Tonight I will light a candle at 7pm.
October is Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness month. Declared by the late, great Ronald Reagan, this month is meant to bring visibility to the loss so many experience, yet few discuss. There is no term for a parent after the loss of a pregnancy or of an infant, but no matter the words we put to it the feeling is ultimately heartbreak.
Brian and I were blessed unexpectedly with both Aiden and Colin. Getting pregnant with both boys seemed “easy” and the pregnancies were status quo. Aside from a few funny test results with Aiden, which all turned out normal, everything progressed well and ended in normal natural births.
2013 rolled around and having made it through midnight feedings, sleep training, potty training, toddler beds, big boy beds, PreK and more, we decided to actively “try” for a third child. I didn’t feel complete, and while finances are always a concern when looking to expand a family, Brian ultimately wanted more children, too. I think it worried him that the boys would only have each other if, God forbid, anything ever happened to he and I.
So we tried, thinking things would work out easily, like in the past. No such luck.
I was sad, and my wallet was a bit lighter after all the pregnancy tests I wasted that first month. The next month, more of the same. I felt empty and broken. I began to understand the feelings of my friends and acquaintances who had experienced infertility. It felt desperate and horrible.
During this time I recalled a conversation I’d had with my mom when I’d been pregnant with Aiden and a couple of friends didn’t attend my shower because of their own fertility struggles. I was upset they were not there, and felt like they were unsupportive of my pregnancy. My mom gently set me straight, recalling her own feelings when experiencing infertility prior to my adoption. She told me that sometimes it’s just impossible to get past the loss, month after month, and be happy for others who easily get pregnant and have beautiful healthy babies. Eight years later in the summer of last year I fully understood this feeling, and was ashamed for having been frustrated with my friends.
I started to track my cycle using ovulation predictors. Month three passed but in month four it worked! That positive test made me cry out loud with joy and the smile on Brian’s face had teeth!! (those of you who know him know he almost never smiles with teeth!) I was so excited. We had never experienced problems after a positive test, so when my mom called to give me the dates of a coming summer family vacation to Rehoboth Beach, DE I told her not to waste her money on the second week because we would not be making the trip. I was pregnant and due that week!
A couple of weeks passed and I contemplated telling friends, other family, work… In fact I was at work when I noticed the pink tinge on the toilet paper. That night it had changed from barely noticeable to obvious bleeding. I sat on the stairs and cried. Brian told me not to worry, but really, I am a professional worry-wart, so that fell on deaf ears.
The doctor told me not to worry and to come in for some tests. I couldn’t see my regular doctor and the one I saw instead was reasonably kind, but gave it to me a little too straight, “You are miscarrying. It will pass over the next few days. You are older, your eggs are older, it will take someone your age an average of 6-8 cycles to arrive at a viable pregnancy. If you miscarry again, we’ll discuss the options. Wait a cycle and try again.” They took my blood to confirm my HCg levels were declining and sent me and my old eggs home.
I gathered everything I had inside of me during that week and happily celebrated other friends coming births, cheerfully returned to work and didn’t let on to my big boys. At night I cried. I had hoped to be months into a healthy pregnancy by this time and instead I was back at square one.
With the holidays coming and having to wait at least one cycle I put away the ovulation predictors and loped forward. The weeks passed and my cycle didn’t return. I fearfully took a test. Positive. I waited a day. Positive. I called the doctor and went in for two blood draws to measure my levels. Rising. They did an ultrasound. The bean was there. I held my breath for two more weeks. Another ultrasound. There was a heartbeat. I cried. So did Brian. I felt the pressure lift and I took my first easy breath in weeks.
Those who have experienced miscarriage and loss call a child after loss a Rainbow. Liam is my beautiful blond rainbow. He held on through all my fears and worries – nine months worth, from bean to gummy bear to fully formed delicious baby boy. He knew how much I needed him, he knows the job of a rainbow is to help us remember the beauty in pregnancy and infancy while guiding our minds to lessen the heartbreak in loss.
During this month of Pregnancy Loss Awareness those who have experienced a loss are asked to light a candle at 7pm on 10.15 and let it burn for one hour in a united effort to produce a continued wave of light across the world for one day, honoring the babies who are forever in the hearts of those who loved them.
I write to erase the shame and sadness of loss in miscarriage. I will light the candle to honor my heavenly baby and all the little ones lost by friends, family and acquaintances. I invite you to do the same if you, too, have lost a pregnancy or an infant, or if you care for someone who has.
For more information on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day visit: http://www.october15th.com/