Chicago mom reflects on miscarriage, wonders “What if?”

I have very few regrets in life. I can’t go back in time and change anything so the constant questioning (What if? If only.) does nothing to help a situation. I try to hold my head up and learn from whatever is thrown at me.

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My miscarriage was discovered at 17 weeks. One minute we were discussing the following appointment’s ultrasound and if we would find out the gender this time — since we already had one of each. The next minute we were rushing to a specialist in tears, hearts shattered, hope gone.

What if …

So many what if questions have filled my head since that fateful appointment. I’ve mostly come to terms with them, except one. My son was measuring 13 weeks. Whether he died then, or stopped growing and died shortly after, we’ll never known. We were given two choices: induce labor and deliver or have a D&C procedure. I have a history of labor not progressing after an induction. I was obviously teetering on a complete and total mental collapse in the doctor’s office so she recommended that for my mental health I have a D&C procedure. Her concerns were valid and seemingly reasonable:

I had failed to progress previously. Would I be able to handle several hours of an induction and still end up with a D&C?

Could I mentally handle being in the labor and delivery unit? While I wouldn’t be in a room with other mothers, I would be surrounded by the sights and sounds of live births.

I had two small children at home so I should recover at home with them and not spend a day in the hospital laboring.

At the time I completely trusted her recommendation and went through with the D&C. It was the hardest day of my life. I sobbed through everything, making sure every person I came in contact with knew that I was not doing this out of a choice I wanted to make. I was overwhelmed with the whole process and when they asked me if there was a funeral home or if we were going to do a community burial, I completely and totally lost it. The nurse quietly excused herself and left me and my husband in our grief.

My one and only life regret is that at that moment I didn’t call the whole thing off. If I could go back I would have delivered. No matter how long, how horrible, I would have delivered my tiny son so that I could touch him. Hold him in my hands and tell him he was loved. Allow my husband to know him beyond a fuzzy gray ultrasound picture. To allow him to have been an actual physical being in our lives and not an achy, empty memory. To have a tiny footprint, a picture, something to walk out of the hospital with. Instead I walked out with empty arms and an empty womb.

That cold gray day in February I had no idea that there were options for bereaved mothers. That there were organizations and ministries whose sole existence was to be there and advocate for mothers going through this. Organizations like Sufficient Grace Ministries who provide special memory-making products for families such as comfort bears and memory books or Now I Lay me Down to Sleep (NILMDTS) that provides remembrance photography.

NILMDTS was founded by a bereaved mother who had called a photographer to photograph she and her husband with their dying six-day-old son as they took him off life support. Two months later NILMDTS was founded with the mission to educate, train and mobilize professional quality photographers to provide heirloom portraits to families facing the loss of their infants. They are currently in a recruitment month to recruit more photographers so they can respond to every call for every grieving parent. I can’t imagine what a gift these photos are for parents. I would go through all the mental pain and anguish to relive that moment and have a photo, to make his tiny short life have a physical presence, a memory, for me and my children.

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