I took that string, let it slip through my fingers and looked up to the sky as my red balloon floated away. No, I wasn’t at a concert or some homage to the 80’s 99 balloon song. This was me standing barefoot on the grass with tears streaming down my face. This was the one that got away. Oh how I wish I could say it was a failed relationship but in reality, it was a piece of my heart. It was my baby that I lost at 11 weeks.
It was two years into our marriage that my husband and I were trying to have a baby. Then it happened, two lines on the stick! It’s crazy how something so simple can bring so much joy. We held each other closely and just like that, a cocoon of happiness enveloped us. This is what we had been dreaming about for so long. I swear everything during those upcoming months was brighter. The grass was greener, the laughs were richer and our love was what people write stories and poems about – it was nothing but bliss. As our pregnancy went on, we shared our news. At first it was just with close friends and family, and then we did what anyone in this day and age does… we posted our news on Facebook. Yup – I felt like a celebrity. I had never received so many comments, well wishes and hits as I did with the announcement of our growing family. During this time we bought the books (you know, the “what to expect” books!) and with every week, as that little person grew in my tummy, I changed. Life existed in me. I don’t know when it happened but I started to look at the world differently and through protective glasses. Suddenly I wanted to be an activist for every cause to make this world better.
I was in the kitchen washing the last bit of wares from breakfast when I felt a sudden cramp. I held my side and took a deep breath. The second pain came even sharper, so much so it took my breath away. The next 12 hours were a haze.
When I woke up, I saw my partner slumped over with his hands in his face. I knew immediately what this meant… we had lost her. I was no longer pregnant and every dream I had for the future was shattered.
I turned my face into the pillow, for I couldn’t face my partner. I felt like I had failed him. It was my responsibility to bring her into this world and something went horribly wrong.
The next few months were nothing short of a nightmare. I closed my Facebook profile and I retracted from every social event. The cocoon that was once happiness now felt like a sad blanket. My partner tried his best to comfort me but somehow he just couldn’t, my days were peppered with unannounced tears. Although I could see that he too was in pain, I could have barely taken care of myself, let alone him and the guilt was crushing.
A year passed and I was talking to my friend. My husband and I had resurrected the courage to try to have a family again but month after month we still were having no success. She shared with me that she too had suffered miscarriages in the past and found help at Barbados Fertility Centre. They had treated her with a medication regime that kept her body from attacking the embryo during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. With this medication she was able to have her wonderful baby boy.
I spoke to my husband and we decided to make the appointment at BFC. As we relayed our case, my doctor leaned over, held my hand and very quietly said, “ You did nothing wrong.” The flood gates opened and months of tears avalanched. Here was lesson 101 – sometimes in life the cards you are dealt are not the ones you want.
After the consultation, I wiped my eyes and reflected on lesson 102 – it’s not how you fall but it’s how you rise again. We had to do some tests to see what was going on and the results revealed that I had heightened antibodies. This time however we had a plan and we had the support we needed. My nurse was my lifeline and there wasn’t a wobbling moment where I didn’t get her support.
When you go through a pregnancy loss, and I don’t care what stage it is at, you don’t come out in the end as the same person. You change, and in some ways for the better as the appreciation you have for life is one you never had before. I will never understand why God decided to give my baby wings instead of allowing her to be here with us on earth but what I do know is that when I let that balloon go, the words from that song came flooding back:
Ninety-nine dreams I have had
In every one a red balloon
It’s all over and I’m standing pretty
In this dust that was a city
If I could find a souvenir
Just to prove the world was here
And here is a red balloon
I think of you, and let it go
As the tears rolled down and I watched the balloon climb higher and higher, I smiled. I will never forget the child I was never able to hold. She will always be a part of me but thanks to Barbados Fertility Centre, I was able to once again conceive and we will be having our baby in just a few short weeks. I have written my story today to encourage all of you out there who have suffered pregnancy losses to not give up. Do not let the fear of that pain change your dream of having a family. As hard and impossible it feels on some days, pick yourself up, make that plan and find happiness again.