By Brittany Norvell Priest, TeamHealth Digital Marketing Content Specialist
October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. As we observe Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, keep the 1 in 4 women who experience these difficult losses in your thoughts. It is a day I wish I didn’t know existed, but I truly believe by sharing our stories we mend our hearts. After all, shared experiences bring empathy to the human experience.
My story begins on a snowy January 17, 2018 – a date now frozen in my mind. After two years of hoping and trying to become pregnant, I finally saw the one pink line turn to two – a positive pregnancy test! The irony of it was I was not the first one to know. My husband – being afraid of small spaces – sent me beneath the house, flashlight in mouth and belly crawling, to check out a leaky pipe. After I emerged, I saw those two little lines appear and all the tears and efforts of trying had been worth it. We hugged and cried knowing it was the beginning of a new chapter, and indeed, it was.
In the weeks following, I swanned around my office and home, filled with endorphins and sharing the happy news to my family, friends and colleagues. It was my victory in a long battle with time, and I had won. Then in a matter of 48 hours, I became a statistic. Roughly, one in four women will experience miscarriage, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) but these were foreign statistics to me at the time, as I had not experienced one or known others who shared their story of loss.
Prideful and full of hope for my first appointment the week following, I felt a slight discomfort on that Friday so I stayed home and rested. By Saturday, I had started to notice some bleeding. I did not notice any large mass ruptures, so I felt safe – no need to call my clinician or go to a hospital. Then the labor pain started and I knew, I knew, it was a miscarriage. Having had one child previously, I recognized the familiar burning waves that rip through your abdomen to your back and down your legs.
The, then happy, optimistic side of me prayed through tears to make the pain stop and for everything to “just be alright.” And it did stop, at least the pain, and again with little other signs, I felt safe – uncertain but okay. I called my doctor but received their after-hours call center. By that Sunday, a good friend had reached out to her OB/GYN, a friend of hers who graciously demanded their staff to see me first thing Monday morning. At the time, I didn’t know what to expect until that morning came. Before I could gain reassurance from that Monday morning appointment, I became a statistic. There laid bare a very small life in my hand, fully intact, and that was the first and last look I got at that little life – what was the beginning of a new chapter.
Completely torn, I shared my mourning and grieving of that little life, and by doing so, other women came forward to share their stories of loss with me. Women I would have never known or guessed had faced any loss or trauma opening to me about theirs. By sharing my story, I’ve shared empathy with others who also make up the 1 in 4 who experience miscarriage or loss of an infant.
My story is not complete. After my loss, I fell into a depression that I’m still working to address to this day. Thankfully, I felt fully supported by my family and team members and took advantage of TeamHealth’s LiveWell WorkLife Services.
Parents who have lost a pregnancy or infant can participate in Wave of Light on October 15. To participate in Wave of Light and join other families who have experienced a tragic loss, light a candle at 7:00 p.m. local time and leave it burning for one hour in memory of the babies who died too soon. Additional support and resources for those who have personal experience with pregnancy and infant loss can be found through the Star Legacy Foundation’s website.
For more information on services offered through LiveWell WorkLife, contact Megan Norman, TeamHealth Wellness Manager, at Megan_Norman@TeamHealth.com or call 865.293.5245.