Courtney’s Story

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Tell us about your pregnancy loss(es).

Our first pregnancy was only about four months after we got married and was a bit of a surprise.  We weren’t trying to prevent pregnancy, but we definitely were not actively trying to conceive.  I think we were both terrified by the positive pregnancy test.  Our fear quickly turned to excitement, however, as we began to plan for life as a family of three.  I didn’t want to share our news too quickly, so I convinced my husband to wait until we had seen our tiny bean dancing around on a grainy ultrasound and heard its strong heart beat to begin telling our family.  When I was around nine weeks, we planned elaborate ways to surprise each of our family members with the news.  Our nephew unwrapped a framed ultrasound picture for his second birthday.  I snuck an ultrasound picture into a stack of wedding pictures my mom had asked for copies of.  We had a great time sharing our wonderful news with our close friends and family, and we looked forward to “making it public” after my 12 week appointment.  Unfortunately that appointment did not go as planned.  Everything was off, from the ultrasound technician not being available to the doctor having trouble with the equipment.  But I knew.  As soon as I saw the image I knew something was very wrong.  The dancing bean with the strong heart beat was still and silent.

The year following that ultrasound is basically a painful blur.  I became consumed with the need to have a successful pregnancy and struggled with being around our closest friends (three of which were pregnant at the time).  We had two more losses, one on my husband’s birthday, another one week before our first’s due date.  It was such a hard time.  We were finally referred to REACH for our recurrent pregnancy loss.  After tons of testing, they were still unable to find a definitive cause for our losses so they put together a somewhat generic plan for me to take a handful of medications during the first trimester of my next pregnancy.  By our fourth pregnancy, we had gone from planning elaborate ways to share our pregnancy news with family and friends to my husband basically forcing me to at least tell my mother at 14 weeks.  Thankfully, our fourth pregnancy was successful and after a fearful nine months we welcomed our first son one year and three weeks after our first’s due date.

What do you remember most about the initial stages of grief immediately following your loss? How did you feel? What were you thinking?

With each loss I remember feeling a sadness so deep and intense that I didn’t think it was possible for it to ever go away.  It was a very isolating feeling.  It was bizarre to me that the world continued to move forward while I was suck in this cycle of loss and all-consuming despair.

The pain of pregnancy loss doesn’t ever go away. The waves of grief seem to come and go throughout time. Do you have a story to share of a moment when grief hit you when you weren’t expecting it to?

With our first pregnancy, we had a close friend that was due just a few weeks after us.  Over the course of her pregnancy and her son’s first year, we had been through three losses and a stressful pregnancy.  I went to her son’s first birthday party with my perfect four week old, but the grief of the missing one year old and the pain of the past year’s struggles were inescapable.

Approximately 1 in 4 women experience pregnancy loss. What would you like someone who has never experienced it to know?

I remember about a year after our first loss (when I was freshly pregnant with our son and not yet sharing) being told by someone who did not know about our subsequent pregnancies that “it had been long enough and we needed to go ahead and have a baby.”  That statement destroyed me.  Obviously they had no clue the struggles we had faced over the past year and they did not intend to be hurtful, but the idea that our grief had a time limit and that moving on should be easy was like a punch in the gut.  I think it’s important for everyone (whether they have experienced a loss or not) to realize that people grieve in their own time and in their own way.

– Courtney

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