“We miss you already. We were so excited to spend our lives with you. To teach you. To learn from you. To laugh with you. And to shower you with snuggles and kisses. We are so sad that these dreams won’t come true but we will carry our love for you anywhere we go. You made us parents for the first time and even though you’re not with us anymore, we will forever be your mommy & daddy. We can’t wait for the day we will finally get to hug you. Thank you for everything you gave us. With all the love in our hearts. – Mama & Papa”.
There is absolutely nothing that could have prepared us for the most difficult moment of our lives. Losing a baby is real, it’s raw, and it’s painful. And navigating that experience is extremely personal to every couple and every individual. There is no manual that told us how to get through it. What works for one person, doesn’t work for another. What works this time around, may not work the next time. It’s a messy trial and error process.
To anyone who asks my husband and I whether we have children, we respond “not yet”. It always comes with a little bit of a sting – a longing to hold our own child in our arms and a feeling that our response is only half true. The other half of the truth is that we already are parents. October marked the one-year anniversary of losing our first pregnancy. It was a challenging road but at the same time it’s been a beautiful one that has brought Sascha and I even closer.
When we found out that we were pregnant last year, we got a little taste of what parenthood would be like. Though we thought we knew what we were getting ourselves into, in reality we had no idea. Right from the beginning, we got strapped onto the rollercoaster of parenthood. We found ourselves freaking out – feeling sheer joy of experiencing the beginning of a human life but at the same time feeling scared.
Luckily the freakout only lasted a little bit… but the parenthood rollercoaster did not. When we went for our first sonogram, we were so excited to see our baby and hear the heartbeat… only to be told that we were most likely having an abnormal pregnancy. We both sat in the doctor’s room and just stared at each other. We were so scared, so sad, and so confused. Sascha held me in his arms, kissed my face and told me to let it all out. “We’ve got each other. We can handle anything”, he said as I was sobbing. His quiet strength is something I have admired since the day I met him.
Over the following week, as we waited for all of the test results to come back, we couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed and confused. We felt ourselves being pulled in opposite directions, wanting to stay positive and hopeful that we just caught the pregnancy early but at the same time already grieving the loss of our baby. Even though I had felt major changes in my body by that time, I obviously hadn’t actually felt the baby inside of me. How could I miss something that hadn’t really been yet? The wait was agonizing.
Eventually, I surrendered. I put one hand on my stomach and one hand over my heart. If baby K just needed a little bit more time, then we’d be waiting patiently. But if this was not a healthy pregnancy and our baby wouldn’t keep developing, I gave my body permission to stop holding on to it. Letting go of the need to desperately make this happen or to know what will be was everything but easy. I couldn’t stop the tears from running down my face but at the same time it brought a sense of peace to me.
Test results showed that my HcG hormone was coming back down, indicating that I was going through a miscarriage. There was zero chance that this was a healthy pregnancy. And yet, when we decided to have the D&C procedure done, I remember the heavy weight I felt in my chest. Fear was screaming inside of me “DON’T DO IT. DON’T DO IT. What if the baby just needs a little bit more time”? Even when faced with the ultimate bad news, I couldn’t give up hope. I even convinced the doctor to do another test, just to be sure.
Coming home after surgery was yet another stage of this journey that taught us more than we could have asked for. We knew it was going to be difficult and take some time to process all of the ups and especially the downs we had experienced in such a short time. I am so grateful we made a conscious decision to allow ALL of the emotions present to be felt without judgement.
SURPRISE. In a way, I thought that I would feel it if something was wrong. Being a first-time mom, I didn’t know what pregnancy was supposed to feel like. But being an athlete, I would like to say that I have a heightened awareness of my body and can quickly spot when things aren’t right. But there was absolutely nothing that indicated to me that this wasn’t a healthy pregnancy.
SADNESS. Even though we had just started to expand our family, Sascha and I both had wished to have children for as long as we could think. Seeing that wish and dream come to an abrupt end brought an immense amount of sadness to us. Something good was leaving our lives and it simply hurt.
ANGER. We didn’t understand why we were given this precious gift just for it to be taken away again. We had gotten our hopes up, we had started dreaming of everything that could be, and in a matter of weeks, it was all over again and we were back to normal. It felt like a cruel tease.
GRATITUDE. At the same time of feeling all of these hard emotions, we were beyond grateful to have each other. To just hug each other. To share our thoughts and feelings. To lean onto each other. And to comfort each other in this difficult time.
ACCEPTANCE. The most helpful piece of advice we were given was to look at miscarriages as a way of nature letting go of something that wasn’t supposed to be. A baby that wasn’t going to survive anyways. Knowing that there was absolutely nothing we could have done differently, was the biggest source of strength for both of us.
HOPE. For all of my life, no matter how hard the situation, hope was always something I could rely on. Hope that the next day could be a little better than the day before. While we actively refrained from thinking about the future and instead remained in the present, we felt a deep sense of hope and conviction that everything will work out when the time is right. We’ve never come across people whose parenthood dreams didn’t come true in one way or another as long as they were willing to persevere.
Allowing all of these emotions to coexist and surface at different times during the grieving process helped us process the loss of our baby without creating additional suffering. We felt whatever we felt. We accepted whatever was in the moment. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to do this before, or since, for that matter. But I am beyond grateful for the strength to fall apart. It takes courage to stop holding it together. And it takes courage to accept every part of oneself. But in my experience, that’s when healing takes place.