“From the time I was a little girl all I wanted was to be a mom. When asked, most kids would name a profession. Not me. Just a mom. At the age of 6 I already knew I wanted 10 kids.
My husband Matt and I started dating when I was 13. We had the kids talk before we ever had the marriage talk. I wanted to make sure if it lasted, we would have the same goals. He was able to talk me down to 4 kids, somehow. When I was 19, we married. We decided to take a year for just us. At 20, I had my first miscarriage. I didn’t tell anyone but Matt. I came home that day from the doctor curled up in the fetal position under our Christmas tree and cried. I went back to work the next day and was taking orders at a drive-in while someone was complaining about their kids. They said, ‘Melissa, you’re lucky you don’t have kids.’ I explained to them I had just miscarried, and I WOULD gladly take their place.
The weeks that followed I would have nightmares of phantom baby cries, I would sleepwalk and wake in panic because I could hear a baby, but not find it. One night in my sleep I tore our whole house apart thinking I had misplaced the baby. I remember sitting myself down and giving myself a pep talk. ‘You are young, you can try again.’ All the things I had others tell me. I decided to have a good cry but that was it – I would heal. I would get past this grief.
At age 29 we would start testing since I hadn’t been pregnant since. These tests included bloodwork, surgery, sperm counts, and medications to name a few. We would then receive a diagnosis. I have PCOS which can cause infertility and something else the doctor never gave a name. Basically, my body makes an antibody that fights sperm. My body recognizes sperm as the enemy and kills them. So children would be next to impossible for us without IVF. I made a joke to the doctor, but I was crushed. Life went on, we kept trying, but each negative test brought anger, frustration and tears. My wonderful husband kept saying doctors don’t know everything; we will just keep trying. I felt like I had wasted not only my life, but his as well.
At age 35 I remember talking to God on my way home. Someone once told me ‘God is my co-pilot’ so when I’m alone driving, I talk aloud to him. It’s my quietest moment and helps me clear my head. It hit me to ask him to touch my heart and give me peace. ‘Dear God, I don’t understand your ways, but I don’t question them. If it is your will, please give me a child. And if the answer is no, please heal my heart. Help me to let go of my dreams.’ There was lots of tears, and then peace. I would put my trust in him.
That January was my granny’s 75 birthday. We decided to throw her a surprise party. I would have to fly out for the visit. Everything went as planned until I missed my connecting flight. I went to the ticket counter a real mess. I was crying hysterically and mumbling what I thought were words. I was going to miss the party. That poor man at the random ticket counter I approached got 4 more employees and they found me a flight. I still couldn’t even say thank you. All I could do was touch my heart and smile. As I’m taxiing down the runway I was like, ‘Who was that woman?’ I have NEVER in my life been like that. The party was great, but I would break down in tears 3 more times while there. My own mom asked me, ‘Are you ok? You have cried A LOT.’
When I got home I was sick for 3 weeks. Between throwing up or being horribly congested I couldn’t get over it. I assumed I caught some travel super bug from the airport. They ran test after test and they all came back negative EXCEPT the pregnancy test. When the doctor told me, I said, ‘You’re a liar. You told me it wasn’t possible. You messed the test up.’ She would rerun it several times. I was pregnant. I would thank God all day with tears in my eyes. At 6 weeks I started bleeding. I was told this was normal but with my history, to not lift anything and keep my feet up. It happened a lot. I was extremely sick vomiting all the time and vomiting would cause me to bleed. I would give myself pep talks. ‘It’s ok, we can get through this.’ I would lose 20lbs in my 1st trimester. I ate every 30 minutes but was so sick I couldn’t keep anything down.
On April 21st I lost Adam at 16 weeks. I went to the doctor that day for the glucose check. When it was done, I told the nurse I felt dizzy and nauseous. She told to go eat some protein and lay down, and that this was my 1st pregnancy and was normal. I trusted her – what did I know? I left, ate, and still felt just as bad. I went to bed and slept all day. When my husband got off work at 6 p.m. we went and ate. I said I need to pee. We stopped by my work so I could pee but something was in the way. Working as a veterinary technician, I knew it was my embryonic sac. I tried to get up very carefully, but it popped. I remember the scream that came out of my body but it didn’t feel like mine. I called the doctor, but no answer. So I went to the ER. They kept trying to tell me I had peed myself. I KNEW better and this time I refused to listen. I made them admit me. At 2 a.m. they found me a bed. I had sent Matthew home. We had animals that needed to be walked and fed. My four-legged babies needed care. At 3 a.m. someone came in the room to check the baby’s heart. Then my room became full with 3 people, a doctor, and my nurse. They are all busy. Someone is holding my hand, I don’t know who, then like slow motion everything stops. They all leave but the doctor and the nurse. He says your baby’s heart has stopped. We will move you to delivery now. You will deliver him naturally. The nurse asks, ‘Can I get you anything?’ The last thing I remember saying for hours was, ‘Will you please stop my heart?’
At some point Matthew comes in. I can’t look at him. I am such failure. Then my dad and cousin. The doctors attempt to induce labor. They give me an IV drip for pain because I refuse everything else. I DERSERVE TO SUFFER. Everything they try to do to induce labor fails. All the while I hurt and vomit. At 10:44 a.m. on April 22 Adam would be born. They clean him and I hold him telling him how sorry I am. The pain in my heart is so great, I don’t want to live through it. My doctor comes in and tells me my placenta is stuck we have to wait for it to pass or remove it surgically. They want to wait for my blood pressure to come up. It is way too low. They check it every 15 minutes. All the while, I’m willing my body to just let go. At 3 a.m. on April 23rd they take me for surgery. When I wake I tell Matthew I had the strangest dream. I dreamt I was on a metal table, I got off, got in a fist fight with 6 people who slammed me back down on the table, and when I hit the table something is stuck in my mouth. I puke and start choking and then it blacks out. The nurse walking by me said, ‘That wasn’t a dream. They kept you light because of the risk. You woke up.’
I wake up later in the maternity ward and my next memory is being awakened by a screaming baby which INSTANTLY sets me off. This baby would be real, but it’s not mine. Every time I heard the baby I would cover my ears and cry. The weeks that followed would be horrible. I would hear everything people say to give themselves peace. ‘You can try again,’ ‘it happened once,’ ‘God has his reasons,’ ‘God has a plan for you.’ ‘Why did you bury him? He wasn’t a real child.’ ‘God knew you would be a bad mom.’
I would refuse my pain meds (I deserved it), had to be reminded to eat (I would lose another 20lbs), I only left my bed because my dog needed to be walked and fed. I couldn’t look at my husband without crying. I couldn’t look in the mirror without screaming and wanting to kill the evil failure of a woman inside for everything she was and wasn’t. I still can’t look at her most days. We decorate Adam’s grave for holidays and his birthday. It helps me. We still haven’t been able to afford a stone for him but we are saving. He was and always will be loved.
People tell me, ‘Adopt, there are babies who need love.’ They don’t realize it’s just as expensive to adopt as IVF, and there is always a risk. Parents change their mind, children born addicted to drugs going through withdrawals and illness, and adoption fall through. I imagine it’s just as painful to lose a child that’s not yours. I can’t have a baby without IVF. I wish I could. Sadly, there is no rainbow for me (what they call a child after miscarriage). I know this, and it breaks my heart. We have put trying on hold since we can’t afford it. We put our trust in God. So for now I wait here until God calls me home, then I will greet Adam with all the love I’ve been saving for him.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Melissa Muse, 38, of Pioneer, Tennessee. Do you have a similar grief journey you’d like to share? We’d like to hear from you, for others to know they are not alone. Submit your story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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