I have written about this before, but every April 15th I am reminded of it and try to understand it, heal from it and honor it.
April 15, 1995 While everyone was busy getting their taxes done I was at the doctor's office, alone, with my feet up in stir-ups, legs apart, bright lights and an ultrasound wand in my vagina. I remember the doctor's words with haunting clarity. "I can't find the heart beat. I am sorry. You will need to have a DNC." I was almost 5 months along with my third child.
I had the DNC because my body didn't miscarry on it's own. I went to the doctor's office alone because I wanted my husband to stay home with our two young children. I was given some medication so that I would forget the procedure. I think they forgot to give it to me, because I remember it all. While the doctor was prepping for the procedure she was actually dancing to the music that was playing. I felt so alone and somehow removed from reality. Later, I asked to see the baby and then was told, "Why the hell would you want to do that?" She showed me anyway and said something to the lines of me not remembering it anyway and that it wasn't a real baby. The image of what I saw is still with me. It didn't look like a baby at all.
I slept on the couch that afternoon as my friend and neighbor came in to check on me every couple of hours. A potted plant and a cup of tea on the floor, gifts from her, still I grieved in silence.
I gained over 20 pounds. Baby fat with no baby. Telling people over and over again was so painful. "I lost the baby. I lost the baby. I lost the baby." It was always followed by a blank stare and no words or the worst, comments like, "Just try again.", "You have two healthy children, you don't need anymore." Besides my friend Gina who took such great care of me, my mother-in-law's brother was the only person that offered me his condolences saying the only thing I needed to hear, "I am sorry for your loss."
At my follow-up appointment I asked about the baby. The doctor looked shocked that I remembered that she showed me and explained very briefly it was a molar pregnancy.
A molar pregnancy happens when the tissue that normally becomes a fetus instead becomes an abnormal growth in the uterus. Even though it isn't an embryo, this growth triggers symptoms of pregnancy.
It wasn't a real baby. I wasn't offered any counseling, and certainly no condolences. Why should she? It wasn't a real baby. No permission to grieve. Carry on. Try again. Don't try again, you have two healthy children. Let it go.
Months of depression followed because I didn't talk about anymore. Why should I? It wasn't a real baby. Then I met a woman. I don't even remember her name. Somehow I ended up telling my story to her. She said this to me. "The baby was real in your heart, that is all that matters. Name her/him and give yourself permission to grieve."
I named him Gabriel. I am still grieving.
I would have 4 more miscarriages, two of them ectopic. After the fifth one, my children and I sat down and named all the little souls. We wrote their names on pieces of paper, drew some hearts and buried them in a pot of flowers. We left the pot in a local cemetery. The kids named the first baby April but I know him as Gabriel.