Mom to Tristan
Died May 9, 2009
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
On the evening of Mother’s Day 2009, I lost my baby. I was 6 weeks pregnant, and had been trying to have a baby for almost two years.
Between the fall of 2007 and the spring of 2009, I underwent nine intrauterine inseminations, or IUIs. I had been a patient at two clinics in two countries. I was the recipient of sperm from two donors. I had been assessed and treated by three doctors, assisted by ten nurses, and had blood samples taken by countless personnel at various biomedical labs.
After the fourth unsuccessful round I had a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) at a university hospital with the aid of two doctors in training. There was no obvious reason detected why the treatments were not successful. I’d been pregnant before; both pregnancies had ended in miscarriage before the end of the first trimester.
On my seventh attempt I tried a drug called Clomid and when it didn’t help, I moved onto the hard stuff – drugs I injected into my stomach every night at the same time to stimulate the follicles that would become eggs, that I hoped would become a baby.
I was monitored by ultrasound.
I survived nine emotional 2wws – the “two week waits” women who are TTC (trying to conceive) endure until they get their BFP (big fat positive). When I finally got mine one March day, after so many months, I got off the phone and immediately told a colleague, “I’ve had my share of trials and tribulations. I’m finally going to have the baby I’ve been dreaming of.”
And I did dream of my baby. I had dreams in the early weeks of my pregnancy of a little boy with brown eyes and brown curls. I already had my beautiful daughter and I was ready for my baby boy. After so much waiting, the news sunk in quickly. I really was finally going to have a baby. Our boy name had always been Tristan, and I began to talk to him. I woke up earlier than usual each morning – weird hormones, I thought – and when I did, I told him how much I already loved him and couldn’t wait to meet him.
On Mother’s Day, I felt strange and out of sorts. My partner and I had a three year old daughter, and we spent the day at the zoo. While I expected extra fanfare that Mother’s day my daughter’s card and gift weren’t ready for me. That night I felt extremely upset. I left the house to go for a walk, and when I got back home, there was spotting. The next day I seemed to have stomach flu but I was also bleeding. I was sore all over, but especially in my lower back. I couldn’t sleep. I spent the night tossing and turning, moving a heating pad from my front to back over and over again to cope with painful cramps. In spite of all the physical symptoms, my mind would not allow me to think that I was losing, or had already lost, my baby. The next two days were spent with medical personnel, with phone calls to my midwife. There was time in the hospital emergency room, an IV for dehydration, a pelvic exam, an ultrasound, and blood tests. The ultrasound finally confirmed that my baby was gone.
I suddenly realized how empty I felt when the doctor confirmed what the ultrasound technician suspected. He was sorry, but he couldn’t find my baby. There was nothing there.
It was very difficult for me to cope with this loss, and I had to do a lot of work to move through the grief. This was unlike any death I’d ever mourned. It was acutely painful and difficult to explain. But I tried. And I asked for help. I asked friends to bring food because our family was in crisis; I couldn’t take care of myself, let alone anyone else. When my friend said she couldn’t bring food that week but could the next, I said, “That’s OK, we’ll still be in crisis.” She laughed and said I was funny, and of course she’d be there with a casserole as soon as she could – but I wasn’t being funny. I knew we’d be in crisis for a long time as we tried to navigate such a significant loss.
I cried a lot the first few weeks. I saw a counselor. I wrote my baby a long letter. I made a beautiful garden stone with his name on it, pressed with flowers I’d been given for Mother’s Day, and glass beads. I began to write about the loss. I interviewed other women who were out there on the internet doing things to support pregnancy and infant loss survivors. I created pregnancy loss resources on hubpages.com, including a series of self-portraits I made with a digital camera when I was alone at home the days following my miscarriage (they were not at the time intended to be made public, but part of my healing process; however, when I realized how few and far between artistic representations of this particular grief were, decided to include them as a photo gallery on hubpages.com as an additional resource.) I wrote an essay as a tribute to Tristan (which was published in The Sound of Silence: Journeys Through Miscarriage by Wombat Books in 2011). Finally, I wrote a collection of poems about the long, tumultuous journey to finally have my son, Noam (who was born the following March). The poetry collection, called I Can Make Life, was a finalist for the 2012 Mary Ballard poetry competition.
With the launch of my poetry collection I think I finally feel closure. I have now done everything I can to honour my time with Tristan and to remember him. I’ve done what I can to share my experiences with women who are on the lonely path of infertility, and who have endured the devastating loss of a child. My hope is that my poems, which explore the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual impact of fertility treatments, pregnancy, miscarriage, and birth, will be there for the women who need them. That they will make their way to these women, like the notes of a song that is on the radio at just the right moment, and that those who receive them feel recognition, and less alone on their own journeys.
The final poem in I Can Make Life is called “Garden Cycle Three: The Children’s Garden”. In this poem, my three lost children speak to me, and to the reader:
And above the garden
and in the garden
we are here. We see you,
as young and as old
as you will ever be.
We are as you imagined us:
little birds, little lights,
little satellites, in a cycle
that is now and never and
We feel what you feel.
Now, come closer:
You are here to love life,
and to let it go.
In the end there is
You can contact Nicole at firstname.lastname@example.org.