Today, June 4th, 2021, I would have been 40 weeks pregnant. A timeline that generally speaking would mark our baby’s arrival into the world. Unfortunately, because there was no heartbeat on our first ultrasound, we never received an official due date from our doctor.
As time passed, I was finding it hard to honor the memory of my baby when I knew so little about her. We didn’t get to find out the sex of the baby at the 20 week appointment because we didn’t make it that far. We had names picked out, but without knowing anything about our baby, including his/her sex, it made the grief feel impersonal. I was having a hard time finding closure because something so intimate also felt somewhat ambiguous.
The thing about pregnancy loss is that a lot of details are left out. The news is usually sudden and unexpected at the doctor’s office and followed by a flood of emotions, making the delivery of information a little complicated. I firmly believe my grief journey would have been different, easier even, had someone provided more information. Pregnancy loss is difficult for a thousand reasons, but specifically because there were so many unknowns. I was wholly unprepared for even the possibility of miscarriage because no one talks about it, as if merely saying the word serves as a jinx. It seemed that the information regarding our test results was delivered so slow, or in my case, pieces of information were left out entirely. The online medical chart is a blessing and a curse, giving me ready access to all my test results in detail, however, none of it was translated into layman’s terms. After my miscarriage, I googled EVERYTHING in an attempt to understand what was going on in my body, but read about the worst possible outcomes on the internet. I lost more than a few nights of sleep panicking until a medical professional could put the results into context. Knowledge is power, I am convinced. If I could say anything to medical professionals it would be to err on the side of providing more information than less, or at least ask the patient how much information they would like to receive. You’re not sparing anyone grief by omitting information in the short-term.
Last month I was experiencing several back-to-back health scares that made me wonder if motherhood was something I would ever experience. I’ll share more about the health-related challenges in my next post, but for now just know that we are navigating those details in order to be in the best possible position to have a healthy pregnancy in the future. As a result, I started doing my own research and went back into my online medical records from my doctor’s office to comb through the details to try to understand what was going on with my body. While I was reading through a list of ultrasound findings, I stumbled upon the full report from the genetic testing the doctor ordered after my D&C.
The genetic testing confirmed there were 92 pairs of chromosomes, instead of the normal 46, which is what the doctor relayed to me. She told me that our miscarriage was considered a molar pregnancy and meant we would need to avoid getting pregnant for six months to ensure cancer didn’t develop. This news was devastating on top of the pregnancy loss. However, what the medical staff failed to share was the information I longed to hear. First, 92 pairs of chromosomes is a condition called tetraploidy, and with a simple google search I cleared up so many of the unanswered questions in my mind. Second, and most importantly, all four sets were ‘X’ chromosomes. The answer I had been waiting for was right there on the report: our baby was a girl.
My grief shifted when I saw the word “female” on the screen. Today, on her would-be due date, I think about our baby and I can envision a little girl. The genetic testing affirmed the feelings I had throughout our short pregnancy. While pregnant I felt strongly our baby was a girl. Jeff even had a dream our baby was a girl, but after our loss we were so confused. How could we have been wrong? Now I know we weren’t wrong, our baby just wasn’t here to stay. I have a sense of peace knowing that our girl is with God. She gives me strength to work through the obstacles ahead and try again. There will undoubtedly still be tough days, but I know the challenges are worth fighting through.
My therapist asked me after my miscarriage if I thought I was ready to try again if I was able. At the time I said, “no.” Now, for the first time, I feel ready. I suppose closure is funny like that. Grief works on its own schedule and when I least expected it, it shifted with two simple lines on a report. I wouldn’t have waited six months to try again by choice, but the molar pregnancy forced me to sit with my grief, to really work through my emotions, and honor the loss of our first baby, our little girl. My mind and heart can rest after six months of questions and heartache. I’ll always miss her and wonder what she would have been like, but today I am hopeful for the future.