Sarah W’s Story

I met my husband at 33 almost 34, and had known I’ve always wanted to have a child with the right person. I was definitely feeling the pressure to start a family sooner than later. Two years later, we got engaged and decided to get off birth control and “see what happens”.

After six months of negative tests we finally got a positive! I was so excited, we were actually going to be parents. It felt like such a long wait until the 8 week ultrasound. It was right before Thanksgiving, and I bought fake lottery scratch off tickets to give to my family that said we were expecting to surprise everyone at dinner. However, at that ultrasound, the baby was measuring at 6 weeks with no heartbeat. The nurse practitioner tried to tell me my dates might be off, and it’s not abnormal for a 6 week fetus to not have a visible heartbeat yet.

Inside, I knew something wasn’t right. I knew then.. that the baby died at 6 weeks. Because of the holiday I couldn’t be scheduled for a follow up ultrasound for another 2 weeks. I ripped up those fake lottery tickets. It was the worst Thanksgiving I have ever had.  I had to tell everyone we were pregnant but it was not looking promising. I knew I was carrying my dead baby inside of me. Everyone surprised me with the things they told me…”be positive!” “God had a plan”. I suddenly felt the most alone and isolated in my feelings.. all I wanted was support. Two weeks later my ultrasound showed no changes, and I had to wait another 2 weeks for my D&C. I was too afraid to take the medication at home. That was a long wait knowing my baby was passed. I was so afraid I would suddenly start having the miscarriage at work, or out, and I was terrified of the pain and bleeding.

After my procedure, I was wheeled out of the women’s hospital to my husband who had the car pulled around. I was wheeled right past new moms and dads, and new grandparents all on what seemed to be the happiest day of their life. They had balloons & flowers and holding their newborns. I felt so empty I was coming home without my baby. I had to return to work a few days later as if nothing happened. They sent the fetal tissue off for testing, unfortunately they lost it, and I never got any results or reason why it had happened.

Devastated yet eager to replace that memory with a new one, we started trying again. It wasn’t enjoyable trying again. It only was a reminder of how unfair it was that I had to start all over. Two months later I was pregnant again. I was scared and happy at the same time. I tried to tell myself this would be different, and I am having my rainbow baby.

I paid out of pocket for an early ultrasound at 7 weeks. The baby was measuring perfectly and had a heartbeat!! I just knew it was a baby girl. I was so careful this time, I didn’t drink caffeine. I did not workout, I did meditation, I took all my vitamins, anything to keep this baby. Somehow, you always feel like it’s your fault you lost the baby.

Friends and family that I told, gave me similar responses as the first time. If I heard ‘think positive’ one more time I was about to lose my mind. Handling other people’s responses to the miscarriage/pregnancy after loss came to me as a big shock. Almost another layer of trauma that I had to deal with. I started realizing they were telling me things in an attempt to make me feel better, but it wasn’t supporting how I was actually feeling. I closed myself off even more. I didn’t want to argue or justify my feelings to anyone.

My next ultrasound was at 10 weeks with my OB. I was nervous but ready. Being back at that office and that ultrasound room was very scary. We got started, I could tell immediately there was no longer a heartbeat. Baby stopped growing a few days prior. I was in full blown shock. They offered me a D&C quickly and I took it. Before going back to surgery I requested they do another ultrasound, that is how much I couldn’t believe it was happening again. I was in such a strange place mentally going back for surgery that this time I wasn’t nervous at all. I was happy to be unconscious, and didn’t really care what happened to me. Afterwards, I was again wheeled past new parents to that same curb. I just got in the car and wanted to get the you know what out of there.

That recovery was much harder. I had hot flashes and crying spells. My husband and I argued a lot because we both grieved in very different ways. I again had to go right back to work. There’s no bereavement or time off for pregnancy loss. I again had to tell the people I let know we were pregnant that we were no longer. Deja vu, again, I was met with similar phrases (not by all but many friends/family). “God has a plan” “Everything happens for a reason” “This is so common” “have you thought about adoption?” “Were you taking all your vitamins?” “Maybe you aren’t meant to be parents because you are meant for other things” “you’re so lucky it happened so early” “Trying is half the fun!”” I just can’t imagine you are SO strong!”  It turns out, not many people know what to say to you when you’ve lost your baby. Many people tried to assign meaning and purpose to my loss. Which only made me feel more isolated, angry, and alone. Soon after we got the results from the procedure, it was Trisomy 22, and it was a girl.

I had a few friends pregnancy announcements on Instagram without them telling me first. Seeing announcements literally sent shock waves through my body. I had to block all pregnant people immediately.

I sought out a special therapist that helped me process what had happened and to accept myself and feelings as is. I really isolated myself and my feelings because I felt nobody could relate. It was then I started to learn to stand up to those people telling me things they thought were helping me. I started reading and getting into online loss communities. I read a lot of people’s stories that started to make me feel very normal.

We both did every test known to man to try and figure out a cause for recurrent loss. Nothing came back. So, we decided to try IVF. Maybe if we could do genetic testing before implanting I wouldn’t lose the baby again. My husband sold his car and we took out a loan. I did all the injections and took a lot of time off for Dr appointments and egg retrieval.  However, none of our embryos developed into a blastocyst. There was nothing to attempt to implant. This felt like another loss. This time with major financial consequences.

A few months later, we started trying again naturally. We quickly got pregnant. I wasn’t very excited. I was hopeful, but not excited. That joy was taken from me a few pregnancies back. What I did learn is that I can hold two emotions at once. I was scared, yet thankful to have another chance. I paid for another early ultrasound and there was a heartbeat. I thought it would bring me comfort but me and my partner knew better. Slowly I crossed milestones. I had severe PTSD and still do before every appointment. I still can’t imagine myself having a baby and I am writing this 26 weeks pregnant. I was scared to make a registry because I thought after people buy me stuff, how can I return it all if the baby dies? These are still thoughts I battle with. I hold a place for every emotion, and it doesn’t make me any less thankful or hopeful to have this baby.

I wanted to share my story because others who have shared theirs helped me so much. It was like they knew how I felt. I want to normalize these kinds of feelings regarding pregnancy loss and pregnancy after loss. I wanted to let people know that just because their journey is met with heartache, grief, and doesn’t look like their friends…that is okay. This community sees you and feels your grief. I also wanted to share to enlighten and help friends and family of other women going through pregnancy loss. It’s okay to just meet someone where they are in their grief. They don’t need help getting to see the bright side, they are okay for feeling however they are feeling. They need someone to listen, to support them, and not put your own personal feelings on what loss or meaning is to you. Even though this means feeling pretty uncomfortable. Our babies are gone, but not forgotten.

Sarah wears the rainbow skirt.  She holds her pregnant belly.  There is green grass in the background.

Sarah wears the rainbow skirt.  She holds her pregnant belly.  There is a green hill in the background.

Photos taken by Tailored By Taylor Photography.

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