My daughter’s due date is approaching. The emotions surrounding the arrival of a baby vary from person to person, but most women will express a mixture of excitement, anticipation, fear, uncertainty, and pure happiness when asked about that circled date on their calendar. There are some, however, that feel quite different regarding that date. As the months become weeks, and the weeks become days, these women view the arrival of that date on the calendar with increasing anxiety, anger, despair, and grief. While it may seem impossible for one to exist in such a dark place during a time of what should be a joyous celebration of life, for legions of women, this place is very real. I know this firsthand as I have lived there. I am one of these women. I am a member of a sisterhood of mothers who have experienced the loss of a pregnancy.
In the past six years, I have been pregnant seven times. Yes, you read that correctly. Seven times. Of those seven pregnancies, I have lost six. Six very loved and very wanted babies. There is a name for my affliction. Recurrent Pregnancy Loss. That term pretty much sums it up. Or as one clinic preferred, Habitual Aborter. I don’t even know what to say about that one other than, as medical jargon goes, it is obscenely inappropriate. For women like myself who have been to hell and back, again and again, believe me, it’s not out of “habit.”
My most recent loss occurred a few months ago. We found out we were pregnant in December, and saw our daughter’s heartbeat Christmas Eve day. I recall the ultrasound technician saying “ok, Santa let’s see that heartbeat for Christmas.” And there it was, that first beginning flutter on the screen that at less than 6 weeks most average women never get the honor of seeing, but for those like myself it is a rite of passage. The familiar feeling of realizing that,” yes, I am breathing” as the image comes into focus and for that moment, no matter how brief, I am with child. And then the thought “now all I have to do is make it to next week.” With my prior losses, 8 weeks was the number to beat. By then, my body had decided it was over and I was caught up in the weekly game show of guessing how far my pregnancy hormones had dropped and wondering when I technically would no longer be considered “pregnant.” Our daughter, however, blew past this roadblock and appeared to be thriving. It looked like we were going to make it to the finish line. And then, after we thought we were safe, found out she had a chromosomal defect and would not survive. We would be saying goodbye before we ever got to know her. And we were devastated. Again.
But through all this grief, I have also been given a gift. I know that is hard to believe. What gift could possibly come from all of that loss? An appreciation for what I DO have that is beyond what most people would understand. If you’ve done your math, you are probably wondering about my numbers. Subtract six from seven. What do you get? ONE. I have an amazing, almost three year old son who is the light of my world. A world that without him in it I’m not sure how I would have survived losing his sister. He is a miracle. And there is not a day that goes by that I am not in awe of him. While the date to come is filled with longing and heartache for the sister he will never meet in this world, she, along with my other five angels, has taught me to be the mother I am today.
And I cherish every moment, no matter how small.
In loving memory of our daughter, due 8/16/2013, and born still 3/14/2013. You live on in our hearts.