Mom to América

Lost at 9 weeks October 24, 2011

Seville, Spain (originally from Walpole, Massachusettes)

I am American, living abroad in Spain.  We found out on September 14th, 2011 that I was pregnant with our much-desired baby number 2.  Our firstborn, Manuela, was just eleven months old, but truth be told, we had been trying since soon after she joined us.  There was “no rush” but we did want them to be close together in age (they would have been 19 months apart).  We were thrilled with the positive result and began to make plans for our new baby’s early May arrival.

I was very laid-back about the pregnancy and knew what to expect from the health system in Spain this time around.  I got in to see my midwife, had my first round of blood tests, and scheduled our first 12-week ultrasound for October 24th, the Monday after Manuela’s first birthday party and the day we had also chosen to finally sign paperwork to become civil partners.  I figured it would be one big day of celebration.  Boy, was I wrong.

We headed to the ultrasound first thing in the morning of a day that ended up fitting my mood – it was pouring down rain, gray and dark outside.  We were a little late for the appointment but they took us almost immediately.  My husband was in there with me when the doctor discovered that the fetus had no heartbeat.  I’ll never forget his words as he spoke to the nurse and then directed his words towards me, “Latido negativo.  Señora, esto es un aborto”.  (Translation: “Heartbeat negative.  Ma’am, this is a miscarriage.”) I started bawling and didn’t stop that entire day, except for the few minutes we were in the government office to sign paperwork for our civil partnership.  We decided to go through with our second appointment of the day despite the dark turn it had taken, if only to give it some ray of sunshine.

The doctor sent me to the hospital for a D&C, but they told me to come back the following day, since they would need to pump me with medication for my bleeding disorder (Von Willebrand’s disease) before the procedure.  We got there the next day and the whole process turned into a bit of a fiasco that I’d prefer to just forget about, but it was all finally over by the following day.  I was diagnosed with a missed miscarriage (called aborto diferido in Spain), which basically means I had no bleeding and the baby just stopped living, for whatever chromosomal reason.  They calculated that the baby stopped growing at around 9 weeks.

There were two things that were very important for me to do in order to deal with this loss.  First, we decided to name the baby América, since s/he was conceived during a trip we had made to the U.S. in August.  Second, I wanted something physical to remind me of this pregnancy.  For Christmas, my husband gave me a beautiful emerald charm necklace that represents the month of May, when Baby América would have been born.  I wear it almost every day and it gives me strength.

As with Manuela, the news of our pregnancy was public pretty much as soon as we found out.  I have a hard time keeping secrets, and I’ve always believed that there is no reason to keep a pregnancy secret in the first trimester, since I would want people to know if I were to miscarry to have the support.  I do stand behind that belief, as having the support turned out to be amazing, but on the other hand I can’t lie and say that having to “take back” the pregnancy news those first few weeks was not the hardest thing I have ever had to do.  I think in retrospect, I would probably do the same thing again, but will probably be a bit more reserved about spreading the news until we have our first ultrasound.  It was so comforting in the days following my miscarriage to hear from so many other women who reached out to me and shared their experiences, and lauded my bravery for making mine so public.  When I found I knew I had to share my story here too.  Reading others’ stories and discovering that miscarriage is such a common occurrence takes away the stigma around it and makes recovery that much more tangible.

A couple months after this experience, in early December, I found out I had gallbladder stones and had to schedule surgery to have my gallbladder removed, which finally happened in early April.  A part of me wonders if Mother Nature knew my body was not ready to carry a baby because of this issue and took care of things for me.  Whatever the reason was, I will never know, and can’t beat myself up about what I might have done wrong.  It will always hurt when I think about losing this baby.  May 8th (América’s estimated due date) will be a particularly tough day for me, but I know I will get through it with the love and support of those who surround me.

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  1. Nice share Sarita. Stay strong! xx

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