Guest post from Sarah Ortmayer
My fourth pregnancy was a “positive” in the midst of a lot of negatives in our lives that summer. Our youngest son had just turned one, and after struggling through many health issues with him that year, we really needed something to celebrate. While the pregnancy was unexpected, we were excited and hopeful. We’d always dreamed of having five kids—though, having five kids in six years wasn’t exactly how I imagined it would happen—and this baby was going to complete our family. We couldn’t have been happier!
This pregnancy seemed different from the start. I had little to no morning sickness, tons of energy, and no food cravings or aversions like I had the first three times, but it didn’t put up any red flags. I knew every pregnancy could be different, and since I’d had three healthy pregnancies before (one was a set of twins), I felt comfortable and confident I would know if anything wasn’t right. Looking back it seems off to me now, but then I was just thankful to be feeling great and be able to keep up with my four little boys all while being pregnant with baby number five.
My husband and I went my first OB appointment at six weeks, nervous only about whether or not we would be expecting twins again. It wasn’t until we were in the dark exam room with the ultrasound flickering on the screen above me that I felt my heart sink a little. The little bean on the screen had a flickering heartbeat, but the size and shape looked much different than what I’d seen with my previous pregnancies. The concerned look on the tech’s face confirmed my concerns.
“The baby is measuring a few days small,” she told me. “I’ll see if the doctor wants to meet with you or have you come back next week.”
My OB had been with me through my other pregnancies and I trusted her deeply; I just wanted her to tell me everything was okay. The doctor came into the room, a somber look on her face.
“It looks like a miscarriage.”
The room went quiet. The world seemed to spin and hot tears came before I could even try to hold them back. I begged her to tell me there was some hope, but behind her sympathetic smile, I could see there was none. She told me what to expect and sent us home. My husband tried to comfort me, and he truly believed that there was hope, but I knew in my heart there wasn’t.
The following week was one of the hardest I have ever experienced. The physical pain was a shadow in comparison to the emotional. It was something I would never wish on anyone. My heart was shattered and I wasn’t sure how I could ever stop feeling the deep pain of the loss of a child I had never met.
From the moment I had found out about this baby, I loved them. This baby was supposed to be a light in a dark time for us, but it seemed we were only diving deeper into hurt. It had been surreal to see our baby’s little heartbeat and know it would fade too soon; we would never have a chance to know the color of their eyes and hair, watch their personality grow, or see them giggle with their four brothers.
Looking back, I am so thankful for my husband, family, and friends. They pointed me towards hope, encouraged me to stay focused on the beautiful things in my life, and allow me to feel the pain and hurt I needed. I never knew how many women have lost a baby until I had mine; so many of the women in my life shared their stories with me, and it was comforting to know that I would be ok, that the pain would soften over time, that I would smile and find joy again.
Some things that helped me were to take the time to be alone as much as I needed, but also to not completely shut out the world. At least once a day in those first weeks I would say yes to a phone call or a text message or even a friend dropping by to talk. I said yes to any and all offers of help. I let people love me so that I could heal and move forward and one day be in a place where I could help others experiencing the same.
Another thing I did that helped me so much was to have a custom ring made in honor of our baby so that I could wear it and think of them every day. As I sit and type this story I am looking at my ring and smiling, thankful for this child I never got to meet, for the new things I learned about myself in the process of grieving, and for the precious rainbow baby girl that is sleeping upstairs right now (our baby number six, who wouldn’t be here if we hadn’t gone through this loss).
Losing our baby was one of the most heart-wrenching experiences of my life, but it taught me to value what I do have so much more deeply and to find beauty and joy even when I think it is impossible.
My final encouragement for any mom in the midst of a miscarriage: keep finding the joy, however so small; honor your baby with that and know that it is ok to feel the loss deeply.
You will be ok, mama; you won’t be the same, but you will smile again, and you'll find you appreciate things in a different way. You are loved!
Be you bravely!