Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It’s a day of remembrance for pregnancy loss and infant death. This includes miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, and death of a newborn.
I have carried 11 precious babies in my body, some longer than others. We have three rainbow babies that we get the honor of raising every day, and eight babies that we’ve loved in our hearts but have never held in our arms. I know that we’re not alone because approximately 10-25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. In honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day today, I plan to take a moment to remember each of those eight sweet babies that we’ve lost.
My first pregnancy loss
The first of the eight babies that we lost was the most traumatic loss we suffered. After five years of marriage and struggling with infertility for a year, we were completing our third and last round of oral fertility medications when we found out we were finally pregnant. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw “pregnant” for the very first time. I remember falling to my knees sobbing, being thankful that all of our prayers were finally being answered. We started daydreaming about what we would name the baby and what he or she would look like.
My excitement was intensified when one of my best friends called me a few days later to tell me that she was pregnant, as well; we were due within days of each other. That night on the phone, we were making plans to compare baby bumps and pick out the perfect strollers together. However, our pregnancies would end very differently. She would go on to have a perfectly healthy baby boy, and I would be faced with the unthinkable.
Two weeks after we found out that we were pregnant, we went in for our first ultrasound. I vividly remember wearing one of my favorite blue flowery cotton dresses to the appointment. I was on cloud nine, beaming from ear-to-ear with pride, that I had finally conquered infertility when we walked into that appointment. Shortly after the technician began the ultrasound, she asked if I had a history of ectopic pregnancies. I looked at her confused and asked, “What do you mean? What is an ectopic pregnancy?”
A few minutes later, she abruptly ended the exam and said that she needed to consult with our doctor. When she left the room, I looked at my husband with sheer panic in my eyes. When the ultrasound technician stepped back into our room, she was accompanied by our infertility doctor. I gasped, waiting to get devastating news. Our doctor grabbed my hand and said:
“I’m sorry, but you have an ectopic pregnancy. Your baby is stuck in your Fallopian Tube, and we cannot save it.”
At that moment, my mind went blank. I couldn’t believe what she was telling me. My pregnancy had become life-threatening to me, and my baby could not be saved. It all felt like a bad dream. We were immediately sent to the Emergency Room where they administered a dose of Methotrexate (this is a drug that stops the pregnancy from continuing to develop). A week later, they detected that the first dose was not successful and decided I needed a second dose.
Several days later while I was at work, I felt this sudden sharp shooting pain and was doubled over at my desk. My boss offered to drive me to the hospital, but I declined, hoping I could just sleep it off. On my drive home, I frantically called my husband and doctor to let them know the symptoms I was experiencing. They both advised me to call 911 immediately. Within minutes of arriving to my house, the paramedics were at my door loading me onto a stretcher. My husband got home just as they were whisking me away in the ambulance. In the ER, we learned that I had severe internal bleeding due to the ectopic pregnancy, and I would need to undergo emergency laparoscopic surgery to stop the bleeding.
When I woke up from anesthesia, my husband broke the news to me that they were forced to remove one of my tubes, and our only option to have a biological child would be through IVF since my other tube was blocked. Every time I look at the scar on my right hip and belly button, it reminds me of our first baby that we lost. It’s a constant visual reminder of just how far we’ve come in these last seven years.
How I coped with my losses
- Attended support groups.
- Leaned on my husband, family, and close friends anytime I felt emotional.
- Turned down baby shower invitations.
- Cut back the amount of time I spent on social media.
- Journaled my feelings.
- Stopped playing the “what if” game. The pregnancy losses weren’t my fault.
How to help someone experiencing pregnancy or infant loss
- Be a listening ear. Some people prefer to talk about their loss openly while others may be more private.
- Acknowledge important dates (anniversary of loss or due date) with a text, card, or gift.
- Offer to help with housework, cooking, or other daily tasks.
- Reassure them that their feelings are normal, and they are not alone.
I’m thankful for the amazing family and friends that showered us with love and gave us the encouragement we needed to move forward. Without their support, I’m not sure we would’ve ever found the strength to continue with our infertility treatments and bring home our three rainbow babies.
If you know someone that has experienced infant or pregnancy loss, please reach out and let them know that you are thinking of them today. For anyone struggling, I wish you peace, love, and strength to get through the hard days. My hope is that you will have your own rainbow after the storm.