Miscarriage: A Love Remembered
I have always considered myself blessed for being super sensitive to what was going on with my body. It was no surprise to me when I recognized early on that we had conceived our second child. I was so elated! Perfect timing I thought. It was just weeks after our daughter Lauren's birthday. I could hardly hold my excitement. Maybe this one will be a boy. I hope he looks like his handsome daddy. Maybe this one will look a little like the both of us. What will his personality be like? Lauren will be so happy to have a little one to play with. Thought after thought looming in my head about this sweet addition, but there was one thought I didn't want to consider. Although this pregnancy was only my second, I couldn't shake the feeling that something felt different, maybe even wrong. There was a pronounced pressure that I didn't feel with the previous pregnancy in the beginning and there was a painful side ache. "Push that one thought away." I'd say. All is well. The doctor will confirm very soon.
The day we went to our first OB visit I was a nervous wreck. I didn't particularly feel comfortable with obstetricians due to a past experience and I wasn't quite sure what to expect other than confirmation. I was so glad that Kevin was able to join me for this appointment, The providers' office was crowded. Several beautiful pronounced bellies in the room; I smiled happily with the vision that I would look like that again soon. We were called back shortly after, I was led to the patient restroom for a urine sample while Kevin was placed in the exam room where I would join him. The nurse returned with the result that the pregnancy test was positive and after asking a few questions she placed us in the ultrasound room for our first sonogram. Nervous yet excited, I held my breath as she slid the lubricant and sonogram wand across my belly. Measurements and clicks, image after image. She was looking for something. "Honey, are you sure about your last period date?" she asked. Regular every month with the exception of that car wreck my sophomore year in high school and when I was stressed the month I came home to work while Kevin was on the road for basketball in college. "Yes, I'm sure." I replied. "Okay, wait here. The doctor will be in to see you soon."
The doctor came in, introduced himself and sat down in the stool beside the exam table just before grabbing the sonogram wand. He studied the monitor for a bit before saying, "Uh huh, well according to your last period you should be approximately 8 weeks, but these measurements are only showing 6 weeks. Right here you have a cyst that's quite large which is causing your discomfort. Go ahead and get dressed and I'll meet you in my office." he said. That was it, as quickly as he had came in, he was on his way back out. "Okay, so I'm not as far as they thought I was. That's fine. This happened with Lauren too. We had three doctors during that pregnancy. One in Illinois, one in Texas and one in Missouri. We were also given three different due dates." I reassured myself and Kevin. We were led down the hall to his office. He was already sitting behind the desk when we came in. "Have a seat, please." With a thoughtful pause, he began. "It appears that you've miscarried.?" A lump was in my throat and I couldn't swallow. "Wait. What?" I thought, "How can you be so sure?" He answered without hearing the words part my lips. "Your measurements should be further along. We'll have you return for blood work to check if your HCG levels decrease. Miscarriages in the first trimester are more typical which is why many delay in sharing the news with loved ones. I'm more concerned about the cyst that you've developed. They'll have you come back to start the blood test this week." He walked us to the check out desk. I stood there in shock. He handed our paperwork over to the assistant and continued talking. "If you don't spontaneously abort on your own once we confirm with the test, we'll schedule a D&C(dilation and curettage). Then we can discuss surgery for your cyst." I looked around to see who had heard, just in time to meet the eyes of a female patient being brought back who mirrored the same irritation for the doctors failed sensitivity.
The ride home was a blur. I didn't want to cry. I didn't believe him. He was an idiot. He can't be right. I did the only thing I knew to do, I prayed. I cried and begged God for a miracle. Please prove him wrong and make him feel as small as I had felt standing at that check out desk. I didn't want to tell anyone who didn't already know. I didn't want to talk about it. I just wanted to be. The journey to his office days later was guided with prayer for favorable results and the strength to see those bellies without a heavy heart. Despite the lack of manners he showed, I was grateful for his staff that quickly took me back for the blood test and held my gaze with eyes that said you will be okay. Each day that I held our baby in my womb felt in some way like a victory and a chance. When the nurse called to inform me that the levels were low, my heart ached. I wanted to scream, but I didn't feel it would do one bit of good. The doctors' looming threat of a D&C being the next step was now ever present. My prayer changed. "Please God, don't let him be the one to take our baby from me. I don't think I can bear having that procedure. Please allow my body to release this precious little one from me." I prayed that prayer over and over again. It was all I could think about. Within a day or so the stomach cramps began to slowly give way to my womb releasing the youngest Akana. It was just days before Christmas and although I could hardly stand the thought of moving among crowds; the excitement of the happiest two year old I knew would not be thwarted. I packed super heavy pads and rode the electric cart when necessary with little cares of stares that wondered why a seemingly healthy woman would need to be in one. I'd get exhausted like I had worked out all day, being mindful to heed the nurses warning about what would be defined as too much bleeding. For several days I released the remnants of our second child. I knew better than to ask, but I couldn't help myself. "Why did this have to happen?" I struggled to overstand. I looked for the good in a plan that was not my own. Here was an early gift; a prayer answered from a procedure that I would not have to endure. The holiday season busy with family to surround and moments to focus on everything else.
"How are you doing?" my husband would ask. "I'm doing okay." I would answer. I was thankful that he was sensitive enough to ask often, although I didn't quite even know how to answer that question. I'm supposed to be okay, right? This is typical for mothers in their first trimester. My mind repeated it again and again like a recording. I can try again. The baby was only 6 weeks and at least I wasn't that far along. I tried to negotiate all the reasons why I shouldn't feel as empty as I did. Why I couldn't and wouldn't talk about the heavy grief I was experiencing despite the fact that I never even felt a flutter. A hope, a dream, empty arms, and a yearn to nurse, cuddle and soothe a baby was all I could think of. Yet I couldn't find the words to share them with my love. The grief would be pushed down and held close.
Years later, a dear sister friend that I was getting to know would experience early labor. Her dear son would transition, much to young to survive his early arrival. Days later as she began to heal, she called on her community to gather in her home to call on the name of her son and bless his journey back to the realm of the ancestors. As she recalled her last moments with him, the sisters that gathered cried with her and held her. We brought food, gifts and stories of our shared experience. There was a sacred ritual, libations poured and prayers lifted. Later her husband and brothers in the community drummed, we danced, we laughed and we sang. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I gave thanks and prayed for more women to receive supportive healing such as this.
While attending the labor doula training later that year, I began hearing woman after woman openly share referring to their miscarriages and stillbirths as "angel babies". When it was my turn to introduce myself I sat for what seemed like an eternity. SAY IT! "I am Talita. I have 3 daughters and one angel baby." The tears fell, but not from a place of hurt and regret. I finally felt a sense of peace, gratefulness, and the angel that had blessed my womb ever so briefly was included in my introduction. I felt a sense of love and appreciation from that angel that thought I had forgotten him. All those years and I had never fully acknowledged this brief life and its' profound effect on our life.
I now consider this when holding space with a dear mother in the midst of her grief for the transition of her angel.
I'm grateful to know that one of many reasons we exist in this creation is to grow, move and shift through transitions and life experiences such as these. When we go through it and come out on the other side, sharing our journey has the power to heal and impact in such profound ways. When we hold on to these emotions or close ourselves off from receiving the lesson (which is a blessing); that comes with its own afflictions of dis ease. Allow the sharing of your transitions and loves to propel you into the beautiful transformation you are here to experience.
With all love.
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Love Talita Akana is a wife, mother, sister, and a friend. Over the years, she has shared guidance from the lessons she has learned. Grateful to be a vessel to assist others as a source of inspiration to touch another with what they learned to grow on their journey. This is Love.