I sat on the edge of the bathtub with my future staring back at me.
Two pink lines.
I lost my breath for a few seconds, but laughed it off.
Surely this particular test was dysfunctional.
I headed to the drugstore and came back with two more. Within minutes, I had three positive pregnancy tests laying on the counter in front of me.
In what felt like the blink of an eye, my entire world had changed.
The sleepless night that followed brought racing thoughts.
We aren’t married. How exactly is this going to work? How are we going to afford a child? What are we going to tell our families? What are people going to think?
As the hours went on, the thoughts became a little less daunting.
We can do this. People do it all the time. I made a vow to myself to do whatever it took to create an amazing childhood for this precious life.
The next day, I found my way to an upscale baby boutique in town, and bought a soft white lamb that had the word “Daddy” penned on the tag.
It was then wrapped in pink and blue tissue paper.
I wanted to make delivering the news to my boyfriend as special as possible. I wanted it to be something he would look back on and fondly remember.
I couldn’t have asked for a better reaction. Although we were both stunned, thoughts quickly became plans. Nerves turned into excitement. We were going to have a baby!
Morning sickness and exhaustion became a part of my everyday routine.
Soon after, we had confirmation from the doctor. Sonogram pictures and parenting books became my world.
I had always dreamed of becoming a mom, and I was determined to enjoy every moment of the process.
I changed my diet and soon found myself engrossed in learning what my baby’s weekly progress was.
Fingers and toes were forming, and baby names were at the forefront of my mind.
Almost as quickly as the pregnancy news came, fear began to set in.
Something didn’t feel quite right.
Never having been pregnant before, I chalked it up to first-time pregnancy jitters.
Our next sonogram appointment came, and I knew almost immediately something was wrong. The doctor informed us that although I was as healthy as could be, the baby hadn’t grown since our last appointment.
The medical babbling made no sense to me.
All I could hear was the pounding of my heart. I could feel the lump in my throat forming.
He gave us worst-case scenarios, yet told me there wasn’t anything I could be doing differently.
I came in for yet another ultrasound the following week. No change.
Within minutes, I was sitting at the hospital valet, waiting for my car to be brought around. All I could do was let the tears fall.
I came in the following day, so the radiologist could use his higher-resolution machines to capture better images.
Not knowing the fate of this precious life was absolute torture.
I received the phone call on a Friday morning. Friday 13, to be exact. (How fitting.)
The nurse quietly gave me the news that no change in my baby had been seen.
She was sympathetic, yet professional. In her own way, she prepared me for the worst and cautioned me to call if I began to notice bleeding or cramping.
Although I had high hopes, deep down, I knew the inevitable. I arranged to stay at my father’s house for the weekend.
He didn’t even know I was pregnant until I walked into his office that day, and had to give him the worst news I’d ever been faced with.
I was pregnant with his grandchild, but in the same sentence, I told him I knew the baby was going to die.
I couldn’t bring myself to make eye contact, and through sobs, I eventually got everything out. He did what amazing dads do, and wrapped me in his arms.
The next day was Valentine’s Day. This was usually an exciting day, but I had no interest in flowers or candy.
That evening, I noticed a small amount of blood, and knew exactly what it meant.
At the time, I didn’t realize what was to come in the days that lay ahead. I laid down and cried, trying my best to come to terms with what was happening.
I lost my baby on Sunday, February 15.
Losing a baby is not for the faint of heart. I don’t believe anyone wants to warn you exactly how it happens. It was excruciatingly painful; both physically and emotionally.
The physical pain itself made me feel as if I were dying.
My mind kept racing, and my mental state declined rapidly. There is no way a human being can lose this much blood and live through it.
I was not only losing the baby, it caused high fever and vomiting. All I could do was cry. There was no getting comfortable. The worst of it lasted about 13 hours, and I moved between the bathroom and the guest bedroom in my dad’s house.
I called the doctor on call in the middle of the night, desperate for any kind of relief. Ibuprofen every few hours and laying on heating pads was about it.
He explained to me a miscarriage feels much like labor pains, except there’s no reward in the end.
Gee, thanks. I think I understand that part.
My dad was worried sick.
I can only imagine what it was like to watch your child go through pain of this magnitude. I remember finally drifting off to sleep at one point, only to wake up with him standing over me.
All he wanted to do was make sure I was breathing.
He and his girlfriend were the only two people I would allow to see me.
I turned away my own mother, who drove five hours to be there.
I also refused friends, and even the father of my baby. I had never experienced pain and tears to this extent, and I didn’t have the courage to allow those who love me to see me that way.
I look back now and realize that wasn’t the right decision. But I didn’t want to seem weak.
I lay in bed for five days. Occasionally, I would move to the couch for different scenery, but I never even turned on the TV.
I slept a lot. I was absolutely devastated.
I would lay awake at night, sobbing.
I felt as if I had completely failed. I failed my baby, the baby’s father and myself. I was the one person who was made to protect this life, and I had somehow lost it.
A piece of me died that day. A part of my heart went with that baby.
I had never experienced depression until my miscarriage.
I was dealing with so many different emotions, I didn’t know how to navigate them all. I was sad, angry and carried an unbelievable amount of guilt.
People would often tell me in the months following there was nothing I could do. Even the doctor couldn’t give me a reason. “Nature just took its course.”
That was never sufficient for me. I wanted to know why.
Why were other couples being blessed with a baby, and I had lost mine? What did I do to deserve this?
I had done everything right and by the book, so to speak. I went through a very dark period, and became the master of my own pity parties.
I shut people out.
I went to work, came home and went to bed. I quit going to the gym. I stopped my beloved volunteer work in my community.
I literally just stopped living.
I often would look for reasons to start arguments with my boyfriend, knowing all along nothing was wrong. I had so much anger built up, I had a tendency to take it out on the one person I loved the most.
I started to do a lot of research on miscarriage and infant loss, becoming borderline obsessed.
I slowly began to grieve in the best way I knew how: I started to see a counselor.
After haunting nightmares, I was prescribed anti-anxiety medication to help me sleep. I started to open up and talk with other women about my experience.
I began to quickly realize how many others had been through this same horrifying situation. They had suppressed it, just as I had in the beginning.
I started to build a community of women: people I could talk to and cry with.
It truly was a healing escape for me. Finding people who understood what I was going through allowed me to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
For so long, I felt alone in my journey. But in reality, I wasn’t. So many others were in the same boat, but were too afraid to reach out.
Statistically, between 10 and 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage in the first 20 weeks. Often, there is no rhyme or reason.
The word "miscarriage" has a negative connotation to it, as it should. There is nothing positive about losing a child.
It is the worst feeling in the world, and I’ve come to realize, although the emotional pain weakens as time goes on, I will never truly get over it.
I will always remember the initial excitement. I’ll remember my due date and the day I miscarried for as long as I live. But that’s normal. The feelings and emotions I’ve experienced are all completely valid.
I spent so long trying to “snap out of it” and move on that I neglected to really let myself go through each stage of grief properly.
It’s a very difficult experience to put into words unless you've been there, and that’s why I've opened up about my pain.
I felt an enormous amount of loneliness following the loss of my baby. If I can prevent even one woman from feeling the same way, my job is done.
Miscarriage is historically a taboo subject to talk about. There’s feelings of guilt and shame that we, as a society, need to move past.
I hope one day, we can come together and reach out to others in times of need.
Let’s extend kindness instead of judgment. I often heard how it was “time for me to move on.”
Guess what? No one has the right to voice that opinion.
Each person has his or her own journey, and it’s our job as human beings to hold them up as long as they need support.
Some moments are easier than others.
I still have times when I crumble.
I hear a certain song, and it makes me sad.
I see a baby in the grocery store and it stings.
I see pregnancy announcements on social media, and although I’m thrilled for my friends, my heart breaks a little bit each time.
I keep the one sonogram picture I have in the mirror above the seat in my Jeep.
Not only does it remind me I have an angel with me for the rest of my life, it encourages me to be present and not take one moment for granted.
Each life truly is precious, no matter how long we are here. It may be just a couple of months, it may be until we’re old and gray.
Either way, life is beautiful. Treasure it.
Please don’t forget to be there for the ones you love, and continue to be passionate about certain issues and experiences.
Let’s do this together.
October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
Break the silence. Reach out to someone you know, and acknowledge the life they so quietly mourn and treasure.
Finally, to my precious little one: You were, and always will be, unbelievably loved.