Except the problem with that hash tag is, I had two. They were both IVF pregnancies. With the first pregnancy, I had ovarian hyper stimulation. For those who may be unfamiliar, my ovaries exploded like jiffy pop, my abdomen filled with fluid, and I had A LOT of pain. I went to a doctor’s appointment the day after my positive pregnancy test to be evaluated for this, and although I could not stand straight, I had a smile on my face and was floating on air. Until it all came crashing down with the hcg numbers that didn’t rise. Then they did. To make a long story short, there was 8 weeks of: you’re pregnant, it’s non-viable, it might be viable, it’s non-viable, it’s too early to do a D&C, schedule a D&C, the D&C didn’t work, you need another one. Overall, the most miserable two months of my life. Intellectually, I would never claim that my baby had more right to survive than anyone else’s. But at the time, did I feel more entitled than the teenager who got knocked up in the back of a car? You’re damn right. At least with the second pregnancy I was spared the hyperstim, but the process was pretty much the same.
Today is pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day. I’ve read about women lighting candles for the babies never born. After my second miscarriage, I saw a genetic counselor that suggested planting a tree or making a donation in memory of my lost children, but I never did. I understand women who grieve for a lost child they never got to meet, but I never felt that way. Without getting into politics or religion, I had a deep feeling that my baby was still out there waiting. It was something I felt, not thought.
So, did my beliefs make for less grief? While immeasurable, my grief was as present and heartbreaking as I imagine anyone’s is. No, I didn’t believe there was a soul dead and never to be born. I felt I was failing my child, leaving him trapped in the in-betewen, not fulfilling his purpose to come into this world. I grieved for a soul I knew I was connected to but may never meet. Like a loved one gone to war, not knowing if they will ever return.
The experience of miscarriage robbed me of more than those two pregnancies. I see TV shows and commercials with all kinds of pregnancy announcements. When we started planning to have a family, I thought about how we would celebrate. But there was no champagne, no big announcements, no celebrating at all. The first call from the nurse was, “You’re pregnant, but the hormone levels are low”. There was no joy; there was just the fear of another miscarriage. Then the next level went up, then the next and the next. There was never celebration, only cautious optimism. There was no surprise ultrasound photo to tell our families. There were phone calls where congratulations were met with the response, “It’s still early”. Over time, we had ultrasounds, my belly grew, and I felt movement. I was able to feel joy and excitement about my impending birth. Always, though, looking over my shoulder, the little feeling in my gut that it could all be taken away.
Did having two miscarriages and three years of infertility make me a better mother? Very doubtful. There are days I can’t believe I’ve managed to keep these little people alive for 5 and 7 years. Does it make motherhood easier? I have nothing to compare it too, but I hate to think this job can get harder. No, miscarriage and infertility did not make me Clair Huxtable. There are days when I can’t even measure up to Rosanne Conner. There are just moments – when my son learned to ride his bike without training wheels; when my daughter gives me a “crusher kiss”, that I remember how it almost wasn’t. Miscarriage robbed my of so much, but gave the gift of gratitude.
I don’t know what’s real. Maybe my kids are the only souls with a karmic attachment to me. Maybe there really are two souls who never made it, and hopefully are at peace. To them, I’m sorry I couldn’t help you finish your journey, but your family is OK.