For those of you who may have missed it, October 15 was Pregnancy and Infant Loss memorial day. In this midst of this year's Halloween festivities, I take the time to reflect where I've been and where I am now. As I dressed my son in a cuddly fleece bear outfit, I can't help but feel awed at how far we have come and how, gradually, I have reconstructed one of my worst months into a month that can simply exist like all of the other 11 months.
Two years ago, on Halloween, I was laying on the couch in our living room, recovering from a D&C after our second miscarriage. Though all miscarriages are tough, this one was especially hard for Eric and I because we had two "good" ultrasounds on this pregnancy before the miscarriage. Somehow, the pregnancy is a little more real when you see that heartbeat flickering away....and hurts so much worse when you lose it. I also had a terrible experience with the D&C and I struggled to recover physically. I remember Eric desperately trying to cheer me up. When I told him it would be OK to turn our porch light on and pass out candy, Eric rushed to Walmart and came back with at least $100 worth of candy! Somehow, he hoped that he could make things better by wildy embracing the holiday. In between the approximately 5 trick or treaters we got that year (our house was in a new neighborhood and was the only house on the street), Eric tried everything to make me smile. At one point, I told him to leave me alone and "go snort a pixie stick". I couldn't help but laugh when he ended up choking and tearing up with blue powder snotting out of his nose....
Despite the pixie stick snort, I hated October and despised Halloween. What was formerly a drunken costume-fest to me, now became associated with a much darker meaning. For some reason, even 2 years later, I look at that particular October/Halloween as a significant turning point in my life, both personally and professionally. There was the "Before October" and the "After October" and the two sides of the coin couldn't be more different. That October marked the beginning of a fairly long period of dark, dark grief. Almost 2 years later, those months are largely lost to me.
In the midst of our grief over our second loss, I think Eric and I realized how badly we did want a child. It was a painful reality to have to at least consider the alternate possibility, that we wouldn't succesfully carry a child to term. For quite a while after that second loss, I was also unsure of my ability to even chance another pregnancy (and therefore chance another loss). I wasn't sure if I was strong enough to piece myself back to together again.
A year ago, just before Halloween, I finally got another positive pregnancy test. I was pregnant for the third time. This positive pregnancy test was almost a year in coming (and felt like 10 years coming!) I had just about given up...I spent 2009 visiting quite a few doctors and finding few satisfactory answers. I remember staring at the test in disbelief. I didn't tell Eric right away. Part of me wanted to protect him and his emotions if we lost this pregnancy as well. When you have trouble getting pregnant/staying pregnant, a positive pregnancy test is not something to wildly celebrate, rather it's just a tiny, tiny step in the direction you want to go.
I finally put the positive pregnancy test and a bib that says "I love Daddy" into a Halloween goody bag. Eric opened it on Halloween. I remember it was so startling to have a positive pregnancy test and a ray of hope exactly a year after my darkest day. Even with a positive pregnancy test, last fall was an emotional one. Once you have experienced miscarriages, it's all too real how fragile early pregnancy is. Both of us protected our hearts as best we could. We didn't make any plans, we didn't buy anything for baby. Everyday, I expected the worst so that when the worst didn't happen, it was a good day.
I feel like we have made a full circle on this Halloween. In the midst of the candy and decorations and scary costumes and festivities, I felt a fleeting moment of sadness...a moment of acknowledgement to our losses and the losses of others. My heart goes out to anyone who has experienced pregnancy or infant loss and I hope my blog says to you "hey, you aren't alone". But, on the other side of grief, there is also hope...in my case, in the form of a cuddly little boy/bear and his first Halloween.