Every October, we always hear about Breast Cancer or Cancer Awareness Month. Like most of us, I have lost someone I loved or knew someone who had lost their battle with cancer, but did you know that every October is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month?
"I am ready." I said to myself this year that I'm ready to share my loss to the world. It has been 3 years and I hope that sharing my story will help someone while they grieve for their loss.
This was my husband's face when he found out we were expecting our first child back in July 2015. We were so excited!! We went for our first OBGYN appointment, got our first sonogram picture and everything was great. I was 6 weeks pregnant (baby size is a sweet pea) at the time.
Just like most first time parents, we had no idea what to expect or how to take care of a baby so we started to read everything we could and started to think about the future when the baby comes.
Two weeks later, we went back for our 8 weeks checkup. We couldn't wait to see the baby again! The doctor was using the doppler to listen to the baby's heartbeat, he tried and tried for awhile, nothing. Then he asked me to lay on my side and then on my back, he tried it again...
I didn't know what was going on at the time. He told us that he'll be back and when he returned, he wheeled in the sonogram machine and asked me to lay down.
The doctor didn't have the monitor facing us so we couldn't see while he was performing the sonogram scan. After a long scan, he finally spoke and said:"I have bad news...the embryo had stopped growing." I looked at my husband and we couldn't believe what he had just told us. What? How? Why?! The doctor explained to us that it is unfortunately very common that miscarriage occurs during the first trimester and most of the time there is no explanation why the embryo stops growing, even after testing were done. There's nothing we could've done different to prevent this. We were given 3 choices - wait until I naturally miscarry, D&C surgery, or take a drug that would force the miscarriage to start within 24 hours. All 3 choices sounded terrible at the time and the doctor told us to go home and think about it.
As we walked towards the car, the first word I said to my husband was "I'm sorry." and I just lost it. I knew it was not my fault but it felt like it was...
My husband was so supportive the entire time and was trying to be strong for me, but deep down inside I knew that he was hurting too.
After we got home and we just sat on the couch holding each other quietly. 30 minutes or so later, we started to talk about what happened and discussed what should we do. After a long chat, we've decided that D&C surgery was our best choice.
A few days later, I laid in a cold surgery room to get my first major surgery and it was the worst day of my life! I woke up from the surgery and I felt a piece of me is missing and that I'm broken. My husband was there for me the whole time so I didn't feel like I'm alone even though I felt that no one understands how I felt at that moment. Nurses were coming in and out and I remembered one nurse who was so sweet and took the time to talk to me, she even shared her stories of her own loss.
I was never offered any counseling services by my OBGYN or the out patient surgery center but I was lucky that I had a friend at work who had a stillbirth a few years ago and was willing to share her story with me. She was so helpful and kind to listen to me. The best thing she had said to me was to let myself grief for as long as I needed. Cry when I needed and laugh when I can and not feel guilty about it. She also told me that when I'm ready, sharing my story is also a great way to remember our angel baby and help someone who is going through this.
About a year later, one of my best friends lost her two months old baby boy from Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) and it was so painful to see her and her family went through that loss. But after a long grieving process including counseling and sharing her story, they are stronger than ever and even created a non-profit organization (Aditya's Heart) to promote the education and awareness of CHD and provide financial assistance to families that was affected by CHD. I'm so honor to be supporting their organization.
Click here to read Aditya's story and learn more about this amazing organization: https://www.adityasheart.org/adityas-story/
After the loss, it took me awhile to decide whether we should try to have a baby again. We were happy when we found out that we're expecting in March 2016. That month was the due date of our angel baby so there were a lot of mixed emotions throughout the entire pregnancy. I had the constant fear that I will lose the baby so I tried not to get too excited about it or not to bond with the baby. But my friend at work told me that it's OK to feel what I feel but just take it one day at a time. Don't think too far ahead in terms of planning so I don't get overwhelmed.
Photographs by Jordan Jankun Photography
Luckily the pregnancy went smoothly and in November 2016, we welcomed a healthy baby girl...she is our rainbow baby and lights up our world!
Photographs by Jane DiMaggio Photography
If you had a miscarriage or had suffered the loss of a baby, please know that you are not alone. It may seem that no one would understand your loss but I promise you, we are here and we understand. Take your time to grieve and cry but when you are ready to talk, your family and friends are there to listen. There are also a lot of resources and counseling available in your community or online. Here is a link to some of the support groups available for each states.
If you have a friend who are going through a loss, here are some things that you can do to help them:
1. Give them a hug and tell them you are here to listen if they want to talk.
2. Tell them that all their emotions are valid and no one can tell them how long they can grief.
3. Bring food over, most people who are grieving will not have the appetite to eat but at least they don't have to cook when they get hungry.
4. If you had a miscarriage or loss of a baby and you are ready to share your story, do so because it will help.
5. When they are ready, suggest a book or a support group that they might find helpful. This book was given to me by my friend at work and it really helped me - "Growing Up in Heaven: The Eternal Connection Between Parent and Child" by James Van Praagh.
In memory of our angel baby, I will donate 20% of my profits in the month of October, including the holiday card sessions to Aditya's Heart so that we can help more families affected by CHD.
Also, please join me on October 15 (Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day) to light a candle at 7pm, ALL TIME ZONE, ALL OVER THE WORLD to create a wave of lights for all the angel babies gone too soon.