Wednesday, August 6, 2008

On a more serious note. Much more serious.

I looked down at the calendar just a few minutes ago and realized that today is Aug. 6. It was 10 years ago today that Dennis and I found out that the baby I was carrying died 11 weeks into my pregnancy. We went to the midwife for a regular check-up and she couldn't find the heartbeat. A follow-up ultrasound hours later showed a silent, still heart. I will never forget that day, or the next day, when they had to remove the remains of my baby. Anyone who has ever suffered a miscarriage will know exactly what I'm talking about. I don't forget the day it happened. I don't forget the due date. I don't forget the little person, whom I have always thought of as "Grace," who never made it into this world.

Mine was not a typical miscarriage. I had something called a "partial molar pregnancy," which required me to have weekly blood tests for a full year, in addition to occasional liver profiles and a lung X-ray for good measure. You see, if the doctors aren't careful when they're taking care of a molar pregnancy, they can miss some cells, and, for whatever strange reason, those cells can turn cancerous and move, in most cases, to the liver or lungs. It was quite a shock when my miscarriage came with a side order of "gynecological oncologist" in the event that my test numbers moved in the wrong direction. In the throes of grief over a baby lost, suddenly I was scared and confused by the prospect of getting cancer from a pregnancy.

Fortunately, I was blessed with an amazing midwife and an equally amazing doctor, who covered every base on this one. Still, it was a difficult year, one that made me question whether I would ever want to put myself through another pregnancy and the chance of another devastating loss. Fortunately, time and the support of family and friends led us to a place where not taking a risk was more painful than protecting ourselves from all the "what ifs," and so we carried on and thank God we did. I can't imagine my world without Olivia and Chiara.

Grace -- and no, I never knew for sure if the baby was a boy or a girl but I had a feeling -- may have had a very short little life, but she will never be forgotten. Although I never got to meet my baby, she still managed to change me and to shape our family, through her absence rather than her presence, which just goes to show that every single life -- even an 11-week-old life still in the womb -- has worth and value and a reason for being.

2 comments:

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Mary,

We lost our little one, Gabriel, the same exact time in our pregnancy as when you learned of Grace's passing. We, too, have an Olivia. Like you with your Grace, I never fail to remember the date of Gabriel's "birthday in heaven." Every May 2, I am reminded of the experience that so closely replicates yours, though we didn't experience the added suffering of a cancer scare.

Thanks for sharing, and God bless you in your parenting and writing this weekend.

Michele B. said...

Mary,
It's been just a year since we got news that our baby 11 weeks gestation would not join our family life on earth. It was very sad and still is. My husband said he was sad not so much that 'we' lost a baby, but that a baby's life wasn't given the chance to continue. I know that our little angel (we named him John Paul) is with us spiritually. We are blessed with 3 precious girls. Losing a child has given me so much more empathy for the infertility so many couples face and for the repeated miscarriages many endure. Life is delicate. You and all the women who have experienced loss are in my prayers especially. Blessings.