On August 7th, I gave birth to my daughter Charlotte. We were thrilled that our oldest daughter would have a little sister. They could share clothes and toys and in fact they almost share a birthday. However, probably the most important thing that they share is their brother Max and the angel we lost at 11 weeks. Since the birth of both of my girls I have documented their lives with pictures, on social media and shared milestones with family and friends. To the outside world, we were the “million dollar family”, a family of four. But forever in our hearts, we are a family with two more.
When I was pregnant with Charlotte people would always ask, is this your second? A question I never knew how to answer and a question that pained me each time I did answer “yes”. I wanted to say, no she wasn’t my second, she was my fourth. But at the risk of making someone else feel awkward, I always answered yes. We would inevitably discuss how “different” your “second” pregnancy was. This pregnancy was, in fact, “different”, I was in a constant state of worry; worry this pregnancy wouldn’t end at 40 weeks with a healthy baby. I worried because worrying had become the norm. I worried until my 12 week ultrasound that I would miscarry. I worried until my 20 week ultrasound that my baby would have a serious abnormality. I worried because we had miscarried just before 12 weeks and I worried because we lost a baby who had a brain tumour just shy of 20 weeks. Worrying and heartache had become par for the course.
This month happens to be pregnancy and infant loss awareness month and I find myself thinking and remembering the baby’s that we lost. I remember holding our precious boy Max, who silently slipped in and out of this world. I remember being told that time would heal. But for me the passing of time was the worst feeling as it meant there was more distance between Max and I. Another day since I saw him, it put more distance between us and reminded me I would not get to hold him again. I was stuck in the moment of loss, overcome with sadness but also wanted to cling to that because, for some reason, as another day passed I felt I would lose my connection with my son. As any mother can attest, that connection is felt from the moment you find out you’re pregnant. I was grief stricken, we lost our son. Now, two years later, time hasn’t healed, but it has made the pain of the loss more bearable.
We knew we wanted to try again and we were pregnant quickly. We immediately shared the news with our closest friends, who had been a major source of support after we lost Max. I had some morning sickness and the worry around 10 weeks that I didn’t feel “pregnant”. Then it happened, my worst worries brought to life. There was bleeding. While I was now programmed to think the worst, I didn’t have a good feeling about this. The nurse at triage assured me this can happen in healthy pregnancies, but luck was not on our side and we would face another loss. While we were earlier in the pregnancy this time around it hurt just the same. The grief is there no matter how far along you are. You grieve for the child you will never get to meet. You grieve for the shattered dreams. You grieve. It’s awful.
We were determined, we decided to give it one last shot and after 39 more weeks of pregnancy we were finally able to bring our healthy baby home. It’s been a journey and we have made it to the finish line, which at times didn’t seem possible. I’ve found a source of strength and comfort in talking to other mothers who have experienced loss or struggles with infertility. But I’ve also realized that this can be a very isolating experience and there is pain in suffering alone. Therefore, this month on pregnancy and infant loss awareness month, I’ve decided that I no longer need to be silent. We have lost pregnancies, it’s not a secret, it’s a reality that has changed who I am.
I’d like to introduce you to my “second and third” Max Chatterson (Nov 21/2013) and our angel we will never get to meet but whom have both forever shaped the foundation of our “million dollar family”. Next time you ask, we are a family of six.