“I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat.”
Five words that many have heard, yet few have shared. What I didn’t know about those words is that they would give me membership into a secret sisterhood, a sisterhood I knew very little about.
One in four pregnancies results in loss, but if the numbers are so high, why is this sisterhood a secret? A sisterhood that is filled with grief, sadness, and loneliness.
I know there are probably many of you reading this who have had a similar experience. Many of you that, as this Mother’s Day approaches, might be feeling pain because of the losses you’ve experienced. The losses that most people probably don’t even know about but losses that you’ll never forget. Know that we see you, you aren’t alone. There is strength in pain. Strength in your story. Strength in this secret sisterhood.
This is my story.
For years, we had contemplated whether or not to have another child. We had two healthy and happy boys, but I just had ‘that feeling. You know the one. The one that says there might be another one, a little girl, that wanted to join our family. My chaotic and hectic schedule in my previous position as a corporate executive was not conducive to having another… however, when I quit, the timing seemed right. And, apparently the universe thought the timing was right to as I immediately got pregnant.
We had struggled with fertility issues with our first two boys, so we certainly thought it would take time. However, we surprisingly we got pregnant immediately and on Mother’s Day 2016 we shared the news with our family. Even though I was early in my pregnancy, it was something I wanted to share on this important day. The following week, on my 37th birthday, I miscarried. I was about seven weeks along and although it was early, I still felt like that little baby was a part of our family.
Distraught at my first miscarriage, we decided to wait a bit to try again. However, two short months later, while on a vacation to Colorado, a pregnancy test confirmed that I was pregnant again. We were excited but nervous since we had just recently dealt with a loss.
I started spotting again at week eight. It brought the same panic I experienced just a few months prior. We went to the doctor to get an ultrasound. My husband tightly held my hand as the ultrasound tech put the wand on my belly. We were greeted with good news. There on the screen was the flickering light. The one that signals the heartbeat. The doctors told me everything looked good but that I needed to rest as I had a subchorionic hemorrhage. After a few weeks the bleeding stopped and all was well.
On a sunny, August day, I went in for my routine appointment. The doctor was very happy that the bleeding had stopped and that I was at the end of my first trimester. At the end of the appointment, he excitedly said, ‘Let’s take a look at this little one.’ As he moved the ultrasound bar around my stomach I could see the concern on his face. He pushed harder and looking for the blinking light. The one we saw a few weeks earlier. But he couldn’t find it. My husband reached for my hand. The doctor assured me that it was probably just the old machine that was keeping him from seeing the heartbeat. He had me move into the Ultrasound Tech’s room so they could get a better picture.
She started the exam. Searching for that same blinking light. She then said those five words, “I’m sorry there’s no heartbeat.”
My little baby was there on the screen. My little baby girl who was supposed to join our family in March 2017 was gone. I was 13 weeks along. As I looked down at my growing belly, the uncontrollable tears started. There is nothing that can prepare you for this experience. The tears. The pain. The loss for a baby that you’ll never get to hold takes over.
As the doctor recommended the course of action to remove my baby, it was like I was in a movie. After ten days and three failed attempts of miscarrying the baby at home with the help of some insane drugs that put you in labor, I had a D&C, a surgical procedure to remove my baby.
Pregnancy loss is interesting. You still have the crazy hormones. You still have the weird body. But you don’t have the baby. I seriously went into a black hole. A black hole of sadness and probably post-partum depression. The grief was strong that I couldn’t get out of bed for a week. My sweet boys would see my crying and were worried. I told them that mommy was really sad right now but that I would be okay. I just needed to be sad.
I am an open person who shares my life on social media. The day that I had this happen I said to my husband I wanted to share it. I couldn’t silently go through one of the hardest experiences of my life. I wanted and needed the strength of my community to help lift me up in my time of need. I needed people who had endured miscarriage or infant loss to know that they aren’t alone. I needed to know that I wasn’t alone. I wanted my own soul to know that just like Sun follows rain. Strength follows pain.
I discovered the secret sisterhood. I had so many women, many strangers, who messaged me and shared their stories. Many of them had never shared their stories before. By me sharing, it helped them realize they weren’t alone. Their stories were a silent one. A silent grief. A secret sisterhood.
My baby girl was supposed to join our family in March of this year. It is not lost on me that SisterUp launched in March. I think the universe knew that even though I wasn’t able to hold my baby girl in my arms, I get to hold all of you in a sisterhood. A sisterhood where we lift each other up. We support each other. Through grief. Through pain. Through loss. Through joy. Through life. I guess you could say, SisterUp is my third baby.
If you have experienced this, we want you to know you aren’t alone! There is strength in numbers. There is strength in your story. Stories are what connect us. Stories are what give us strength. Stories are what help us SisterUp.