This guest article is written by Chelsey Christensen.
Part I: My Pregnancy and Pregnancy Loss
This was supposed to be a time of joy and excitement, a time when we finally shared our amazing news with the world.
We had seen your little heartbeat not once but twice, and we had already discovered you were a little girl. We had a growing list of names, and we had already told our closest friends and family.
On the morning of your NT scan, I woke up so excited to see your heartbeat once again. We were looking forward to having that final confirmation that you were alive and well before we shared the news more broadly with friends and colleagues.
How quickly those feelings of joy turned into waves of grief.
I knew something was wrong the moment we saw your little body on the ultrasound screen. That feeling of concern was confirmed when the NT scan was cut short. The scan was nothing like your big brother’s had been, no NT measurements were even taken. We waited in the hallway to be called into the doctor’s office but my tears were already falling as we waited.
When we were finally called into the doctor’s office, our greatest fears were confirmed. We were told you had no heartbeat. Unbeknownst to us, you had stopped growing a few weeks prior to that scan. And my body had continued to carry your tiny body and acted as if nothing was wrong.
More appointments came. And more hard decisions were made on top of an already bad situation. More and more and more tears fell. And with it all, more pain came, both physical and emotional.
You were our joy. Our hope after months of bad news and sadness—an early pregnancy loss in October 2019 and the death of multiple family members—you were our light. Suddenly, we were plunged into more darkness.
We felt crippling grief—waves of grief, unlike anything I have ever experienced.
Now, I am swimming above the grief.
My head has finally fought its way above the crashing waves and I am finding moments to gulp for air while treading, treading, treading. But there are moments the grief that overcomes me yet again. When I see pregnancy announcements for July 2020 babies I hope at some point I will feel happy for them. But right now, it feels like a gut punch. When pregnancy ads keep popping up since the algorithm can’t seem to keep up with my most recent searches—pregnancy loss, D&C, how to tell your child about miscarriage. Where are my newly targeted ads, oh social network overlords? The very thought of stepping outside and seeing the face of someone who knew has kept me inside all week. I am sick already thinking ahead to Mother’s Day, to your due date, to the many holidays we would have celebrated as a family of four.
I fluctuate between wanting to tell everyone about you, about this loss, to do my part in destigmatizing miscarriage. And yet, I also never want to speak of this experience ever again.
I wish more than anything you were still here, still safe and healthy and growing inside of me. Still giving me heartburn and occasional nausea. I wish we were still fighting over your future name. I wish we were still making plans around your due date.
But, I am grateful.
I’m grateful for the tenderness and care and kindness of the doctor who broke the news in the Perinatal Radiology Center, of the midwives who walked me through my options, of the doctors and nurses in the Family Planning office at Washington Hospital Center, of the countless friends and family members who reached out. I am grateful for a husband/partner/co-parent who stepped up in so many ways so I could sink under the waves of grief when I needed to. I am grateful for a kind, curious, adorable son who has provided joy and levity in moments of deep sadness. And, I am grateful for a supervisor and trusted team of colleagues who were understanding and flexible so I could take the time I needed to start healing physically and emotionally.
I am 1-in-4.
I had a miscarriage.
It will be ok … But right now, I most assuredly am not.
If you would like to add your baby to our Forever Loved Wall, please email us at [email protected]. Also, if you are looking for resources to cope with the loss of a pregnancy, please look at our Pregnancy and Infant Loss Resources.
Our the guest author:
Chelsey Christensen is originally from Decorah, IA and has lived in Washington, DC for more than 12 years. She resides in Columbia Heights with her husband John, their 3-year-old son, and fur-baby. She works full time as Director of Development at Imagination Stage. Chelsey is a consecrated Deaconess through the Lutheran Diaconal Association and an active member of Luther Place Memorial Church in downtown DC. She is passionate about the arts, education, and equity. On weekends you can find her exploring neighborhood parks and playgrounds with coffee in-hand.