I was lucky and got pregnant on the second try. I felt even luckier that a good friend and my sister- in-law were pregnant, too. What an amazing maternity leave this was going to be! Ironically, my Jewish baby was due on Christmas Eve, and I was ecstatic. Being a slight 100 pounds, my breasts and body swelled within minutes of that positive pregnancy test, so there was no hiding the fact that I was having a baby. I had no interest in hiding it, anyway, because I wanted to share the incredible news with everyone.
Because of some past issues, I had an early ultrasound at six weeks and was beyond excited to find out that my baby had a heartbeat, and everything looked good. I shopped for maternity clothes, dreamed up baby names that my husband always disagreed with, and read everything I could get my hands on about pregnancy. I even gave up my beloved coffee because I wanted to do right by my baby.
On the day of the 12-week ultrasound, my husband and I were both buzzing with anticipation to finally to see our baby kicking and dancing. I was sure it was a boy and had already bought a couple of cute things for him to come home with us in.
As the technician ran the cold, goopy wand over my swollen belly, I glanced at the monitor. All I could see was snow, like the television when the satellite is out. It seemed odd, but even when she told me she was sorry, and even when she quietly said there was no baby, I thought that she was joking. Until I looked at my husband, pale and shaken, and knew that it was true. My baby was dead.
Numb, cold and in shock, I sat up and started sobbing. I called my parents and told them, apologizing that their first grandchild was dead. They were so kind and comforting, but all I could do was shake my head and ask why.
Apparently, I’d had a missed miscarriage. Though my baby’s heartbeat had been detected at six weeks, it had stopped a couple of days later. No bleeding, no pain, my body still looked and felt pregnant. I didn’t know it could happen this way. But, like with everything that happens with our pregnancies, we never really know what can happen until it happens to us.
I walked out of the hospital, tears streaming down my face, past all of the other pregnant women waiting for their ultrasounds. I was so angry, empty and lost. As my good friend and sister-in-law went on to have healthy pregnancies, I was happy for them. But I was sad for me. Determined to be pregnant by the time my nephew would be born that December, I again made it my mission to have my baby. But this time, I was less naÃ¯ve and excited. I was terrified of going through the physical and emotional pain of a miscarriage again.
I knew that miscarriage happens in a reported one out of every five pregnancies, but it isn’t something that is easily discussed. I, however, needed to talk about it. I even wrote a novel about it. But, as I watched people’s features slide down their faces in pity when I told them, and my novel was rejected, I realized that people are very uncomfortable with miscarriage. Perhaps because it deals with the female body, maybe because it’s depressing, but many women who’ve had one don’t want to talk about it. I did, though, and it helped me immensely.
Almost a year to the day of my miscarriage, my son was born. Healthy and so big that I had to have a c-section, when I kissed his little face, I cried so hard that the doctors had to stop sewing me up. My bawling prompted the Brazilian anesthesiologist to ask me if I was really Canadian because she had never before seen such emotion from a Canadian woman. I sobbed so hard because holding my son’s tiny body against mine, I realized that were it not for my miscarriage, I would never have had him. This perfect little boy who was all mine forever.
Exactly three years later, my daughter was born. Throughout a difficult pregnancy of constant nausea and a false positive result for gestational diabetes, the one thing that scared me the most was that I might lose her, too. Miscarriage happens most commonly before 12 weeks, but it can happen later, as well. Until she was safe in my arms, I could not stop worrying that I might not get to take her home. But I did. And I know how lucky I am. So many women suffer from fertility challenges, and some do not get to have their babies. Knowing this makes me a better mother.
My 4-year-old son is not perfect, thank goodness. He is so easily distracted by his incredible imagination or any passing thought of his that it takes forever to get him out of the house. He is in an annoying stage of repeating everything I say, and he likes to put on sunglasses and rock out on his guitar when it’s time for bed. Every time I get upset or impatient, I look at his gorgeous face that looks exactly like his father’s and remember my miscarriage. He is the son I was meant to have. And my inquisitive, hilarious daughter who likes to throw her food all over the floor, stand straight up on chairs and cries when I won’t give her my cellphone is the other reason I smile and laugh every day. Her soft head fits perfectly on my chest, and when she screams ”Bye” at the top of her lungs to every stranger and dog, I know that I got lucky.
I will never know why I lost my first baby. I will never understand what happened or why it happened to me. I still carry the pain of that loss inside me, but instead of causing me grief, it has made me stronger and better. I am living my dreams of being a mom and writer. Those dreams might not have been possible if I hadn’t gone through such a tragic time in my life. My miscarriage has made me less fearful of the unknown (though I still worry constantly), and I will be forever grateful that I was able to have my children. I am more patient, kinder and more determined to get exactly what it is I want.
Most pregnancies have some issues; few women sail through them. It is part of surviving motherhood and life. It is certainly a journey, always an adventure and a tough road to take. But, I for one am so happy that I have taken it.