There’s a room in my house, a room that may forever remain unused for its intended means. A room filled with hopes and dreams and things collected over the years. Treasured possessions from our childhood, saved with the hope of passing it on. Items purchased while we were blissfully ignorant of the “what ifs”, some even purchased with “what ifs” in mind.
In my house there’s a nursery, a nursery that may never see a baby.
Today, October 15th, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. A day started to support bereaved parents and raise awareness about something that far too often remains unspoken. It’s a day for those parents to talk about their loss, whether it be miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss. A day to support one another, to talk about what could have been, to help each other heal and end the stigma around a subject that seems to remain unnecessarily taboo.
My first miscarriage happened on June 25th, 2014. I was seven weeks pregnant and over the moon in love with the life growing inside of me. I knew nothing of the statistics, of the possibility that miscarriage could happen to us. Here we are, four plus years later and all I can focus on now is statistics. A few short months ago we became that statistic for a second time. July 25th, 2018, at eight weeks, we lost our IVF baby. We are the 1 in 4.
1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriages. It’s a sobering statistic.
What’s even harder to swallow is that so many couples suffer through it alone, either out of fear, shame, or guilt. No matter how hard we try not to, we feel guilty over something completely outside our control. It took me a long time to come to grips with the fact that my first miscarriage wasn’t my fault, that I hadn’t done anything wrong and that regardless, it would have had the same outcome. I think finding something to put blame on, even if it was myself, helped me accept it at first.
In my mind my baby couldn’t just be gone, I must have done something. Was I a bad person, did I deserve it? Did the universe think I wouldn’t be a good mother? No, that couldn’t be it. I try my best to be kind, to be supportive, to emit love and acceptance. I dream of raising my children to be the same. My miscarriage was not my fault. It just happened. It was just one of those bad things, that has no bigger meaning, just science and biology. However, knowing all of that didn’t make my second loss any easier, if anything it was harder. It just seemed so incredibly unfair to have to experience it all again.
I remember back to our first loss, to the comments we received.
They were often well-meaning, however more often missing the mark. “Everything happens for a reason,” “It must not have been meant to be,” “Are you sure you were even ready for a baby?” and my personal favourite, “It wasn’t even a real baby, I don’t understand why you’re so upset.” Unless you’re dealing with miscarriage or infertility, you don’t truly grasp just how earth-shattering it can be.
One day you are blissfully pregnant, picking out names, nursery themes, wondering who’s features they will have, hoping they will go to your alma mater. The next, you’re experiencing excruciating pain, both mentally and physically and all those hopes, and dreams are dashed. For a while you can’t even imagine wanting to try again, because you never want to experience this pain again. The sadness.
The emptiness. The isolation.
Then, you’re ready to try again. Sometimes it’s easy, and pregnancy happens right away, and for others, like Aaron and I, it takes years. Years filled with doctors, procedures, surgery, medications, and then IVF. After all of that you’re pregnant again—the thing you wanted more than anything! And guess what, no matter how hard you try, you can’t bring yourself to enjoy it, to believe it, to accept it. You spend your days waiting for the other shoe to drop, because you know too much. You know the odds, you know your PCOS makes you more prone to loss.
And then other people around you are pregnant. And things with them are going well. They each “graduate” from the fertility clinic! Their babies have heartbeats! And you are incredibly happy for them, because you know the pain and the fear and you don’t want anyone else to have to experience that. However, with that comes the statistics, that screaming inside your head saying something has to go wrong for you, because it’s going right for everyone else. For a second time you are the 1 in 4. It’s an unimaginable, indescribable pain. A whole lifetime lost in the amount of time it takes your doctor to say “I don’t see anything that looks like what an eight-week pregnancy should look like and there’s no heartbeat.”
But, nevertheless, here I am, ready to do it all again, for that chance that things may be different this time. That maybe, just maybe, this time it will all work out. That we will no longer be just a statistic. Yet, with that being said, even if this time it does work, and we do give birth to an earthly child, we will still remain the face of loss.
A successful pregnancy won’t erase the years of pain and grief.
We will always wonder “what if.” We will always wish that all of our babies were in our lives and not just in our hearts. Today, October 15th, on this Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, we remember all the love we felt when we learned we were pregnant and we equally remember all the pain when we found out we no longer were. Tonight, we will light candles in memory of our babies, to let them know we have not forgotten them. Today, and every day, we are the 1 in 4.
By Brittenay Bell