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Leap of Faith

The Ghost of Losses Past

By Amalah

Dear Amalah,

A year ago (June 15, 2010), my husband and I stared down and the home pregnancy test and 2 pink lines…I started laughing like an idiot and he just stared. We’d been trying for 6 months and we were thrilled. I’m adopted, and all my life I wanted to go to college (no degree in mind), get married (to some-guy) and have babies…not a baby, babies..and here we go! Anyway, after I stopped laughing like freak we did the math figured I was right about 5 weeks, and I made the call to the doctor. I went in and they did another pregnancy test, and another, and another and FINALLY they got a very faint positive for their pregnancy test. I was sort-of concerned about that, but they assured me that I was fine and that was normal this early in a pregnancy.

Advice Smackdown ArchivesThey made my follow-up appointment and first sonogram appointment for the end of the next month. I would be about 10-11 weeks along at that point and I would get to hear a heartbeat and all that good stuff. Not quite 3 weeks later my husband, Aaron and I celebrated our wedding anniversary, and 4 days after that my little sister gave birth to her first child after the pregnancy from hell (9months of morning sickness, 2 hospitalizations, anemia, StrepB, you name it–she had it) I was floating right along, a little tired, no sickness or anything, but I rarely ever feel sick so I didn’t think that much about it. 

The morning of my appointment, July 22, 2010, I noticed some spotting. Because I am a research fanatic, I knew this wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t bright red or anything and I was going to the doctor and we’d figure it out. Go to the doctor fill out the 5 zillion sheets of paper, and went in to wait. Aaron came with me and we sat there talking about how we’d call his Grandparents when we left the doctor because they’d be so excited. The doctor came in and while completing the initial exam we discussed the spotting and out of the corner of my eye I watched (with humor) Aaron squirm. That would be the last time I laughed for a while. No heartbeat, in comes the sono-machine, hmmm…whats that? And the test began. More blood, more intense sonograms.

I was hosting a baby shower on July 31st, I was dressed and was talking to Aaron about when I’d be home when the phone rang. Mrs. Sawyer, you have a molar pregnancy, you need to get to the hospital now for an emergency D&C because you could start hemorrhaging at anytime. Through the shock I asked some questions, I’d be monitored over-night, the D&C was already scheduled for 7am the next morning. You should have heard my doctors voice when I said I was hosting a baby shower for my friend in an hour and I would go after that. Mind you, half of her shock was because the hospital I was to check into is about a 3 hour drive from my house. (Our local hospital does not have a NICU and started performing C-Sections 2 years ago…scary small town hospital) And if her shock was bad, Aaron was stunned at my refusal to go RIGHT NOW.  However, I bought myself 2 hours. It was 1pm, the shower started at 2pm, I’d explain to my friend and I’d leave at 3. While preparing for the shower I made phone calls to my family informing them. My parents got in the car and began the 5 hour trek to my hospital and my sister just cried.  

The D&C when fine, I’m told Aaron paced and damn-near wore a rut in the waiting room floor. The 30+ doctors visits I’ve gone to since have all gone fine. I was amazingly calm and in control for about 6 weeks after the D&C after which I snapped and would cry for hours at a time for no reason. I was put on anti-depressants, not because I was suicidal, but at the time I taught Pre-K…hysterically crying teacher + 30 small children = well, you can imagine. I stayed on them until after the Christmas holidays, because I couldn’t hold my baby nephew without crying, and then went off them. I’ve been good, better since what would have been my due date passed. And I will be teaching first grade this year, which will be nice change.

The doctor said we can try again this October…I’ll be 29 this October, my husband will be 34 in December. I am SO ready to try again. I am SO scared to try again. If have another molar pregnancy there have been comments from the doctors about geneticists, or a hysterectomy. 

I rambled on and told you all that to ask this. What do I do with the fear? I’m not a woman who fears things, except spiders, I have a largely irrational fear of those 8-legged things…. Anyway, I’ve handled the grief, the guilt (though it wasn’t my fault) and I’ve watched ALL of my friends have babies, or get pregnant again, but I can’t seem to get a grip on the fear.

I really enjoy your blog and will continue to read it. Your boys are precious.

Thank you,

Oh Tia. It’s so cliche and trite-sounding but I really genuinely wish I could reach through the Internet and give you a hug. And then take you out for wine and fancy cheeses. Or cheese fries with bacon, if you’re in more of that kind of mood.

So listen. I think you need to talk to Someone. A therapist, a social worker, a counselor, a pastor, a support group, someone. I see a reference to anti-depressants, but nothing about TALKING to someone about your experience and feelings over the past year. Just like you don’t need to be “suicidal” for anti-depressants to be the right choice, you also don’t need to be actively depressed or having panic attacks or even completely consumed by the fear to justify talking to someone who understands and can help you more than an online advice columnist who has never been in your shoes and honestly, can’t even imagine what that must have been like for you. (The BABY SHOWER. Oh my GOD, you went to a BABY SHOWER.)

Fear is part of grief, fear is also just part of being a human being in an unpredictable, uncontrollable world. It’s understandable that your brain is going to the worst-case scenario (another molar pregnancy, geneticists, hysterectomy, the death of your dream of biological children). I mean, I think we all do that from time to time. The problem is when you get stuck here, like you are, unable to take action because of what MIGHT happen. I’ve done that with much, much lesser problems and decisions — allowed my thoughts to skip ahead to Possible Outcome #17, which was HORROR AND DOOM, and then sort of…froze and freaked out and found myself unable to make ANY decision because what if what if what if?

In the end, I’ve generally just taken a deep breath and acknowledged that yes, Possible Outcome #17 is there and in the realm of possibility. And then another deep breath and a mental pep talk that there are also at least another 16 different Possible Outcomes that are every bit as likely to happen. Perhaps even more so.

For you, yes, the possibility of another heartbreak is there, and some very tough decisions and diagnoses. But so is the possibility of a viable, healthy pregnancy that gives you your first baby of multiple babies, and will allow you to move forward and build the completed family of your dreams, while the memory of your first loss remains, but fades to a dull flat scar instead of a gaping, sucking chest wound.

I guess it’s that “leap! and the net will appear” line of thinking, and that’s probably where my advice would end if you were writing to say you were scared to try for a baby because of…oh, do we have enough in savings or our apartment is small or I’m still in school, etc. The kinds of fears that plague EVERY couple on the verge of trying to conceive. But…you’re special, frankly, because you’ve been through SO MUCH. I think it’s okay to acknowledge that you and your story and history and fear is special, and deserves some specialized care. So again: please find a therapist, a psychologist, a licensed social worker or counselor who specializes in grief/fear/anxiety, a pregnancy loss support group, someone. (Perhaps there’s even a super-specialized resource for adult adoptees who are working through issues with pregnancy and fertility without the benefit of a full family history? Commenters?) It’s not a sign of weakness or craziness or being unable to “get over it already” or WHATEVER.

I wish you the absolute best best best of luck and hope that everything works out perfectly for you.

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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