Heartache and Healing Through Friendship: Stephanie's Story
A third positive pregnancy test! We already had two sons and each time we had gotten pregnant right away. My pregnancies had been healthy and we didn't have any conerns about this one except for the fact that my second son came five weeks early. Certainly I had heard of friends struggling with pregnancy loss, still births and infertility. At this time one of our close family members had just had a miscarraige. But I still never imagined it would happen to us. We went to my 10 week ultrasound full of excitement and joy. I will never forget the look on the resident doctor's face as she scanned the screen. She did not turn it for us to see. Then she left to get the attending OB doctor. I just remember feeling frozen, unable to really realize what was happening. Then the doctor came in, looked for a couple minutes on the screen and delievered the devastating news that no heartbeat could be found. My husband put his arms around me and we cried. Then came the doctor's concerns that I could have an ectopic pregnancy and need surgery to end and remove the pregnancy. The other possibilities were that I would miscarry or that the pregnancy was still too early to find the heartbeat. I was sent for an immediate level 2 ultrasound to confirm that there was no ectopic pregnancy.
Then came the waiting game since it was possible that the pregnancy was earlier along than I suspected. My doctor scheduled another ultrsound for one month later and discussed the possibility of a D&C if the heartbeat was still unable to be found. So I clung to a thread of hope and it was one month of torture, wondering and waiting. I didn't tell my parents or other family members because I didn't want them to worry unnecessarily. I shared what I was going through with only one other person besides my husband, my neighbor and close friend. She was also pregnant and unfortunately ended up losing her baby during her first trimester. She miscarried just days before I did. Seeing my friend go through this was devastating and I remember the fear that I felt and the difficulty I had trying to remind myself that the outcome might be different for me and my baby. But my pregnancy ended in the same way. A few days after my friend miscarried at home, I started feeling cramps and then began to bleed. I was not in any way prepared for what I would go through physically and emotionally. No doctor had told me what it might be like. The bleeding was so intense that my husband called the nurse advice line and we were told to go to the emergency room. So my friend's husband came and stayed the night with our boys while my husband and I headed to the hospital. I remember pacing the emergency room with labor like pains and knowing that I was probably about to soak through the multiple pads I had put on before leaving the house. I had to ask for some more since the wait was so long. We finally were admitted to a room and I continued to pass large clots of tissue. I remember screaming out of anger when the toilet flushed automatically, flushing the reamins of my baby. It was terrible. Soon a doctor came, gave me some medicine and sent me home. My bleeding slowed and I thought it was over. I was drained physically and emotionally.The next day I had my scheduled ultrasound and of course I didn't need it at that point. My doctor informed me that I should have asked for someone from the OB clinic while I was in the emergency room. She told me what things I should return to the emergency room for but assured me that the worst was probably over. So I went home sad and tired but thinking the worst of the physical pain was behind me. I was wrong. The next day I started cramping and bleeding again and passing large clots of tissue. I tried to manage on my own at home but soon found myself pale, weak and having lots of difficulty caring for my sons since I could barely leave the bathroom. I phoned my friend (remember that lifesaving neighbor I mentioned?) and she immediately came to get my boys and I drove myself to the hospital. My husband met me in the E.R. and this time we asked for someone to be sent from the OB clinic. I was given more medication to stop the bleeding and control my pain and she performed a procedure to remove any remaining tissue that she could see. She was warm and reassuring and deeply sorry for our loss. It was a small comfort in the midst of my suffering but it was appreciated. The real comfort came from the sharing of my story with my friend. After I had rested and healed a little physically, my friend and I got together to talk. We talked for hours and hours. We cried together and we comforted each other. We each listened to each other and shared our hearts. We decided to buy Christmas cactuses to remember our babies since we both found out around Christmas that we were pregnant. We got together one evening to paint the pots with symbols of pregnancy loss, hope and faith. We painted a large tree with birds sitting on the branches that represented the members of our family and one bird flying off into the distance. We painted scripture verses as well. This beautiful ritual done with a friend who truly understood my pain and the depth of loss I felt was so powerful. It was healing and therapeutic. My healing didn't happen immediately and in some ways it is still going on. After I opened up more to my family members and other friends I began to heal even more. People called me and sent me cards. One friend sent me a bracelet with the words “always in my heart” engraved on it and my sister in law sent me a willow tree figure of healing. They are constant reminders to me of the love that others have for me and how much they understand my loss. And of course they are reminders of that precious life that I believe is now with God in heaven. My story does not end with loss though. Thankfully for me I was able to get pregnant again shortly after my miscarraige. My third son Liam was born December 10th 2017 weighing 6lbs 8oz and was practically perfect in every way. I know so many who do not have this happy ending and who struggle with multiple losses or infertility. We are extremely thankful for our rainbow baby and we know we are lucky to have him. We weren't the only ones who prayed for him either. Our older boys prayed for over a year for a sibling. It was the best thing to reach the second trimester and be able to tell our boys that they would have another sibling! But of course throughout my pregnancy we worried. We worried a lot and I don't think I stopped worrying until he was born and in my arms. I'll never forget the bonding time we had immediately after his birth and Liam was just laying in my arms. That was what brought the most healing. I will never forget the baby we lost or the way in which I lost that precious life but Liam fills our hearts and home with the joy and love and hope that we needed after that loss. He is truly our rainbow after the storm.
Next Week: Karen