Surprise! For those not already aware (sorry Mom, whoops), I am currently knocked-up with Baby #2, coming January 2017. That means I am in my third trimester already and finally getting around to telling people. For those asking, let me explain why I waited until 28 weeks along to announce it. My pregnancy has been hard. My husband and I have lost two babies in the last year, and we had already decided that this would be our very last try to expand our family, regardless of the outcome.
“ I never imagined that it would be difficult to conceive and carry to term after already having a healthy child."
The more I move through life, the more I find that miscarriages are a part of so many lives, but so rarely talked about. They are different for everyone, but for the most part, the loss of an unborn child is gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, and discouraging. I never imagined that it would be difficult to conceive and carry to term after already having a healthy child. It is more of a miracle than I even understood before these experiences.
All of this being said, this pregnancy has been hard. We found out that we were expecting this baby shortly after our second miscarriage. It was unexpected (really though, I knew unprotected sex makes babies, I just didn't expect it to happen so quickly after a loss), and scary. I spent the first few weeks terrified that we'd lose our child. I spent the following 12 weeks sicker than I ever thought possible. For those morning sickness non-believers, let me tell you, it is no joke. I was unable to keep anything down for weeks - vomiting 15-20 times a day, quickly losing weight, muscles atrophying, esophagus raw/blistered and utterly helpless. After one trip to the ER, three bouts with IV fluids, 4 different anti-nausea medications, bed-rest and a whole lot of "feel like giving up," I finally started to feel better at about 18 weeks along. Finally. After that, it was ‘just’ dealing with standard symptoms of pregnancy that suck: a groin hernia, hemorrhoids, round ligament pain, sore nipples, exhaustion and severe Sciatica that makes it hard to stand or walk. That, my friends, is the reality of pregnancy that people won’t discuss because most of it is kinda gross. And yet, when I do mention it, the response is usually something like, “OMG, I had the WORST hemorrhoids when I was pregnant and I literally thought my nipples would fall off!!” Me too sister, me too. Why do people do this to themselves, again? Oh yeah, babies.
I’ve struggled with how to write this blog, and if I should. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. For me, this means remembering the two unborn children I have lost in the last year, and being immensely grateful, yet at the same time terrified, to be in the third trimester of this pregnancy. I’ve learned that the older I get and the more I talk about it, the more I find that many of the women I know have experienced such losses. In fact, I read recently that 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in a miscarriage. It is incredibly common and finally becoming something that women feel comfortable sharing. It also means that I try harder to reflect on my experiences and be conscious of the things I say to others.
I hope everyone will take a look at how they approach women, each other. Please be aware, considerate and thoughtful in the questions you ask. Many of the women you know have experienced difficulty with fertilization, miscarriage, high risk pregnancy, severe complications, adoption woes and other things you couldn’t imagine unless you have gone through it. I now understand that the things I used to jokingly say or silly remarks made when talking to my friends about kiddos, are not as innocent as they seemed. One week after having a D&C to clear a second-trimester miscarriage, the statement, “OMG, you make the cutest babies! When are you going to have another?” literally brought me to my knees. I KNOW you didn’t know. I KNOW you would have felt the devastation along with me. I KNOW you would have crawled inside my car and held me as I cried for an hour on my lunch break from work. I know. This is why I am telling you. Mindless words are spoken with the best intentions all the time.
* Author’s note: I also want to address women who do not want to have children. I wish that the societal pressure to reproduce was not so shaming. I admire and respect your choice and hope people will stop asking sexist and ageist questions about when/why/where you are “finally going to have a baby?” I am also going to live vicariously through you on Facebook while my toddler spills his food all over my clean carpet and then coughs into my mouth, intentionally. Enjoy your disposable income and travels, and please bring me something nice from Croatia on your next trip. You are amazing and you do not owe anyone an explanation for your choice!
So in the month of October, when friends unexpectedly post something about losing a child on social media, and every other day of the year – please be loving to the women in your life. Understand that we know you did not mean to be offensive when you made that comment, we know you love us and want us to have a full life, complete with all of the babies we wish to have or without any at all. Just be delicate and possibly, just don’t say anything at all. It really isn’t your business whether or not I have another child, want another child, want a second boy, will try for a third to get a girl, or anything else that has to do with the past, present or future condition of my uterus. I think that should pretty much be a standard rule, along with not touching my pregnant belly if we are not close friends. So weird.
XOXO - Mer