“We were unpacking from our eighth move in seven years when I stumbled upon my old positive pregnancy test. I felt a big lump in my throat that brought back so many emotions. It was like an old bouquet of dead flowers. Although the flowers were dead, they still looked beautiful in their own way. The bouquet of sadness, confusion, and heartache still had slight flowery aroma. Just like my own feelings and emotions.
For a moment I try to carefully sort flowers. It’s been stored for so long that at times it’s hard to identify those feelings. Somehow, the pregnancy test is still positive. Even after all these years, it’s like a never-ending reminder that at one point there was heartbeat and a baby in my belly. I had high hopes and dreams for this child. I gently cradled my dreams, plans, and feelings for this tiny bean that was rapidly growing in me. It’s funny how something so tiny, the size of the poppy seed, makes you change your whole life in just one instance. It makes you grow in ways you never thought were even possible. This growth is painful and rapid and not gentle at all. It makes you forget who you were before those ‘two lines’.
The memories rush over me. It’s like someone is fast forwarding a movie where I happen to be main character, however this movie does not have a happy ending. It’s like a never-ending roller coaster. With time, pain gets easier to bare. It doesn’t make you physically feel that achiness in your bones and doesn’t take your breath away. Somehow, it gets easier to breathe and bare the weight of painful moments that are staggered on your tired shoulders.
I stumbled upon my first ultrasound and that replayed the most beautiful sound in my mind, the sound of your child’s heartbeat. I remember seeing this beautiful little bean jumping all over the screen and my heart swelled up with joy and excitement. I was told I was 8 weeks along and I couldn’t wait to get to the safe mark and be able to tell everyone about my little ‘secret’. I nicknamed this tiny little miracle ‘shrimp’. I was told that baby shrimp was doing great and had a very strong heartbeat. I was thrilled to have a new addition joining us in August of 2012.
But I was blissfully unaware that sometimes babies stop growing. Sometimes things do not go as planned and life takes a sudden U-turn. All of the sudden, you are feel lost and have no GPS or map to lead you back to your old self. Just to realize you will never be the same.
Miscarriage steals joy and innocence of any future pregnancies. Once you experience this traumatic event you will worry about every little thing for the rest of your other pregnancies. You will lose sleep at night overthinking your every move and blaming yourself for every fast food cheeseburger or cup of coffee that you consumed. You will always feel like at any sudden moment you will lose your existing pregnancy and relive those painful words of, ‘I am so sorry, but there is no heartbeat.’ Your doctors will attempt to comfort you and tell you that miscarriage is a common occurrence.
I was told that one in four pregnancies will end in pregnancy or infant loss. It is a scary statistic and it happens a lot. However, those thoughts won’t be comforting to your aching heart. I was told I should not be sad. My doctor casually mentioned that my baby was the size of a blueberry and how lucky I am to get pregnant. That one day, when I am ready to try again, I will be a mother. I tried to forget that awful day when I woke up from my surgery and my eyes swelled with tears. My mind was still so foggy after anesthesia. I remember crying for my baby shrimp. My sweet partner tried sweeping tears off my face as I screamed, ‘I just want my baby back!’ Those sad memories will forever echo in my mind.
No one talks about how hard it is to love your body again. As a little girl, I was gifted baby dolls for every special occasion. I gently rocked them in my arms, changed their ruffled outfits, and gave them goodnight kisses. In my lifetime, I was unsure about a lot of things but I always knew I wanted to be a mother. It’as hard to know that your dream might never come true. No one ever talks how awfully painful it is to look at your body after pregnancy loss. I felt anger, disgust, and deep sadness. My body was supposed to give my baby shrimp a safe home to grow and thrive. Instead, it killed it. It killed something that was part of me and something that I loved so much. It destroyed every hope and dream I had for this child.
The feeling of guilt and disgust haunted me for years. It took years to undo the damage. The meaningless words of family members who tried their very best to comfort me without realizing how miserably they were failing. I heard words that it was not the right time, how everything happened for a reason, and how it never happened to anyone in my immediate family. However, late at nights, I could never find a reason as to why this baby was taken from me, why the universe wanted to hurt me physically and emotionally.
I spent countless hours crying myself to sleep because I felt like no one knew what to say. No words were comforting to me and, more than anything, I just wanted people to stop talking and just hug me. I wanted them to know my story, my struggle, and my pain. I wanted people to know that baby shrimp mattered. That I grieved our future and our life. It was evident that some people never experience pregnancy loss. They had no idea what to say and, more than anything, they were confused. They were confused over my sadness and tears. They had no idea that my hormones were crashing so fast and that I still needed time. I was called dramatic and I was told to just get over it. But how could I?
From the very first moment, I knew I loved this baby. Baby shrimp was part of me. I grew him in my belly for 12 short weeks. We were almost at the safe mark, or so I thought. I was part of that sad statistic. A statistic with no face and a baby that was only the size of a blueberry. I was part of the club. The club that no one wants to be part of and no one wants to discuss.
The loneliness after pregnancy loss is unbearable. It is an indescribable feeling of not being able to relate to anyone or anything. As the time went on, I had countless amount of women reach out and tell me their stories. Stories of pregnancy and infant loss. I quickly realized that our society set us up for a failure. If pregnancy and infant loss is such a common occurrence, then why is it not talked about? Why is it frowned upon to grieve and love a baby that died in pregnancy or was born sleeping? It is a foreign concept for so many people.
Your love for a baby is not defined by gestation age. A lot of people imagine that a woman in this situation never really knew or loved what she had. However, if you ask her, ‘How old would your child be now?,’ she will know. My sweet little shrimp would have been 7 years old.
Pregnancy loss was one of the toughest, most complex feelings I have ever encountered. But it gave me an amazing sisterhood of women who went through pregnancy and infant loss and felt every emotion and feeling. I am writing this in hopes to encourage all other women who feel like statistics.
Your baby matters. Your feelings are valid. You are allowed to grieve and love your child despite their gestational age. Allow yourself to be sad. But most importantly, it is okay to feel like your body failed you. I was you eight years ago, crying myself to sleep, forgetting to shower for days, losing count of the days. You will heal, you will laugh, and you will be you again. Maybe not the old you, but this painful experience will allow you to appreciate every flutter in your belly, every sleepless night, and every sweet smile.
Three years after we experienced miscarriage, we welcomed our rainbow baby boy. A rainbow baby that gave us so much hope, joy, and love after the storm. Dear momma, you might feel like that experienced infant or pregnancy loss will always be a bouquet of dead flowers… But I am here to tell you that decay is always followed by bloom.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Natalia of Panama City Beach, Florida. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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