The story that I am about to tell you does not begin when we conceived or when the complications started 3months later. It begins on 20 March 2020 when I was referred for a scan owing to (not so severe) pelvic pains. I never went! One, because we had just started working from home following the first Covid19 case and two, the pain was gone anyway. And so, when we conceived 7 months later with the IUD in place, my initial thoughts were that the pain I had had in March was probably caused by the coil; because coils move sometimes and it causes pain (and oops pregnancies too, right? )
Haha, sounds about right.
Yeap! And yet this was the best news that we ever had, as unplanned as it was. We told our families early on, my friends too. Then the baby bump came knocking early and I told *Lee, our first born, that I had a baby in the tummy and every little thing that parents tell their children to prepare them and ease them into the divided attention to come. In all these, my glow remained radiant and my spirit alive. I look back and think that those were the happiest days of our lives.
When did things change?
I don’t know, I really cannot place a time stamp on when things changed.
I started spotting in December and we went to the hospital. No alarm was raised to the IUD that was still in place and the doctor said that all was fine-it would end with time. That gave me, say 95% relief. Later that evening, I turned to google for the remaining 5%.
‘…bleeding and spotting from the vagina during pregnancy is common. Statistically, up to 25% of all pregnant women have some bleeding or spotting during their pregnancy and
this doesn’t always mean there’s a problem’…
And with that, I slept easy- unperturbed.
But then it did not end with time, and I thought to myself that time could not be that indefinite in medical clock terms. So one day I decided to visit my Gyna for a second opinion.
Was this out of worry or curiosity?
Curiosity and my own peace of mind mostly. There is a certain level of confidence that comes with a doctor saying that all is fine you know; and that’s the confidence I was carrying around to this day. It is with the same confidence that I entered the Gyna’s room.
But the air in the room suddenly became awfully tense. She looked at me in utter shock, unable to put her thoughts into words for a few minutes. And finally, she uttered the words that I had never imagined to be my reality.
“You may lose this child Ess, you have to get the coil out immediately.
The urgency in the statement and the sudden realization that this was not a suggestion but an order made me hold back from telling her that I did not want to. The fear of losing the pregnancy was far more chilling than the risks (if at all) associated with removing the IUD: and so I went to have it removed immediately.
But as fate would have it, the strings could not be located, rendering the procedure impossible.
How did that make you feel?
Relieved, surprisingly. I was happy that the gods had conspired against the one procedure that I did not want to take.
Unknown to me, that was also the beginning of the end.
I was barely 20 weeks when my water broke. At the hospital, we got two options- to get admitted and stay under observation for as long as it took: or to stay at home under strict and complete bed rest indefinitely. We chose the latter.
At home, the leaking continued, and the days suddenly became longer and the nights darker. I started reading widely on ways of replenishing amniotic fluid (None yet). I drank plenty of water and stayed hydrated, I rested, I followed ALL the instructions from the doctor and dedicated my life to doing everything within my control to save the situation even on the days that I was drowning in hopelessness for not being able to control was happening to my body. And then I started talking to my Miracle baby, speaking words of assurance to them that mommy was there against every odd. As if to comfort me, they would kick and move in those moments and that brought me so much joy.
As days passed, I made up my mind that their name would be Miracle and told Sissy to find us a beautiful variation of the name, say in another Language. We also agreed that we would check the baby’s gender in the next visit. But that was not to happen.
The 15th day of my bed rest marked the beginning of what the doctors called an inevitable miscarriage. Earlier that Friday, my doctor had recommended that we check into the hospital for an emergency admission as there was no detectable amniotic fluid pocket at this point.
Even so, I refused to take the admission. I started telling her that my baby was alive and kicking. Told her that we would not accept an end that had not yet come. Then this painful lump hit my throat followed by a gush of tears and I started shouting instead. That I was not a failure as a mother and that my womb was not inadequate. You know all these thoughts and feelings of inadequacy hit you all at once and you feel like you have failed your baby terribly.
I felt the taste of the tears that I had not cared to wipe, wiped the mucus with the back of my palm carelessly and took long heavy breaths in the midst of telling her that my case was different, this was now how the ending was meant to look like. I could have gone on and on. But my brain either shut down or my throat ran dry because at some point I could only take quick short breaths and nothing more (the type that starts from the stomach and disappears somewhere in the nasal cavity ) At the end of it all, she handed an open admission to my Husband, you will need it soon she said. And we went home- in empty silence.
I hate to admit it, but she was right. I never made it to the house as the miscarriage started as soon as I stepped out of the car. I started screaming and sobbing uncontrollably and Lee came out. And because I knew that my end was as near as that of my baby, I hated myself for leaving such a grisly image to my son as the last memory. Still, there was nothing I could do to collect myself and I felt like a bigger failure for letting him into this moment of utter vulnerability.
J, my husband, helped me back to the car and we rushed to the hospital for the admission I had earlier declined. My prayer at this point was to just deliver a breathing baby. I was ready to stay at the NICU for as long as it took because ours was a miracle baby. I could still feel the kicks, faint but present nonetheless. So, when I was induced, I was hopeful. The labor was long and intense. So intense that I had spasms of violent shuddering and fits of cold sweat. But then again, there was a faint chance that my little fighter would make a grand entry into the world. I was wrong.
Grave silence engulfed us after I finally pushed the baby out and for the first time, I accepted that I had lost this one battle badly. I cannot describe those minutes, the stillness of the moment, the rawness of the blood and most vividly the deathly silence that followed. The sound of death is inhumanely quiet. You imagine that you feel relieved after delivering. Far from it, the weight of the entire world landed on my shoulders as soon as I absorbed what had just happened. I subconsciously grabbed my husband’s hand because he was the only straw that I had to hold on to now; and he held my hand through this moment just as strongly as he had during the 15 days of the slow miscarriage. He had given me 150% during this season and seeing him sinking into instant grief but still putting on a brave face for me was the miracle I needed. Because even though the ground beneath me was tearing apart, I knew that I had a solid support system right beside me.
Whew, I feel proud of telling you this story all over again without shedding a tear.
(I do not comment at all because I am one breath away from falling apart; so, I just look at her, hoping that she gets the cue)
Which she does.
In praying for us, Mom softly reminded us that what was done was done; and we could not open a case against God because his plans and timings were always perfect (Profound).
Did that ease you into accepting what had happened?
No, I was angry. Nothing made sense to me at that point too because there was no closure. I wondered what I could have done differently, I blamed myself for not taking the scan on March 20th, 2020, maybe the IUD would have been fixed. I felt stupid for not knowing the risks that come with carrying a pregnancy with the IUD in place, should I not have known that it could prick the amniotic fluid sac at the least? I regretted every squat I made which could have pushed the coil further up. On most days, I hated myself for not reaching out to my Gyna earlier. I should have gone to her right from the beginning and maybe; her comment that I risked losing the pregnancy would have come in early enough- when time was a factor on our side. I also felt bad for not checking the gender and having to live an entire life addressing my baby in a non-binary form.
How did you cope?
Therapy. I attended therapy sessions dutifully and I got to go through the 5 stages of grief with complete understanding that grief was neither linear nor time bound. This way, I allowed myself to go through the cycles in no particular order and without feeling guilty for taking longer than ‘expected’.
I got to understand that a miscarriage is not just the loss of the pregnancy, but the loss of a baby, and no footprints are too small to leave a mark.
She made me learn that it was okay to try to remember and forget a memory at the same time, to let go of the loss without forgetting the role that the experience played into shaping you. Because rock bottoms teach you lessons that mountain tops never will.
Most importantly, she reminded me that you don’t always get closure, and that is okay. So rather than tiptoeing through your future afraid of what could go wrong (because of the what ifs that remain unanswered for what you could have done differently previously), you should seize each day with sheer confidence. Because at the end of the day, what is meant to happen will happen, regardless.
What would you advise someone going through a miscarriage, still birth or loss of a child?
What the therapist said. (Cue to go back to the previous paragraph, read and internalize, ha ha)
On the real though, I would want to tell them that the loss may be difficult, but the days after may be tougher. There are triggers at every corner, cooing babies, pregnancy and birth announcements, Mother’s Day celebrations or Father’s Day celebrations (especially because you are never sure where to place yourself). You cannot prevent people from celebrating their wins and milestones just because you missed yours either…
Well-meaning comments from friends may also land wrongly to you. Some people will tell you that you should be grateful that you could conceive in the first place because there are hundreds of thousands of women who cannot conceive at all, some will ask you what wrong you did to cause the loss, if you have another baby they will remind that you should be grateful for what you have and for first time Moms, they will ask you to try get another one as soon as possible. Do not get lost in the noise of the world. Do not let the world invalidate your pain just because others have had worse days. Remind yourself that you have the right to be grateful for what you have and sad for what you lost in tandem…
A lot of people do not know how to be there for someone during this period, or what to Say. What worked for you?
Showing up! I have never forgotten the love I felt when my friends and family showed up at the hospital bed out of the blues. It was such a breath of fresh air. Or the day when they came over, cooked, cleaned, and brought the loveliest stories of all time. Bless.
One of my closest friends also offered to run my errands and shopping runs for a full month after the loss, can you imagine? (I’d never have thought about that in a thousand lifetimes quite honestly)
My family was also very present and they let me grieve for as long as needed. People grieve differently, I am the type that would talk it out and so I found solace in talking about the roller coaster of emotions. Some people grieve in silence too and you have to be emotionally intelligent to know how to converse in the silence. (Silence is also a language folks 🙂
I slowly learnt how to breath under water because grief does not get smaller with time, we only grow around it.
Most consistently, I trusted in God through the process. I trusted him to move the mountain, and even though he chose to leave it unmoved, my hope remained in him as the giver and the taker in his own perfect time.
Dedicated to all mothers of Angel babies and families that will ever know the pain of child loss or miscarriages.
Sending love and light your way
Big little girl | story teller for all seasons | Kenyan |