Strength After Pain

Do you ever look back at a traumatic moment and realize how far you have come? You might have been in the darkest of places, wondering how you made it through, but now a year later you look back and realize the strength you’ve gained. Sure, the pain is still there, but the strength you’ve gained is tremendous. 

One year ago today I laid in a hospital bed in the labor and delivery unit waiting to go into surgery. I could hear the sweet sounds of newborn cries and the joyful voices of parents. But here, in my bed, I laid empty-handed and with a broken heart. Running has been my solace, in year full of grief. I’ve channeled my pain into creating a 5k run, called Race With Angels.

Here’s my story:

August 17, 2016 was supposed to be a great day. It was the first day of school for my oldest, who was starting first grade! We nervously (and excitedly) showed up to school early so we could meet his teacher and get him all situated. I happily chatted with all the others moms at the PTA ‘linger on the lawn’ excited for what the year had in store. Mostly for us, a baby girl joining our family.  I then dropped my younger son off at a neighbor’s so I could go to a doctor’s appointment. It was a routine appointment and I was excited to see how much the little baby in my belly had grown. After a scare in July, followed by a healthy ultrasound, we were excited to finally be entering the second trimester.

I happily waited in the doctor’s office waiting room, smiling at all the other pregnant mamas. The happiness from being pregnant was contagious and it seemed everyone in that room was happy. Finally, I was called back and greeted by the doctor’s amazing nurse Cindy. She was so excited that we were entering the new trimester too! The MA did the routine things and said everything looked great. After a quick chat and check-up with the doctor he told me he wanted to take a peek at the little one in my belly!

He pulled the “low-powered” ultrasound into the exam room. I was excited to see my little girl again! As I laid there, I could sense something was wrong. The doctor kept pushing harder and harder on my stomach. He blamed it on the machine and told me he was going to talk to the ultrasound tech to get me on her ‘high powered’ machine. As I walked to the ultrasound tech’s room, my heart was beating out of my chest. I held my husband’s hand tight.  

The ultrasound tech said those five words that changed our lives forever. ‘I’m Sorry, There’s No Heartbeat.’

I remember the hot tears rolling down my face. I was trying to hold it together as I made the walk back to the doctor’s office to discuss the next steps. Because of the amount of scar tissue I had in my uterus (thanks to a myomectomy and two c-sections), he told me that he wanted me to take some pills to have my body labor and miscarry at home. Although I was nervous, I agreed. I told him I was strong and had a high pain tolerance.

But what he didn’t tell me is that my body would go into labor and I would experience severe contractions. He didn’t tell me that it would look like a crime scene in my bathroom from the amount of blood that would be lost. He didn’t tell me that I might think that I miscarried my child but that my stubborn child (just like her mama) wasn’t going to vacate the premise that easy. He didn’t tell me that I would have to endure three rounds of the pills over the course of ten days before we both agreed that it was time to surgically remove my baby.

He didn’t tell me what it would feel like being checked into the Labor and Delivery unit in the hospital and hearing the sounds of the newborn cries, while I left the hospital empty-handed with a broken heart.

He didn’t tell me that my post-partum depression would make it so I couldn’t get out of bed for weeks. I would lay there crying and my two little boys and amazing husband would just lay there with me, without speaking words.

He didn’t tell me how hard it would be to sit in his waiting room for my ‘post-op’ appointment, staring at all of the pregnant moms with the big smiles on their faces, as I tried to hide the hot tears rolling down my face.

He didn’t tell me that my body would continue to think it was pregnant for the next several months and that I would have nightmares about the miscarriage.

He didn’t tell me that the waves of grief for the baby I never got to hold in my arms would consume me, even a year later.

He didn’t tell me about the amazing village of people who would surround me and my sweet family to make sure we were taken care of.

And finally, he didn’t tell me about the Secret Sisterhood of amazing women that I knew very little about but that by sharing my story, I became a member of. This Sisterhood is a club no one wishes to be a part of but it is made up of some of the strongest women I know.

These women were my light in the darkest time. I’ve had hundreds (yes, hundreds) of women post, private message me, email me with their own stories.

One woman wrote, “I have lost four babies… I know what it’s like going to a normal appointment and coming home empty handed. I struggled with post-partum depression for a very long time and I think it’s because I didn’t have a village. I didn’t have a support system so my experience with fertility and loss of my babies was very lonely, long and hard. A year after I lost my last baby I got a tattoo for all my babies that are here on earth and in heaven. It was the most weight lifting experience I have ever done. I finally had something for my kids that couldn’t’ be taken away from me.”

Another shared, “I too lost my baby girl in 2010 when I was told at my 20 week ultrasound that she no longer had a heartbeat. Labour was induced the next morning and I delivered her later that evening. We later found out the problem was a twisted umbilical cord, which was a rare and unavoidable occurrence. I think of her everyday, wondering what she would have looked like, and the kind of kid she would have been today. Since our loss we have been blessed with 2 more sons, which makes me a very proud mother of 3 boys. I have to believe that things happen for one reason or another and that had I not endured such a difficult loss, I wouldn’t have the three beautiful boys I have today. With that said, that feeling of loss never really goes away and my baby girl will forever be with us in our hearts.”

These stories helped me see the sun in a dark time. These stories help to strengthen me. I’ve always believed that there is strength after pain. 

These stories helped me know that my angel baby will always be a part of our family, although not here on earth.

It is because of these stories that I decided I needed to do something to honor and remember my baby and all of the other babies that left too soon.

Running has been my therapy. Although, I’ve always been a runner and a high school track coach, for some reason I stopped after having my miscarriage. In July, I picked it back up and it’s amazing to me how therapeutic it’s been. I think the process of running has helped my grief over the last two months.

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month (something I didn’t know until I became a member of this Secret Sisterhood).

The race is called Race With Angels and it will be held on October 14 in Holladay, Utah with the virtual run taking place around the world. It is a day for us to unite as mothers and families, to celebrate and honor those babies we can’t hold here on earth.

As part of registration, you will get a pair of angel wings for your tennis shoes (they are so cute), a medal and membership into a private online training group where you will gain support, accountability, and connection to others who have experienced a similar thing.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Share Parents, a not-for-profit with a mission to serve those touched by the death of a baby through pregnancy loss, stillbirth, or in the first few months of life.

Click Here to Register.

If you have experienced this pain, know that you aren’t alone! There is strength in your stories. There is strength in numbers.

Do you have a story? We’d love to share it. And as a thank you for sharing, we will provide with a promo code good for 50% off registration of the 5k and virtual run.  

You can click here to share your story or post it in the comments below.

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