Pregnancy Loss: Heartbreak, Healing, and Hope
My name is
Jennifer Crilly Glover
Pregnancy Loss is not something that many people talk about, yet unfortunately, it is something that many women experience at some point in their life.
In 2008 I experienced it for the first time – at 8 weeks pregnant I had my first miscarriage. It was painful and devastating. I was told, however, that this is something that many women experience, and not to worry – that next time would be fine.
A couple months later I was pregnant again! After 12 weeks, I went to a doctor’s appointment to discuss concerns about gestational diabetes and left that appointment miscarrying. This time, along with the pain and heartbreak, I was also left with Type 2 diabetes.
In 2010 I found out that I was, again, pregnant.
We were cautiously hopeful.
Once I started into my 2nd trimester we let ourselves relax and get very excited about our new baby! To ensure that all would be well, I saw an OBGYN who specializes in high-risk pregnancies, and a diabetes specialist who was well known in the area for being one of the best.
Things were going very well. I worked HARD at keeping my sugar levels where they needed to be, I tried my best to ensure that stress was minimal, and did whatever I could to prepare for our new little one.
At 36 weeks pregnant, at one of my many OBGYN appointments, my doctor was doing what he always did. This time, he looked concerned. After doing 2 different types of ultrasounds, he looked at us and said, “I’m so sorry to tell you this, but there is no longer a heartbeat”.
It’s hard to describe the feelings that swirl in your head when you hear that kind of news.
It doesn’t seem real. It’s hard to believe. Every miracle you’ve ever heard or seen comes flying into your mind, and you hope and pray that it was all just a big mistake. Everything hurts. Nothing makes sense.
I was told that I would have to be induced, and to come back into the hospital in a couple of days. Over the weekend I pretty much hid out in my bedroom as I tried to understand what had happened. On Sunday we checked in, and the whole process of labour and delivery began.
Like all mothers, I have a birth story. True, the end is horrible.
But the process was… interesting. There were funny moments, endearing moments, and there was PAIN… which was followed by some REALLY good drugs.(lol) After 12 hours of labour, on October 18, 2010, I gave birth to a 6 lb 7oz little boy – Samler Preston Glover.
An autopsy was done, that showed that Sam’s heart had stopped, but there was no evidence as to why. By all physical accounts, he was perfect.
Fast-forward 3 years to when I got pregnant again.
I was thrilled! This time, however, the stress was harder to manage. Due to this, my sugars were harder to manage. I was seeing all of those doctors again, but this time, it was more on a weekly basis. My pregnancy symptoms were greater, and this baby was much more active and felt like he was growing FAST. As per all doctor’s appointments, and multiple ultrasounds, this baby was good and healthy, albeit a little big.
By the time I hit 36 weeks, he was estimated to be around 9 lbs! The plan was to do a c-section at 38 weeks, as long as he seemed healthy, and so far so good. During the last trimester, I was going to the hospital every week to do a non-stress test where they hook you up to a machine and monitor the baby’s heart rate.
I had made it. 38 weeks. My c-section was booked on Wednesday. I went in on the Monday for the non-stress test, happy and relieved that this part was almost over. The nurse hooked me up to the machine. After a few moments, she looked a bit concerned and got the doctor. He came in with an ultrasound machine and did an exam. He paled, looked at me, and said “I can’t believe this – everything was fine on Friday… I am so sorry, but there is no heartbeat”.
The room spun, and flashbacks to 3 years ago started swirling in my head. This time, though, I felt numb. I knew what was going to happen, and started going through the motions to prepare myself.
We checked into the hospital the next morning. I was induced again. Finally, after 14 hours of INTENSE labour, I told my doula and my mother that I was done. I couldn’t do it anymore. I asked them to talk to the doctor about doing a c-section.
On October 24, 2013, Crosby James Glover was born at 11lbs 7oz.
An autopsy was done that concluded that he just got too big for the space he was in, and his heart stopped. No other health or birth defects were found.
The thing with grief is that it hits you in waves.
One moment you’re doing ok, and the next you can barely stand up. Sometimes you can laugh and be engaged in life, and the next moment you shut off and disengage from everyone and everything around you.
Anyone who has experienced that kind of intense grief and loss usually “gets” it.
After losing Sam, I had people from all parts of my various communities (church, work, friends, family) come to me and share their stories. Stories I had never heard before. Stories like mine. I realized that this was something that happens WAY more often that I had originally thought.
After Sam, I listened and was thankful for those who rallied around us and lifted us up in prayer and support. But I didn’t share MY side, MY pain, or MY grief. Not really. I buried it deep inside until it exploded out of me at the most inopportune times.
I spent most of my time disengaged or detached from everyone – including God.
Slowly I started letting God in, then my husband, but it took me a year before I admitted I needed help. A grief counselor was recommended to me by a praying friend, so I made an appointment. He gave me some great tools that really helped me process what had happened and bring some balance and control back into my life.
When we lost Crosby, I realized that I needed to truly let those that loved us “in”. The support we received was incredibly humbling. The church gave us a financial gift that allowed my husband to stay home with me while I healed up from surgery. Our friends put together a fund that paid our bills for a month. They also started a rotation that had someone bringing us supper every day for a month.
My family was a consistent WELL of love and support in every imaginable way. The feeling of genuine love and support was so tangible and so BIG wherever we went, that it was healing. Yes, there were times where I felt that it was overwhelming and would have to take a step back, but this time, I allowed myself to feel things in the moment. I let myself be vulnerable when I would normally “wall up”. I was honest with myself and others in how I was truly doing.
Allowing yourself to feel things as they happen, to be honest about them to yourself, and to not stand in the way of God’s healing power makes all the difference in the world.
This last experience has taught me how much I need to fully lean on the Lord for strength. This is the kind of situation that destroys your mental and physical well-being, your relationships, and your joy. Going through the healing process doesn’t mean that the hurt and pain and anger go away. Not at all!
But it DOES mean that the hurt and pain and anger don’t rob you of your joy, your relationships, or your well-being. Allowing God to heal you, opens you up to hope again. It allows you to be honest with yourself and admit when you need help. It frees you to let others in when the temptation is to push them away. It strengthens what’s been weakened.
Are there scars? Sure. Are there questions? Yep – most of which will likely never be answered.
But there is peace. And joy. And, finally, hope.
October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Ironically, for me, that is when I experienced 2 still-births. My hope is that during that time, people are able to share their stories, as terrible as they are, with the knowledge that there are others. That there is support available. And that, with God’s help, it is possible to get your joy back.