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Hope For Multiple Losses
Dec 11, 2001

My husband & I married in Oct. 1993, we had known each other and dated since 1984. Having a family was a goal of ours, but we decided to wait a bit because both of our professional careers were blossoming. I'll never forget a comment my husband made after the loss of our first child in 1997 to stillbirth, a son Ian, "had I known this might have happened, we would have tried to get pregnant sooner." He was grieving, and also worried that our biological clocks were running out of time.

But, who would've known? Now, after 4 years of deep grief and hard lessons, we have learned that pregnancy loss cannot be controlled. But, it still hurts. It hurts SO much.

My first pregnancy went along without a hitch. While other "Mom-to Be's" I knew were complaining about morning sickness and sore backs, I was happily skipping along without any side effects. Then one day I didn't feel my baby move. I panicked. I remember my husband's words, "It's okay, don't worry." To this day, I know pregnant women have a "sixth sense" so-to-speak. I knew something was terribly wrong. I called the doctor's office and the Nurse told me to "eat a cracker, drink some milk, lay down and get that baby moving!" I did all that, and it worked. Until the next day. Then I didn't feel my baby move again. I called the doctor's office and the Nurse scheduled me for an ultrasound. I'll never forget the sullen look on the Doctor's face and the ultrasound screen without the "fluttering heartbeat." And then his words echoed, "I'm sorry Mrs. Walter, I can't find your baby's heartbeat."

I was 36 weeks pregnant. 36 weeks! My son had died in-utero. Just a week before I was celebrating, "only one more month to go!" To that point my husband & I didn't want to know the sex of our baby. But that day I wanted to know. Suddenly I was faced with the reality of "my SON died!"

My pregnancy had progressed without a hitch. How could this happen so suddenly? So many questions. Later I learned that 30,000 pregnancies annually in the U.S.A. result in stillbirth. What a sad fact. But, for whatever reason, it helped me to know that I "wasn't so all alone." My Mother had also suffered the loss of a stillborn, a daughter, unnamed, at Week 42. What a terrible tragedy to have in common. Our stillbirths are deemed coincidental. But, it doesn't hurt any less.

The 2 years following my son's stillbirth are a blur to me, but I'm proud to say I survived. With the help of bereavement support counselor's and other Mom's who had been through the same tragedy, I survived the deepest pain. I returned to work, but it was very difficult in such a prominent professional position. People kept telling me, "you're not the same person." I kept thinking, "how could I be? My son just died." I learned to keep a diary of my progress, visit the cemetery often, and incorporated my son's death into my life.

6 months after my son's stillbirth, my husband & I decided to "try again." After a year of trying and 12 months of grieving my period, we decided to see a specialist. We now wish we had gone sooner. I gave birth to Ian, my stillborn son, at age 35. At age 37, in 1999, I started a regimen of fertility charting and then finally had surgery to correct endometriosis (to make a long story short). It was a long wait, but shortly after the surgery I became pregnant.

Unfortunately, the next pregnancy resulted in an ectopic pregnancy. Thankfully, my Doctor was able to treat the ectopic with a drug (similar to what cancer patients receive), without the loss of a tube. How heartbreaking to see a blank ultrasound screen when they checked to see the vitality of my pregnancy. Needless to say, since then I have been scared to death of ultrasounds.

After my ectopic in Oct. 1999, I started losing hope that I may ever have a succesful pregnancy. Christmas 1999 was a turning point for me, however. I wasn't in much of a Christmas spirit, in fact I questioned if my marriage would sustain the pain of two pregnancy losses. But then I focused on a simpler plan, "if I was able to get pregnant twice, why couldn't I get pregnant again?" Suddenly, I felt like I didn't want to give up!

A few months later, I became pregnant again. When I told my husband, his response was, "yeah right!" He didn't believe it. After 3 home pregnancy tests (yes, 3!) we made an appointment and the Doctor confirmed that yes, I was pregnant. This was a new Doctor, and he scheduled stress tests and additional ultrasounds without us even asking. He knew how important this baby was to us. 9 months later, Nov. 2000, I delivered a healthy baby girl.

My husband and I became pregnant again in April 2001, we were surprised but excited at the same time. We wondered, what could happen next? Unfortunately, the pregnancy miscarried in June. Even though we had a healthy 6-month old, we were, of course, sad about the miscarriage. We again asked, "why us? Why so many losses?"

Over the course of the last 4 years since my first loss, I have learned to take care of myself, be selfish sometimes, and allow grief to happen when it comes. I have learned that life is precious, moreso than I have ever known before these losses. I now know how many petals there are on a daisy and I don't fret if I get caught out in a rainstorm or have to rake thousands of leaves in Autumn. How beautiful life truly is!

If there is one thing that has kept me going it is "I am not alone." There have been so many people that helped me get through my darkest days, I hope I can do the same for others that share the loss of pregnancy. I have learned that HOPE is hard to hold onto, but you can't let go!! I didn't, now my living daughter's middle name is HOPE.
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