One thing we’ve thought a lot of about over the years is baby names. Picking a baby name is a special occasion for any parent. I believe it’s one the most important first decisions a parent will make for a little child as it sticks with them for the rest of their life. Their name is part of every first impression they will ever make, which in turn will shape their interactions with others for the rest of time. Without always meaning to, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about names throughout the course of our 13 year relationship.

Early on, it was done as a bit of joke, when one of us would hear a name on TV, and might respond with something like “I’ve always loved that name” followed by a puzzled look from the other which said “you like that name?! Have you lost your mind?” We never took this seriously for a number of years, as we knew we were dedicated to advancing our education so having kids would be waiting for quite some time.

So, once we started to get to the part of the plan that involved actually having kids, we got a bit more serious about picking names. We knew from the experience of naming our dog (Sadie) that we would not share or discuss names with anyone. With Sadie people tended to give an opinion when the name is a possibility (and ruined some of our favourite names), but once it’s decided they just accept it.

So, as per normal for two very logical and practical people, we started a list in the notes app on my iPhone – this way no-one else would ever find the list and we’d never lose it. We kept a boys list and a girls list. We had a few general rules about names that made the list:

  • We both had to like the name
  • We could both veto any name
  • There are no limits of the number of veto’s we each get
  • The name could not be in the list of top 10 most popular names
  • The name has to be decently easy to say and spell (according to our definition)

So, after my iPhone died and I changed to my Samsung, the list made the move with me. Of course, the list wasn’t backed up, so I had to re-create it from memory (since clearly we could and did in fact lose the list – lesson learned, technology is now always perfect). But it wasn’t really that hard to re-create as we talked about names often. Through the course of 2 years the list has grown, and shrunk. Every now and again, we review the list and we may add a name or two, or we delete a name or two. Currently, we have 7 girl names and 4 boy names. I often joke that we’d better not have a boy because we don’t like any of the names and he would end up being known as “baby” forever, and that would likely cause some sort of long term damage that would result in a lifetime of expensive psychology bills.

We have middle names picked out for both a boy and a girl. Both of these names are meant to honor someone very special in one of our lives that have passed away. Neither of these names are written down. The significance of the names to us, means we don’t need to write them down. They will always be with us.

Only once have I had a strong feeling about the baby’s gender – baby 3. I knew it was a girl. I absolutely knew. I had the name picked out (which I’m not willing to share with anyone other than my husband – it’s a special memory for us and us alone). The name is still sitting at the top of the girls list and I just cannot bring myself to delete it. I don’t think I could re-use it for another baby girl (should we ever have one), but I still cannot bring myself to delete it. I carry it around with me both literally in my phone and in my heart.

Having 4 unborn babies has given us a lot of time to think about names and probably gives us a unique perspective (good and/or bad). But, somehow, we still enjoy talking about possible names and all the hope that goes along with the conversation.

One of the hardest thing about telling people our story has been having to explain the actual process of a miscarriage. Asides from our final outcome of losing the baby, our four experiences have been extremely unique and nothing has been the same between each one. What I’ve learned is like many things in life, unless you’ve been through it you have no idea how a miscarriage actually physically occurs. Almost everyone we’ve encountered simply assumes that when you miscarry you find out once the baby is dead, often because you start bleeding and then you go through the miscarriage right away. This happened to us the first time, but not the next three times. For us, the actual miscarriage process is anything but quick.

Typically we start by finding out that the baby will die through an ultrasound and then we wait for the inevitable death. Medically, certain criteria must be met before they will declare a fetal demise (a nice word for dead baby), and this can take time. It seems that this is quite a sensitive topic due to the ethics surrounding end of pregnancy choices, and the doctors have very strict guidelines. Sometimes the wait is only a few days, but in our case, it takes a few weeks or more.

With the second miscarriage, and our first time this happened, we held onto to the hope. There was a weakening fetal heart rate, so we thought maybe there would be a miracle and the fetal heart rate would return to normal. One doctor said he’s saw this happen once in his career – maybe we’ll be the second time it happens? Or maybe, they just got it wrong on the first ultrasound, and everything would be fine on the next one. It turned out, with each subsequent ultrasound, the heart rate continued to drop until the inevitable death. Then, it still took weeks to force the miscarriage through medication, and we ended up having an emergency D&C.

With the third miscarriage, the wait was excruciating. It took weeks. Our baby simply wouldn’t die. This lead to the scariest/saddest hope I’ve ever had – hope that my baby dies quickly. First and foremost this hope is based on not wanting my baby to suffer. Secondly, and 100% selfishly, this hope is because I know the emotional hell I go through waiting for it to die. One second I am hoping that everything will miraculously be okay, then the next second I’m hoping for a quick death for our baby. I think I will always feel terribly guilty for thinking this way – how can I ever hope my baby will die quickly? It just isn’t right, but I guess nothing about this situation is.

By the time we were going through our fourth miscarriage, the thing I was most grateful for was that there was not a fetal heart rate when we found out. We truly didn’t expect this, as this baby had a healthy fetal heart rate from the very beginning (the first time we ever got to see a healthy fetal heart rate flicker on an ultrasound) and we had absolutely no negative symptoms. But it is what it is and we cannot change it. So, my first thought was, at least there is no hope this time and we can start the physical miscarriage process right away. We were wrong…even without a fetal heart rate they made us wait another 5 days to confirm that it was in fact a fetal demise. And now, nearly 4 weeks later, we are still working through the physical miscarriage and it is yet to be declared a complete miscarriage.

Knowing as a mother, that the baby that you are growing inside you will slowly die, has nearly killed me. It has nearly killed me each time, and it doesn’t get easier the more times you go through it. Nothing in life teaches you how to be prepared for this and how to handle this.

As hard as it is to believe, the one thing I’ve learned through losing four babies is that somehow you do get through it. Somehow you survive. Somehow there is a tomorrow. Somehow you contemplate trying again. Somehow you find hope again.

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