Hanging out on an internet board for parents gives me plenty of opportunities to talk about this subject, I guess that's why I've not posted here about it. Helping other women get through this, and helping people relate to those who've been though this, is kind of a mission of mine, a mission I share with untold millions of women through out the world and throughout time. It's time I should post about it here, as it's a big thing to me.
Advance apologize to those who love me but do not know this story, it was to to hard to tell at the time, and is a different kind of hard now as I fear hurting you with what I wasn't strong enough to share.
You see in February 2003 I got pregnant (a very common thing I've noticed, November seems to be a favorite for giving birth.) It took us a bit to get used to the idea, as we hadn't been planning on three kids yet, but I was getting excited and doing the dreaming thing.
I've found that women tend to start dreaming and hoping for their child long before it is born, and the moment we start loving a child is the moment its existence is suspected. I'm told there are women who don't feel this way, but I've yet to confirm this one single time. Nevertheless, I feel this way. A child is a gift to be cherished every moment, through morning sickness, and high school, and sometimes death.
I just never really expected to cherish through death.
I knew something was wrong with this pregnancy. With my previous two I had FELT them there (skeptics be-gone, I know what I felt). With this pregnancy though, I just didn't feel an extra little someone hanging around the house. It was un-nerving, and I tried to reason it away, but when the spotting started, well I knew what was happening. At 8 weeks gestation there was nothing for doctors to do, and my hopes and dreams were packed away in the parts of my mind I try not to disturb.
I was a mess, but I tried to muddle through, pretending it was no big deal.
I got pregnant again immediately, another accident. I embraced this new life. A child! I was so sure it was a girl, too. By the end of the "risky" first trimester I was in full swing of the dreaming and the planning. We picked a name, Keona. It means "gift from heaven" in Hawaiian. Joe's best friend is half Hawaiian, and closer to us than some of our family, so we felt it appropriate. I vacillated on a middle name. The initial choice was Faye, it seemed to flow so well. However, after a few weeks I chose Marie instead. Marie is one of my sister's middle name, and I liked the biblical and familial connection of the name better than the meaning of Faye, which is Fairy.
I thought of her as Keona Marie all the time, and watched my belly expand so beautifully to accommodate her form. An early ultrasound was ordered, and I watched that little heart flicker on the monitor. I was totally in love with this child. The presence I felt around the house was the sweetest I've ever known. Completely kind, selfless, loving, and cheerful. I couldn't wait to meet her and have her in our family.
At my 17 week check up my dear friend and brilliant physician, Dr. S (Dave, to me) had a bit of trouble finding the heartbeat we had heard a month before. I teased him a bit, and eventually he went to get another Doctor to give it a try. Dr. D came in and tried her hardest. I won't go into the feats of dexterity we performed to try and hear that little heart, but we just couldn't find it. So an ultrasound was ordered across the street at the hospital, and my husband was sent for. It was very late by the time we got into the ultrasound room, the face of the ultrasound tech was a bit to impassive, I ignored that, clinging to hope.
Dr. D was off saving someone's life with the other Doctor on duty, Dave's best friend Dr. B, so by the time they got down to talk to us it was after midnight. I didn't mind the wait, I adored my doctors, but each moment I waited I lost a bit of my will to believe that everything was fine.
Their soft and kind faces destroyed my hopes, and a wall of fiery emotional pain enveloped me even before the words "no heartbeat" could reach my ears. Through the smoke that billowed from my carefully crafted dreams they explained my child had stopped developing at 13 weeks. Four weeks, a month, she had been dead and I hadn't known it. A month my child had been loving me from the opposite side of life from where I wanted her to be.
We went home to rest, and the next day my husband and I discussed our options and decided on a D and C. I didn't like to think of doing the same thing to my deceased child as so many women do to kill their alive but inexplicably unwanted child. (The thought of THAT happening makes my soul scream in agony, but that's a whole 'nuther soap box). However with my history of excessive bleeding with childbirth (facts of life for many red-heads) a natural conclusion to this pregnancy seemed dangerous. Dr. S pulled some strings and got me the best at the hospital, and that concluded my mothering of Keona Marie, "gift from heaven" "bittersweet."
I'm sure you know that three years later, as I write this, I'm crying over my keyboard. It's the revisiting the memories in detail that brings the tears. Thankfully, I have healed enough that I can mention my losses with out blubbering. I mention them a lot though, online, on the board that I volunteer host for Babycenter. We have losses, they blindside us every once in a while, and then someone who only skimmed over a previous conversation on loss will all of the sudden need to hear the words of comfort we offer again and again.
To each of my shattered and agonizing sisters I offer a few simple words of comfort and guidance.
Your loss is as real a loss as any other. You loved your child, and your child deserves to be mourned and honored as much as any other child who has passed on before us. Don't tell yourself that "it was just a pregnancy" or that you were "only __ weeks along." You and I and millions of others know that's a lie, don't lie to yourself. However much you loved this child, that's how much you need to grieve for it.
So cry, rant, rave, scream at the sky or that blastedly blank expanse of ceiling, lock yourself in your room, tunnel under your covers, and let it out. Let it out until you can't let out anymore, then slowly start to fill that gaping chasm in your heart up again. Hold whomever you have to hold, the Father of your child, a sister, a friend. These are the people your child would have loved, these are the people who would have filled your child's life, now let them fill it's death.
Losing a child can destroy you, okay so it did destroy you, or a part of you. It destroyed the part that blissfully went from good prenatal check-up to the grocery store, the part that saw your monthly "Aunt Flo's visit" as an annoyance and not a cruel reminder of the way you've been robbed.
Nothing I could ever say is going to take away your pain, but to be honest, I don't want to. I want you to hurt with me, just a bit when you see a new baby. I want you to cry out inside when you hear of another loss, because I am crying out inside too. I want to open my arms, and pull you into the embrace of every woman who has felt this pain, who has by some miracle survived this crucible. WE KNOW.
I know for a time you will feel alone in your pain, like no one else mourns the death of the most amazing person who could have been. In time you will see, though, that your child does not go un-mourned, or un-loved. We mourn your child with you, we honor your child with you, please know that. Please join us in the the secret society of women who can reach beyond time, distance, race, creed, and their own pain and support a beloved sister. Please, learn the lesson I learned from my "bittersweet gift from heaven" Keona Marie.