For most couples who decided to start their families, the faded lines on a pregnancy test is probably the most magical thing in the world. Testing soon after a missed period often shows very faints lines but they are there and so is the hope. Having been there before myself, I remember that I couldn’t wait for days to pass so that I could test again and hopefully see darker lines. I couldn’t wait to come home from work and take another test and as soon as the lines were darker, my husband and I jumped for joy…. we were pregnant. A dream come true. Once the test shows positive, it doesn’t matter when in your pregnancy you test again, the test will always be positive because these tests are designed to identify a hormone that body releases only when a pregnancy has been established.
With our first pregnancy, we had about ten pregnancy tests all confirming what we already knew. Sadly, this pregnancy was lost before we had our first doctor’s appointment, so we never got to see any pictures of our baby or hear our baby’s heartbeat. Our hearts were broken and we didn’t think that we would ever truly smile again – but we did – many, many months later.
With our second, third and last pregnancy, we had the scan, got to take our babies’ first pictures home with us and listened to our baby’s heartbeat. It was the most amazing experience ever. Our hearts were bursting with happiness and joy and we couldn’t wait to share out news with the rest of the world. But sadly too, these pregnancies never survived. We were told the most dreaded words anyone who has longed for a baby could hear – “Your baby’s heart stopped beating”. At that moment, your heart literally stops beating. It feels as if you are having an outer body experience because you just can’t accept what you’ve been told. It feels like a bad dream you wish you could just wake up from. Your chest burns with a sadness and sorrow that no words could ever describe. You leave the doctors room confused, trying to make sense of what just happened. The first time you hear it, it’s shock more than anything else. But with the second and third, I felt shock with confusion, because I couldn’t understand why God would allow me to go throw this horrible pain again and again.
My D&Cs were scheduled quite soon after we received the news. On all three occasions although it didn’t happen immediately, Noel and I were never given the chance to accept what had happened. While you are in denial and hoping that the doctor was wrong, receptionists were already arranging for anaesthetists and operating theatres to remove your dead baby. You want to shout for them to stop. You want to put your hand up and ask them to just slow down, but you are numb and the words just can’t come out.
To add insult to injury, although the pregnancy failed and the operation removed what was once a growing and thriving baby, your body itself hasn’t quite registered what has happened. You only get your period about six weeks after your operation and during this time, any pregnancy test will still show two lines. You are heartbroken, stricken with grief and yet your body doesn’t know you are no longer pregnant. And each day that the lines still appear, you are reminded of what you have lost. Your heart breaks a little more each day. As the weeks go by, the lines on the pregnancy test became faint – faded, until one day, only one line appears. Then you know, finally your body has caught up to what your heart has felt for so long already. Emptiness…
These faded lines start out as the answer to your prayers. You build hopes and dreams and a future around them. But for many of us, these faded lines are the signs of our worst nightmare coming true. Your hopes, dreams, and your future – they are dashed in an instant.
Anyone who has lost a baby will tell you that you could never forget your baby no matter how far along you were in your pregnancy. Sadly, the memories of your unborn baby fades for your family and friends. They feel a sadness and shock for only a little while. But then life goes on. Their lives carry on as if nothing happened. Their routines, their hopes, their dreams are all still intact. But for the bereaved parents – nothing is the same and nothing ever will be. You may look the same on the outside, you may have carried on with your life, but on the inside, you are changed forever. I don’t remember the person I was before it all happened.
Every time an advertisement of a baby comes on TV, you cry silently for the baby you wish you got to meet. Every time you see a pregnant woman, you want to run in the opposite direction and wish that the image would just leave your mind. Every baby shower invitation is torture. Every birthday party, every family get-together, every Christmas and holiday season hurts, but no-one sees your pain…. only you.
Social media is probably your worst nightmare. While you are trying to rebuild your life after losing your child, pictures are splashed across social media of pregnancy announcements, photoshoots, birth announcements, first birthdays… the list is endless and so is the pain. I stopped following a few ladies that recently gave birth. It was just too painful to see their feeds every day. But I find myself going into their profiles every now and then and smiling at the many pictures of how their babies are growing – the first tooth, the first steps…
As a bereaved parent, I am not asking you not to share these milestones with me, in fact I’m quite honoured that I get to be part of your journey. I am truly happy for you, I am just unbelievably sad for us. And it’s a sadness that will be with us for the rest of our lives. For every birthday candle your child gets to blow out and make a wish, we will be lighting a candle in remembrance of the child we never got to meet.
I hope this article finds it’s way to other grieving parents – you are not alone ….