From Miscarriage to Miracle Pt. 1
Many women have been through it but very few talk about it - miscarriage. Over the next two weeks, Kara- Ann Boyne-Anderson and Hope McMillan-Caanan share their stories of not just loss, but triumph.
Today, we share Kara's story.
When I first found out I was pregnant, I questioned myself and God. Was He sure about this? Sure about trusting me with a life? I wasn't sure. I wasn't sure if I was ready. We had only been married two years, and I felt we needed time - more time together. More time to grow, to travel, to live, to prepare. How was I going to tell my husband I was pregnant?
We had just started building our dream home and had the discussion of having children after our new home was finished.
Now I had to tell him we were going to have another mouth to feed. My husband was away on tour and was returning that Monday. When I told him, he was elated!
His eyes lit up like a kid in the candy store! He immediately started making plans, picking names, buying toys. He was over the moon and now, so was I! His confidence gave me the strength to believe I could do this. I was made for this. I was going to be a Mommy!
Everyday that passed, I grew more excited. I bought baby clothes and magazines. I stopped drinking sodas and even started eating right, after all, I had a little person growing inside of me. I signed up for daily updates on babycenter.com "Today, your baby is the size of an avocado" I looked forward to those updates. We made the big baby announcements to the grandparents and immediately family at the safe three-month mark.
Then we hit four months and, according to the babycenter.com updates, my baby had ears and his dad being a DJ and mom being a dancer, we wanted to start his or her life right ... with the sound of music. We started playing music in the headphones affixed to my stomach every night. We wanted to create our own little mini me.
I was four months pregnant when it happened. July 6, 2009 I started spotting. I called a friend who told me it was probably nothing, I should stay off my feet and make a doctor's appointment as soon as possible.
July 7, 2009. I remember the date like it was yesterday. Partially because it was the same date as Micheal Jackson's funeral. While the world was mourning the death of an icon, I secretly suffered in silence. I felt something was wrong. The music in my world had stop playing. After getting ready to go to my appointment, I sat on the bed, begging and pleading with God not to change His mind. I told Him I have never been more sure of anything than wanting to be a mummy. I made promises of being a better person, if only He would let me hold on to this baby, but my body already knew.
I remember walking into the doctor's office, I remember climbing onto the table, I remember staring at the ceiling. I remember the doctor entering the room and turning on the ultrasound machine. Then I remember the silence. The moment that the empty feeling became real. She said "I'm so sorry ...". I do not remember anything else after that.
My husband's account is that I put down what he calls "CVM Bawling", becoming aggressive (very out of character for me) and telling the nurse and the doctor that they were wrong and wanting to leave, demanding a second opinion.
He said he called my mom, who immediately told him to bring me home to Jamaica. I do not remember packing, I don't remember going to the airport or boarding the plane. It was as if I was in a deep sleep and I didn't want to wake up. I do remember waking up in Jamaica in my childhood home with my mother and husband by my side. Everything felt so unreal. I went to my Jamaican obstetrician who confirmed it. I had a miscarriage. The little person inside me, that I had grown to love, that I had protected for so long, the little heart that was beating ... had stopped. There was just silence and emptiness.
It was all difficult. First, hearing the words that confirmed my deepest fears, having life inside one moment and the feeling of emptiness the next. Second, the thought that I had disappointed all those around me - my husband, two sets of excited grandparents, family and friends.
But the most difficult part was in between the confirmation and the surgery - five days of walking around with my dead baby inside of me. Then, of course, there was the surgery. The D&C (Dilation and Curettage), the tissue removal after the miscarriage. A traumatic experience, to say the least.
I remember walking into the hospital, looking down on the medical forms and the nurse had written spontaneous abortion, a term used to describe the loss of a pregnancy without outside intervention before 20 weeks' gestation.
I remember being so angry at the thought of the word "abortion" being used in this situation. This was not an abortion, this was not a choice I made, but I was too heart broken to argue.
After checking in, the nurse escorted me past the nursery with all the newborn babies and a hallway full of new and expecting mothers. How insensitive! As my eyes welled up, my mother realised that my room was located on the maternity ward. I burst into tears and I was inconsolable. My mother demanded that it be changed.
I could not and would not stay on that floor. The sound of tiny newborn babies crying made my reality too real.
An autopsy was done and the cause of death was inconclusive.
The Blame game
I blamed myself everyday. I had one job. One job to protect my unborn child and I failed. I thought back on every moment prior - was it something I ate? Was I too active? Did I lift something heavy? What did I do?! Was it because I was not sure I wanted to be pregnant in the first place?
It had to be my fault. I was carrying this baby, no one else was there. It had to be me. My body terminated this pregnancy there was no one else to blame.
After days of feeling ashamed, disappointed, depressed, and like a failure. I spent days in bed alone, suffering in silence. Putting on a brave face for visitors and friends and family who called, but silently crying myself to sleep at nights. Many days locked away, just me and my thoughts of the child I never had, wondering what did he/she looked like?
People would say "God knows best!", "Everything happens for a reason", "Something was probably wrong with the baby", and "It's not the end of the world, try to move on". All statements that made me curl up and hesitate even more about sharing my story.
And, of course, there were persons who, months after, would ask, "What did you have? A boy or a girl? How old is your child now?
Miscarriage is death. It is the loss of life, no matter how young it is ... it is death and all the grief and feelings that come with it.
But miscarriage is also a taboo topic. It's the very reason we hide our pregnancies during those first three months, as we eagerly await the danger period to be over so we can make the necessary announcements and share our joy with others.
When bad news comes, so many couples that lose a pregnancy, tend to mourn in secret, telling only close friends and family about their loss. There are no funerals, no memorials.
You don't get sympathy cards and bereavement time off from work. You don't get closure. Instead, life goes on and you are expected to as well.
It is only after my first miscarriage that I realised how many other women had been through a similar loss. So many couples suffer in silence. We expect grieving couples to pretend that the little life lost never existed in the first place.
We reduce a miracle to a topic not fit for polite conversation. As a society, we let ourselves believe that miscarriage is a minor event in a woman's life. "It happens all the time. "It really wasn't a baby yet" is another line people often offer. Or, "You hardly even knew you were pregnant."
I was pregnant for four months. That's 120 mornings of waking up and having a life inside of me. One hundred and twenty days of fatigue, strange cravings, nausea, and loads of prenatal vitamins.
I decided to go back to work. I threw myself into work so that I wouldn't have to think about it. Some days later, my husband gave me my push gift - a pendant with two tiny footprints and a diamond. "A push gift is a present a father gives to the mother to mark the occasion of her giving birth to their child." He decided to give it to me even after our loss.
At that moment, we had agreed that this was not the end of our story but just a chapter.
Join us next week for the conculsion of Kara's story