A Tribute to Baby X
On July 9, 2000, I lost Baby X but created an angel.
I miscarried Baby X on July 9, 2000 after 7 weeks of pregnancy (5 weeks after conception). Though I have physically healed, I feel a real loss, something I could not imagine, unless I had experienced it myself. I want to share my experience, so that my words might possibly comfort other women living through pregnancy loss.
My reflection on March 18, 2001:
Baby X would have been born just a few weeks ago had I not miscarried. I am ashamed to say that I temporarily forgot about Baby X until I reread this tribute in mid-March 2001. I now realize that the mother of a miscarried baby would be the only one who would ever even give their child a second thought. (Oh, those poor souls lost through abortion. No mother thinks of them.) The world cruelly goes on. I am halfway through my third pregnancy, expecting a baby girl on August 6, 2001. I still think about my baby in the baggie with the blue twistie tie. I STILL can't wait to hold him someday. I so miss him.
My husband and I were so delighted that we were expecting our second child! Talk about something that energizes your life! I just knew it was a little boy, based on the timing of suspected ovulation and other necessary activities. Baby X's estimated time of arrival was the end of February, 2001.
I had read about, as well as discussed with several health professionals, the degrees of morning sickness during my first pregnancy. Morning sickness, caused by increased hormone levels, is a sign of a healthy pregnancy (with exception to women who experience severe nausea.) The converse, i.e., "lack of morning sickness indicates an unhealthy pregnancy," is not true. I had mild nausea, mostly attributed to taking prenatal vitamins in the morning. However, I did experience the other "side effects" of pregnancy, including sleepiness, tender, stinging, "vein-y" breasts, frequent urination, and mild congestion. I gave birth to Lucy Elena, a healthy and beautiful girl, on November 25, 1998.
I had a deep feeling that something was wrong with this pregnancy. Other than fatigue early on and no mensus, I had no signs of pregnancy. After surveying many other mothers about their pregnancy symptoms and recalling that "the converse is not true", I felt some ease hearing, "I sailed through my pregnancy," from some of the women. Unfortunately, I also heard that from my neighbor, who gave birth to a girl with Down's syndrome. We want to name our first son after my husband, Timothy James. However, I refrained from referring to our baby with any name, unlike during my first pregnancy, as though that might somehow shield me from feeling anything emotionally should something "happen". When we first found out I was pregnant, I signed a few emails to my husband including the names of those present in the room at the time: Lucy, Rosie, and "Baby X".
On July 6, a Thursday, at 3PM, I had my 6 week appointment. The doctor saw the heartbeat of Baby X on a vaginal ultrasound but could not clearly see the amniotic sac, because, she said, my pregnancy was not that far along. We scheduled an ultrasound for 8 weeks. Elated, I immediately began delving into my packet of "new pregnancy goodies", reading up on the benefits of tandem nursing, wondered what the latest maternity fashions were, and laughed at my determination not to subscribe to every baby, child, and parenting magazine this time.
Friday and Saturday were business as usual in the Considine household. On Saturday afternoon, I thought I saw blood on the tissue. Curiously, I had been checking for blood on the tissue regularly, but, at the first sight of a pinkish tissue, I ironically dismissed it as nothing. I heard myself bringing up the subject of miscarriage in front-yard conversation that afternoon with another neighbor, who had two miscarriages before a successful pregnancy.
Saturday night, there was definitely "red" on the tissue. I had been transplanting heavy shrubs that evening and was concerned. I called the doctor at 10PM. She said not to worry just yet, that we just saw the baby's heartbeat on Thursday. I should lie down with my feet up and abstain from intercourse. Yeah, the first thought on my mind at this point. I called my neighbor over to look at the tissue -- I needed to know if I was having a miscarriage. She hugged me. After she left, I quickly but calmly logged on to the Internet to read about miscarriage. The doctor said there was no need to worry yet, but I knew what lie ahead.
I also queried my local Le Leche League leader over email about any possible relationship between breastfeeding and (lack of) pregnancy symptoms. She replied that she could find no connection between nursing during pregnancy and lessened pregnancy symptoms. She mentioned that her sister-in-law, who twice suffered through pregnancies with intense morning sickness but had two healthy boys, had one pregnancy where she felt great but miscarried.
The blood continued into Sunday morning. I tried to forget what was happening, and, at one point, I did not see any blood. I stayed home from the church picnic scheduled for that late afternoon and stayed in touch with the doctor. She said it was too late for progesterone treatments at this point. My quick Internet education on miscarriage, that most early pregnancies are due to chromosomal abnormalities, made me feel emotionally cold, oddly relieved that the pregnancy was terminating. Certainly, I did not want to give birth to a genetic misfit. Sunday afternoon, I called my parents and told them I was probably having a miscarriage. At 5:30PM, I felt Baby X fall from my body and plop into the toilet.
I collected what I saw. I saw my baby suspended in a gray sac, attached to a large blood clot and floating in a toilet. The size of a large lima bean. Such an undignified end for my Baby X. I put Baby X in a baggie with a blue twistie tie, with masking tape across the bag noting the time in black marker. I could not help from examining my baby's little form, now in the refridgerator, every few hours -- my baby. Yes, my baby - this was no genetic misfit. The loss suddenly hit me as hard as a hundred tons of steel on my head. I could see my baby was forming, even at just seven weeks.
Now I knew exactly what other women have gone through. I been trying to sort out my feelings for a full week and cried alot when I was alone. I of course felt alot of things: confusion brought on by the suddeness of it all, coldness at possibly carrying some genetic misfit, relief that the pregnancy terminated, guilt because my body simply may not have produced the correct level of hormones to sustain a healthy baby, sadness at not ever being able to hold my baby, wondering if my baby suffered at all, not being able to breathe, selfish -- I really want to have another child (actually 5 in total), helplessness at not being able to comfort the baby that depended on me exclusively for support. Empty.
What a lousy mother.
It's hard to believe I feel this way. Some women feel no remorse after aborting a near-to-term baby, apparently "off the hook" morally because of their "right" to abort, and here I am feeling such a great loss and sadness over my little lima bean! It has been very hard to see people who knew I was pregnant, because I have to tell them the news. After I told her the news, one mother of five said to me, tilting her head in apparent concern, "It was for the best." Fortunately, I had just consumed two Coors Lights, and that helped prevent my mental rehashing of that response that evening. Obviously, she never had a miscarriage, but her reply remains in my head. It would be BEST if I were still carrying Baby X in my womb and giving birth to him at the end of February, 2001. (This same woman, I just recently found out, suffered two miscarriages since mine. I would bet she no longer thinks a miscarriage is for the best.)
Another cruel and ignorant comment included, "Well, you weren't that far along." This was even from a relative. If life begins at conception, is the life of Baby X worth less than the life of another? I have to shake my head at the insensitivity of people.
I want to know why this happened. Knowing WHY will ease the pain -- I think? Of course, I will never know. That didn't stop me from buying all 4 books on miscarriage at my local bookstore. One book I found, Motherhood After Miscarriage (ISBN 1-55850-043-X), by Dr. Kathleen Diamond, I devoured as fast as Lucy tolerated. Dr. Diamond, a biologist by training and mother of two, had 4 miscarriages. She tells of her story and the stories of many women who have suffered pregnancy loss. She also clearly explains the reasons for miscarriage and encourages women not to postpone their pursuit of motherhood. Though today's career-minded women want to believe that we can postpone motherhood without consequence, reality is that we have a finite number of eggs, and as we age, so do they. Mother Nature rules: the "best" eggs are used first, leaving the "lesser eggs" and a larger probability for error, i.e., miscarriage. Many miscarriages are caused by the woman's age, a hard fact of biology.
I was not so clever as to call my pastor to administer Last Rites, nor was I clever enough to actually say goodbye to Baby X. All I could so was open the refridgerator and look repeatedly at my lima bean in the baggie. I never even thought to say goodbye. I wanted to write a beautiful poem to Baby X as my tribute, but I am just not a poet.
My story is my tribute to Baby X. Tim and I created an angel! I know he is whizzing around heaven right now, along with all the other babies. Eventually, he will be tugging on Jesus's leg to read him a story; our Lucy is such a bookworm!
I miss you, Baby.
You can never be replaced.
Looking forward to seeing you again!
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In Loving Memory Of Our Treasures
"Life can be the same after the loss of a trinket - but never the same after the loss of a treasure."
In Loving Memory Of Our Treasures
since March 20, 2001