I am not a doctor, nutritionist or any special writer. I am a woman and mother who’s gone through hell and back to have a healthy baby. I imagine we are in my living room having a cup of tea and just talking about life. My story includes three pregnancy losses, all different from each other and one successful and positive birth experience in the end. This entire series is what I’ve learned along the way, hope it helps you too.
Having a baby seems so natural. For most women having a pregnancy loss doesn’t even occur to them. Most of us live in a naive ignorance. “Oh, that could never happen to me” is what we oftentimes think. The unfortunate truth is that miscarriage and preterm labor are more common than we like to believe. I’m not saying this to scare you but to open your eyes to reality. Ignorance is NOT bliss when it comes to pregnancy. Losing your baby is the one of the worst things you can ever experience. Having a traumatic pregnancy and or birth comes in close second.
“Rates of pregnancy loss decrease as the pregnancy progresses. Overall, about 10 to 20 percent of all recognized pregnancies and 30 to 40 percent of all conceptions end in pregnancy loss. Miscarriage that occurs at 13 to 14 weeks’ gestation usually reflects a pregnancy loss that happened one to two weeks earlier. Approximately 1 to 5 percent of pregnancies are lost at 13 to 19 weeks’ gestation, whereas stillbirth occurs in 0.3 percent of pregnancies at 20 to 27 weeks’ gestation, a rate similar to that of third trimester stillbirth” –AAFP
Five years ago, I married my best friend. We had desires to start a family maybe three years in the future. I was blessed with what I thought was a really healthy body and super fertility, resulting in pregnancy three months after we got married. My mom was like a super woman and didn’t really have any pregnancy complications, I assumed it would be the same for me. She did have one tubal pregnancy but it was never made a big deal. Our pregnancy, unplanned but an exciting and welcomed pregnancy nonetheless. We called everyone and planned for this new baby, that we soon found out to be a boy. We named him Israel Jaden. At 19 weeks my water broke unexpectedly and my Dr. said there was nothing we could do. She suggested an immediate induction to end the pregnancy before an infection set in. Israel was still alive and healthy but my amniotic fluid was frighteningly low.
We’d just had a checkup a few days prior and all was healthy and well. We were shocked. Our Dr. told us it was okay to go home and pack some bags and check in to the hospital that evening to prepare for the induction. Words cannot describe the pain and turmoil that our hearts felt. We went home and cried so much that we felt dehydrated. How could this be when everything was going so well? Expectant and happy one day, then suddenly grieving the loss of the child in my womb before he was even gone the next. However, our baby wasn’t gone yet so hope remained for a miracle.
Israel’s tinkies 23 weeks 6 days
We checked into the hospital that evening. We decided we wanted the process to happen naturally without an induction so we waited for three days. The baby’s head maneuvered to plug the hole in my bag of waters and the amniotic fluid replenished. Surely this was a miracle? We were sent home and I was put on strict bed rest. We felt so hopeful and thought we were past the hard part. At this point I thought we were definitely going to have a healthy baby. Since it was December, we bought our first real Christmas tree and decorated it. We resumed life as normal (besides the bed rest part) until 22 weeks in. One evening I woke up out of a deep sleep and felt like something was wrong. I ran to the bathroom and my water broke again. This time it was with an enormous gush followed by contractions and shivers. I was scared and couldn’t stop crying. I wasn’t ready for the contractions. Being frightened for my babies life caused me to tense up and made the pain worse.
We rushed to the hospital and the contractions stopped. That was the beginning of a two week stay in the hospital. We were at a hospital with an advanced NICU so if only Israel could make it to 24 weeks the chances of him making it past labor was much higher.
“Strictly speaking, most doctors define the age of viability as being about 24 weeks of gestation. In many hospitals, 24 weeks is the cutoff point for when doctors will use intensive medical intervention to attempt to save the life of a baby born prematurely. A baby born at 24 weeks would generally require a lot of intervention, potentially including mechanical ventilation and other invasive treatments followed by a lengthy stay in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). “ -Source
There was nothing to do but wait. We had the Doctors bring us all of their research pertaining to preterm labor and long term outcomes and success rates so that we could make an educated decision about what to do. We decided that if I went into labor anytime before 24 weeks we would let everything happen naturally without intervention afterward because the chances of him surviving were slim and if he did survive the research showed that his life would be really short or he’d need serious medical assistance for the rest of his life. If he was meant to live a short life we wanted it to be pain free. If he were born a day over 24 weeks we wanted intervention, even knowing that he might have disabilities. At the time, we were 23 years old and ready to take on anything for our baby. We had unwavering faith that God was in control of the outcome so we left it in his hands.
On December 22, 2007, at 23 weeks and 6 days Israel Jaden was born. He lived for 4 minutes due to underdeveloped lungs. We held him afterward for a long time. I was so scared to touch his delicate skin. This beautiful cocoa colored miniature baby, whose features were already so distinct and like his fathers. My husband cried but I didn’t. I guess I was in shock, it didn’t feel real. I didn’t cry until I called my dad to say happy birthday and he asked me how things were going and I had to say it with words. “Israel didn’t make it.” The next day, we were able to hold him again before we checked out of the hospital. It was so hard seeing this little lifeless person all bundled up. The night before I was in shock, it didn’t occur to me to kiss him. I kissed him then and his tiny little forehead was cold. All I could think about was that he was cold, why didn’t I kiss him yesterday when he was warm? A giant knot swelled in my throat, I felt the need to keep my tears hidden but I couldn’t. After a while we gave him back to the nurse. And I was sent home with the basic instructions of things to look for if something goes wrong and a basic self care plan.
I just delivered a baby, this wasn’t a miscarriage. To us it felt like to the rest of the world we just had a routine miscarriage, grieve for a little bit and carry on with life. You are young, try again. Driving home from the hospital was the saddest ride I’ve ever ridden. Dreams of that first drive home with our baby, gone. We arrived home to a dead Christmas tree with the star at the top slouching to the side as if it knew what just happened. We sat and cried again. Didn’t even think of getting a tree for a few years after that. Thank God for an amazing church community for meals, visits and lots of love and prayers. We were now “orphaned” parents. We still don’t know what the cause of my preterm labor was. Four months later I got pregnant again…
Life After Loss: How The Death of A Baby Changes You Forever by Ann Douglas. This is a great article that I can relate to. This blog post would be really long if I wrote more about how I felt afterward and what I learned, I’ll spare you. If you want to go more in depth with that, read this. She summarizes a lot, it’s a quick read.
Find out what happened during my second pregnancy. Stay updated by adding my blog to your RSS feed or [liking] The Juicy Carrot on Facebook. Check out what will be featured in the series here.
Here are some resources that have been immensely helpful to me. If you know of someone who has recently had a pregnancy loss and/or could benefit from this series please share. Thank you for reading! I pray for much love, happiness, peace and healing in this season of your life.
Books I’ve read and have loved:
Free to Grieve: Healing and Encouragement for Those Who Have Suffered Miscarriage and Stillbirth by. Maureen Rank
About What Was Lost:Twenty Writers on, Miscarriage, Healing and Hope
Knocked Up, Knocked Down: Postcards of Miscarriage and Other Misadventures from the Brink of Parenthood by. Monica Murphy LeMoine
To Full Term: A Mothers Triumph Over Miscarriage
Trying Again: A Guide To Pregnancy Loss After Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Infant Loss.
Healing From Trauma: A Survivor’s Guide To Understanding Your Symptoms and Reclaiming Your Life