The minute you see two pink lines on a pregnancy test after waiting for those lines for years, you start dreaming and planning.
Our baby was due in February, and I imagined having an adorable baby bump in our Christmas photos that year. I turned baby names over in my mind, dreaming about whether our baby was going to be a boy or a girl. I cut out all lunch meat, upped my protein intake, and put the baby center app on my phone. At each change in my body–nausea, bloat, fatigue–I was thankful for signs of a growing life inside my womb. We saw our baby’s heartbeat at eight weeks, and knowing the rate of miscarriage was low beyond this point, we shared our news with friends and family. There had been so much emotion and hope building up to this moment…to this baby. We were convinced this baby was the answered prayer for a child of our own, after year exactly three years of unexplained infertility. All of these details made our miscarriage and the year that followed it one of the most painful experiences of my life.
At the beginning of eleven weeks, I spotted a tiny bit. It had me concerned, but I had no other signs of miscarriage and it was such a small streak of blood. I tried to push any concern out of my mind. A couple of days later, we walked into the ultrasound expecting to see our growing baby to put our minds at ease. The stillness of the image made my heart drop into my stomach. My husband and I didn’t say a word, but we looked at each other with a knowing glance. I can still feel my throat tightening, holding back tears, trying to process the loss. I remember the look of shock on my husband’s face. He had been trying to encourage me with complete confidence that our baby was fine.
It was supposed to be a routine and reassuring ultrasound, but instead, we found out we had lost our baby.
In an instant, all the hopes and dreams that had been growing within me for eleven weeks shattered. I would never get to see my baby’s face this side of heaven. There was nothing I could do to make a flicker of a heartbeat appear inside the fetus on the ultrasound.
One moment I was a mother with a womb full of life, and the next moment I became an invisible mother.
The technician left the room to consult with the lead doctor to confirm what we already knew. My husband prayed over me and I lay on the table, numb to the pain. The doctor came in and mumbled something about being sorry for our loss, that the miscarriage was not my fault, and that I needed to talk to my OB for next steps. It was excruciating to sit in the OB’s office, surrounded by pregnant bellies and babies, and because we didn’t have an appointment, the wait seemed like forever.
The days that followed were a horrible nightmare. I had to wait several days for my scheduled D&C procedure and there was something very eerie knowing I had a dead child inside my womb. One day, I was experiencing pregnancy symptoms and the next day I could see my stomach had shrunk, the bloat had gone away and so had the nausea. These outward reminders were nothing compared to the changes happening inside my heart and mind. I went from being completely elated with the excitement of new life, to feeling utterly heartbroken. One moment, an expectant mother, the next moment, an invisible mother.
There are invisible mothers everywhere. Many times, they are not recognized as mothers because they don’t have a baby in arms, but these women hoped, loved, and longed for the babies they nourished in their wombs, no matter how many weeks or months that precious baby grew there. These brave, beautiful mothers have experienced miscarriage, but they will forever remember the baby they never got to meet.
Because of my experience, I see invisible mothers all around me. I know the pain they feel that too often remains unseen by others. I know what it’s like to pack away the maternity clothes I never grew into. I’ve strained to put on a happy face when I heard of yet another friend’s pregnancy announcement. I’ve received the bill in the mail from the ultrasound where I saw my dead baby. I’ve had the baby center app remind me of how big my baby would have been this week. I’ve watched friends have babies around my due date and wondered what could have been. I’ve experienced the heaviness of Mother’s Day, not knowing my place in the midst of mothers who still have their babies. I’ve had cycle after cycle come and the blood remind me of the baby I’ve lost. I have been at a loss for how to express the excruciating heartache I experienced at that time, and I struggled with the reality that most people never asked how I was doing or acknowledged the baby I lost.
Invisible mother, I see you. I honor the baby you lost; the one you will never forget. I honor the time you spent loving that baby, the effort spent nurturing your body, and the dream of welcoming that child into your family. Invisible mother, I know your heart will never be the same and there will always be a piece of it in heaven. I honor the baby that has forever changed you, the one that made you a mother.
Sarah Allard is thankful to be experiencing the joy of motherhood after journeying through years of infertility. She is married to her highschool sweetheart and together they are raising their two children in Seattle. Sarah is passionate about hospitality, encouraging other mamas, and slowing down to appreciate God’s daily grace. She is a fair weather blogger at www.thelittledove.com and is often on Instagram.