My journey into parenthood, into motherhood, has been a long and somewhat surprising one to me. I was first and foremost a dog lover, never grew up with kids or babies around (I was the youngest of two) and I never really felt the pull to have children. I wasn’t sure that I would ever get married, not because I didn’t want to, but I just didn’t know how you actually got there, despite having had a couple of serious relationships. I suppose I had to go through a my own odyssey of emigrating to the USA, committing to being a Catholic (I was a cradle Catholic, had been baptized as a baby and loved God and Jesus, but never received catechism [my 1951-born parents had their reasons] so didn’t understand a LOT about my faith and in turn, about myself) and came home to the church when I was Confirmed in 2012 at 35 years of age. Then it still took a few more years until I knew myself enough to know what I wanted, and it was then that I met my husband at 38 years old. By this time, I had my education (4-year university degree) and a 15 year career under my belt and had enjoyed lots of international travel. And after a whirlwind courtship, at 39 I found myself with a husband and the prospect of having a family of my own. And then a new doubt: would I be able to have babies? Doctors and society don’t care much for women over 35 to get pregnant.
And then it happened, a honeymoon conception. One morning I just knew it had happened. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a “chemical pregnancy”, that cold clinical term used to explain the conception of a little baby (but most doctors don’t call it that yet) and subsequently a release of a hormone, or chemical that makes a home pregnancy test go positive, but the baby is not strong enough to make it past 2 weeks…essentially you get the positive and then your period comes gushing through a few days later to drown all your briefly lived but incredibly delirious joy of becoming a parent, a mom…that’s not exactly true because the feeling of carrying life inside of me that came from love that my husband and I share between us could never be forgotten. Pure exhileration. As quickly as the baby was conceived, the baby was gone, but I was changed. Chemical reaction. And I was devastated. Was it the glass of wine I had? Did I work out to0 vigorously? Already, I was blaming myself. My OBGYN warned me that it’s not typical for a woman my age to conceive so easily. 4 in 5 conceptions would be successful he said.
So a couple of months go by, and one day I have that feeling again, as I walked past a statue of St. Anne at church, I just had a feeling that she was telling me something. Another pregnancy, and this one lasted a little longer…7 weeks, but not really. We went for the first ultrasound and the baby was too small for being 7 weeks along, and the heartbeat was so faint looking. My heart sank when I saw the doctor’s face. A week later, there was no heart beat at all. I agreed to a D&C, and by the time I went in for that, the baby had disintegrated altogether.
I don’t think I was normal for the rest of that year. I changed doctors twice, and ended up seeing a fertility specialist in NYC who ran all kinds of tests to see if I had any autoimmune diseases that were preventing a pregnancy from holding. They tested the tissue from the D&C for a genetic issue, there was none, it is still unknown why that pregnancy failed. I quit swimming because I thought the water was too chilly for a pregnancy. I went to a Chinese doctor to take foul tasting herbs. I did acupuncture. I went to a nutritionist. I thought about it constantly. Apparently, there was nothing wrong with me, and fortunately the specialist didn’t mention age too much.
Then a new pregnancy…blood tests revealed that the HCG pregnancy hormone was off the charts…a potential problem. Sure enough, at the 7 week ultrasound, the doctor’s face said it all. The baby died just as the last one had. Coming out the anesthesia of this second D&C though, I felt something inside me say not to worry, and to enjoy life because everything was going to be okay.
I didn’t follow up on all my tests to ensure that I was fully healed after the D&C, and 3 months later my husband and I went to Hawaii for a holiday where I just decided to let everything go, to stop being so mindful about what I was eating and drinking and just enjoyed my margaritas.
It just goes to show that letting everything go certainly helps out on many fronts. The following month, a positive pregnancy test. This time my body felt different, it was a different pregnancy. The morning of our 7 week ultrasound, I broke down in the bathroom. I sent an audio WhatsApp message to my friend living abroad, sobbing as I told her how nervous I was that I will have failed again at bringing life into this world. She sent me a message back right away sobbing right back after me saying that nothing I could ever do would be a failure, that our babies who passed away were up in Heaven and that’s important too. Then I saw her. Our little baby, heart thumping away in that ultrasound, I still cry when I think about it, I was thinking at the time “oh, that’s how it’s supposed to look like”….and so began my first successful pregnancy.
Going through those losses, no matter how early in the pregnancy, is a loss of life. I know I am more sensitive than others, and many people tried to comfort me with comments that it was better this way and so forth, but a loss is a loss. I loved the creation, I loved carrying a life inside me. I often think of my babies in Heaven and thank God for giving me my little girl that I have now. And so this is my story, and ongoing diary, of life with my little girl. 👧