I am planner – it’s something that gives me a sense of control, even though I know I have no control.
I had my parenthood journey naively and meticulously planned out: I would finish graduate school in 2020, become pregnant my spring semester and give birth to my first child at age 29. Well, none of that went as I had planned. In 2019 I was diagnosed with Bartonella and Lyme Disease and was undergoing some very intense treatments. My case was considered to be severe – my central nervous system was breaking down. I was swollen, had constant headaches, and experienced debilitating fatigue. The doctor highly discouraged getting pregnant during these treatments as the medication posed a great risk for a growing baby and often resulted in miscarriage. I was heartbroken. I chose to continue my treatment regimen while constantly doing research on best practices to conceive. I asked everyone around me who had gotten pregnant recently what their “tips and tricks” were and I carried those with me until the doctor gave his approval. We thought I would finish my treatments in October of 2020, but were told that the infection was still strong and I needed to continue for a few more months.
On Thanksgiving of 2020 my sister-in-law announced her first pregnancy.
I was ecstatic knowing she and her husband would be fantastic parents, but when I came home that night I cried. Those ugly tears full of shame rolled down my cheeks as my husband sat beside me trying his best to empathize but not fully understanding how; he thought I was consumed by jealousy. I felt disgusted that something so beautiful and exciting for someone I love, brought such deeply negative emotions for myself. The truth was that the root of my emotions were not jealousy as much as it was that I felt broken inside and I began to hate my body and feel as though it had failed me. I spent a lot of time processing what this meant to me, allowing myself to be in that space, and I channeled that energy into creating a realistic game plan for our family.
Finally, in January 2021 my specialist told me it was time to stop my medication and I was given the green light to go off my birth control. My OB/GYN had told me it would likely take 6 months to conceive and I refused to let that be true. I let myself have one cycle following the medications stopping and then we used every method anyone told us about. My poor husband just laughed at my clear and concise plans and tracking. I was convinced that I could control this and I could win.
Somehow we did – we had a positive pregnancy test at 6 weeks the 2nd cycle off my birth control.
I was in shock, but I’ve never been good at keeping my own secrets so naturally I told all of my loved ones immediately. I did a pregnancy test everyday to ensure it wasn’t a false positive, but noticed that the line wasn’t getting darker – it remained semi-faint. Although my OB wouldn’t schedule an appointment until 8 weeks, after a few days of repeated faint line tests, I went to my Primary Care doctor and asked them for a blood HCG to confirm the pregnancy. The results confirmed that I was pregnant and in the average range for my timeline! I couldn’t believe that we had actually conceived that quickly! But just a few days later, on Friday evening I began to have some spotting. I called all of my friends asking if this was normal, but no one had this experience with a healthy pregnancy. Of course my mind raced, my heart pounded, google made it worse, but I tried my best to remain calm.
Saturday morning I woke up to excessive bleeding.
I called the OB on call and they recommended that I go to the ER – but being as stubborn as I am, I refused to admit what was soon to be my reality. I called my mom and we cried. She knew, I knew, but we had a moment together where I truly believed that maybe this was just a fluke issue. After bleeding all day and beginning to feel lightheaded from the blood loss I conceded to knowing it was time to go to the hospital. It was during COVID protocols, so my husband had to wait in the car while I sat in the ER all by myself. They poked and prodded, they did an ultrasound and found evidence of a gestational sac, but no baby. – The tech noted that sometimes in early scans the baby can’t be seen, so this was not a definitive diagnostic test for a miscarriage this early. Then my HCG results came back as lower than the level my doctor had received a few days prior; with this information we all knew the fate of my baby.
The doctor came in after 7 hours and said “I’m sorry, we believe you have lost this pregnancy.
From our findings you would have been 7 weeks.” I cannot begin to explain the level of pain that surges through your body when you hear those words. The words that confirm that someone you loved who was growing inside of you is no longer there. A loss that will be replaced by a heavy emptiness. I knew in my heart this was true before even entering into the ER, but now we faced the reality. We only loved ‘Baby G’ for six days, but oh the love we had.
Weeks went by and I felt numb, angry; I lashed out at loved ones who were pregnant or had healthy babies, I no longer wanted to try and conceive out of fear of experiencing this again. The doctor told me that since I didn’t need a D&C we were allowed to conceive whenever my cycle returned. But I spent the next few weeks consumed by fear and anger. Every facebook announcement of a pregnancy felt like a direct attack to my heart, every healthy baby was an unattainable goal in my mind. Again, I began to hate my body and fear that I was not capable of carrying a baby to full term.
By May of that year my heart had softened.
My husband and I had begun to discuss the possibility of trying again; but I told him no more tricks and gimmicks, no more trying to control the situation, let’s just see where our bodies take us. And that it did – we had another positive pregnancy test just a few weeks later. Fearful celebration is the only way I can describe how I felt. Scared to be excited, but unable to control my joy. I refused to call this second pregnancy ‘Baby G’ as that was the baby that we had lost, so before we knew the gender or had a name picked my mom suggested that we give it a different nickname, and that instead we call it “nugget”. I felt so validated that she understood where my pain came from and a different nickname for a different pregnancy was so important to me. She knew that I was still grieving the loss of the first pregnancy, all while also being excited for the second, and she helped me navigate that tricky ground.
When I posted our pregnancy announcement on social media, I also shared our loss of Baby G. I was astounded by the amount of women of all ages and walks of life who had reached out with similar journeys.
By showing my sliver of vulnerability I received an outpouring of love and support from those who had also grieved a loss of their baby.
It didn’t stop there though, those same women continued to check in on me throughout the entire pregnancy, and I knew in my moments of anxiety that I could count on them to lift me up.
We had a few fearful moments early in this second pregnancy. By week 10 I had developed a Subchorionic Hemorrhage – a blood clot that formed between the placenta and my uterine wall. As a result, I had on and off bleeding from week 10 through 14. The fear of losing a second baby ran through me at every sight of blood. It took me back to a few months prior when blood symbolized loss. I clung to the women who had miscarriages throughout their family planning journeys and they assured me that pregnancy after loss is full of anxiety, and we can still find joy through the journey. Just as the doctors assured me, the bleeding subsided, the subchorionic hemorrhage healed, and all was healthy with the little nugget growing inside of me.
We made it to the end of the journey, and at 39 weeks Wyatt Gould entered this world on his own accord.
We have been overjoyed with loving on him ever since! Looking back through this emotional rollercoaster, I am reminded that one year prior to holding my baby boy, I was mourning so deeply. I feel a combination of conflicting emotions, but the greatest of those is blessed.
Wyatt was born with a very clear “angel’s kiss” on his forehead – the old wives tale states that a baby born with a birthmark on their forehead was kissed by an angel prior to birth.
We have many angels in heaven looking out for us that I believe each one of them kissed Wyatt, but in my heart I know that Baby G was one of those kisses and is looking out for their sibling who got to make it earth side of my belly.