Owning Our Darkest Moment
I am sharing my story with the world, and therefore I must have the courage to tell all of my story. Even the most horrible, gut-wrenching moments that I try not to ever think about because the hurt is so great. The pain will never go away, but I am learning to live with it.
By telling this part of my story, I will own it, and I will continue to move forward.
This story, is all about Baby 3. Baby 3 will forever be etched in my mind, my heart and my soul. There is no going back. This will haunt me forever.
Baby 3 is our only baby that had a name (I am not sharing that with you, I will keep that just for my husband and I, and the actual name won’t change the story so don’t fret). I knew it was a little girl, I just knew. We had picked our favourite girl name, and I decided to start calling her by it very early on. I talked to her. I loved her. I prayed for her (which is a more then a bit odd because I’m not particularly religious). I lived for her. Every single thing I did, I did for this little girl.
At 6 weeks 1 day, she had a fetal heart rate, but it was only at 81. And, since this was our third miscarriage and second time with a low fetal heart rate, we knew what this meant. There was no kidding ourselves, we knew she would not be able to survive. She never grew beyond 6 weeks 1 day. At our weekly ultrasounds, we determined that her fetal heart rate continued to drop, slowly, ever so slowly. But her fetal heart rate, the marker of life, would not go away. This little baby girl, simply wouldn’t die. She would, it was inevitable, but this little girl, she was a fighter. She fought hard to hold on. She fought so hard.
All the while, I tried to have hope. I knew it wouldn’t work, but maybe, just maybe we’d have a miracle. I kept living a healthy lifestyle to the best of my ability. When I didn’t want to eat, my husband would force me to, just in case. I tried not to be consumed with depression and sorrow. I tried to survive. I tried to continue on. I worked a few days a week. I cried. We worried. We waited.
At what should have been 13 weeks, she was still holding on. For nearly 7 weeks, this little girl held on. This little girl, had all the fight in the world, but she didn’t have a chance. She wouldn’t survive.
I ended up with developing a septic infection – a situation known as a septic miscarriage. One of the rarest complications that can occur to anyone at any point during a pregnancy. There is rarely warning, and it is almost always fatal to the baby and sometimes mother as well. I saw green discharge, I knew something was wrong. A quick text to a good friend who happens to be an OBGYN (although, not the one I see regularly, but the one I have access to 24/7), and I went straight to the hospital. The infection was in its early stages, it was just starting, and my life was not yet in danger, but we were told you could go to bed tonight feeling okay, and tomorrow you may not wake up and will be in the emergency room fighting for your life. Your baby will not survive no matter what you do, but neither will you if you don’t terminate and terminate as soon as possible.
We learned something about our medical system that day, if your life is not at immediate risk (which mine was not, but was in imminent danger), the only way to terminate is to go to an abortion clinic. Even though the medical advice is that you need to have this done as soon as possible, there is no alternative based on our current medical system protocols.
Given the dire circumstances we were in, the OBGYN got us an appointment with the abortion clinic that very day and surgery was scheduled for the next morning.
So that afternoon, we found ourselves sitting in an abortion clinic. The first thing I noticed was the setup of the room – everything was in lock-down mode, with security doors and windows separating staff from patients and potential aggressors. The room was cold and uninviting. Having never thought about what an abortion clinic’s waiting room would look like, I guess this made sense. Anyways, we met with an amazing councilor to discuss our situation. I guess, they usually see one or two couples like us a year. I held myself together. My husband was doing okay. We were surprisingly doing okay. In hindsight, I think we were both in shock. How in the span of a few hours, did we end up in this position? We had come to accept that at some point our baby would die, but how did it turn into this? How did my life become at great risk? How is it that we are at an abortion clinic? We know she won’t live, but how do we actually force her to die? How are we actually going to do this? How did we end up here?
We went home that night, my husband didn’t take his eyes off me. We both knew that at any moment, I could go into septic shock and my husband would lose both the dying baby and his wife. I don’t know how he dealt with this fear. I don’t know how we made it through that night, but somehow, just like everything else, we made it through.
And the next morning, we left the house early to get to the abortion clinic. There was no changing our minds, we knew what we had to do.
I was the first procedure of the day and we had to have an ultrasound done first (standard procedure). The student ultrasound tech refused to let my husband in the room, I simply and bluntly demanded that he be there, as this is our family. She obliged (not that she had a choice as far as I was concerned). The teaching ultrasound tech just wandered in and out of the room without even having the decency to introduce himself, or shut the door behind him (and really, why not show the entire hospital the vagina each time he opened the door?) Then, to add to everything, the radiologist refused to go over our results with us (which had been normal practice at every other ultrasound we had in all of our pregnancies). He clearly didn’t understand that this was the most wanted baby in the world, but I had to know that the fetal heart rate was still declining (which in hindsight, I don’t know why I needed to know, it couldn’t have changed anything). I forced the issue, and demanded he speak to me. I deserved this much. We just had to know. (We were treated so poorly by the ultrasound process, I actually put in a complaint a few weeks later). Regardless of the hell that was that ultrasound, we learned that our little baby was still hanging in there – fetal heart rate at 52, still measuring 6 weeks 1 day.
We walked down the hallway, back into the abortion clinic to wait. I looked around the waiting room and saw multiple couples sitting there, choosing to sit there. Choosing to end the life of their unborn and unwanted child. Most were couples. Some were presumably daughters with their mothers. Almost no-one was under the age of 30, as I ignorantly had assumed that most abortions are done for teenage girls – this evidently is not the case, at least not on this day. I broke down. I completely and utterly broke down. They gave us a different room to sit and wait. I couldn’t look at these people, not at that moment. The wait felt like an eternity, but I guess it was only a few minutes. The councilor came back to speak to us, and more than anything just sat with us. She/we knew there was no alternative for us. We just cried.
As I had already had a D&C before with baby 2, I knew the procedure. I went with the nurse, my husband had to keep waiting. The doctors, nurses and counseling staff were amazing. It was over in an instant. Our little baby girl was gone, being set off for genetic testing to see if they could figure out what was killing her and had killed our other little babies (they couldn’t, but they did confirm, assuming they tested the babies tissue and not my tissue, that she was in fact a little girl).
I took a 4 more days off work, and then returned back to my normal 70+ hour crazy stressful work weeks. Somehow, we picked ourselves up. We continued on. We survived.
I know now, just as we did then, waiting for the septic infection to turn into septic shock and therefore sacrificing my life would not have saved our little baby girl. I would have given up my life in a second if it meant she could have survived, but that’s just not how life works. Sacrificing my life would have only resulted in one more unnecessary death. The loss of a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend. No-one would have gained anything.
It has taken me months to write this, and will probably take me a few weeks (or more) to share it. So, why am I sharing it? My husband actually doesn’t want me to post it out there on the internet – not because we don’t own this part of our story. We do. We absolutely do. We know what our decision was, and we know that we’d make the same decision again. His reluctance to share this is that there is a rather substantial possibility that someone is going to say something really hurtful to me. And you know what, I’m okay with that. Say whatever you want, but know that this part of my story, is the absolute hardest thing I have ever been through in my entire life. It is the hardest decision I’ve ever made. I believe the worst moment of any parents life is to choose to end their child’s life, and we’ve made that decision. We will live with the consequences of that decision for the rest of our lives. And, as I said the day of the procedure, we cannot be and will not be ashamed of this decision. Today, almost a year later, we firmly believe it was the right decision and we would make the same decision again if we were in that same position again.
Note, I’ve always been pro-choice, I firmly believe that this is a personal decision between a mother and a father. This choice is there’s to make, and safe options should be made available to all women choosing abortion. I am thankful I live in a country where a women has this right and safe options are available.
After this experience, all our other miscarriage experiences, and our decision to investigate adoption, I am actually even stronger in my pro-choice believes. I firmly believe that the vast majority of individuals choosing abortions are not making this decision lightly. Everyone making this decision, knows the life altering results of said decision. The counseling that is provided at an abortion clinic is phenomenal, and people choosing abortion are not able to just walk in and be done with it. And, just like some people choose not to adopt, but instead to choose a childfree life, some people choose not to have children to put up for adoption. Life is made up by our decisions, and as far as I’m concerned everyone has the right to make the decision that is best for them and all parties involved.
I also want to warn everyone women out there:
Septic miscarriages are very serious.
If you are pregnant at any stage and you see green discharge, seek medical attention immediately.
Do not take this situation lightly.
Early detection literally saved my life.
Thank you for sharing. This gave me chills. I’m so sorry you had to go through this. 😦 ❤
Your bravery is to be commended (both in the decisions you and your husband had to make and in sharing your story with others). While others who have gone through such difficult circumstances may understand, those who have not often have an ignorance to the gravity of facing a pregnancy termination. You are right–it is not an easy decision, it is not taken lightly, and often there are things going on that no one but the couple involved can understand. There is no shame in what we sometimes have to face. Thank you for sharing, and for raising awareness to septic infection.
Thank you for your kind words of support. It is definitely a situation that people do not understand (thankfully).
Having been through a septic miscarriage, it amazed me how little information is available on it. A quick Google search indicates almost nothing on the topic. They are just so rare. So rare that our OBYGN said she’s only seen 2 of them in her career. We became her third, and the first one that was noticed at such an early stage.
Ugh I have had chills the entire time I read your story. I honestly don’t see how this was even a decision, you had no choice. I know it was difficult to actually go through, but of course you had to do it. I hope you don’t carry any guilt with you as you did as much as you possibly could. You already had risked your life to carry a baby that was destined not to make it. That is very very brave. What a terrifying experience. Thank you for sharing, I know it couldn’t have been easy.
Thank you. It was definitely a terrifying experience, and something I hope to never experience again. And something i wish no-one had to experience.
I think there will always be some guilt. Not in terms of doing what we had to do, but in terms of could we have done something different to prevent it. But, I guess that guilt is normal with all miscarriages. Anyways, we focus on the logic of the situation, which clearly tells us this was out of our control and we really had no choice. It is what it is, and we move forward.
Thank you again.
I am very sorry you had to make that painful decision (TFMR) and I am, as always, deeply saddened about and sorry for your and your husband’s lost babies. Thanks for sharing your story, I hope it helps with your healing. ((Warm hugs))
Thank you very much for your support and kind words.
I cannot imagine anyone having anything but compassion for your situation. It wasn’t a choice and I’m so sorry you had to say good-bye to baby girl. I hope sharing this is healing for you. Sending you a hug and he utmost respect, and for your husband too.
Unfortunately, many people live in black and white worlds, and we have faced some criticism for this decision/situation we’ve been pretty good at shutting it down when people have started to question our decision making – we don’t need to hear it). Even those in our lives who know about our RPL, very few people actually know about this specific experience because of some of the less then positive responses we’ve heard.
Anyways, thank you. Thank you very much for the positive words of support and compassion.
Oh hon, I’m so so sorry you and your husband had to go through this. I just can’t believe you had to go to an abortion clinic for this. As pro life as I am, I do believe in a woman’s/couple’s right to choose even if it’s not a choice I could ever make, but you had no choice in this, and you should never have been sent to a clinic that does abortions. What happened would have been awful anywhere, but to have it happen in that environment, no matter how supportive the staff were, is just all kinds of wrong. And you should never have experienced the cold and unprofessional attitude you received from the ultrasound staff either. How dare they? Having been born and raised in Canada, but now living in the US, I’ve come to realize that health care in Canada, while free, has it’s flaws. Long wait lists to see specialists and for explanatory procedures like MRIs or CT scans, are just a couple examples, but what happened to you takes the cake, and I’m so very sorry you had to go through it. You may have consented to the procedure, but you had no choice. Your baby was sick and your health was at serious risk, and you can bet if you had gone into septic shock they would never have made you go through that.
I just want to end by saying if anyone dares say anything hurtful to you, they will have to face my wrath! I know my hugs will not take away any of this pain, but I’m sending you so many.
Its funny, I used to always say that I am pro-choice, I could just never do it myself. And now, having done it, I feel even stronger about my pro-choice believes. I’m not about to go join a pro-choice march, but I will ensure my story helps people understand why abortion is not black and white and I will ensure my political vote always ensures the choice is available.
While I agree that the medical system in Canada (or at least in my province) isn’t perfect, I am also truly thankful for it – for example, we haven’t spent a penny on any of our medical appointments or procedures to-date. In many other countries we’d be bankrupt or at the very least we’d be factoring money into the decision making process. For us, it isn’t even a factor. (Although I should specify that if we were talking about IVF, that would be out of our pocket)
Anyways, we are thankful that in every medical situation we have faced, we’ve been taken care of. Once its urgent or we meet certain criteria, then we get the care we need. We’ve had phenomenal care with the exception of this story and one other (although not nearly as bad – I’m sure I’ll write about that one day), I also recognize that its such a rare situation that how could they really have a clinic just for this when the system is bound by restrictions based in stupid ethical/religious criteria and limited funding? It doesn’t really make sense for a money perspective to open a clinic to see 1 or 2 patients like me a year, and our system doesn’t allow for a medically required termination to occur in a hospital setting until the mother’s life is in imminent danger. It’s really, just the result of our medical policies being determined by politicians who are making decisions based on ethical criteria that don’t recognize a grey area. Its a frustrating conundrum, and I really don’t know how they could address it better.
Anyways, thanks for the support and the virtual hugs!!
I can feel the strength of your bravery growing with every single post. Thank you for sharing this heartbreaking story. Much love, Justine
Thank you Justine. I always appreciate your supportive comments!
I am speechless. Your strength shines through every damn word you wrote. I literally just clicked over from another wonderful woman’s blog and found this. You are amazing. You are inspiring. You made me, a perfect stranger, break down in sobs for the pain you experienced. I am just so sorry. I am so very sorry, and I am thinking of you.
I am not sure my intent was to make a perfect stranger break down in sobs, but I am honored that you were moved by what I wrote and how I told our story. Thank you for our kind words both about this post and about me. You are very kind.
Also, I just checked out your blog, and started following. I wish you the best!
Of course it wasn’t your intent! I just only meant to share that you are an incredible writer, one capable of eliciting emotions from a first-time reader, who knew nothing of your story beforehand. I hope that’s what you do for a living. And I hope, more than anything, that you and your husband extend this love outward – in whatever shape it takes – because you are so clearly able to make the world a better place. I am holding you both in my heart out here in flyover country 🙂
I am not a writer by profession – although, just a few weeks ago I made the announcement on my blog (http://wp.me/p4qQfg-7W) that I am working on my first book and although I have no connections to the publishing world, I plan to make it happen with a lot of hard work, some luck and a really good editor. So, given this, I really appreciate your comments and your support towards my lofty goal!
Thank you again!
Completely heart wrenching. I’m so sorry you’ve endured this heartbreak. No one should ever have to go through that. I understand and appreciate the courage it took to write this and I commend your bravery. Thank you for raising the awareness to septic infection as well, I’ve learned something very important today. Hugs and thinking of you xx
Thank you for such a supportive comment. I completely agree, no-one should ever have to go through what we did!
And I am glad that you are now aware of septic miscarriages, not that any of us need more worries when it comes to pregnancy, but I think its good for every women to know about this.
Oh hun. How absolutely horrible – what a terrible situation you all had to face. There really arent words, but know you have my heart xxxxxxxxxxxx I am thinking of you xxxxxxxx
Thank you so much! 🙂
I’m so so so very sorry. I can’t relate, as my experience was different, but I can say, the decision is never easy, even if it’s the only decision we have. You made the right choice for you, please don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise. I really can’t imagine having such a procedure at such a clinic. My hospital offers D & C’s, so if I had picked that option, I would have been shielded from some of your experiences. That said though, I remember looking at the bottle of my medication to start my miscarriage and seeing abortion written on the label in large capital letters as the indication. That really struck me hard. Enough about me though, I just wanted to say I’m very very sorry for your loss.
Our first D&C, when there was no longer a fetal heart rate was also done at a hospital – a much more normal approach to D&C’s. Still not an easy thing to go through, but much easier then going to an abortion clinic!
Anyways, I cannot believe that they put the word abortion on your prescription. That’s just insane! Why is it necessary to write that word, when its clearly not the circumstance and is just unnecessary? I’m sorry you had to experience that! Thankfully both times I’ve had misopristol, I have not experienced that!
Thank you for sharing, and wishing you the best as well!
Thank you 🙂
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I’m so sorry you had to go through this. I think some experiences can be pretty traumatising and I can’t even imagine walking into the waiting room with people opting to be there. That would have been heartbreaking. I also can’t believe anyone would offer you anything but compassion, it was medically necessary and clearly not something you had a choice in. Thank you for sharing your story and I hope it offers you some support or creative therapy.
Thank you very much for your kind words. I also really like the word traumatizing to characterize that event. It definitely was a traumatizing event.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I can’t imagine how it felt but I am so sorry for this loss and your others. I also had to choose to end my pregnancy (earlier this year) due to fetal abnormalities. You are right, I don’t think anyone chooses it lightly. I had never even heard of a septic miscarriage and am so thankful you posted this. It must have been so, so hard but maybe if this has provided an education to one or two people out there then you have provided a gift to someone.
I am so sorry for your loss as well. You are the first person I’ve met (I’ll be it through the blogging world), that has also experienced this type of decision/loss. My heart breaks for you.
And thank you for your encouraging words about sharing our septic miscarriage story. Septic miscarriages are so rare that there is virtually no information on it, and I do hope that sharing this story it may help someone else.
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This is one of the bravest posts I’ve ever read. I’m awestruck by your courage and by your strength. I know you will validate the experience of women who have gone through something similar and haven’t been able to share it yet. This is a situation no one should ever be in, and I’m so sorry you had to go through it.
Thank you so much for reading and offering words of encouragement.
And you are right, no women/couple should ever be in the position we were in. It was one of the most difficult things we have ever done. And, I hope by being honest about it and sharing our experience with the world we will help others.
OMG I looked for the hug button and couldn’t find it. I’m sorry for your loss and what you had to go through. I hadn’t heard of septic miscarriages before.
❤ ❤ ❤
Thank you so much for your kind words and support.
One of the main reasons I chose to share this is because septic miscarriage is just so uncommon that there is virtually no information available on it and I think women need to know about it and know about the warning signs.
Wow. What an experience. I believe my baby is a fighter like yours even though she also is barely hanging on. You made the choice you had to as hard as it was and still is. Your strength amazes me. BIG HUGS.
I too believe your baby is a fighter! And, I also believe you are a fighter and full of courage to face the unknown.
Sending you love and hugs!
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Thank you for sharing this important, informative, and heartbreaking story.
I share this, in hopes of breaking the silence and the shame around situations like this.
Thank you for reading and commenting. 🙂
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Wow. I am sitting here at my desk at work crying for you. This is absolutely awful. I’m so sorry you had to experience this. How brave of you to share and to put this story out into the world. Hugs to you, my friend.
Thank you for your support and love – sorry I made you cry at work.
I can honestly say that might be the hardest thing I have ever gone through, which is ultimately why I chose to share it because i want others to know they are not alone in making these horrible decisions.
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I find myself shaking my head every single time I read…..What you have had to go through is SO unfair. My heart breaks for you and your husband and your family. But gosh, your strength shines through! You are amazing and thank you for sharing your story. xoxoxox
You are to kind! It is comments like this that motivate me to keep sharing and I am so thankful for your love and support. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
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Wow; I’ve just read this – and I just want to say your strength is remarkable. To go through what you went through, to write about it, to share it – and to stand up and say; you know what – say what you want; but this is what happened. It wasn’t a choice hun – for some people it is; but for you – it was live or die, you did what anyone would do – and for that too – i admire your strength and your courage. Hugs hun, loads of hugs and so sorry you had to go through everything you did ❤ xxxx
Thank you so much for your kind words! It’s been hard for me to talk about this part of our journey, but you are right, I do not need to stand up and say this is what we did and this is why. I may face some backlash at some point (although interestingly so far I have received more negative comments about our decision to adopt then about our decision to terminate).
Thank you again, your support means the world to me.
This is the most horrific thing I’ve read in a long time… possibly forever. After going through infertility treatments myself (including a failed IVF cycle), I cannot imagine the heartache you felt when you had to do this. It’s horrible that you had to go to a clinic rather than have it done at the emergency room. And I cannot imagine sitting in that room with others making the choice freely… which I don’t think was a choice for you… it was what you HAD to do. There really were no other options at that point. ((hugs)) You are a strong woman.
Thank you so much for this comment and your support. I will carry this with me for the rest of my life, and I completely agree that the setting I was forced into was completely unacceptable.