October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
United States President Ronald Reagan declared the month of October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month in 1988. His designation dedicated the month to help raise awareness of the grief of parents lost a pregnancy or infant.
In 2016 the House of Representatives passed a resolution that recognizes October 15th as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. October 15th is now recognized worldwide as a remembrance day. Each year the day is recognized by an International Wave of Light. At 7 pm in every time zone candles are lit in honor of all babies being remembered.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that as of 2018 there are on average 24,000 stillbirths in the United States each year. They also have found that the infant mortality rate is 5.7 per 1000 live births. Additionally, 17% to 22% or 1 in 4 pregnancies are estimated to end in miscarriage.
I am one of the 1 in 4.
My husband and I decided it was time to expand our family shortly before our oldest’s second birthday. Somewhere along the line, we had decided we wanted our children to be roughly three years apart. We figured the second birthday was a good time to start trying as it took us over nine months to get pregnant the first time around.
The decision was made. I came off the pill in April. We started actively trying to get pregnant in May. I was staring down two pink lines by the middle of July. Baby #2 was set to make their arrival the day before my birthday on April 4.
We were over the moon with excitement and could not contain it! Our first pregnancy had been uncomplicated so we decided to share our news with the world right away. After all, I had seen my doctor and had bloodwork to confirm the pregnancy. My hCG numbers were strong, the earlier indicators looked great, and my pregnancy symptoms were strong. Everything was great!
Until, suddenly, it wasn’t.
We broke the news of our impending arrival and two weeks later I started to bleed. My doctor sent me for bloodwork. The numbers were still strong and still climbing after repeat bloodwork. An ultrasound was ordered and the growth wasn’t matching up with where it should be. So, we were told to hurry up and wait.
We existed for almost the entire month of August that year in a strange waiting place. The was bloodwork and more bloodwork and more ultrasounds. Until finally we reached the day where we sat in the office with my doctor telling us that there was no heartbeat and there should be by this point. I remember her apologizing and crying with us, but not much else.
For whatever reason, my body was holding on to this pregnancy. Aside from the bleeding I was experiencing, I was not moving toward actually physically miscarrying. My doctor offered and recommended that we have a D&C. She felt, and we agreed, that it would be better for my mental and emotional health to have that done rather than continue to wait.
So, two days later that is what we did.
My surgery was uneventful. I had a check-up two weeks after and everything was healthy and normal. My doctor told me that we could try again as soon as my next cycle if we wanted to.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to or not. I had never worried about miscarrying during my first pregnancy, but now I was terrified it would happen again. I didn’t know if I would be strong enough to go through another loss.
My husband decided that a change of scenery was in order. Our fifth wedding anniversary was coming up, in October of all months, and we booked a trip to Hilton Head. I personally believe that the beach and the ocean can heal all things. We left our daughter with my parents and we drove South. It was great to spend a few days at the beach and eating and drinking and having fun together. We cried and healed. It was just what we needed.
We would soon find out we brought back the best souvenir too.
Just before Thanksgiving, I started feeling tired and nauseated and getting sick and I knew right away. Three pregnancy tests and confirmation by my doctor later, we learned we had given ourselves the best anniversary present. Our baby was due in July!
My miscarriage changed me. My pregnancy wasn’t as innocent as my first as each and every twinge and ache set about new worries. I spent a lot of time worrying about what could happen, but everything was healthy and progressing well. We hit the twelve-week mark on Christmas Eve and announced our pregnancy to the world on Christmas Day.
I am blessed that my doctor was really sensitive and understanding of all my worries and concerns. She ordered a couple of extra ultrasounds to give me peace of mind and never made me feel like I was being too much with all my questions and concerns.
Our Rainbow Baby was growing just fine.
Lily Ruth came into this world her own way on July 3rd. My sweet little rainbow is also very much a firecracker and has been from the start. She was full-on breech so we had a scheduled c-section with her. We spent the best 4th of July ever cuddling and recovering in the hospital.
My Lily has lived up to the term Rainbow Baby in every sense. I firmly believe God gave me here when I needed her the most. She shines like the sun and it is completely fitting that her favorite color is in fact rainbow.
My miscarriage was one of the hardest moments of my life.
There are days, especially every October and every April 4th, that I wonder who the little baby who was too beautiful for this world would be. Would they have been a he or a she? Would they look like me or my husband? Could I have done anything differently?
In those moments, though, I look at my rainbow connection and let my heart feel her joy. If that pregnancy had been successful then I would not have my Lily and I cannot imagine life without her.
I know that someday, in the great beyond, I will hold the little baby that I carried for a moment. I take heart in believing that those who have gone before me are holding him or her until I can.