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Unearthing a pregnancy loss

BY Clare Newman | March 23, 2021

I never grieved the loss of my pregnancy, my baby.

I’m not sure why.  Perhaps at the time because there was so much shame around my marriage and my pregnancy that I just didn’t want to think or feel anything.

It feels challenging to say ‘my baby’ because I hadn’t felt it’s movements, I didn’t know it’s gender and I was still in my first trimester so I was still in a state of shock.

My husband at the time had been acting strange for months.  At one point he came home after a later study session and told me we got married too young and he felt anxious about his schooling and his commitments to our marriage.

When we found out we were pregnant, we were both really scared.  He was still in University finishing his degree and I was working two jobs to support the both of us and pay our mortgage.  It was a challenging time filled with much uncertainty.  We had been trying to conceive for years – or at least we were no longer taking precautions so I allowed the journey into conception to happen without the need to interfere.

That morning my husband and I attended our first appointment to meet our obstetrician.   I was 27 years old.  This professional was an older gentlemen who claimed to have delivered thousands of babies during his career and took great pride in all the photos of such that were hanging down the hallway and in the treatment room.  He made me feel uneasy from the beginning.

We chatted about my age? level of physical activity?  if I was a smoker?  what I did for a living? how often I drank?  And then he asked to me to change into a gown so he could ‘check me’.  At the time I didn’t think anything of his request – or think it was odd and unnecessary – I thought this was normal.   I was 11 weeks.

When he came back into the room, my legs were in stirrups and my husband was holding my hand.  The only thing I remember was when he removed his hand it was covered in blood.  He looked at us and said ‘you’re probably miscarrying’.  The shock was too much.  I clutched my husbands hand not sure if I heard the Dr. correctly so I asked him to repeat what he said.  He told me I needed to go home and to drive to Emergency is things persisted or worsened that evening.

We walked to the appointment from our condo which was only a few blocks away.  I had to sit on a bench for a few moments to compose myself and my husband stood in silence and disbelief.  He seemed nervous, displaced and anxious to get back to our home.  I crawled upstairs and into bed where I stayed for hours, not wanting to move and hoping to awaken to a new day.

I awoke to a crushing pain in my abdomen and blood.  Something was incredibly wrong and my body felt cold and constricted.  He drove me to Emergency which was a short distance away, panicking and emotional he played me a song to soothe my nerves.

I was immediately rushed into surgery as I was haemorrhaging; it was determined I had an ectopic pregnancy and it had ruptured.  The Dr. wheeled me into the operating room was discussing his golf score to the anesthesiologist and I was in disbelief that this was the conversation.  I was losing my baby and I was uncertain if I would be ok and their world was unchanged and unimaginable.

When I returned to consciousness  I saw my parents and my husband as I was being transported into an elevator.  They were both relieved by my survival and devastated at the loss of the baby’s.

The Universe was sending me some difficult lessons that day – I wasn’t sure what else it had in store but I had convinced myself in that moment that I would now able to rest.  Nope.  It had one more test for me as the attendants parked my bed next to a woman who had just given birth.  I was in disbelief – I burst into tears.

She spent a great deal of the next day leaving to go for a smoke leaving her baby unattended in the room with me.  I can still hear it’s wee cries and wimpers.  I felt like Dante in the Inferno waiting for the next level of despair.   I wanted to take the baby and run but instead I would slowly roll over and drown myself in the surgical sheets and pillows.

My husband came to console me and to talk with the Dr. (wasn’t I lucky that the same unethical obstetrician became was the surgeon on call).  He assured us I had nothing to worry about as ‘God gave women two Fallopian tubes for a reason’ but yes, my chances of another ectopic pregnancy would be likely. I could barely look this man in the eyes.  I was so angry and frustrated with his lack of compassion.

I remember my husband walking away as I started to become drowsy – he was on his cell phone and seemed distraught.  He never returned that night nor did he go home.

The physical recovery wasn’t as challenging as the emotional recovery as not a day later my husband admitted to having an affair. He was acting out of deep guilt, feeling remorseful over the idea of almost losing me he couldn’t bear the thought of lying to me in such a vulnerable time.

It was soul crushing.  At this point, nothing could get any worse.  I laid there for days which turned into weeks.  Not eating, not sleeping, not moving.  Until one day I just got up.  I decided I was done – I was going to take my life back, make some challenging decisions and move on with my life.   And that’s exactly where it all stayed for 16 years.

I forgave my husband for his infidelity but I could not forget.  We went to marriage counselling, I went back to work, we bought a house in the suburbs, anything to run away from the pain, grief and the truth.  I became obsessed with conception, I needed to have a baby – it was my only purpose in that moment.  A redemption.  A chance to prove to myself that I was worthy of this gift and worthy of love.

We tried from another two years to conceive and nothing.  Not one positive test.  Our marital problems only worsened.  I no longer trusted him and he couldn’t reconcile the pain he felt he caused.  Days/months/years were an endless loop of toxicity.

I had enough.  I confronted him about receiving a message from his mistress (whom he said he was no longer in contact with) and he lied.  I knew he lied.  I went to the washroom, pulled out a pregnancy test and closed my eyes.  I asked the Universe for a sign.  Something.  Anything to get me away from this misery.  I stated if the pregnancy test was negative, I was leaving.  And it was.

I walked into our bedroom, grabbed a laundry bin and filled it with my clothes and toiletries and I left to my parents.  My marriage was over.

I am the mother to three children – yes – off one fallopian tube – a miracle right?  I met the father of my children a few months after my marriage ended.  I told my partner that I was unlikely to bear children and I had accepted that I might never become a mother.  After travelling to India to dip in the Ganges and work on my healing the night I returned back to Canada my son was conceived.

That story is for another blog it seems as it’s filled with it’s own pain, grief and mystery.

Fast forward 15 years later – during a global pandemic and my need to keep myself busy with my studies.  I embarked on creating a Fertility Teacher Training program for Mamata Yoga – which had always been in my heart but it’s creative launch always felt a bit uneasy.  Was it really too early or was it because I wasn’t ready to unearth the emotion behind the story I just shared.

As I was meeting and interviewing women about their journey into fertility and the desperation for conception, I became anxious and triggered.  One evening I allowed this emotion to flow over me while I was in the tub and I cried for hours.  I never allowed myself to mourn my pregnancy loss nor did I allow myself to feel the pain of that entire experience.

I was beginning to see the correlation between my fertility journey, pregnancy loss and my relationship with my then husband. The more reading and researching the more my heart began to move with more compassion towards myself and towards all the women who shared in this same experience.

I had forgiven this man years before, understanding that our relationship provided me with so much valuable guidance, wisdom and lessons, although challenging at that time.  My marriage allowed me to move forward with more grace and strength throughout the next 15 years.

The most transformative of this journey was connecting to the spirit of our baby.  That was difficult.  I have such a deep connection to all the aspects of myself.  I am in reverence and awe of the womb – this magical place of creation.  I have always held   this seat with admiration and respect but I was unable to allow it to grieve.

I took time to move back into that experience, to allow myself to return to the pain and actually feel the anger, the deep sadness, the frustration and the devastation.  I didn’t just uncover all the emotions behind the loss of my baby, I also uncovered the harrowing trauma from an unauthorized exam by a ‘trusted’ health care practitioner.

This was more then I was willing to unpack when the world felt heavy and uncertain but I was guided to continue to move into the fear and the shadow of my own journey into fertility.

I believe that part of our healing is the ability to move back into these spaces.  To be kind to ourselves and to release the blame, guilt and shame attached to these imprints.  The more conversations with other women, mothers, educators and professionals about pregnancy loss as well as standing in my strength to write an active letter of complaint for the unethical behaviour of this obstetrician (he has since passed away) I was able to shift and grieve parts of my own soul.

Navigating the terrain of a pregnancy loss feels lonely but I can assure you, you are not alone.  If you have experience a pregnancy loss and are dealing with the woes of fertility challenges – my heart goes out to you.  Please feel free to reach out to me for some resources or to share your own story.

Remember, your soul is worth healing and your womb deserves to grieve.

With Love,

Clare