A Guest Post by Jessica Burke

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I’m finding it difficult to breath this month. At 24 weeks pregnant it seems too early to feel so out of breath. Maybe this shortness of breath has more to do with the month of October than with the month of pregnancy I’m in. In less than one week it will be exactly one year since I heard my ob say the unthinkable at a routine ultrasound. “I can’t find the baby’s heartbeat.”

Before October 10, 2014 I had no idea that an entire month was dedicated to pregnancy and infant loss. I vaguely knew that babies could die.  But certainly not after the first trimester, and certainly there was always some notice, some “preparation” that something was wrong.

At sixteen weeks plus one day pregnant, I was just starting to show. Just starting to get excited now that we were in the “safe” zone. I left the hospital feeling numb, angry, and incredibly alone. I quickly googled, “Pregnancy loss after first trimester” and found that only two percent of women experienced this outcome. Further “research” revealed that with no risk factors and an entirely uneventful first pregnancy, I had about a half a percent or so chance of this happening to me.

We had decided to wait on finding out the gender, as we had with our first son. We discovered at the hospital that our baby was a boy. We also discovered that he was perfect in every way. No sign of abnormality or infection. Perfect and beautiful. We decided on the name Noah Amari because of the meaning those words carried. In the hospital that Sunday, the only questions I remember asking my doctor were for a picture and for a hand and foot print. And then, I asked, “when can I try to get pregnant again?”

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I spent the next three months going to appointment after appointment trying to find some sort of answer to why my son had passed, but every single test came back completely normal. About a month after our loss, we found out the hospital had lost Noah’s pathology report. My chance for an answer would never come. I felt re-traumatized at that realization and the thought that I wouldn’t get to do anything “different” next time.

We waited three months until all the testing was finalized, and I was satisfied (as one could be) that there was no specialist left to visit to before trying to conceive. This go around of trying did not go as easily as the first two had. I became even more convinced that something was “obviously wrong with me” and visited a few more specialists during that time, all with boringly normal results.

In May of 2015 I saw two lines and immediately ran downstairs to tell my husband and my son the news. There were no “big brother” t-shirts or big reveals this time. We hugged, and I was happy, and then I was scared. I immediately called my doctor who, I was informed by the receptionist, did not see patients until eight weeks. I called about six other doctors and midwives after that. I made an appointment with whoever could see me soonest.

At six weeks my husband and I saw our baby’s heartbeat on ultrasound. We both cried. And then at seven and a half weeks, I went for a bike ride. I remember thinking to myself during the ride,”This is what joy feels like.” About an hour after I came home I started to bleed. I cried for three days straight until I could get in to see my doctor. I felt completely hopeless, but there on the ultrasound was the baby’s heartbeat still beating away.

I am now currently two days away from being 24 weeks pregnant. I made a slip up the other day and told someone I was 24 months pregnant. In truth, it feels that way. Pregnancy after loss is hard. I know that all moms fear for the unknown during pregnancy, but having experienced a pregnancy before loss and a pregnancy after loss, the anxiety for me was not comparable. Days before ultrasounds I become an anxiety-ridden mess.

In the very beginning I would use the AA mantra, “one day at a time” because that was all I could think about or handle. Even now at 24 weeks, the “viability” mark does not offer me the reassurance I thought it would. Does this mean I’m experiencing a “joyless” pregnancy? Hardly. I am savoring every single moment with this little one, soaking up every minute and showering this baby with love. Every time my son Colin kisses or hugs my belly, I think about how incredibly and unbelievable lucky I am to get a second chance to experience this. I get a second chance for a sibling for my son. Every single kick is like a tiny reminder that there is hope. I have 16 long weeks left of this pregnancy. It is still a battle to choose hope over fear.  It is a battle I must be conscious of all the time, but it is worth it.

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Jessica

Jessica Burke currently lives with her husband and two and a half year old son Colin. They left their one bedroom apartment in New York City upon learning they were pregnant with their second child last summer and moved to Connecticut. Jessica loves being a mom to two boys- one she carries in her heart and another she is lucky to get to hold in her arms (when she can catch him).  In May, Jessica and her husband Tom found out they were expecting again and are due in January 2016. Jessica is finding her third pregnancy to feel very different than her first two and that she must work to make a conscious effort every day of this pregnancy to choose hope after loss.

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