The day I lost my unborn child

I didn’t plan on getting pregnant again. Definitely, not now that Big ‘n Lil Sis are already 13 and 10 years old, respectively, not to mention I have just started to deal with teenage angst. I have always wondered, however, what it’s like to have a son and would very much like to raise a God-fearing gentleman, who would make a difference in this world.

Although my daughters are enough to bring joy to our family, I also know that my husband still doesn’t want to let go of his dream of having a son of our own, someone to carry his name even after he’s gone, and I really can’t blame him. Hence, he was ecstatic when I told him of my suspicion that I was pregnant, and more so when the store-bought pregnancy test kit confirmed it.

I finally began to feel excited about having another baby then. My husband and our girls’ excitement was simply contagious and having a baby (boy) in the family was all they talked about! I even started browsing the Instagram accounts of celebrities who recently gave birth, so I would have an idea of what sort of baby stuff I should get before the baby was born or once he reached a certain age. I was surprised to find out that technology and ingenuity had brought about so much change in the baby products line available now in the market. I had also started thinking about creative ways to announce the coming of the newest member of our family in social media. Despite the happiness surrounding me and my own excitement, however, I had some struggles too.

My third pregnancy wasn’t really much different from my previous two, except I experienced the symptoms at a very early stage. It has been a very uncomfortable pregnancy, yes, but nonetheless, something I was determined to go through for nine months. That meant being bloated and nauseous and fatigued 24/7. That is, until I started bleeding last February 19th.

Although a part of me feared that I was already having a miscarriage, I continued to hope that my baby was still safe and sound in my womb. Accompanied by my sister-in-law, I went to the hospital to be certain that gloomy Sunday morning.

The OB-GYN said that my cervix was (still) closed although some spotting or light bleeding may still be expected in the following days. They required me to go through medical tests to be doubly sure. All the tests yielded favorable results, except for the ultrasound. For some reason, neither my baby’s heartbeat nor the gestational sac could be detected.

Monday, February 20th, I saw my own OB-GYN after I had a blood (B-HCG) test ran at the biggest and most modern hospital in the nearby city, where she also has a clinic. I had the procedure rushed, and the results showed that I was only four weeks pregnant. (At least, I did not imagine my pregnancy!) She said that it’s possible, among others, that the gestational sac was still forming and was rather too thin to be detected by the ultrasound. I was advised to be on bedrest as well as continue to take prescriptions that would help me keep the baby while we wait for two more weeks to have another ultrasound.

On February 22nd, Wednesday, I had another bleeding episode. I bled as copiously as I did last Sunday, except this time it felt like my water bag broke. Instead of water, however, blood came out, soaking both the sheets and my clothes. I didn’t feel any physical pain though.

* * * * *

I don’t think I’ll ever forget that day. Everything just seemed to be going wrong. For the first time, my husband felt so demoralized at his current workplace, where he’s been working for nearly four years now. He has decided to come home for good as soon as he gets a new job here (and I were to help him find a new job). If you knew my husband, then you must also know how dedicated he is to his job and how much he liked working for their company that he would even buy shares of its stocks annually.

On the other hand, my youngest daughter, who’s usually so active, bubbly and biddable, kept to herself in her tent playhouse. Then there goes my eldest daughter, who at 13, seemed to both perplex and frustrate me more than ever that day. Worst, my in-laws had also chosen that day to be so disagreeable. I know we don’t always see eye-to-eye; I had come to believe that we are more mature now, yet it seemed like I was gravely mistaken. Again.

I knew there was something wrong with my body, too. I felt lethargic more than ever during my whole pregnancy. No matter how much I ate or rested, I didn’t seem to have enough energy to even sit for 15 minutes. I always had to lie down. I had a bloated tummy, and I couldn’t concentrate on anything at all, keeping us further behind on some of our classes, too.

To top it off, I realized that the novels I had been reading lately each happened to have a heroine that went through a painful miscarriage before they each had the child they longed for. Were all of these premonitions? It felt like I was seeing all the dark storm clouds in the sky, anticipating the heavy rains, yet helplessly unable to find a shelter or a decent umbrella to at least help shield me from the torrents.

When the liquid broke out of my body, I panicked. I waited for the bleeding to stop, but it didn’t. I decided to take a shower and started scrubbing myself clean, hoping that it would at least help me feel better, feel new, refreshed, hopeful again. If I were to be honest with myself, I would call it for what it really was: preparing for burial.

I remembered the time my parents died as I was taking a shower. The pain of losing them became so vivid. I was certain I was losing another very important person in my life at that moment too, only one I have not really met yet and would have made our family happier. I started bawling then. My youngest daughter heard me and immediately called her dad and had him talk to me. I think my husband and I both knew then that our hope of having a son was gone. He tried to console me, but a part of me could not be consoled and just wanted to grieve endlessly. I wondered how much of the pain I felt my husband could also feel.

As I came out of the bathroom and started to get dressed, one of my in-laws was on the phone again. My husband’s parents were alternately calling when I was still in the bathroom, while my eldest child was at their house. Apparently, my husband, worried sick about me, called my daughter right after we talked and told her to go home in a not so pleasant manner, and my in-laws took offense.

If you ask me, they seem to choose to misunderstand a lot of things lately, especially where my eldest daughter is concerned. Although I have sensed their restlessness, their disapproval with the way I have been training my children to do house chores, especially being homeschoolers, I never thought that they would pick that exact moment to confront me, to start a tirade.

After a few minutes and some begging to postpone our not-so-pleasant conversation, my father-in-law finally let me get off the phone. Mustering enough strength to steady my hands–I was already shaking uncontrollably–I started calling a couple of my friends who live in the area for assistance, but they happened to be unavailable. I called my eldest brother too, but he was also at work and it would take him hours to get to me and accompany me to the hospital himself. He was worried and asked me to get help from someone else before it’s too late. He asked why my in-laws, who live across the street from us, weren’t helping me.

I decided to try to sleep things off and went to bed. Perhaps everything was just a bad dream. But I couldn’t sleep. So many questions plagued me like, why would my in-laws want to pick a fight with me, when they, of all people, knew very well that I was going through a delicate pregnancy and had to be on bedrest? Why were they accusing me of not caring about my child’s education, when that’s exactly the reason she (and her sister) are being homeschooled? What’s wrong with my daughters learning to do house chores and helping around the house, especially in my current state?… What happened to my sweet sensitive child that it was so easy for her to leave her weakened mother and younger sister behind at the beck and call of her father’s relatives? (That morning, they invited her to go to the market and she hurriedly went, with neither of them asking for my permission.)… Did I actually bleed copiously? If yes, why else would I have to go to the hospital when it seemed like my baby has already left my body for good?

Finally, my in-laws sent my eldest daughter home, though she initially avoided seeing me and stayed in the backyard. When she finally came in and saw me, she immediately called her dad and told him that I needed to be brought to the hospital. I refused to budge, telling her that I was too weak to move and that I would just sleep until my brother came to pick me up. I tried to convince her and myself that if only I could sleep, even for just an hour, I’d feel better and be able to go to the hospital by myself, not needing anybody’s assistance. She insisted, however, and went on to call my sister-in-law, who happens to be an ER doctor and is living with her parents, to ask for help despite my protests.

At that moment, I saw my Big Baby A mature before my eyes. I knew I was getting much weaker and I was still bleeding and shaking uncontrollably, and needed medical help. My OB has warned me about this and gave strict instructions herself that I must rush to the hospital if my bleeding gets worse. My daughter met my resistance with a strong, “No, you need to go to the hospital now! Daddy, Mommy needs to go to the hospital now! I don’t care what you say, but I’m calling them (her father’s relatives) [for help]!”

A few moments later, my sister-in-law barged into our room and started checking my temperature, with her father in tow. I don’t know why he (or they) came. Probably just to see for himself if I wasn’t lying when I told him earlier that I was in an emergency situation and really needed to go to the hospital. He tried to act solicitously. I heard him ask his daughter dryly why I was shaking, and she simply said that it could be a sign of an infection. Then she announced that they would be taking me to the hospital because I was already pale and repeated that I must already be getting an infection.

* * * * *

My eldest daughter started packing a bag for me and instructed her younger sister to also pack an overnight bag for herself – they would be staying with my in-laws while I would be at the hospital. My shaking lessened considerably then–perhaps out of stubbornness, wanting to refuse my in-laws’ help–that I was able to finish packing my own bag and assist my younger one in her packing too. The thought of leaving my daughters behind, even for just a couple of hours, with my in-laws suddenly bothered me so much that I finally found the strength to get up and move. I wanted to get things over and done with as soon as possible so I could be with my girls again, especially with my Little Baby Z, because she still prefers to co-sleep with me at night.

My eldest daughter accompanied me along with my sister-in-law and my husband’s male cousin, who was staying with my in-laws, to a hospital nearby. I was attended immediately by an OB-GYN, who unceremoniously announced that I must undergo a D&C (dilation and curettage), a procedure to remove the tissue inside the uterus, ASAP. She said that my cervix was already open and it looked like an infection had already started to set in.

I heard my sister-in-law talking to my husband on the phone too, explaining things to him, then moments later, a hospital representative came to me, confirming my admission to the hospital, asking me about the kind of room I wanted, and telling me that I would have to pay a P15,000.00 cash deposit. Things were happening so fast and all at the same time, it seemed.

In less than two hours, I was brought to the labor room and had to say goodbye to my eldest child. She was to go home with my sister-in-law, while their cousin would stay with me at the hospital.

* * * * *

I wish I could say that I deeply appreciated my in-laws’ efforts, but I couldn’t. Something tells me it was not done out of genuine concern, but more like feeling obligated because my daughter asked for their help and they happened to be closely related to my husband. Not to mention my sister-in-law’s a doctor and it would go against their code of ethics if she refused to help someone in need of medical attention. Well, I also wish I was wrong. I believe that my husband’s sister was genuinely concerned when she accompanied me to the hospital that Sunday I bled for the first time.

I was very grateful, on the other hand, to the nurses who attended me at the labor room. They were very kind and friendly and they kept me from pitying myself (because I had no one there for me). They allowed me to keep my phone, so I could contact my family, especially after they found out that my husband works in Singapore and I live alone with my two young daughters, ages 13 and 10, without a helper, with both of my parents already dead, my only sister in the US, and the only brother I could rely on was probably still in a meeting somewhere, if not already rushing to the hospital to see me.

Anyway, I told my brother via SMS to postpone his visit because he most likely won’t see me that night as I was about to go through surgery. I tried letting some of my (Christian) friends know where I was too, asking them for prayers. I also tried contacting my husband, needing to hear his voice, but the signal was so poor that none of my messages went through except the ones I had sent to my brother.

Finally, I was wheeled to the operating room and met with the doctors. Somehow, no matter how friendly and kind everyone seemed to me, I couldn’t help feeling lonely for not having my husband nor my mother with me. I missed them so much, and my heart ached to feel my daughters’ arms around me! I was thankful that the anesthesia they gave me knocked me out, for at least I didn’t have to imagine unpleasant things or agonize in prayer while they scraped my womb.

About an hour later, I woke up to voices and to my phone ringing. One of the nurses asked if he should answer the call, and I said yes. Apparently, my husband had been working over time and he had also tried to contact me earlier, but the call just wouldn’t go through.

A picture of my husband’s happy face, when I shared with him the news that I was pregnant again after 10 years.

When I was wheeled to my own room, I only felt lonelier. I longed for the presence of my dear family, but instead, it was my husband’s relative who was waiting in the room. Thankfully, I picked a semi-private suite (good for two patients) and there was no one using the adjacent room, so my husband’s cousin stayed there. Somehow, I was grateful that he didn’t even attempt for small talks and just left me to myself and I was able to fall back to sleep easily (until he started snoring loudly).

I was well-attended at the hospital. The nurses were attentive, but they didn’t bother me a lot either. Since it’s a private hospital, I relied mostly on them for my needs, which were rather few and inconsequential. I didn’t really have a need for a personal bantay and I wished my husband’s cousin would just go home. My husband’s relatives weren’t exactly my favorite people at that time, and having my sister-in-law work for the same hospital and being on duty that night brought little comfort. If only my husband and my two girls were with me!

Morning finally came and I saw my eldest child again. Her grandfather brought her to the hospital to keep me company, while my husband’s cousin left to accompany my mother-in-law for an errand. They came with my sister-in-law’s baby daughter too, and I must say the little one helped brighten up my day. I was also happy to have my Big Baby A with me, though I continued to miss my Little Baby Z too.

A few hours later, my husband’s cousin came back with my mother-in-law, bringing food for my daughter. She seemed a little subdued and initiated to pray for me before they left. As she did, I couldn’t help wondering how sincere she was. I had to remind myself that I don’t like questioning the motives of the people around me and decided that negative emotions would only delay my healing. I tried to forget then what they did the previous day. Besides, I have already come to accept years ago the fact that they’re not the kind who would apologize for anything wrong they may have done, so I should just leave things as they are and keep moving forward.

* * * * *

The day seemed to pass by in a blur. I wasn’t really able to rest; the slightest noise bothered me so much. Not that I minded, but since I only had my 7th grader with me, I did all the paperwork and coordinated with the hospital’s cashier and billing staff, so I could go home that same day. With the help of my dear friend Tams, who was working from the comforts of her home, I was able to secure some of the required (PhilHealth) documents online, going from one hospital department to another in a wheelchair, with the aid of a very patient nursing staff, and finally had myself discharged by 8 PM.  For the first time in days, I felt so good for having accomplished all those things, especially in that seemingly helpless condition.

My Big Baby A and I left the hospital just before 8:30 PM. She managed to tidy the room and pack our few personal items while I was settling the bill. Before heading home, we dropped by the pharmacy to purchase the medicines the doctor prescribed, then picked up Lil Sis at my in-laws. She was already fast asleep when we arrived, so I had thought of leaving her there for one more night. However, seeing her sleep in a fetal position–a sign for me that she was feeling cold and wanted to be hugged–at the far side of the bed, I changed my mind and I was glad I did.

My eldest brother came to the hospital to see me, less than an hour after we left. Upon learning that I had been discharged, he proceeded to our house. It had been more than a month since we last saw each other, and between my two brothers in the metro, he’s the one that I could depend on and really talk to. However, somehow, his visit was not as comforting as I had thought it would be.

With regard to my in-laws, to pursue a conflict-free relationship with them, I have determined even before we went home from the hospital not to ask for their help on anything again and to be careful when accepting any offer from them too. I was deeply disappointed with them, yes, but not angry. I had no plan of keeping a score of wrongs, but I would definitely try to keep my family and myself safe from any hurts they could inflict. In fact, my daughters and I even came to dine with them the following day and brought gifts, since it was my husband’s niece’s first birthday. I allowed them to show kindness to my daughters and me, if only that would help ease their conscience. After that day, however, I just didn’t feel the same anymore…

* * * * *

On my second night at home after losing my unborn child, depression started to set in. I felt so weak, physically and emotionally, even spiritually, and I didn’t want to leave the bed or be with anybody. It was enough for me to know that I was home with my girls, but I tried to stay away from them too. We had fast food, including pizzas, delivered for days because I neither had the energy nor the desire to prepare meals and eat.

I just wanted to be alone. Alone with my thoughts, my questions, my pain, my grief. I instructed the girls not to bother me when they see me go to the master’s bedroom and lock myself in. I didn’t want them to see me cry, or make me stop crying if they did. I also asked Baby Z to sleep in her own bed for at least a week. She resisted at first, but thankfully, her sister sensed my need for both privacy and rest and convinced her to give me a break, especially that I just came back from the hospital.

The only person I was really able to talk to then was my friend Nette, who’s in Australia. She empathized with me, especially that she had also experienced having a miscarriage herself. For days, we chatted on Twitter. Unlike me, however, she’s still waiting for the chance to have a child to call her own. 

For a week after my miscarriage, I had difficulty sleeping no matter how tired I felt. I kept waking up in the middle of the night and would find my hands on my tummy as if trying to protect the baby that was no longer there. I would also feel blood soaking my underwear and trickling down my legs, only to find out that there’s really nothing there at all.

I thought the idea of “feeling the empty womb” was nothing more than a literary expression.  But I did feel it. And I mourned for it every single day.

* * * * *

I saw my new OB-GYN at the start of the second week after the miscarriage. I got the results of the medical tests performed on me the day I had a D&C, and she was very kind and patient in answering my questions. She explained that statistics show that miscarriages that occur within the first trimester are due to congenital defects. I already knew that from reading books and online articles on pregnancies, but hearing her say it made me feel vulnerable all over again.

I remembered praying for a healthy baby (boy). I remember asking God to please make sure that our baby won’t have any deformities or serious illness because I might be too devastated to take care of him/her. I feared that I might pity the child his/her whole life and blame myself or my husband for it, and neglect everyone and everything else in my life, including my own well-being. Yes, I remember reasoning to God why He should give me a healthy baby (boy)…

No matter how deeply hurt I felt, I somehow knew that what happened may have been God’s loving response to my prayer. He loves me in ways I could not really comprehend.

After that realization, my spirit started to get stronger, though my body still felt weak. I continued to feel dizzy several times during the day. I was always tired, even if I seemed to be able to sleep a little better each night and stayed in bed most of the time.

Without warning, the memory of losing my unborn child would assault me any time of the day. However, instead of pinning more quotes on miscarriage on one of my Pinterest boards and empathizing with the women who created them, crying, submerging myself deeper into grief like I did the first week, I started asking my friends from the church to pray for me.

Indeed, God sends help when we need it. I may not have my husband or my late mother to hold my hand during this difficult time in my life, but I have enough friends whose prayers and affection were enough to get me through each day by God’s grace. They tried to see me, but I hinted that I was resting. Somehow, as much as I missed them, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see anyone at all, except for my family. (I still wanted to be alone.) Nevertheless, they, along with my sister and nieces abroad, continued to lift me up in prayers and send me encouraging messages daily.

As for my husband’s relatives, well, my MIL rang me one day to demand if we have disallowed Big Sis from seeing them because she has not visited them and attended her Math tutorials with her aunt since I came home from being hospitalized. At that time, my daughter was experiencing menstrual cramps for several days, and I told her that was the reason.

Of course, at my husband’s request, my eldest daughter also didn’t leave the house because I was still rather weak. But I didn’t tell that anymore to my husband’s mother as I didn’t think she would even try to understand. She made it clear to me though that I just might get sued one of these days for child labor because of the house chores my children perform. Then she proceeded to tell me why no one could sue me for the same reasons, too. Honestly, I’m beginning to think that she has a bipolar syndrome and needs medical attention.

After that phone conversation with my MIL, I spoke with my husband. We finally decided that we would keep our distance from them in the coming weeks or months, and that included not having our daughters visit them in the mean time. 

* * * * *

By the middle of the second week after the miscarriage, my nightmares became fewer, although I experienced spotting once more. I no longer worried a lot though, since my OB has already told me to expect it.

My daughters and I have also started sharing home cooked meals again by this time, and they would even help with the cooking, preparing scrumptious dishes by themselves, especially my Big Baby A. Baby Z has begun co-sleeping with me again on weekday nights too, and I found that having her with me in bed helped me sleep better.

Lastly, I have stopped looking at a pregnancy web page that describes how my unborn baby would look like at 4–12 weeks. Slowly, I have returned to my old self, while making a few changes to the way we do things.

* * * * *

Although my unborn baby would always hold a special place in my heart, I determined that I would not allow grief to make me lose my daughters too. I need to be healthy again for them. They need to see me fully alive once more, basking in God’s grace and mothering them.

We started going out and resumed our homeschool classes. We even went to a coffee shop to plan our homeschool activities and set new goals for March and April, preparing for their upcoming tests before summer vacation officially begins. We also went to the salon and had my hair cut by the end of the second week after my miscarriage.

I found myself drawn to reading books and writing once more. I even finished some of the drafts in my blog and joined a few online activities and conversations in certain bloggers’ groups on Facebook. I have started learning to reach out again. I have resumed my volunteer work too. I’m also thinking of taking in new projects, although that may have to wait until summer vacation starts. For now, my girls and I have a lot of catching up to do with some of the school subjects. We also need to relearn what it’s like to be on our own again, needing very little assistance, if not nothing at all, from anybody else (except prayers).

Sometimes I would hear my father-in-law approach my daughters when they’re playing in the yard and would ask how they’ve been. To my relief, he and his wife never demanded again for Big Sis to come over to their house, or even try to make me feel bad for having my girls do some of the house chores. (I can assure you that they are age-appropriate chores and they can very well do them given their height and body size as well.) They also have not bothered to call my husband again while he’s at work, only to demand that he see things the way they do and even let them have their way with our kids. At one point, my father-in-law even warmly smiled at me and asked how I had been that I found myself responding with a wave and a smile too.

* * * * *

Quote on miscarriageI may have lost an unborn son, but I’d rather think now that he’s just too special an angel to come down to earth and live with a mom like me. Or, maybe he’s aware that I was already having such a difficult time disciplining his sisters, especially Big Sis, lately and knew that he won’t be able to contain his mischief, so he decided to spare me… Yeah, whatever! 😉

Seriously, I’m okay now. There are days when I would still remember everything that happened vividly and ask what if questions, though I am no longer consumed with grief when those memories flood in. I try to remember instead the happiness in my husband’s eyes when I shared him the news that we were expecting, or the tenderness in his voice as he let me know that he was also grieving but we would be able to make it through, reminding me that God has a plan for us. I still shed tears from time to time, yes, but I always smile in the end, knowing that a beautiful baby boy–I’m 100% sure he’s a boy–had graced my womb.

* * * * *

If you’re a mom like me, who also lost a child even before you were able to hold him/her in your arms, I pray that you would find peace in your heart. It’s tough, I know; I’ve been there. You’ve read my story. But, Mommy, you have to continue to live (fully). I’m sure there are people around you who would be so blessed with your smile, with the warmth of your hugs, with the sound of your voice, with your caring ways, your graciousness, your wisdom, your presence… Know that God has a plan for you and it didn’t disappear when you lost your beloved unborn child. ❤

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