Please note, this post mentions the loss of pregnancy.
We've all been told, becoming a mother is a "right of passage." When you give birth, you've joined countless other women that have gone before you. You feel you've joined an elite club, and graduated into being a mother.
While you're pregnant, nearly every woman you see that is, or has been pregnant wants to ask you about your swelling form, touch the precious life growing inside you, and tell you of their own experiences. It is a way they re-connect with becoming a mother for the first time, and remember what it felt like to have a child within the protective boundaries of her womb. To see your pregnant belly, to remember her own experiences connects her with you in a unique and astonishing way. Something as a pregnant woman, you don't quite understand, and in fact tend to get annoyed with. But after you've given birth, you understand deeply, and may even look back fondly on the times you were asked about your precious babe, still safely nestled in your womb.
Giving birth and becoming a mother is far from the only "birth right of passage" moms go through. As you may have read in My Son's Birth Story I went through something few women do. I became a mother without experiencing birth. A c-section birth is difficult to overcome in the best of circumstances, but as I was put under a general anesthetic, I don't even remember it. I remember being wheeled to surgery covered with a sheet as if dead to keep me from having a stroke, having a mask put over my face and 100...99...98....and then I woke up. I was no longer pregnant. My baby was taken from me. "Is it over? Is the baby alright?" Later I discovered that since my condition was so fragile, coupled with the general anesthetic, my husband was only allowed to stand in the door way and couldn't answer my question as to wether or not our precious child cried when meeting the world. I felt completely robbed of my right of passage into motherhood. For years afterward, I could not say "when I had my son" or "when I gave birth" all I could say was "when they took him."
Altho I did not "give birth" in the normal way, I did give birth. I gave birth to my son via C-section. I did not however, join the ranks of the countless number of women that went before me. Instead I joined the ranks of a far smaller group. A unique bond of those that gave birth, but did not "give birth" Through the years, mostly in online forums, I've "met" others that gave birth as I did. A handful of women, that were not awake to see or hear their childs first cry. I joined the ranks of those with premature infants. A far larger group than I ever imagined. A special bond develops between mothers of preemies, with those who have gone before and those who come after. Instead of birth stories, you share NICU stories, fears, how hard pumping was and how to establish breastfeeding. A different birth right. I AM a mother, even tho I do not remember my childs birth.
In my daughters birth, I carried her to full term, and remained healthy even tho at times the back pain made me drag my foot when walking. I went through 32 hours of back labor, and close to 2 hours of pushing before she entered the world. I was exhausted, but I challenged labor and it could not defeat me. I was determined to feel and know every contraction and sensation involved with birth. To feel what it was like to birth my baby naturally. To hold a sticky, wet squirmy newborn, and even get pooped on as soon as she was out. I relished her first cry. In fact, altho the last 2 hours were a terrible struggle, I felt I labored for both my children in one long, slow labor. I was happy to be in labor. I was happy to feel that pain. I was utterly amazed at the feeling as she emerged from my body. I had succeeded in achieving the birth right of a normal, healthy birth. It was as invigorating as it was exhausting. I felt a bigger connection with the women that came before, I was thrilled to share my birth story with anyone who would listen. A story of healing instead of pain.
5 weeks ago tomorrow, I discovered baby #3 would join us in November. We were surprised. Shocked would be more accurate. We were not trying, and in fact were attempting to prevent. Nevertheless, it didn't take long, just a couple of hours really, and I was already day dreaming of a new birth story. Blissfully looking ahead to the newborn smell, how to install a 3rd carseat in the mini-van, and terrified of figuring out how to afford the things this baby would need. Going through the different emotions expecting a new baby brings.
Not ever ones to keep a secret, we announced the news almost immediately. It was becoming real, and more exciting. We attended an orientation at the new birthing center in Albuquerque, and while beautiful it didn't feel like where we were to have our baby.
Almost immediately I had a "baby belly" I joked, rather frustrated at times, at how fast #3 was showing. I was not having symptoms as strongly as with the other two, but the sense of smell was there. My husband had to clean up dinner several times because I couldn't stomach cleaning up what I had just eaten. Still, I had to wonder why I wasn't as sick, or as tired as I remembered being before. I shook it off thinking that since my diet is healthier, so was my body and I was just handling it better.
I found a Mid-Wife, had an appointment and scheduled a sonogram to exact a due date. Going off my LMP (Last Menstrual Period) was not accurate, as my daughter, now almost 2 1/2 is still nursing. I was very surprised that the sonogram showed the baby at 5weeks, 5 days. According to my calendar, the baby should have measured closer to 7 weeks, 2 days. But there was the tiniest little flicker on the screen. You could barely make out a yolk sack, and a fluttering heartbeat of 125. It seemed so slow compared to my other 2, but they always say you can't compare pregnancies. The Mid-Wife told me everything looked normal, and the dates were in range. That was exciting enough. I had purchased a Beautiful new-born sleep sack, with matching booties and a hat in some of the softest wool available. I was already picturing my tiny new born babe bundled in a dinosaur print new-born fitted, in his sleep sack, sound asleep in a co-sleeper attached to my bed.
I sketched "pregnancy" and was amazed at the depth that poured through my finger tips. I checked out "Birthing From Within" from the library, and was devouring it. Even if it is on the extreme end of the "Hippie" scale, even from my point of view. I've learned through the years to take what God wants to give me and leave the rest. And that's what I did in this book.
We left on vacation for our sons spring break, and went to the Dallas, TX area to visit my in-laws. We had a nice visit. It's the perfect time of year there, humid enough to heal the sores in our nose from living in the desert highlands, but not yet hot enough to be miserable. The company was superb, and I sat for a few hours with my Mother-In-law and we designed the quilt she would make for the baby. It was so easy....
We left on Tuesday to go back to my family, about at the halfway mark between home, and my husbands family. That night, I discovered I had started spotting. It was slight, I had no cramps. The mid-wife was reassuring, and told me that if it stayed as it was, all was most likely fine. The spotting stopped the next morning. We were relieved, but cautious. Friday, we went to the zoo. It's a small zoo, but I noticed the walking induced some slight cramping. I took it easy that night, and had one small spot.
Along came Saturday. My husband had just finished loading the van to come home, right down to the kennel and dog food for our puppy. We were saying goodbyes, and I went to the bathroom. I had started bleeding. We immediately left for the ER, taking all of our stuff with us, not even leaving my parents with a pair of shoes for our daughter. We were bumped to high priority, and given a room almost immediately. They were not busy. The lab work, and then the sonogram. The tech kept the screen away from us, and could not tell us anything more than we would have an answer as soon as we got back to our room. We stared blankly at the ceiling.
After we were taken back to the room, the waiting started. I guess the doctor was waiting for the labs to come back before talking to us. I slept and my husband watched the small TV. Then the news, we already knew, but it was confirmed. There was no longer a heartbeat. The baby had grown and even measured a couple of days big compared to the previous ultrasound. There are no answers as to what happened.
It is devastating to go through a mis-carriage. It truly is losing a child. Our child. We were already a family of 5. I was dreading having to tell anyone what happened. To un-live the excitement. I've always felt a kind of kindred-ness with those that have lost babies. Tho I'd not lost one, my mother lost 2. One of my best friends lost 2, and never had a biological child, tho she has adopted 3 beautiful children and is a mother in every sense of the word. Just 2 weeks ago, a dear friend from the online world lost her 3rd in less than a year. My heart broke with each of their losses, and they are now a comfort to me.
A birth right of passage.
Years ago, mis-carriage was not thought of as the loss of a child. A grieving mother was given a few days, and expected to go about life as normal and not talk about what happened. I believed until a few days ago, that this was still the case. I am happy to say, that it has not been so for me. The out-pouring of love and hope we've received from family and friends, and even complete strangers, has been amazing. If there is a bond between mothers, there is an even stronger bond between mothers who have lost a baby. The deep sense of loss one feels at the loss of a child, is shared by all who've tread this path before. I have been bathed with virtual hugs sympathy from an online world of friends I've never met face to face. Its deeper than that, because not only have they expressed sympathy, for us, they have cried with me and are grieving the loss of my baby too. Living where we do, we don't have many friends close enough for a hug. So virtual hugs become as close as the real thing.
The ranks of those who've lost a child are not one anyone wants to join. I wouldn't wish this pain on anyone. I am happy to say, that we have been embraced and allowed to grieve and weep openly for the precious wee one we won't meet until we see Jesus face to face. Altho I deeply miss and am mourning the loss of my baby, and indeed physically am still in the process of doing so, I feel treasured and deeply loved by my family and friends that have been so available to comfort me and let me cry. I also feel deeply loved by my Papa, who is holding my precious child in His hand, to love and nurture him where he belongs. With those that have gone before, playing in open fields of wild flowers, face to face with the creator that gave him to us for such a short time.
For Isaiah. My son, you are loved, and will never be forgotten.