Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Loss of Hope

I haven't posted in almost two weeks. It hasn't been for lack of time: I've been home since my last post, having called in sick for my last trip. I've had a lot going on, which I'll relate below, and even now I can't work up the motivation to post about flying while I'm still thinking about the events of last week. So that means this post or no post at all.

I wasn't certain whether to blog about this subject at all. It's intensely personal, and I could've easily kept it to myself. That said, one of the things I've appreciated over the last week was hearing from other people who've gone through the same thing. The idea that this post could help somebody in my situation is comforting. Plus, maybe writing will be cathartic enough to spare me a few hours on a therapist's couch in the future.

Some of you may have noticed a change in my behavior since New Year's Day: the sudden career angst, the flurry of travel, the veiled references to major life changes. That's because on January 1st I found out that I was going to be a father. It was unexpected, earth-shattering, unsettling, and quite wonderful. Since then, Dawn and I have been adjusting to the idea of being parents, planning for the attendant lifestyle changes, and dreaming - until last week, when we lost the baby.

We knew the statistics on miscarriage, particularly for first pregnancies, but tried not to think about them much. Dawn had fears, which I duly played down: "I'm sure we'll be fine, you don't need to worry." In all the planning and dreaming about how our lives would change, we never planned for the possibility that they wouldn't. Now we're left with nothing but a half-empty bottle of prenatal pills, a shelved copy of What to Expect When You're Expecting, a strip of ultrasound pictures, and a "I (Heart) NY" onesie we bought on our NYC trip. The next seven months are suddenly a blank.

In our excitement, we'd told our families and most of our friends that we were expecting. Telling them that we aren't anymore was heart wrenching. I still haven't told a few. They were all so excited for us before - but what can you say to this? I wouldn't have known how to comfort someone in my situation outside of well-worn platitudes. Our house smells of the many flower bouquets that were sent to us, and the pile of cards on the counter contain so much sympathy that it's starting to grate on me. The truth is, a week's outpouring of condolences has me numbed to the point that I don't feel nearly as bad as people think I do, or perhaps think I should.

Before I found out Dawn was pregnant, I was ambivalent about kids. I knew I wanted them, but mostly in the abstract: "I'd like to have kids, someday." I didn't feel the need to immediately start a family and disrupt my well-ordered, comfortable lifestyle. After the initial shock of impending parenthood wore off, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself eager and excited about having children. The things that I'd be losing that I'd previously held dear - leisure time, carefree travel, a peaceful house - I scarcely gave a second thought to. I had no idea the reordering of priorities would come so quickly or naturally. The talk about how drastically having kids changes your life...I had always taken it to be a natural consequence of having your life overrun by messy, needy little invaders. I realize now it's the other way around. I very much wanted to have my life overrun by a messy, needy little invader of my own. And then the rug was pulled out from under me. I once again have my leisure time and carefree travel and peaceful house, and I don't particularly want them. It all seems like a rather cruel joke.

The baby was still very young - around nine weeks when it died in early February. It had a beating heart, but only rudimentary cardiopulmonary and nervous systems. If its brain was functioning yet, it certainly couldn't register pain, much less any sort of self-awareness. I take some comfort in that. A late term miscarriage would be harder. The loss is still real and goes beyond the loss of the fetus itself - it's moreso a loss of the hope that the tiny developing person represented. Dawn and I talked about what we thought it'd be and what we'd name him or her, and which room would be the nursery, and how we'd handle childcare, and how we'd take our kid to Switzerland once they were old enough to get a kick out of running around the Alps. On January 3rd I wrote my child a letter for them to read on their 18th birthday. There was an entire lifetime of possibilities in our minds that died, and that hurt as much or more than the actual death.

I know we're not the only ones who've gone through this, which helps prevent endless wallowing in pity and belief that God harbors a unique and deepseated personal hatred for me. Plenty of other couples have dealt with miscarriage - to say nothing of worse forms of loss - and we'll be alright. There will likely be other children in our future, and I finally know how I really feel about that. That's one silver lining, if I must search one out; the other is that Dawn is fine. I absolutely could not handle something happening to her. I'd come apart.


John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

Sam, I very sorry to hear of your loss and my heart goes out to both of you. The pain of this loss will subside with time and it is my hope that your dream of being overrun by messy little "invaders" comes true.

Flyboy Chris said...


My wife and I have 2 children, 2½ years and 2 months old. We can't imagine what it would be like to not have either child in our lives. We are very sorry to hear about what happened and thank you for sharing this very private, personal event. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you and Dawn.

All our best,

Chris & Katie

Dan said...

Very sorry to hear about the loss of your baby. My wife and I had the same thing happen for her first preganancy. She immediately got pregnant again and we now have a 2 year old son. I know the pain. Just remember that it's all very worth it!

Soaring Student said...

My wife and I have three children, 24, 21 and 17. I still wake up in the night wondering what would I do, or how would I feel, if any of them were in danger or no longer with us.

Sam and Dawn, I've never gone what you have endured together, so I cannot begin to imagine the pain that you've gone through.

I'm glad all seems to be well with Dawn. But there is also a second piece of good news, in that you now know what you want vis-a-vis future children. The certainty of that knowledge, as opposed to the previous "someday this will probably happen", will put focus on your future years.

Ron said...

Sam -- I'm sorry for your loss! I hope the sharing is theraputic for you and Dawn. I know it helps me a lot when I face something like that. You'll get your groove back soon, and I've no doubt you'll make a great father for a very lucky "invader". :)


k said...

Sam and Dawn -

Our hearts and thoughts are with you. Don't lose hope! All of those things you were looking forward to and planning for are still in your future.

Jason and I miscarried last year also in our first pregnancy attempt, after being so excited to find that our baby-making parts did in fact work -- getting over the hurdle of "can we even get pregnant?" was a significant milestone! It was depressing, and the doctors almost seemed blase about it, since I'm sure they give someone that news at least once a week.

And that's the truth of it -- miscarriages happen with astonishing frequency, and they always happen for a reason. The human body is very selective in the birth process, and if the little embryo isn't perfect, nature takes over so you can have a future chance of that perfect baby.

And you'll get more chances! It's frustrating when the doctor says not to try again for 3 months. And it's frustrating after that (for the optimistic mom-to-be, anyway!) to run to the bathroom in the morning mid-cycle and have the test come up negative.

The best advice I have is to remember your new-found sentiments about being parents and remember how much you love each other.

It'll happen. You know you can get pregnant. You know the statistics for repeat miscarriages are very low. After our failed first pregnancy, it took us 7 months to get pregnant again (we're expecting #1 in August!). We were very tense and restricted our enthusiasm until the first ultrasound at 12 weeks, and most couples that have had such a tragedy are very reserved and cautious the next time around.

But stick with it, have fun, don't lose hope, and who knows -- maybe you'll get twin invaders. ;)

Take care and good luck,

Anonymous said...

you posted that at 1:41 AM.

'nuf said

Dan O'Leary

clint said...

i can't imagine what that must be like and my words aren't adequate to lift your spirits, but know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. I'm sure you will make a great dad.
take care.

Sam said...

you posted that at 1:41 AM.

I actually started writing at that time. Good thing I have a PM trip this week, I guess.

Sam said...

K - thanks for the encouragement. We have a few friends that lost their first one & this week have heard from a lot of other people who it happened to, most with successful 2nd pregnancies. I'm sure I'll be more wary 2nd time around - I'll refrain from telling all except immediate family for a while - but I'm not too anxious about it, yet. It'll be a little while before we try anyways.

Thanks everyone for the kind comments.

LoadMasterC141 said...

Sam and Dawn,
I was in your situation a year ago this week; We misscarried our first pregnancy and I was on a business trip when it happened!

It was hard at first, but the doctor had a great way of putting it: A misscarriage is just nature's way of taking care of something that was not working out right. Completely natural and normal. Still, hard to deal with.

Fred said...

Sam and Dawn:

As I read along, I was tremendously bouyed by the news you were becoming a dad (although I couldn't figure out why you were mad) but then became surprised and disheartened when I came to the part about losing the baby. To express sorrow does not go far enough to soothe your pains, but that's the best I can do: I am really very sorry to hear about your loss. I hope Dawn is okay and you too. If I remember correctly, I know you're a Christian, please take comfort in the sure knowledge that God will help you bear this burden.

I don't know why I'm so affected by this news, but I am. Do take care.

Anonymous said...

Sam and Dawn,
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jer 29:11-13

My husband reads your blog and told me about you. I hope you find some solace and encouragement from my favorite verse. I don't know how else to deal with situations other than turn them to God. My heart is unsettled for you and Dawn tonight.
Sincerely, Erin
PS. Read this too...Psalm 139:13

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about that, I know quite well how that one hurts, but it gets easier with time.

arf said...

Sorry to hear about your loss. It must be particularly difficult as your life is doubly unsettled--first by the news of pregnancy, and then by the loss. From a professional perspective, I know a bit about loss and mourning, and it is true that time does help, but it is also important to recognize that a host of confusing and sometimes contradictory feelings accompany grief. Mourning also works in cycles: at times you might feel numb, and at others overcome by emotion, and at even others able to very logically assess the situation. You may think that you are fine for months at a time, and then suddenly feel overcome with feelings of loss. All of this is typical and part of working with grief.

I wish you and Dawn luck with the next step with your family.

Anonymous said...

Time heals everything! The important thing is that you and your wife are healthy and you love eachother.

Anonymous said...

I'm seriously crying right now...no words can express how much my heart breaks for you and Dawn,and I admit...I'm selfish..I wanted to have a little niece/nephew soo bad. I love you guys. God bless you.

~Rachel Mae~

Mike said...


My wife and I went through very much the same thing in 1997. It weighed very heavily on our hearts.

Soon after we were blessed by the birth of our daughter.

My wife still gets sad sometimes about what could have been. Where would our daughter, who would not have been born, be? We can't imagine life without her or our other two children. We will never forget the baby we lost.

Faith, no matter where you find it, will help you get through this and good things will come.


Anonymous said...

Sorry Sam-
I am a big fan of your blog. I am an avid pilot and love your writing. My wife and I lost twins at 21 weeks this past summer. It has been the worst thing that I ever could imagine but I know we are not alone.
Stay strong and good things will come...trust me you will never forget this period in your life but it will get better.
Take care.

The Asian Badger said...

Sam and Dawn...I'm very sorry for your loss. I wish there was more I could say. I'm glad Dawn's health was not affected and wish the both of you the best.

Anonymous said...

I'm truly sorry about your loss. My wife and I went through nearly the same situation about a year and a half ago, losing the baby at 9 weeks. As another posted above, and the best way to look at it:

To understand that it happened for a reason. It's just nature's way of knowing that something wasn't going the way it should.

Take care,

amulbunny said...

Sam and Dawn,
I am so sorry for your loss. It's not easy to bear and you'll always carry it in your heart. You will get through this and you will carry on. I am glad that Dawn's health is good and she is recovering.
I will keep both of you in my prayers and someday in the future soon you will be telling stories of changing diapers and first steps.

SeeYa! said...

Sam & Dawn,
My heartfelt sympathy on your loss. You'll probably always wonder what might have been, and why it wasn't. My wife and I experienced a first child miscarriage too. We are now blessed with three kids. I hope that you do have children in the future. Talk, support, and love each other trusting that the hurt will lessen and that the unknown future does hold many good things in store for you. Ed

Puneet said...

i would be lieing if i said i can understand what you must have gone through ....

i remember once professor telling.. miscarriage are natures way of saying itself.. " something not right... and rather than letting child face with some problems later on..and suffer... let him be in peace..he doesn't have to see the suffering "

we human are emotionals.... and with kid there bound to be plethora of emotions.. i can just pray you guys be in peace with your emotions... and find strength and hope your "life be overrun by a messy, needy little invader of my own" soon

Sulako said...

My heart goes out to you and Dawn in this sad time.