Starting a family is a very personal choice for every person/couple. For DrH and me, it was a no-brainer that we would start a family (God willing) when the “time was right.” But, when is the time right exactly? And with him being in residency, there is never a “right” time, just maybe “better” times. Unfortunately, unlike many couples, we didn’t have the freedom to start a family right after getting married due to the radiation treatments that DrH underwent 2 months before our wedding for thyroid cancer. We were told to wait at least a year before trying to get pregnant due to possible complications that the radiation could cause.
Since we had a year before we could even start trying to start a family we made it our priority to get everything “in order.”
Preparing to Start a Family
We did everything we thought we needed to do to be prepared to start a family. I took a new job closer to where we wanted/needed to live, we bought a house, we continued to save money and we even adopted a dog. We then waited a few additional months past the time we technically could have started to make sure that if I did get pregnant I would be at my job long enough to qualify for FMLA. So you can see, we checked all the boxes to be as prepared as possible.
I had an appointment to be given medication to “trigger” a period that would reset my cycle, since it appeared, after a normal resulting ultrasound, my body just hadn’t adjusted fully after coming off the pill. But, before they would send me to the pharmacy to get the medication, I was required to take a pregnancy test. I took the test and was asked to go sit in the waiting room while they processed the test.
“Briana can you please come back into the exam room?” I looked the doctor a bit confused as I stood up and followed her into the room.
“The test was positive,” my doctor said with a smile on her face.
“What?! Wait seriously?! I’m pregnant?!” I said as tears welled up in my eyes.
I left the doctor’s office in complete disbelief. So much so that I came home and took a home pregnancy test so I could see the positive result for myself. Those two pink lines popped up and the tears started flowing again. Yup, I was pregnant and I couldn’t have been more excited!
When DrH walked in the door around 9:45pm, after a residency interviewee dinner (It was residency interview season), I smiled and greeted him, let the dog welcome him home and then said, “I got you a little something,” as I gestured to a small gift bag sitting on the coffee table.
The moment, he pulled out my positive pregnancy test and the onesie I had made weeks before in preparation, will forever be in my memory. The pure excitement and love that he displayed made me fall in love with him all over again. We were going to be parents!
From that moment forward my mind was in full mommy planning mode. I would lay awake at night thinking about everything from how I would decorate the nursery to hoping he/she would one day choose a profession that they loved. I dreamed about the life our little one was going to have and looked forward to DrH and I growing not just as a couple, but as parents. I then started planning cute and festive ways we could announce the exciting news to our families and friends over the holidays. The truth is, I thought about our baby every moment of every day and I was so excited to finally be a mom.
Two Weeks Later
“Is there a heartbeat?” I nervously asked the tech.
“Yes, there is a strong heartbeat and the baby is measuring 6.5 weeks making your due date July 24, 2016! Congratulations!”
_ _ _
I went back in at about 8 weeks for my official pregnancy confirmation appointment and our baby still had a strong heartbeat. But, I was asked to come back in 1.5-2 weeks for a thorough ultrasound to double-check the timing of the pregnancy. I was thrilled because 1.5 weeks later was Christmas Eve and DrH would be able to make it. He hadn’t seen our baby on ultrasound yet due to his residency schedule so I thought what better gift could I give him than to see his child for the first time?
December 24, 2015
“Are you excited to see the baby?”The tech asked DrH as they walked into the ultrasound room. “It’s going to be a lot bigger this time!”
We were ready to see our baby!
“I’m going to take some pictures of your ovaries first then we will take a look at the baby,” the tech said. I just smiled and nodded.
A few minutes went by and the tech said to the chaperone nurse, “Can you please go get the doctor, I have a question for her and I want her to look at something.” The chaperone left.
The tech looked at me and said, “When did we say your due date was last time?”
“July 24,” I said. “Is the baby measuring for that?”
“Yes, the baby is measuring on track,” said the tech.
The chaperone popped her head back in the door, “The doctor wants to know if you meant to ask for her?”
My head whipped around to look at DrH with what I am sure was a panicked, “I know what is going on” look on my face when the tech said, “Yes, I would like her to look at something.” My heart started to race and tears started to well up in my eyes… I knew what was coming.
The doctor came in, looked at the ultrasound for about a minute and said okay a few times. She then turned to me, grabbed my hands to help me sit up and said:
“I am so sorry, but there doesn’t appear to be a heartbeat. Why don’t you clean up, get dressed and I will come talk to you both about next steps.”
_ _ _
About 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. That means that roughly 25% of
women who created a life with their partner, lost their child. My first question is: If miscarriage is so common, why are women suffering alone with limited resources to turn to for support? And secondly: Why does society place shame or guilt on the mother?
As someone who watched and felt her body change week-to-week for 10.5 weeks, who had to have her baby surgically removed (twice due to retained product the first time), who is still suffering months later from health complications from the loss and can not try again for six months as I’m being monitored for potential cancer growth… I ask that we break the silence and start talking about pregnancy loss. I also ask that we be kind to others and not judge because we do not know their struggles.
I believe that as a culture we need to respect and acknowledge each individual life no matter how short or long it existed. Women who have suffered such a horrible loss should not feel that because their baby was born into heaven and not into this world that their baby was any less of a life or that their experience was any less real. We need to talk about the “tough stuff” so we can be free to feel and not be ashamed to say that we need help and support.
My last request… if you hear of someone’s loss, please do not ignore it. Let the parents know that their child matters and offer your support. If you don’t know what to say or you are afraid to say the wrong thing, you can simply say: “I am so sorry for your loss, I am thinking of you.”
A number of people, over the last few months, have asked that I share my story which has given me the courage to write the most difficult thing I have ever written. I do not write to garner sympathy. I am writing to inform those who have not been down this road and to let those who have experienced this kind of loss know they are not alone!
For those who have made it through this novel, thank you for reading and I hope I was able to shed some light on what many couples experience and suffer through silently.
If you are interested in further reading on this topic:
- Saying it Loudly: I Had a Miscarriage
- A Letter to My Friend Who Has Never Lost a Baby
- 5 things you should never say to a woman who’s had a miscarriage
- You Make Me Brave (This piece was written by my sister-in-law ❤ )
- Becky Thompson’s Blog
- In Our Time of Loss: Baby Kutcher
- The Vulnerability of Miscarriage
- The Brutal Truth about Losing my Baby Girl