartbreaking circumstances. While this loss didn’t make sense to us, it also didn’t seem meaningless.
We were so excited to learn just a few months after our loss that I was pregnant again. This pregnancy brought such joy and gratitude, but also a lot of anxiety. It was hard not to fear the worst. When I was 10 weeks along, I experienced heavy bleeding that resulted in a trip the ER. We thought we were losing baby #2, and we were so relieved to learn (many hours later) that our baby was safe and snug and right on track. I was diagnosed with a subchorionic hemorrhage that took several weeks to resolve, and the anxiety about this pregnancy didn’t go away until the bleeding stopped. I was finally able to start enjoying pregnancy when I was at about the mid-point. We found out around the same time that our baby was a girl, which was so thrilling and really helped me embrace the fact that I was a mother. I had a daughter.
We loved life with a little one and felt ready to add to our family, and I got pregnant again just before our daughter turned one. I was so nervous going to the doctor for the first time, but our little gummy bear looked perfect on the ultrasound at eight weeks. Around 10 weeks, I started bleeding, just like I had during my previous pregnancy. I thought maybe I was dealing with another subchorionic hemorrhage, so I was able to stave off panic. After a couple of weeks of bleeding and a more in-depth ultrasound, we discovered I was experiencing vanishing twin syndrome. I had lost another baby I didn’t even know existed. This loss affected me differently since I was not aware of the little life and I still had a healthy baby growing in my womb, but it did cause a lot of doubt about my body’s dependability. This growing baby turned out to be another daughter, and we were so grateful.
Knowing we wanted to have a third biological child, we were excited to get pregnant again soon after our second daughter turned one. This pregnancy was different for me; I had a sense from the beginning that something was not right. At my first doctor appointment, I learned that the baby had stopped growing very early. This was our third loss. I expected to handle it well since I had received comfort and support and experienced growth through loss before. However, this loss hit me really hard. I think it was different because I was so deeply immersed in the world of motherhood as a stay-at-home mom, and I was surrounded by other women in the baby stage. The things I knew in my head — that we were not without hope and that our baby’s short life served a great purpose — were really hard to feel in my heart.
A few months later, I was pregnant again. We were thrilled and hopeful, but the familiar feelings of anxiety and fear were present from the beginning. I had a hard time letting myself celebrate this baby, and I took my time sharing the news. I had an early ultrasound that showed a developing baby with a strong heartbeat. What relief.
I’m getting ready to deliver this third baby — another girl! — and I am in awe that I get to bring life into the world once again. I know that holding this precious child will redeem the pain we endured leading up to her being and that we will not be left thinking about what “should” have been. Without loss, we would not have the children we do have, two of whom are rainbow babies. That’s the thought that rights me when I begin dwelling on the pain and sadness of our miscarriages.
Each of our babies has changed our lives, whether we have held them or not. I am truly grateful for each precious life I have carried. The words of Lord Alfred Tennyson are so true:
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
(“In Memoriam A.H.H.”)
October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. If you have grieved the loss of a baby, know that we at Birmingham Moms Blog recognize the value of your precious little one’s life. You are not alone in your pain.