Tag Archives: Still Birth

Triggered by my Thyroid

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In early April (2019), I went to the radiologist at a local hospital so that I could get a biopsy on my thyroid. The lump on my thyroid was growing and the doctors wanted to screen it for cancer. My overall anxiety was limited as I had several friends/family members with similar issues. In this short period of dealing with my thyroid, I learned that thyroid cancer is both treatable and survivable.

As my name was finally called for the appointment, I was led to a room at the end of the hallway facing the main entrance. The last time I went to the radiologist, at the same hospital, was to get my gallbladder examined (2016). During that procedure, I was standing up in a bright exam room – eye level with the medical staff.

This time was different.

At the end of the hallway, I was walked into a dark room with a bed in the middle. My mind immediately raced back to April of 2014 when I was led down the same hallway into a similar dark room. At that time, I was getting “proof” from the radiologists that my daughter, whom I was carrying in my uterus, was no longer living.

This was not the first time I thought about losing my daughter, but in that instant, while getting my thyroid checked, I was immediately triggered.
As I took my place in the bed and spoke to the 3 people in the room, I explained that I was not fearful of the thyroid procedure (mainly because I didn’t know what to expect). As the procedure began, I closed my eyes. There were A few instances, however, where I opened my eyes and glanced at the radiologist standing over and peering down on me. He said little, but his presence overpowered me and I felt extremely vulnerable while I was on display.

As cells were being extracted through several needle insertions into my neck, I started to recall the details of 2014 that I tried hard to push into the back of my mind… The technician was pressing my protruding belly while capturing images for the doctors. She spoke to others in the room using medical jargon. All eyes appeared to look through, rather than at me. Ultimately, they confirmed the demise of the fetus (as my medical records indicated). In those moments I recall my mother falling and crying. I, however, am in a state of shock that renders me initially emotionless (so much so that the doctor questioned my lack of emotion).

As my thyroid procedure comes to an end, my eyes water and eventually I cannot hold back my tears. The technician asks me if I am alright and makes small talk, “it wasn’t too bad was it?” Once I gathered my thoughts, I fumbled to explain that the last time I was in that room I had lost my baby.

I don’t know if it was the same room, but it felt like it was.

A year after Sophia died, I gave birth to another girl. While I often think about what could have been, I have a beautiful toddler that keeps me so busy that those traumatic moments rarely come to the surface in the way it did at the hospital that day. She and I talk about her sister, and we have visited the cemetery where she is buried. In a way, she has become a large part of my healing process. Not only do I have to get myself together on a daily basis to take care of her (even when I’m on my lest leg), my desire to live a long and healthy life is attributable to her.

The day after the exam the nurse from the doctor’s office called and said my tests results appeared fine, but they needed to run more tests. Those tests came back benign. For now, I get to keep my thyroid.

And this April, of 2019, I remember my little angel who would have been 5.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness

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The month of October is just about over and I would be remiss if I did not mention that October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month with the 15th being Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. I candidly wrote about my late term pregnancy loss last year in the post Ambiguous Loss. That was the start of the healing process. Fast forward a year later, I was fortunate to have another child. As joyous as it has been to be a mother to a living and breathing child, I still think about the baby I lost and it still hurts like it happened yesterday.

Throughout the month of October, my Facebook timeline was filled with quotes and articles about pregnancy and infant loss. I decided, now more than ever, to not scroll past the posts. I was going to read and participate in the conversation.

Last year I joined the Facebook group Hannah’s Heart and Love – Baby Loss. I was encouraged anytime I read a post from this group. When they posted an invitation for an event to remember our babies, I made sure my calendar was clear. I’m not one for support groups or openly talking about my feelings but something deep down urged me to go so that I could mourn healthier (yes there are healthy and unhealthy ways to deal with grief) and so that I could be emotionally available for my new baby. I’m so glad I went.

As I walked through the door, I was immediately hit with somber music. It took enormous inner strength to not break down and cry as soon as I entered the building. I knew this event would revive some painful memories and I realized, through the interaction of others, that I did not have to be strong all the time. Crying is ok and remembering is crucial to healing.

Breaking the ice was a bit difficult. What do you say to other families whom you know have lost a loved one? One person pointed to the program and asked me which child was mine and I ackwardly asked someone when did she loose her child (she had not lost a child. She was just volunteering). Eventually the conversations started flowing and I was amazed at how effortless these families discussed their tragedies. They discussed everything from hospital experiences, post death pictures, and medical diagnoses. They were happy to talk about their children. They were not ashamed or afraid to share their stories. I met a family who had twins and only one survived, and another family whose baby lived for just an hour. Then there was myself, whose baby was born still.

A year ago, I was offended by people outside of my close circle asking me what happened to my pregnancy. It was personal and their questioning was intrusive. I had no problem discussing the loss with my close family and friends when asked, but I did not immediately bring it up for fear of creating a somber environment and not wanting people to think I was fishing for sympathy.

After talking to the other families, listening to poems, and a message from a clergyman, I realized that no matter what gestational age, a pregnancy loss must still be acknowledged. Too often people will say “I was only a few weeks pregnant.”  Be it 1 month or 6 months, the unborn child brings so much hope and anticipation to families. For women, every pain and discomfort is a reminder of life forthcoming. When that child is gone from your body it is heart breaking. I also learned that we must, including myself, speak about the loss in the effort to help other who are going through similar situations. As an African American women it is even more important. Still births affect African American women at a higher rate than other ethnic groups.

Support is fundamental for the entire family. Although women carry the children, fathers have also lost a child. Other children must be brought into this grieving process as well as other relatives like grandparents.

There are tons of resources for anyone who needs support. Hannah’s Heart and Love – Baby Loss provides care packages for women who have lost their babies as well as books and other useful resources. Throughout this journey, I have also found the March of Dimes to be a wonderful and supportive resource.

Many thanks again to the organizers of Hannah’s Heart and Love – Baby Loss for organizing the event and helping us to remember our babies.

We remember our babies on the tree of lifeimage