Before you read this know that, yes...this is a story of great sadness, grave loss, and paralyzing pain. But it is also a story of hope and growth. It is a story of having faith in the fact that there is something or someone else out there who might know what is best for you, better than you know yourself.
I was never a typical girl. I didn't dream of my wedding day, or the man I would marry. I wasn't the girl who couldn't wait to have children of her own running around the house. I didn't have names picked out if I would have a boy or a girl. I am not sure why I wasn't this way, it made me feel bad in a lot of ways like there was something wrong with me. But that's just who I was and who I am.
Have you ever gotten a feeling about something in your life? For no good reason really. You just had a gut feeling about something whether you had proof to support it or not. Sometimes those feelings turn out to have truth and other times they don't, but when they do that's cause to believe that maybe you should follow your gut more often than you actually do.
I always had a feeling I would never have children of my own. As early as my teens I had a feeling I would have a difficult time getting pregnant. I'm not sure what prompted me to think about it, but it was just something that was often in the back of my mind. I started on birth control at the age of 18 because I was having horrible menstrual symptoms. Pain so bad that I could barely stand up straight. Later on I found out I had endometriosis which would later be a contributing factor in my difficulties with pregnancy.
I've been married twice.....And divorced twice. I often hate to admit that only being forty years old, but it's a fact of my life. It is what it is.
I don't really recall my first husband and I talking much about having children. We married, at what I feel now, was too young and that probably had a lot to do with why we didn't succeed in our marriage. However, I think we were both so focused on our educations and careers that we wanted to get all of that in order before we even thought about having children. Our marriage dissolved after four years, and never in those four years do I even recall an instance when I thought I was pregnant. I'm not sure I even ever took a pregnancy test.
With my second marriage, I still did not have starting a family in mind. Neither did my second husband. He had testicular cancer in the past, so we figured that and in combination with my endometriosis, it was going to make for a lot of challenges with getting pregnant. But still after about four years of marriage we decided we wanted to try to start a family.
I went off my birth control, and for the next two years we tried to conceive. I can't tell you the disappointment that comes with trying to conceive a child, and then each month getting your period. It's so incredibly upsetting. Sitting in the bathroom with tears rolling down your face knowing that another month has gone by without getting pregnant. My periods had always been irregular, so I didn't always get one each month. Those months gave me a little hope. Could it be possible? But pregnancy test after pregnancy test only gave negative results. It was devastating and mentally exhausting.
After two years, the frustration and disappointment had taken over. I was in terrible pain every month since I was not longer taking my birth control and the effort was starting to feel futile. I came to understand that the feeling I had had since my early teens was in fact true...and I made peace with it. I would not be able to have a child of my own.
My husband and I started to have issues in our marriage. He began drinking a lot more, and as I later found out was getting involved with drugs. He was unable to hold a job. We decided to sell our home and move back to my hometown and live in my Grandfather's empty house that my dad had kept after his passing. I left a job that I loved, but my husband was trying to take a new job and I was hoping he could keep it together.
I returned home without a nursing job, and I started teaching group fitness at the local gym. My husband was a contract employee so he did not have health insurance benefits through his work. We figured we could get by for a few months until we could afford to pay for health insurance ourselves. In the meantime I went off my birth control again because I couldn't afford it.
We moved back to my hometown in September. By November I knew something was off. I was exhausted all the time. An exhaustion I had never experienced in my life. I was being woken up at 3am by extreme nausea for several nights in a row. I knew something wasn't right, but I wasn't quite sure what was wrong either. I'm not sure what made me decide to take a pregnancy test, but I did. So on a cold Wednesday morning in December, as I was getting ready to leave to go teach Insanity at the gym, I took a pregnancy test. I expected, from the dozens I had taken before, that it would come up negative. To my surprise before the three minutes were even up..."pregnant" showed up in the results window.
I didn't even know what to think. I'm not really sure I was able to process it. I mean I expected it to say "negative" like all the others. There's no way...it had to be a false positive. I couldn't even think about it. I had to go teach class.
I ran up to our bedroom where my husband was asleep to tell him I was leaving. I kissed him goodbye, and said, "oh by the way, I think I'm pregnant." In his half asleep state, that got his attention. "No way!" he said. I told him yes and that I had just taken a test, but I had to go or I'd be late for class.
The rest of the morning was a blur. When I got home my husband insisted I take another test which I was completely in agreement with. The second test showed the same...pregnant. We both looked at each other in utter shock, not knowing how to react. We had already accepted that this wasn't going to happen for us. Now that was all going to change, and we needed to change our thinking about it as well.
We decided to tell my parents, who lived right across the street, that night. I was so excited to let my parents know that they were going to be grandparents for the first time! I took a picture of both of the tests with my iPad, and went over that night and I told my mom I had to show her something. My mom and dad were so excited, but I could tell there was an air of discontent lingering. Things had not been going well with my husband and I. After moving home, my family was able to witness some of the things I had been dealing with, and I'm sure this was cause for some concern on their part.
As the days went on it really started to sink in, I was going to have a baby! I think as I got older my desire to have a baby had fallen away as a defense mechanism for accepting that I couldn't. But here I was, pregnant...I was going to be someone's mother, and that was really exciting!! I felt like God was finally showing me that my life was going to change. That things were going to get better. That all I was battling and struggling with was going to begin to fall away, and I was finally going to get a chance at happiness. And maybe, just maybe, this would help my marriage.
Ten short weeks after conceiving, and six short weeks after finding out I was pregnant I began spotting on a Monday. I texted my nurse practitioner friend to ask her about it. I told her I wasn't having any cramping or anything, just some spotting of old blood. Three days later, on a Wednesday night at 8pm I started having terrible cramps. By 10 pm they were so awful I could barely stand the pain. I went into the bathroom thinking maybe I was going to have awful diarrhea, and instead I watched as the toilet filled with my blood.
I knew immediately what was happening. I remember yelling out, "NO, NO, NO!! OH PLEASE NO!!! OH PLEASE GOD NO!" My husband ran from the living room to the bathroom to find me in tears, rocking back and forth on the toilet. He asked me what was wrong, and my voice trembled as I muttered the words..."I'm losing the baby."
I will spare you the details of the incident, but what I saw and experienced was heart wrenching and traumatizing. My heart was literally breaking. I had no idea what to do. I hadn't even been to the doctor yet. My first prenatal appointment was scheduled for the next week. My husband was at a loss. I asked him to call my parents, tell them I think I miscarried, and asked them to come over.
My mom had a miscarriage between my sister and I. I had some comfort in knowing she understood what I was going through. She suggested I go to the Emergency Room but I didn't feel like that was necessary, and I honestly just didn't want to go. So we called the office of the doctor who I was scheduled to see the following week. There was a Midwife on call who asked me some questions, and we both determined I didn't need to go to the ER. She set up an appointment for me to come in the next day for a transvaginal ultrasound to determine if I had in fact miscarried, and if I did miscarry to determine if I had passed all of the tissue.
I had talked to my patients and their families over the years in factual, clinical terms, but now it was my turn to hear it. To hear the harshness of the clinical aspect of what was happening to me...to make sure all of the fetal tissue was passed, and to make sure I would not a require a D&C to clean out the rest. How grey...how grim...how harsh...how could I even process it like that? A life...my child, reduced to clinical words like "tissue" and "nonviable."
My parents stayed for a few hours. I don't think I've ever cried so much, so hard, and for so long in my life. I don't think I stopped crying that night. I slept on the couch, and my husband slept in our bedroom. Which looking back was very telling about his character, but that is a different story. I continued to bleed throughout the night. My crying would cease briefly, only for my emotions to come welling back over me causing my hysterical sobs to start up again. I don't recall ever falling asleep.
The next day we had to go to the doctor's office. I didn't want to go anywhere. It took everything I had to get a shower and dress myself. I couldn't speak in the car on the way there. I just cried. When we entered the office, I felt so angry. I was surrounded by women...women with large pregnant bellies. I hated them...every single one of them. I know that sounds terrible, but it's how I felt at the time. I know it wasn't their fault they were pregnant and I no longer was, but my emotions got the better of me...and I hated them.
I sat down and waited to be called, trying in my head to figure out how I got here. Why did this happen? I was taken back to an ultrasound room. The tech explained what she was doing with the transvaginal ultrasound, and she let me know when she was done and that I did in fact miscarry. She also let me know I was finished and I could go.
Go??? What do you mean go??? I looked at my husband in disbelief.
"Isn't anyone going to talk to me about this? I mean I've never been pregnant before. This has never happened to me before. I don't...I mean...I have no idea..." I think I trailed off and started sobbing again.
"Hold on," she said. "I'll call upstairs and see if someone can talk with you."
She came back to let me know that the Midwife I spoke to the evening before was in the office, and she wanted me to come up right away to speak to me.
As we sat down in her office, I couldn't help myself, I just started sobbing again. She was such a kind woman. She said, "Before we even go any further, I want you to tell me what it is that you think you did wrong to cause this to happen." I rattled off the long list of things that had been rushing through my mind since it happened the night before...I was exercising too much, I was using a heating pad on my back because it was killing me, I ate something I shouldn't have, I had a few glasses of wine at a wedding when I was pregnant but hadn't known I was at the time...I continued on.
She assured me that I did nothing wrong. She assured me that this probably happened because of a genetic abnormality. She assured me that it wasn't my fault, and that it didn't mean I couldn't get pregnant again. She sat with my husband and I for a good forty-five minutes explaining where to go from that point on. I would have to get blood testing done over the next few weeks to check to make sure my HCG levels were dropping appropriately, and that we could start trying again after I had a couple regular periods.
Three times I had to get my blood drawn. The first was right after meeting with her. The second wasn't so bad. But the third...the third was rough. The phlebotomist knows what labs they are drawing when they get their labels printed. She didn't know what had happened to me three weeks before...she thought she was being nice when she congratulated me on my pregnancy and asked me when I was due. I became mute. I couldn't answer, all I could do was force back my tears long enough to get my jacket back on and run out the door so I could get to my car and break down.
The three to four days following my miscarriage were the most difficult. I couldn't move. Literally, I couldn't move. I stayed in the same spot, in the same position for days on the couch. I got up to use the bathroom only. I didn't eat, or drink, and I barely slept. I had never felt so paralyzed by pain in my whole life.
Everything was dark. I felt numb. I felt dead and empty.
I didn't feel like I could talk about it. I was embarrassed and ashamed. I was riddled with feelings of guilt and self hate. No one had even known I was pregnant aside from my husband, my parents, and the manager at the gym, who I had told only two days before I miscarried.
The days following weren't much easier. I couldn't watch television because commercials and shows have babies and children on them. There were constant advertisements for diapers, or toys, or baby stuff...or so it seemed. I couldn't look at social media because every other post was of someone's baby announcement, their ultrasound picture, their gender reveal party, or the birth of their child. I'm not kidding, pick up your phone right now and open Facebook or Instagram...set a timer for 30 seconds and scroll...prove me wrong by telling me in that 30 seconds you don't see someone's post about one of those things or their children in general. I bet you can't, but I'd love for you to prove me wrong.
The following months were still hard. I'd see billboards that would trigger me as I was driving, and I would break down in tears. I would find myself crying without anything to prompt it. Finally I had begun to heal enough that I could get through most days without crying.
I thought I was good until the one day I went to the post office to get my mail. I opened an envelope while sitting in the car from two friends of mine, a married couple. It was the announcement of their pregnancy with their first child. The flood gates opened again. I sat for a few minutes sobbing in my car. I finally calmed myself enough to put the car in drive and go home. I walked in the door and collapsed back on the couch again in the same spot sobbing while a thousand "whys" filled my head.
Why...why would God allow me to conceive a child only to take it away? Why did I have experience all of the physical, mental, and emotional pain of losing my child? Why? Why? Why? Why me? Why? Just why?
I know that those "whys" may never be answered, but I also know there is a reason. I truly believe there is a reason for everything, even the stuff that hurts and leaves life long pain behind it.
Acceptance, however, now that takes a long time.
I went through two phases after miscarrying. First I wanted immediately, as soon as I was able to, to try to get pregnant again. I needed to be pregnant. I needed to feel a child growing inside me again.
Then fear set in.
What if this happened again? What if I miscarried. I'm not sure I could go through this again. So I moved to the phase of I didn't want to get pregnant again. I went back and forth, back and forth until circumstances in my life finally made me settle on a decision.
It wasn't until several months had passed that I had even shared this with anyone outside of my immediate family. None of my friends at the gym had known I was pregnant or that I had miscarried. I went back a few days after losing my baby, put on a happy face, and taught my classes. No one had a clue. So they were all in utter shock and disbelief when I had finally told them.
You see, I had carried so much shame around with me. A feeling, that I as I talked more about it, I realized many women who had miscarried had experienced. Unjustified feelings of shame, guilt, and embarrassment. I'm not even sure where they come from. I'm not sure why we (women who miscarry) experience them. As if losing our child isn't bad enough, we place the blame on ourselves and have to carry that around too.
It was hard to talk about. It was hard to re-live. But I learned through the process that I needed to do this to heal. It hurt like hell, but I had to do it. And it still hurts.
After talking with people I learned that a lot of women have experienced miscarriage. And I mean A LOT. Many of my friends had experienced it, and a good majority of them had gone on to have other healthy children. That gave me hope, if not for myself, then for other women who miscarry.
People are so sweet. They want to let you know that they feel sorry for you. They say things like, "It doesn't mean you can't have children," or "there's always adoption." I know they had good intentions. I know they were only trying to make me feel better. The thought of getting pregnant again was terrifying, it meant that I could miscarry again. And adopting a child, while this is a great option for people (and excuse me if this sounds selfish), I wanted MY OWN child. After carrying a baby of my own, I wanted to be able to have that experience for myself. I know there are a lot of kids out there that need good homes, but I wanted my own if I was going to have one. I won't apologize for feeling this way either.
As time went on, my marriage began to fall apart even more. My husband was spiraling out of control, and I couldn't do it anymore. I filed for divorce in July, and by August my husband was on a plane to Europe. I think he was trying to escape the mess he had created here for himself, and that he felt he could create a new life in a new country where no one had known him. He could reinvent himself to be whoever he wanted. Who knows.
I did a lot of reflecting and soul searching after my second marriage came to an end and my husband left the country. What my life would have been like as a single parent was only one of many realizations. Had I carried and delivered my child, I would have been alone to raise her (I always felt it was a girl). I would have had to explain when she was old enough to understand who her father was and why he left. I would have had to figure it all out on my own, and it would have been really hard. I think my life had already had it's challenges up to that point, and maybe God didn't want to have me struggle anymore. Maybe He was giving me grace through all of it.
Maybe. Who knows. I honestly have stopped questioning it all.
It's been over three years since I lost my child, but no amount of time can erase it from my memory or my heart. People say to me...you're young still you can still try to have a child. And while that is very true, a lot of women forty and above are having children, I have reached a point in my life where I don't feel I want to have a huge life change like that.
And I'm okay with it all.
I realize I will never experience what it's like to give birth or send my child off to kindergarten. I will never cart my kid around for practices or rehearsals. I will never watch my child play sports or sing in the chorus. I won't get to take pictures of my kid dressed up for school dances, the prom, or their senior pictures. I won't watch my kid receive their high school diploma or graduate from college. I won't see them get married. I won't get to see the satisfaction on my parents faces knowing my kid is driving me crazy like I had done to them.
I won't have a legacy.
And I even have the depressing thought that I may one day, die alone. All that said, I've become okay with all of it.
I've accepted that it's just not going to be my life. If I felt the only way I would have purpose in this life is to have a child, then I would pursue getting pregnant again or adopting a child. But I don't feel that is my only purpose, or the sole purpose for any woman for that matter. That's just my opinion. I feel as though I have purpose for other things. What I'm not sure, but I'll learn as I go.
And I'm okay with that, too.
There isn't only one way to live in life. I know it's expected of a woman. I know its assumed that I should have a child. People ask me all the time, "Do you have children?" I answer "no" and often feel like I owe them some kind of explanation as to why not. Then I realize I don't owe an explanation, I don't have children because I just don't.
At this point in my life, it's my choice that I don't have kids. I have that right, I can choose that if I want. It doesn't make me less of a woman. It doesn't make me a bad person. Do I think I would have been a good mother? I would like to think so, but I am in total acceptance that I am not. I like to think that I'm a strong person, but I truly don't know if I could handle another miscarriage.
Life goes on. We have to take what we are given and make the most of what we have, even if we had a different picture painted in our minds of how things would be. I am sad I don't have my baby. I may have been a single mom, but I would have figured it out just like every other single parent out there. I'm sad I won't experience the things that the majority of my friends have and get to experience with their kids. I am mostly sad that I won't be making my parents grandparents...I feel the most for them because I know they would be the best grandparents on the planet.
It makes me very sad.
And it creeps up on me. I'm reminded at random times of what was taken away and the pain that I experienced. Every January 7th for the past two years I re-live what happened that night in 2015. It's hard and it sucks, but not accepting it won't let me heal a little more each day like I have. Time doesn't take away the pain, but accepting it eases the pain.
It's important to understand that not everyone can get pregnant easily. That not everyone who doesn't have children, doesn't have them by their own choice. That sometimes people have been through things that you have no idea about. I wouldn't wish miscarriage on my worst enemy. I don't think anyone should have to experience what I did, but unfortunately it happens and it happens a lot.
So where does this story of hope come in that I mentioned in my opening paragraph??
It comes in right here...by sharing my story.
I believe that sharing your story can be a powerful tool in helping someone else. It gives the other person an understanding that they aren't alone, and that there are people out there who understand. It provides perspective on the fact that all that you experienced in your time of loss...the anger, the hate, the guilt, the shame, the pain, the embarrassment...someone else felt those things too; and it's okay that you feel or felt that way. It's all part of the process. It does get easier with time, and although the pain will never go away there are shoulders to cry on and people to lean on.
I dedicate this to my little, Lillian Rose. I don't know that I was pregnant with a girl but I just always felt that I was. And if I was, I'm not sure what God was thinking...I wouldn't have known the first thing of what to do with a girl! But, Lillee, you blessed me by coming into my life, and you have blessed me even more by being in heaven looking down on me. You have blessed me by giving me the strength to tell this story. I hope that you can proudly tell all your little angel friends in heaven, "That's my mom. She is strong and she is brave and I love her," because little girl I sure do love you, and I know I'll get to kiss and hold you one day.
About the Author------------------
Nicole has a Bachelors degrees in Psychology and Nursing. She has been a Critical Care nurse for 12 years, and is currently attending Graduate School to become an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. Nicole is an amateur writer, with aspirations to be more. She likes writing about her personal life experiences as well as motivational pieces in hopes of helping others. Nicole beleives sharing ones’ story is one of the most powerful tools to help others understand that they aren’t alone and that there is always hope no matter what they are battling. She lives in Lancaster, PA, with her boyfriend and two dogs. You can visit her blog “Life, Lessons, and Gratitude” at nicoleasashon.wordpress.com.