I might be incompetent, but we will never truly be able to tell for sure. Really, I am talking about my cervix. In 2004 I went into premature labor at 23 weeks. We do not know why. My baby’s foot was in my birth canal and I was dilated 4 cm with contractions 4 minutes apart when I got to the hospital. With the assistance of CRAZY drug known as “slow mag”, the contractions stopped and I waited to see how long my sweet little first born could stay in my belly.
I hadn’t been doing drugs, was hydrated, didn’t smoke, had been taking my prenatal vitamins and was getting prenatal care. We had no explanation of why I was in labor 17 weeks early other than I might have an incompetent cervix….nice term huh? My cervix was weak was one theory and well things just started to happen. Eight days in the hospital on the strictest of bed rest – we are talking NO trips to bathroom allowed, my son was born at 24 weeks. Caleb Andrew lived 9 days and his prognosis was never good, though he did seem to beat the odds and they were surprised at what a fighter he was. My dreams of a baby shower, first days of school, that special bond between mothers and sons and so many memories I planned on making with my child when I found out I was pregnant were buried with him. And that sucked quite frankly.
The first year was the hardest. I have never been so sad in my life. I have never cried those wailing tears before or since, the weight of each teardrop pounding my chest as it rolled off of my face. But we move on with life. We watch others bellies grow to full size with perfectly healthy babies and “normal” births with jealousy. We endure listening to comments from our friends that remind us of the failure we were in childbirth: “I was born to have babies”. We drive home and see balloons and “Its Boy/Girl” yard signs wondering why we didn’t get to put the balloons up.
Many Tuesday and Thursday mornings, I sat in my cubicle on the Share National weekly chat, grieving with other parents in our web chat room. These became my people. I posted regularly on the Forum boards too as we all had different stories, yet were going through the same thing. We laughed at the insensitivity of some people with comments – really they don’t know what to say God Bless Them, but you would be amazed at the stuff people tell you. We cried for eachother’s empty arms which literally ached from not having our babies to hold. I attended my monthly SHARE meetings with other moms. It felt good to cry and laugh with others who were lost like me.
Everyone told me how strong I was. I was not strong, I just woke up and got out of bed best I could. I dreaded Christmas card family photos, especially baby ones. I shut the door to the nursery which contained all of Caleb’s things. It was still a mess, and stayed that way until about a month before Mini Me was born a little over 2 years later. Some days I just wanted to stay in bed, which I did on my child’s due date. I gave myself permission to have a personal pity party by myself. I didn’t want to face the sadness, but what choice did I have. Everyday was a struggle that first year.
The hardest part for me was I had no reason why I went into labor. We had some postpartum tests done, which came up with nothing conclusive and the “you may be incompetent in the cervix department”. I was told I would never know definitively why I gave birth so early. I had to accept my body’s failure. I had to face my husband daily and not feel like a loser because I wasn’t able to give him his son. He was loving and understanding, which I was lucky as some friends marriages imploded after their losses. I had monthly support meetings to talk about my “crazy” thoughts and was in grief therapy because it was like nothing I had been through before. I felt crazy at times for my selfish thoughts and why me state of mind most days.
Turns out my thoughts were NOT so crazy. I learned in my groups, no matter the loss, the grief process for those losing a pregnancy and infant is often similar for most moms going through it. The numbers told me that while I thought I was alone, I was not. Approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage, some say the statistic is as high as 1 in 2. In the US, approximately 450,000 babies a year are born premature. SIDS is the leading cause of death for infants from 1 month to 1 year. Like me, moms in these situations may never know what happened or why and just have to go on with life. This is why I wanted to share my story, its certainly not a rarity.
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan declared October National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month using some truly profound words:
There isn’t a word to describe us, yet you see us all the time. We are women whom you see in the halls of school, in PTA, teleconference with in meetings at work, baristas who make you the worlds’ best cup of coffee, your pharmacist, physician, teaching your living children, the kind customer service agent on the phone and so many others. We are everywhere. “Life goes on”….. we hear it, so we just go as best we can. We try not to dwell on the loss, but the love stays and our babies are forever in our hearts. We will never forget and that grief, as time passes it hits you when you least expect it .
Today is National Infant and Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Day. Please open your hearts to those moms and dads who never got to bring their babies home from the hospital and were able to celebrate their child’s 1st birthday cake smashing. Its a tough road. I am just grateful that I was able to “outrun the crazy” that first year as one of my SHARE moms so brilliantly put it. I am blessed to be in a community offering so many wonderful ways to remember our babies this month.
I asked on my facebook page if any moms wanted to include their angels in my post. If you would please keep their parents in your thoughts and prayers today and say the names aloud if you are reading this. For us it makes their very short time with us real knowing their name is being said somewhere.
- Henry James Blackburn lost at 18 weeks of Pregnancy December 14, 2007
- Tyla Renee sweet tiny baby girl born sleeping July 22, 2005
- Caleb Andrew born at 24 weeks, August 17 – 25, 2004
Jelani Mehki Elexis Raynor. 36 weeks gestation… Life support 12 hours. November 27th 1997 my sweet baby angel girlResources:Books I Liked:
Big George: The Autobiography of an Angel
We Were Gonna Have a Baby, But We Had an Angel Instead – great to read to siblings or young children about your loss
Please share any books or websites in the comments that might have comforted you if you dealt with pregnancy or infant loss.
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