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Call it a rant, call it a vent, call it whatever you like. I’ve never been much of a writer, and by no means pretend to be one now. I am a father who is sharing his story as part of my process.
Yesterday, my wife and I lost our sixth unborn child. We have somehow been so lucky as to have one beautiful little boy, full of wonder and love. I couldn’t possibly imagine life without him, but I do often wonder what we have missed.
The first time she told me she was pregnant she had placed a hand knitted outfit on the table with a positive pregnancy test on top. Smiling from ear to ear, and tears streaming down my cheeks, I kept asking her if she was serious. I couldn’t believe that we were about to embark on the amazing journey of being Mommy and Daddy.
Our first pregnancy lasted six weeks.
To try and properly state how someone feels losing an unborn child is a near impossible feat. We went from a manic high to a crushing loss and defeat. We started to question everything. Why us? What did we do wrong? How will we recover? The only answer we could get from anyone would usually be along the same line; “It just wasn’t meant to be.”
For anyone who has gone through multiple losses, or even one loss for that matter, it does not matter if it was “meant to be” or not. IT was our child. IT was our hopes and dreams of a beautiful family. IT was part of us. And that is a part of us that we will never be able to retrieve.
I like to think of myself as a hard exterior and soft core. In my line of work, I am exposed the eventual death that we all face. It is an unsavory part of the job, but it is part of the job. I have learnt to accept these events and deal with them in a logical manner as to remain professional. I have often wondered if I will one day become desensitized to the sadness any normal person would feel around such circumstances.
When she first miscarried, it came suddenly one evening. She raced to the bathroom after a day of discomfort. I don’t pretend to be an expert, but when I peered in to the toilet I knew I was looking at our unbearable future. We quickly made our way to the hospital to confirm our worst fear. I hate that small room we were in, and unfortunately, we have been back to that room several times since.
Over the next year, we had 3 more miscarriages. They were all so early on in pregnancy, that you would even doubt any woman not trying to conceive a child would notice. Finally, after a year of trying to get pregnant, we had one that stuck. We walked on eggshells for months, hoping to squeak by the medical landmarks that were the usual dates of spontaneous abruption. Our confidence kept rising, and her belly kept getting bigger.
At 33 weeks we had our next hurdle. She felts pains again in her abdomen so we called the maternity ward. They told us to come up right away for observation and a NST (non-stress test). Everything seemed normal until they left the NST on for an extra 2 minutes. Suddenly there was a significant dip in the heart rate. We stayed overnight, and repeated the NST twice more. Nothing was out of the ordinary for the rest of the night. We developed a plan, with our physician, to repeat the NST every few days, with an ultrasound weekly. One week later, 34 weeks to the day, the decision was made to do an emergency caesarian after a significant lack of movement inside the womb. At 17:22, our baby boy was here. He remained in the nursery, perfectly healthy for 12 days until he built up enough weight that he was allowed to go home.
Wow. I was a father, we were parents, and he is our child.
Fast forward a few months, and imagine my surprise when she says she’s pregnant again. We had no worries. We just had a healthy baby. We figured it out. We broke the curse. We were baby making machines! There was excited and giddiness when we met with our doctor, and she was just as excited as we were. We had a plan going forward to ensure a healthy pregnancy, of course with an extra eye for the details as we did have a history. We were sailing along smoothly, HCG numbers were rising, cravings were hitting, and she was growing. At 10 weeks we hit a hiccup. The ultrasound only measure 6 weeks and there was no fetal heart rate. We managed to make the uterus an inviting and healthy place to raise the baby, but the baby couldn’t sustain. Loss number 5 took the rug out from under our feet. It was time to get serious.
We decided to do a D&C (dilation and curettage). It was decided that we would remove the fetus and have it shipped to a large facility in order to find answers about why it could not progress. Our sixth child was a boy; and he was healthy. No answers, again.
Maybe it was us. Maybe we were incompatible partners (in terms of genetics). Maybe we were both carriers of some strange, foreign disease that prevented the growth of babies. Nope. Zero abnormalities. We were listed as “normal”.
We celebrated our son’s first birthday two months ago. Maybe we celebrated too much, because soon after my wife started to refuse wine with supper, saying she was having trouble sleeping and wanted to limit her alcohol. Silly me; should have known my wino wife would never give up her purple ‘juice’. Imagine my surprise when she finally spills the beans again. Quite the surprise when we decided we wanted to figure out what was going on first, before going through our troubles again.
It felt different. It didn’t seem like the other ones. She seemed like a typical pregnant woman: moody, hungry, tired, sore. I was elated to know she was having such a normal pregnancy. We went for our first blood work appointment. Everything was spot on. Then she had a bit of bleeding. No big deal, we’ve had it before, and we’ve had it during out son’s pregnancy. Implantation bleed, as they call it. Blood work again came up positive. An ultrasound the next day was also positive; heart rate 142. I wish I could have heard that heartbeat. We were told that the baby measured 7 weeks instead of 8. Makes sense, our dates may be off, or baby may be smaller than normal. Ultrasound was repeated two weeks later. She called me at work and let me know another one didn’t make it. I hung my head and tried not to cry at work.
At home I’ve felt I always need to be the strong one. I’m sure like most fathers, I want to be strong for my family and guide them through the rocky patches. She cried and I held her. I could feel the ball of pain in my throat growing. I could feel my eyes swelling. But I couldn’t figure out how to let go. I was deflated and beat. It’s hard to be sad and depressed when you have a 14 month old boy screaming, squelching, squawking and slobbering all over the house.
Finally, as we laid on the couch, I placed my head on her lap as I held her stomach. The closest I would get to this child. I could feel the emotions coming back, but I still didn’t know how to let them out. I worked at it, and I forced it, and I cried. I could only imagine how ugly I must have looked. Tears, snot, slobber and red faced. Even as I write this, alone in the basement, I can feel my eyes swelling; but again, no tears. Not sure how to cry or how to feel the loss.
The silver lining, if there could even be one, is we may have a plausible reason for all our miscarriages. Polycystic ovaries may be sending out immature eggs. The eggs can be fertilized and implant, but they cannot develop as a normal and mature egg would; on to the next round of tests and treatments.
Thank you for spending the time to read my thoughts. I hope it was easy enough to follow and succinct enough to keep you invested. We are battered, bruised and bloody, but our fight is not over. We will not allow ourselves to give up our dreams of family. No one should give up their dreams of family.