by Julie Snyder (Pregnancy.org Staff)
It was September 5th. We were planning to enjoy a weekend camping trip with a group of families from our fellowship. It was a lovely fall morning -- blue sky and just enough fluffy little clouds to play "What do I see?" with our four children, ages 2, 4, 7 and 10.
I felt great. I was a little over fourteen weeks pregnant with our next baby. My morning sickness (okay, all-day sickness) was beginning to ebb a bit. I was slightly less tired. Only a friend's disappointing decision marred my day. And even that was erased by the flurry of activity.
The exuberance of four active children tends to hurry set-up procedures. Soon our tent, with much help and coaxing from Kirk, stood comfortably on a flat place that had hopefully been well cleared of most rocks and pine cones. A friend called me over to help her family with their preparation. I was in charge of the center pole. As I helped raise that older, heavier canvas tent, I felt a sharp, tearing pain in my lower abdomen. It only lasted a few seconds. And I assumed it was just a muscle twinge. We had a relaxing afternoon. Toddlers waded in the creek. A slightly older group erected forts. I went on a hike with some of the big kids to search for fossils.
That evening we sang a bit, talked a lot, played a few games and went to bed. About 2:30 a.m. I woke up. Something wasn't quite right. I went to the bathroom. There was a lot of mucous and some pink discharge.
Having experienced four simple, uncomplicated pregnancies, even at this point I didn't suspect anything was really wrong. I just thought maybe I had been a little too active. So for the next two days I just lazed around at the camp. And continued to spot lightly.
On my way home, I called my midwife. She said to come on up and we could talk. I'd expected Becky to tell me it wasn't a problem -- to just go home and take it easy for a few days. I think when she wanted to talk in person, the possibility of a problem finally entered my mind. Well, we talked over an hour. Becky explained that it was quite possible I was miscarrying. It was my choice to try bed rest or to resume normal activities. Apparently, it doesn't usually make a difference in outcome, but she did tell me that I might feel better knowing I had done everything possible to maintain the pregnancy. I was shocked. Too shocked to even cry.
Monday afternoon, my back began to really ache. The spotting became more a flow. Late Monday night, I began having intermittent cramping. I recognized it as labor and knew that I was going to lose my baby. There is no feeling more helpless than awaiting the birth of a child too young to survive. Throughout the night, I lay in the dark, numb. My husband was there and would have been so glad to hold and comfort me, but I wasn't able to reach out to him. Our little one was born about 4:30 that morning. Only a couple inches in length, but so perfect -- hands, feet, face.
I don't think that I have ever cried as long and as hard as I did that next week. The pain was so raw. It was as if my skin had been pulled off and even a gentle breeze hurt. Before my child's death, I never knew how great a loss a miscarriage was. Now, I mourned for a child that I would never hold, that I would never touch. I missed the heartbeat that I would never hear again and the movement that I would never feel. I had such emptiness inside my heart. I felt guilty that I wasn't able to provide a safe place for this baby to grow. Would my baby know how much we would have loved him? Would he know what a welcome his brother and sisters had planned? My world had become gray. When would the pain lessen?
I can assure you the pain eases. Be gentle with yourself and take time to grieve for our child. You will smile one day without it being forced. You will startle yourself with a laugh of happiness. The world will be colorful again. Sure, some days will be sad, but most will be filled with joy.
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