There are a lot of “firsts” that we always remember, ones from our childhood, ones that are happy, and unfortunately ones that are not so happy. This particular first that I am thinking of is my first baby. My first pregnancy. The excitement and thrill of finding out I was pregnant, the nervousness of knowing I was going to be a mommy, and the wonder of who this little person was going to be. Then…the crushing devastation of finding out those questions would never be answered.
It was a Friday afternoon, and I was at work, when I started to feel that things weren’t quite right. The cramping started, then the spotting, and it continued throughout the afternoon. I placed a call to my doctor who got me in immediately to see her. I held my breath as they got the Doppler fetal monitor out to check for the baby’s heartbeat. She pressed the cold end to my tummy, and it felt like the world stood still as I waited.
Bump-bump, bump-bump, bump-bump – there it was, my baby’s heartbeat! Pumping away, healthy as ever. I was overjoyed! My doctor assured me that sometimes cramping and spotting were normal, and she sent me home to rest for the remainder of the day. I left feeling that all would be okay.
I woke in the morning to a warm sensation between my legs, and went to the bathroom to find even more blood. Despite my doctor’s reassurances the day before, I felt that something was definitely wrong this time. As my husband was at work, I asked my mom to come to the hospital with me for support.
We waited in the ER for what felt like an eternity, then I finally got in to the ultrasound room. Now, ultrasound technicians at the best of times are rather reserved and don’t give a lot away. They can’t. They have to complete the ultrasound, and then give the results to the doctor for the doctor to share with the patient. But, as this technician was moving the wand around my belly, I saw a slight frown start in the middle of her brows. I was watching her like a hawk for any sign of happiness, relief, worry, or dismay. My only clue was the tiny little frown between her brows, but it was enough to confirm the ball of dread that had been forming in my heart.
As I choked out the words, “Is my baby alright?”, deep down I already knew the answer. She didn’t reply right away, so I managed to whisper it one more time. The frown between her brows deepened, and I saw sadness in her eyes as she turned to face me. She never said a word, but simply took my hand and looked into my eyes with such compassion and sadness. I knew. My baby was gone.
On that ultrasound table, I felt my heart shatter into a million pieces, some of which have never been picked up. She quietly left the room and went to get my mom, to offer some support. My mom came in and just held me while I sobbed and sobbed.
They called my husband to come to the hospital, and he rushed over from work. He took over from my mom, and just continued to hold me. I couldn’t believe it, that little life was gone. And I never even had the chance to meet them. The next several hours were a blur to me, as I visited with the doctor and they did more tests to see what caused the loss.
I was almost 16 weeks pregnant, several weeks past the “dangerous time” in early pregnancy when miscarriages happen the most. But what we discovered was that I had several large fibroids growing inside my uterus, and it was those fibroids that prevented my baby from thriving and growing. My little one simply couldn’t compete with the masses that were growing exponentially due to the increased pregnancy hormones in my body.
My body had failed me. My body had killed this life inside me. I was so angry, so sad, and felt so incredibly guilty. Was it rational thinking that I was doing? Of course not; I had no control over what happened, and it didn’t happen as a result of any negligence on my part. Blah, blah, blah, I didn’t want to hear rational. I was just devastated, and I needed to wallow in that feeling for a while before I could move past it. I felt empty and completely alone, despite being surrounded by supportive family and friends. I felt like no one really understood the agonizing pain I was going through.
The next several days continued to be a blur for me, as I was mistakenly sent home by the ER doctor to “deliver” my dead baby in a day or so once my body was ready. But that didn’t happen, instead I dealt with increasing pain for two days before finally returning to the ER, where they then rushed me in for an emergency D&C to get the baby out before an infection could begin. I should never have been sent home to deliver the baby myself, especially considering how far along I was. Just another knife in the heart. I went in for the surgery, and my little baby was taken from me. I never even got to know the gender of this life that I lost. They were just gone. That was late November 2009, and the scars from that whole experience are still on my heart.
The next year and half was one of tremendous pain, struggle, healing, and growth, as we battled infertility and all of the agony that entails. I began a journey of self-healing that included a lot of self-care, meditation, healthier living, acupuncture, herbal remedies, and an overall emotional detox where I removed as much negativity from my life as I could. I focused on moving forward and living a positive lifestyle.
In returning to the fertility clinic the following summer, to determine when and how they would remove the large fibroids, the tests revealed that the largest fibroid had shrunk to near inexistence – from 7.5cm to almost nothing in a matter of months. The smaller fibroids had disappeared almost completely. The doctor who tested me was completely stumped, she said she had never seen anything like this before. We were “good to go,” and there were seemingly no reasons for us not to get pregnant. But despite this good news, after a year of trying to conceive, I was starting to lose hope.
We were finally blessed with our rainbow pregnancy in January 2011, mere days before we were to begin our first round of IUI treatments. We still joke that it was the fact that my husband was told he would have to get bloodwork done (he hates needles) that “scared” the sperm into swimming! I was absolutely terrified throughout the majority of this pregnancy, terrified of feeling that crushing loss again. However, this time we made it to the end, and I gave birth to our beautiful son in September 2011. Our miracle rainbow baby.
Today, we have two amazing children, one son and one daughter. They are healthy, happy, and full of life and energy. I love them with all of my heart and soul, and I am so grateful to have been blessed with them both. But I will always remember my first. I’ve never forgotten my first, and it still pains me to think about who they might have been, what their life would have been like, and the fact that I will never, ever meet them. I have a Christmas ornament on my tree that says “Peanut” on it – that’s what we referred to the little one as. I remember them every Christmas, as it was during that time of year when it happened.
Recently, I commissioned a beautiful painting from Quaint Baby Art of my ultrasound pictures. There are three. One of my son, one of my daughter, and one of the beautiful little life that we never met. Our Peanut. I adore this painting, and I cried when it arrived and I saw my Peanut commemorated. It might not be everyone’s “cup of tea” to have an ultrasound painting done of a baby they lost. But for me, it was my way to celebrate the two wonderful children that I have, and to honor the baby who first made me a Mommy. My heart will never fully heal from that loss, and I will always wonder about that little one. We remember many firsts in our lives, but this is one first that will always hold a special place in my heart. They say time heals all wounds, and I do believe this is true. We heal, but we never, ever forget.
I’ll always love you my little Peanut, and you will always be my “first”.