Sunday, June 14, 2009

Empty Arms

The first time I found out I was pregnant my husband and I had just returned from a wonderful vacation in Newfoundland. We had been married just over a year. It was August 2003 and I was ecstatic. This was exactly what we had wanted. We told our families right away and they were so happy too. This baby would be the first grandchild on my side of the family and the second on my husband's. Our nephew was older so it would be the first baby in the family in quite a few years. Everyone was happy for us. As I approached the end of the first trimester we started to tell our friends. Congratulations emails started heading our way.
A couple of days later I went to the washroom at the end of my workday and I saw blood. Shock and alarm went racing through my body. I called my husband to come and get me and told the secretary that I had to go. The doctors and nurses at the hospital were very kind. There was really nothing they could do except order an ultrasound for the morning, tell me to rest and see what happened. I went home, and laid down on my left side and prayed. But I knew. I knew later that night that was it. The baby was gone. I canceled the ultrasound for the morning. I had passed too much tissue for it not to have been a miscarriage. I took the next week off work and cried. When I stopped crying, I just sat there numb.
That was the first of 3 (and probably 4) miscarriages I've experienced. I say probably 4 because the last one was not a confirmed pregnancy. The 3 definite ones all happened at 11 and half weeks. The second was the only where I had a D & C.
Every single one of these pregnancies was a real loss for me and my husband. These were all wanted babies. We've loved each one of them. We've run through the gamut of emotions that come with grief: sadness, anger, questioning, disbelief, name it, we've felt it. A very good friend of ours that sat with me during part of the first miscarriage told me a wonderful truth. Take the time to grieve this, it is a real loss. People usually don't know what to say in a situation like this. Some will say that it just wasn't meant to be or that there will be other babies. Some will brush it off as just something that happened. Many will tell you that it wasn't your fault. Some people will be extremely insensitive. But I also found that some people were really and truly empathetic. We have many older ladies at our church and I couldn't get over how many of them came to tell me about their miscarriage that happened 40 - 50 years ago. Some of these women were still very devastated by it. They really weren't allowed to talk about it and certainly never encouraged to grieve it, it just wasn't done.
I find it amazing that as common as miscarriage is, it is still a taboo topic. We don't talk about it. We don't know how common it is, until it happens to us.
People who haven't been there really don't understand it either. I remember a few weeks after my first miscarriage I had a friend over for lunch. She told me that she was expecting. And I'll tell you I just couldn't be happy for her at that time. I really just wanted her to leave. (I pushed through it of course and waited until she left to get visibly upset) When I tried to explain my reaction to another close friend of mine later, she said, well, you'll just have to get over it. That was not what I wanted to hear. I really felt anger and I needed to get it out of me. All very normal.
There were other times, later that unexpected grief resurfaced. The due date of these babies all got to me. As did the anniversary of the loss.
There are things that can be done to help anyone through grieve like this. What I found helpful was to write. I wrote letters to my babies. I wrote poetry. I journaled. But I write, that works for me. Some people paint. Some people work out. Everyone has an outlet, you just have to find out what yours is. I also had a wonderful friend who gave me a place of refuge while my husband was at work. She took me in her home and gave me a comfy spot on her couch. She pampered me with a bubble bath and cooked me lunch. She was a listening ear and a voice of wisdom. Her husband is an artist and he loaned me a recent painting of his to be my 'window' so I'd have something to gaze at.
Now I have been blessed with 2 beautiful boys so I can't begin to imagine what life would be like to continue to be pregnant and not have children. The pattern for me has been: miscarriage, baby, miscarriage, baby, miscarriage, (miscarriage). The irony I've thought about is that if either of my first 2 miscarriages had not occurred I would not have my boys and I could not imagine life without them. I also know how extremely fortunate I am. I do have friends who had desperately wanted babies and couldn't have them.
I believe very strongly that I will meet these other children of mine one day in heaven. I've found great comfort and excitement in that.


  1. You have your own angels guiding you and protecting you always. I admire mothers like you who can rise above a sufferings. Your perseverance and bravery is remarkable. Thanks for sharing. In case Brave Mom you'r thinking of putting up a business it might help to know that there are free Canadian government grants available. Thanks again.

  2. I agree that talking about pregnancy loss is such a taboo but I also think that so many people, even with kind intentions, don't know what to say. So, they end up saying something that seems somewhat offensive to you. This was my experience at least. My thought is this, please just say something and acknowledge it. I found it worse when friends or my maternity coworkers wouldn't even acknowledge what I had been through. So, as much as I despise all the lame comments like, 'It wasn't meant to be' I am just happy that it is acknowledge on some level. If that makes sense!

  3. One of the best responses I had to my miscarriage was a friend who sent me flowers, just like you would for a funeral. The card simply said "Thinking of You".




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