Mom to Dakota
August 19, 2013
Carrboro, North Carolina
My husband and I have been together since I was 18 and he was 20. We married young and had our first daughter shortly after. At 4 years of age, right around the time we started thinking about another baby, our sweet little girl was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes. To say we were devastated was an understatement. With this disease and all that comes with it–multiple daily shots, multiple daily finger pricks to test her blood sugar, frightening high and low blood sugars, we thought that having a baby would be more than we could handle and decided to put it off until we got the hang of diabetes.
Two years later, we felt we were ready. We tried and tried and tried and tried but nothing, big fat negatives all around. There was no explanation for my “infertility,” although it never occurred to me to have my husband tested and none of my doctors mentioned it. Fast forward 4 years to November 2011. I got pregnant without even trying! We were so excited and on August 13th at 9:06 a.m., we welcomed another sweet baby girl and we felt complete as a family.
In July 2013, my period was late (I had been keeping impeccable track since we were using the natural family planning method). One day, 2 days, 3 days, 4 days… other than the absence of my period, I had no other symptoms. I took a pregnancy test and it was positive, a faint positive and it wasn’t an instant dark line as with my other pregnancies. I had a feeling deep down that I would not get to 9 months. We remained cautiously excited and told a few close friends and family members. By the due date predictor, I was 4 weeks along when I got my positive test, but no symptoms. I know every pregnancy is different but with my second I had raging hormones, horrible nausea until 19 weeks, super sore breasts and cravings like you wouldn’t believe. This time? Nothing really, except for a strong craving for pancakes at 11 p.m. one night and heartburn, horrible heartburn. I tried not to worry. I called the doctor and the soonest they could get me in was at 9 weeks. I couldn’t believe it! Not even a confirmation scan [was available] but still I tried to be positive, although the worry was there.
I stopped drinking coffee once I got my positive, took the prenatals and drank no soda or tea either. I made sure to drink 1 protein shake a day in addition to the vitamins. I worried and worried and worried after my heartburn disappeared at about 5 1/2 weeks. Everyone told me it was fine and that I was “lucky” and “so many women would love to be in your shoes.” The night of August the 19th, I sat down on the couch to watch a little TV. It was 10:30 p.m. and I started having period-like cramps along with a dull back ache. I told my husband and he suggested it was because I had been standing on my feet all day. I went to bed still having the cramps and backache. I woke at 1:30 a.m. and went to the bathroom and saw a quarter-size amount of bright red blood. I panicked and called the on-call physician who told me not to worry, a lot of women bleed in the first trimester. [She told me] to drink a glass of water and lie back down; that I probably did too much that day and that was the reason for my backache and cramps. I drank the water and went to lay down and the cramps subsided.
At 3 a.m., I woke again to use the bathroom and this time there was more blood and some clots. I called the doctor again and this time I spoke to a different one. She also reassured me that everything was probably fine. All this time I knew it wasn’t. I was in denial though. At 6 a.m., I woke with some very painful, strong cramps and sat down on the toilet. Lots more blood came this time and I felt something fall out of me. I knew. I knew it was my baby. I scooped it out to show the doctor. I needed that confirmation and since I knew deep down it was my baby, I just couldn’t flush the toilet.
I called the office and told them everything and they said they could get me in for an ultrasound that day or I could wait for my appointment the next week. I opted for that day. I went in still trying to be hopeful, but on the screen all I saw was emptiness, gray and fuzzy. No noise. I kept searching on the screen almost as if I was trying to will a baby to appear with a strong heartbeat. I did not cry. The doctor came in and told me what I already knew, that I had lost the baby. Then she told me to wait 2-3 cycles before trying again and then left.
I went to the waiting room where my mother was waiting with my 2 girls. She had such a hopeful look on her face. I gave a quick nod and looked at the floor biting my lip to keep form crying while holding the little box that held my baby. Of course, at the checkout desk there were various sizes of pregnant bellies around me. On the way home I cried silent tears, but on the inside I was screaming. I truly feel that my baby stopped growing at 5 1/2 weeks, but my body didn’t miscarry until 8 weeks. I have never felt so empty. I long to be pregnant again. Those early weeks are scary, but exciting knowing that your body is working so hard to create a human, a tiny human being.
As women we are amazing creatures to be able to bring life into this world. We did not know if our baby was a boy or girl. Some people have a feeling, but I have searched and searched myself but it hasn’t come to me yet, so we chose a gender neutral name for our baby, Dakota. Without my husband and my 2 girls, I don’t know what I would do. Dakota was unexpected, but loved the moment we found out. I never thought miscarriage would be a part of my story. I wish it wasn’t, but here I am. I was completely unprepared for how profoundly this would affect me. I struggled with the fact that I never had an early ultrasound and never got to see or hear a heartbeat. I know deep down that my baby was alive at one point. My husband has been so supportive, and our 10 year old as well. Having to explain to her that I lost the baby was probably one of the hardest thing I have done. We planted a beautiful Creeping Jenny plant so we could bury and memorialize our little Dakota who’s life, while brief, still mattered to us. I will heal from this, we will heal and we are open to having another baby someday. But for now, I have to grieve my little baby and I will know when I am ready.
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