From a recent contact to

On May 24th, I went in for a regular OB checkup. The day was gorgeous. It was finally warm and looked like summer was finally on the way. We had just celebrated my son’s third birthday.

I was seventeen weeks into my third pregnancy. It had been a rough one. I had hyperemesis and throwing up constantly since about week six. My doctor had put me on anti-nausea meds. I had lost ten pounds since the beginning of the pregnancy, but I had at least stopped losing weight.

It was a routine pregnancy, a third pregnancy, after two normal uncomplicated ones. My doctor and I had been through it before and didn’t think anything would go wrong. But at the appointment, he couldn’t hear a heartbeat. We had already heard it, at the 13 week check. So we headed to the ultrasound room. The baby was right there, the right size, 17 weeks gestation, and everything looked fine, except there was no heartbeat. The tiny little heart was still.

I was totally numb. I called my husband, and got another ultrasound to confirm. He arrived in time to see the 2nd ultrasound and the still little body.

The induced me later that day, in a room at the end of the birth ward. The nurses were very kind, and they hit with every pain med they could, so I don’t remember being in much physical pain. I delivered her at 2 am that morning. (That was lucky, because otherwise her birth and death day would have been on my nephew’s birthday)

She was perfect in everyway. She could have fit in the palm of my hand, with tiny fingernails, and every little toe accounted for. We named her Angel Marie, after me, my mother, and my grandmother.

Later that day, we brought my sons to the hospital and they got to see her. Our priest had a memorial service for us at the hospital and then they took her body away. We had her cremated and I plan on burying her with me when that day comes.

The next days were strange. I remember being detached as if the whole thing had happened to someone else instead of me. I remember loving to sleep because when I slept I could forget that it happened. I could wake up happy, blissful and have a couple of moments without the whole thing crashing back over me.

Eventually, that part faded and I was faced with it both in dreams (insult to injury) and awake. My saving grace was my two sons who were at the time 3 and 4. They were needy, and as grieved as I was, as much as it hurt to even breath, I much as I wish that I could have died so that she could have lived, I knew I couldn’t lose it.

I coped by moving through the world of action. As soon as I was physically recovered, I kept very busy. I cried a lot too, don’t get me wrong. There is no way around the pain. I tried to cry when I needed too, but still take the boys to the park, still go to the zoo. I was in a mother’s group and they surrounded me in a way that I could never have known I needed. Just to have a place to go, somewhere where everyone knew what had happened and no one would press me was a Godsend. Just to be with other people helped so much.

It felt like the world was a carousel and I had fallen off. Everything had changed, but nothing had changed.

We got pregnant again a few months later. Since there was no apparent cause for the fetal death, the doctors encouraged us to try again, whenever we wanted. (Which is odd, since everyone I’ve known who had an early miscarriage are usually cautioned to wait a few months)

Once again, it was a hard pregnancy, although I didn’t lose nearly as much weight. We lost him October 25th, in the same way. When I went in for my 12 week check, there was no heartbeat, even though there had been one 4 weeks earlier. He was the right size, just like his sister. It was as if walking into the doctor office was what stopped his heart.

This time I had a DNC, in fact, my OB insisted on it. I have never seen a more depressed doctor. I didn’t have to go through labor again. I went to sleep and it was over. It was a black sleep, where I didn’t dream. I remember being thankful for that. I had another DNC five days later to remove a large blood clot. I was thankful for not having to feel while in surgery.

I was very numb after the second loss. We named him Alex, because until the labs came back, we didn’t know if he were a boy or a girl. I couldn’t even get my head around it, or what it meant for the future, or even that it happened. I lost myself even more. I started working more at my part time job, I desperately keep busy. I did everything I could to focus on anything else.

A few months later, my mother and I went to have “girl’s day” and got facials. During my facial, my daughter came to me from wherever she is. She told me two things. She told me I needed to grieve for Alex. And then she thanked me for having him, because now they were together.

After that I think I started to recover, but I’ll never be the same. The Allison I was on May 25th 2007 at 8:00 am is gone forever. She’ll never be back. But the new Allison is actually a better person. My compassion has grown by leaps and bounds. Believe it or, the happiness I feel now is more genuine. When I laugh, I feel it all the way down to my belly. I’m desperately proud of my two boys, (who are horrifically precocious) and I’ve realized what is really important for them. Which is just to be loved for who and what they are.

You might be wondering what the cause for my miscarriages was. So am I. There has never been a clear cut medical reason. My OB told me never to play the lottery because I have the worst luck of anyone he’s ever known. I went to a perinatologist, who looked at my blankly and gave me the card for a psychologist who deals with neo-natal problems. She also suggested to see a doctor of ancient Chinese medicine aka an acupuncturist.

But I also had been having digestive problems since my second son was born in April of 2004. (Actually, I’d been having them my entire life, but it got markedly worse after he was born) Since that was the only thing that had changed since my second was born, I pushed for a better diagnosis, and therefore I went to Mayo Clinic.

After a lot of tests, and a lot of doctors, they finally told me that I have celiac disease (or more correctly, had, it wasn’t active.) Celiac disease is a genetic disorder where my body can’t digest gluten a protein found in wheat. When you eat it, your body attacks the gluten and starts to destroy your small intestine. I had suspected it, but I didn’t know for sure. They told me to stay on a gluten free diet forever (meaning no flour) but they didn’t think it was what caused the problems with miscarriages.

However, my acupuncturist disagreed. (Hey, the perinatologist recommended it, who am I to argue. The Chinese have been doing this for 5000 years.) My acupuncturist said my digestive problems were so severe that they were causing problems for other parts of my body, including my reproductive organs. After I went gluten free, the problems started to disappear.

He believes that I can carry another baby to term now, but we haven’t gotten pregnant since. My husband thinks it’s going to be harder this time. And I still have to figure out how to eat.

I miss my babies everyday. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of them in someway. Angel would be 10 months old had she lived, Alex would be 3 months old.

In a very real way, I lost not one, but two children. But I also never had them to begin with, so it’s weird, like an alternate reality. Everything changed in that one moment, but nothing did. I still had the same house, the same husband, same kids, same problems, but everything was different.

I finally came to accept (at least I hope I have) that I’m not in control of my own life. I realized all the things that I worried about never happen and the things that really hurt, I have no control over and can’t prepare for, even if I wanted too.

But my kids aren’t gone, because the people we love never really leave us. I never understood that until now.

I will grieve forever. Just a few months ago, the whole thing hit me again and it was a fresh and painful as if it were yesterday. But I won’t be sad forever and whether or not I have more kids, I’ll be okay.