CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- October is an official awareness month for a cause that many do not even speak of. In 1988, President Reagan proclaimed October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month to bring attention to those who often suffer in silence after a molar pregnancy, blighted ovum, miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, and any other type of pregnancy or infant loss.
If one loses a spouse, we label them a widow. When young children lose their parents we call them orphans. But what do we call those parents who lose their children before they're born or while they're in labor minutes away from meeting their new child?
According the American Pregnancy Association:
* The average risk of a woman miscarrying during childbearing years is 10 to 25 percent.
* Under age 35 it is 15 percent.
* Between 35 and 45 years of age it is 20 to 35 percent.
* Over age of 45 it is 50 percent.
* For a woman who has suffered a previous miscarriage her risk is about 25 percent.
* The chance of having recurrent miscarriages, which is currently considered three or more consecutively is 1 percent.
My husband and I are in that 1 percent. Anyone who falls into any of these statistics has suffered unimaginable heartbreak, but there is something so unexplainable about being in that 1 percent.
When we first got pregnant, we were thrilled. We went for our first appointment, saw the heartbeat and even got the pictures on a CD so we could view our baby anytime we wanted. Four weeks later we go back for the next ultrasound and nothing. My doctor, who I think extremely highly of and respect very much, simply stated "I'm so sorry. There's no cardiac activity. Your baby is only measuring about 9 weeks." I should have been 11 weeks that day.
My body had what is commonly called a "missed miscarriage." I literally felt the whole world stop. My husband and I just sat there in a room by ourselves, crying, looking up at the screen at what was now our precious angel, wondering what could have gone wrong. We are both healthy, in shape. We avoid all types of alcohol, tobacco, and I didn't even workout during those first few weeks just for my own peace of mind. How could this have happened?
Two months later, we were pregnant again! Wonderful news! We just knew this time was our time. We went in for the first visit. Everything was perfect. We cried tears of happiness, celebrated the whole way home. Four weeks later, two days ahead of my next scheduled visit I experience slight cramping and bleeding, which can actually be very common during a first trimester. So when the ER staff told me I just had a urinary tract infection I was confident going into the doctor the following Monday. So here we are again, in that same room. The doctor pulls the screen up, starts turning the volume up and changing the angle of the doppler. Once again, "I'm sorry. Your baby is only measuring about 9 1/2 weeks. There is no heartbeat. I am very, very sorry for your loss."
Speechless, again. Our whole world turned upside down, once more. My whole body was numb, except for the feeling of my tears, and my husband's.
Another three months later, it was the same story as before, all over again. The same response from the doctor, the same numbing feeling, the same feeling in the pit of my stomach that the world is just crashing down around me and there's officially nothing I can do about it.
Finally, in May of this year we were pregnant again. This time we both had a good feeling that everything would be perfect. And for awhile it was. The first visit was wonderful; the baby was perfect. For the very first time, the second visit was perfect. Our baby was 10 weeks and 6 days and had a heartbeat of 176. We could even see our little one dancing and moving around on the screen. Things were finally working out, finally. Then five weeks later, in August when I should have been 15 weeks and 6 days pregnant, our doctor just looked at me with those same sad eyes and said, "I am so, so sorry. Your baby is only measuring about 11 weeks. There is no cardiac activity. I know that you are so heartbroken, and I am so sorry. I am absolutely so sorry for the both of you."