This past week, at our 8-week ultrasound, Nick and I learned that we lost Sullivan baby #2. Sometime between the six-week-ultrasound and last Monday, our baby’s heart stopped beating. For a few days, I didn’t know how to process the information. When the ultrasound technician and then later the OBGYN delivered the news, I didn’t cry, I just stared blankly at the wall. I had never been pregnant before Daisy and we conceived the first time we tried. I felt pregnant immediately and felt a strong connection to the baby (who I knew would be born a girl) right away.
This time felt different, even from the beginning. I didn’t feel pregnant aside from a few weeks of really wretched morning sickness. I had no strong feeling about who the baby was. Something just didn’t feel right. Still, I went through all the motions and began to daydream. We started searching for a new house with more space and picked out baby names. I suppressed my feelings of doubt and channeled by energies towards positive affirmations and anticipation. At six weeks, we saw the baby starting to take shape and happily taped the first set of ultrasound photos to our fridge.
The day before our 8-week ultrasound, Nick and I went to buy frames– we were going to frame an ultrasound photo, wrap the frame in a beautiful box and present it in person to each of our parents. As I stood in line holding the stack of frames, I couldn’t shake the feeling that we wouldn’t need them – not yet anyway.
So, when the ultrasound probe showed no activity in the heart the next afternoon, I wasn’t shocked. I just felt numb. A few minutes later, a doctor came in to confirm the news and lay out our options. I could wait for the miscarriage to occur naturally (which the doctor explained could take anywhere from days to weeks), I could take some medicine that would instigate contractions, or, I could have a surgery to remove the contents of the uterus. One can choose to have the procedure done in an operating room in a hospital under full anesthesia or elect an outpatient option which is much less expensive. I chose the last option, which wasn’t available for another three days.
In the meantime, I had to go into the office to lead two days of Revenue Team meetings I’d been planning for months. We had 150 participants visiting and participating by video from around the world and I was responsible for getting each and every one of these people fueled to close out the fiscal year with a vengeance – all while praying I didn’t go into miscarriage in the middle of the war room. I have never been so grateful for my ability to compartmentalize. I put aside my grief, put on my “big girl pants” and faced each day with a big smile and lots of positive energy. I was determined not to show any vulnerability or emotion – after all, I was the only woman in the room. As soon as the last meeting was over, I practically ran to my car, stripping off my suitjacket with one hand and wiping off my power red lipstick with the other. It was exhausting.
On Thursday, Nick took the day off and held my hand through the whole procedure. It was painful but they injected Lidocaine into my cervix so I couldn’t feel any scraping. At the end, they showed us the yolk sac that had been removed in a petri dish. I had hoped seeing it might bring some feeling of closure or make the loss feel more real. It didn’t.
As soon as we got home I closed our bedroom curtains and crawled into bed – where I slept for nearly 24 hours. Just before doing so, I posted this message on Instagram:
When I awoke Friday morning, my phone was flooded with heartfelt messages of encouragement, love, support and stories of loss followed by happy endings. How very lucky I am, as a mom, and we are, as a family, to know so many excellent people whose hearts are so big. Social media connects us all so instantly – it can be a great gift when we are hurting. To be encircled by love and hope so instantaneously after loss was the best possible thing for me. It reminded me that I am not alone and things will get better. Another baby will come in due time.
Aside from selfish reasons to share this loss publicly, I also did so because I feel strongly that we should end the stigma around miscarriage. The common "rule" is that you shouldn’t tell people you’re pregnant until you’ve passed the 12-week mark. But why is that? So no one will know if you lose the child before then? Why should it be a secret? I know that I did nothing wrong to cause the miscarriage – one in five pregnant women will miscarry, it’s a commonly accepted statistic. Yet we tiptoe around the subject and whisper about the losses that happen before the 3-month mark as if they’re shameful or the result of some error on the part of the mother. We as a family must grieve the child we lost and we can only heal from talking about it and from leaning on our friends who have walked this path.
Through all of this surprise, physical pain, sadness and grief, the one emotion I've chosen to embrace and focus on the most is my overwhelming gratitude for the daughter we do have. We have been given such a gift in this sweet girl, even if we are never able to conceive another child, we will be the luckiest parents in the whole world.
So, with all of this said, I am going to rest now and take care of myself and my family for a while. I will return to this blog in a few weeks. In the meantime, thank you – each and every one of you – for your love and ongoing support of our growing family. Even amidst the bumps in the road we know we really, truly couldn’t be luckier.
Rest always in peace and love HJS - you will never be forgotten. Until we meet again... ❤