October 29, 2020
By Dr. Amanda Worden-Rogers, Family Physician, Fredericton
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. We all know someone or heard of someone who experienced such heartbreak and it is unfathomable to most people. Social media often just lets us see the “happy” times – but that isn’t real and that isn’t helpful if there is someone out there who needs to know they aren’t the only one struggling. So, I’m sharing my story.
My husband and I found out in August that we would be adding to our family (due April 2021) and we were so happy. (Well, except Figs – our dog. He is OK with two kids!) I have always been one to share news early, as I believe life is to be celebrated at any stage. Our family and friends knew and celebrated with us. Our girls knew they would be “big sisters” and were already planning their roles.
Our ultrasound had told us at about seven weeks things looked good and there was a strong heartbeat, and I know from my job as a family doctor that once you have that, 98 per cent of the time you have a healthy baby in your arms in nine months.
However, during the next few weeks, seeds of doubt started to creep in.
My pants were still fitting, some of my symptoms went away. I tried a few times at work to hear the lovely early heartbeat sounds (I had been able to hear my daughters’ Jubilee and Cadence’s heartbeats at around eight to nine weeks) but I couldn’t find it. I chalked that up to the extra pounds I had gained since my last pregnancy.
But I had mother’s intuition, and I needed to know for sure. So, at 11 weeks, my colleague and friend tried to find the heartbeat. No heartbeat was heard.
I went for an ultrasound. The tech was lovely, but I knew without a word what the news was. Our baby, too perfect for this world, had left us.
The walk from the ultrasound room to the car is one that seemed so surreal – seeing others’ faces, wondering if they were getting bad news today too. I let my husband and family know and went to pick the girls up from school. I knew that I just needed to hug and snuggle them.
When we told Jubilee, her sobbing broke my heart, and her care and questions were so innocent and sweet. We took the weekend just to breathe and “be” – we went on a beautiful healing hike, and took time to enjoy our blessings.
On Monday, I worked, seeing patients that were roughly the same number of weeks along, hearing the heartbeats for the first time, being so happy for them, but grieving the little one inside me that would never give me that joy.
Surprisingly, I felt blessed that day regardless of my grief. I love my job, and it was part of my healing too to be part of happiness in the time of grief.
I went in the next day and became the patient. On the other side of the operating table, my body seemed ready to let go that day too, as I had started to show the signs of my miscarriage. I was so very well taken care of.
I have sat with many women and men, crying together at the unfairness of miscarriage and infant loss. I speak from the heart, both from experience (having our first loss before Jubilee was conceived and now this one) and from professional experiences. What I know is that we all grieve, but we all do it in different ways. I like to share and talk about my grief; others like to keep it private.
So feel free to grieve in your own way. Share it or keep it for your heart only. Just know that there are many that walk beside you, and we feel you and hear you.