One year ago today I experienced my second miscarriage; almost a year prior to that I had the first. Looking back these last two years, I often feel disconnected as if what I went through didn't really happen. I was a voyeur to someone else's life. Maybe it was because I was busy with the demanding routine of a young toddler the first time. The second time I was most certainly distracted by my grandmother's terminal illness. She passed away two months later. Losing her made every other pain I went through insignificant. The pain is still raw but that is not the reason I am writing this post.
I promised myself I would acknowledge my lost babies because I have been unfair in not recognizing them as such.
I categorized my losses as minor because they happened within the statistically common first trimester. I had a blighted ovum occurring in one out of two miscarriages. The fertilized egg implants into the uterus but the embryo does not grow. The placenta continues to grow until the body aborts it. In my case I became aware of the pregnancy early at about 2 weeks and the next 4 weeks were spent in creating a home in our hearts for our second child.
My first ultrasound gave confusing results because they could not confirm if my dates were wrong or if there was something to be concerned about. The next while was spent in the 50% chance game. Good news vs your worst nightmare. To top it off my HCG levels were rising giving us hope. Finally at 8 weeks we got the bad news. The GP confirmed the diagnoses and prepared me for next steps. My options were either to induce the miscarriage or wait until my body did it naturally.
The moment you become a mother you are bestowed with limitless capabilities of self-sacrifice and hope. They never run out and are driving motivators to every decision you will make about your child. I could not consciously force the miscarriage. There was always the 'what if?' So I left it up to God. I trusted my body to do what it had to. Logically I knew there was no baby but each day I bled for the next 40 days was a day of lost hope until it culminated in a sharp labour pain to pass out the remaining placenta.
I had not cried until that point. I broke down by the toilet, but I had to see what loss looked like. I put my hands into the bloodied bowl and grabbed the gelatinous yet firm tissue the size of my hand. Was I crazy to do so, disgusting or morbid even? I had a bizarre sense of closure after that. It was over. Chapter closed.
My husband was a great support. It was his loss as much as mine but he remained my rock. I didn't know what to do next except move on, no point in harboring self-pity. We rationalized the whole experience as something that was not meant to happen and left it at that.
The second time I miscarried however I was angry. It started out all too familiar with the uncertainty of dates and repeated ultrasounds. This time I was showing two gestational sacs. The possibility of twins vanished before I could even wrap my head around it, because soon I bled out. 8 weeks of the same torture and no cause, no answers?
A little known fun fact by the way, have you heard of the three-strike rule? Because of the common case of miscarriages in the first trimester our wonderful public health system does not refer you to a gynecologist until you have experienced THREE miscarriages. Until then you are stuck with a general physician who may or may not be in uncharted territory.
Thankfully my GP did not wait for the third and referred me to a couple of specialists, hopeful since I did have a gynecological history on file perhaps one of them would see me. I remembered thinking if you were aware of my history why wasn't I referred to a specialist to begin with? But by then I didn't see the point in taking it out on her. I learned instead a very valuable lesson. BE YOUR OWN ADVOCATE. Don't trust the system implicitly.
Whatever pain I had turned into anger at what a waste of time this was and how it could have been avoided. I could have focused more on spending time with my grandmother. I wanted to desperately talk to her because I knew she would make me feel better. But this was not the time to be selfish. She was suffering and I didn't want her to worry further.
I saw her take her last breath. With that a light went out. My world became a little colder, a little darker.
A couple of months afterwards I got a call to see the specialist and things took their own course. I was monitored every few days with blood tests and ultrasounds. With minimal interference I was pregnant again. This time I was watched like a hawk and given the hormones my body needed to carry the pregnancy safely, which I am now 32 weeks into.
I have since been taking things one day at a time, enjoying every moment. I continued to run in the first trimester, took up yoga in the second and walk on a daily basis. I feel stronger physically and emotionally. With each in-utero kick to my belly I get the reassurance I need.
This is not to say I am without worry because after the last two years how could I not be. But you know what? In my heart not a day goes by that I don't think of my grandmother, her incredible life of resilience and strength. She was a survivor and I am blessed and honoured to be a lot like her. She is my guardian angel and I can feel her watching over me.
For anyone who has been through this I want to say there is no hierarchy of pain. No situation deserves any less acknowledgement. These are moments in our lives which redefine us and we are a little different moving forward.
They will forever stay with us like a new line etched in our palms. Never be sorry or ashamed. Speak loud about it because acceptance sets you free. You'll never be a prisoner of your experiences again.
This post originally appeared on Driving Ms. Desi