I have known so many women who have experienced pregnancy loss and miscarriage. I never in a million years thought I would be one of them. I had three children, three uneventful pregnancies, and I had reached the age of 44. It was highly unlikely that I would get pregnant again. I was past that time, despite still having regular cycles and no symptoms of menopause whatsoever. Besides, we had gone nine years without getting pregnant. We certainly had not been “trying,” but we always said we would accept whatever God gave us, so quite unlikely another child was in the cards for us.
I was at a conference out of town and was preoccupied and very busy with learning about the latest in Advanced Placement and just enjoying a little time to myself. In the evenings, I finally got to spend some “in real life” time with my friends, Donna, Martina, Tina and others.
Any day now, I told myself. I sat by the hotel pool reading (quite a luxury for this wife and mom of three) semi-worrying that I would have to run to the ladies room at any moment. But nothing; I was asymptomatic– no cramps, no real moodiness, no adolescent break out. I told myself, not possible, any day now; I am just late, right? Though I was ordinarily like clockwork. I spent a final evening with these wonderful ladies and almost asked for a ride to the drugstore to get a test, you know, “just in case”. Nah– not possible for this old lady; I’d wait until I got home to check for sure.
However, something just kept nagging at me, so after walking to Mass that Sunday, the day I was headed home, I begrudgingly took a detour to the drugstore near my hotel. I finished packing and took the test– just to make sure I had nothing to worry about.
Lo and behold! It was glaringly positive!
I was incredulous. Not possible. No way. What??? Am I looking at this stick correctly???
I wish I could say I was elated. I wish I could say this unexpected news overjoyed me. I wish I could say this is what I wanted. Alas, I could say none of those things.
I can’t even describe what was going through my mind at that moment. I am ashamed to say, I screamed at God, “What are You thinking!? How on earth is this a good idea?! Why are You doing this to me?!” I just can’t be pregnant!
All I could repeatedly tell myself is “I can’t do this!” “I can’t do this!”“I can’t do this!”“I can’t do this!”
I started doing the math in my head. I would be almost sixty two when this baby graduates from high school. I am just too old.
I told God to take this baby; I was not a good enough mom; I was too old and too tired for nursing, diapers, sleepless nights. I was not to be trusted to give this baby the perfect, young, energetic mom he deserved. Oh why did I say this out loud for God to hear me?
“I can’t do this!” “I can’t do this!”“I can’t do this!”“I can’t do this!”
But I would have to do this. I would have to trust God’s will, but I was not quite ready to do that.
After this melt down, I calmed down and got ready to leave. I went through all this by myself in a hotel room. No one to talk to, no one was around.
I got to the airport and called my mom. She is the only one I wanted to talk to at that moment. I did not want to tell my husband on the phone, so I called my mom and told her. I started to cry hysterically yet again, and my sweet mom says, “Why are you crying? This is wonderful. You’re having a baby!” To which I replied, “Mom, but I am SO OLD!” She kinda laughed and said “Oh yeah. That’s right. Well, that is okay. It’ll be just fine! You should be happy.” At that moment, I felt if I had been listening earlier, these were the exact same words that God was saying to me. Thank you Lord for repeating Yourself loud and clear through my mother’s words.
I arrived back home and as my husband picked me up, I handed him the test stick. He reacted quite the way I did, but with less hysterics. He was worried about all the same things I was worried about. Talking to my mom gave me some clarity and I attempted to instill some of it into my dear husband. Eventually, that is what happened.
Everything fell in place and we started to make the beginning preparations: find a doctor, take the vitamins, pick out names… My husband and I actually agreed upon a boy’s and a girl’s name pretty quickly. My sons were elated, especially the younger, and my sister and her family were ecstatic. We chose to wait to tell the nine year old until things were further along, but sadly, it wouldn’t get much further along than a few more weeks.
We were heading out to the lake cabin with the family one weekend when the end began. At about nine weeks, I woke up and started spotting. I tried to keep up hope, but I knew two things in my heart: one, that it was baby boy, and two, that he was gone.
His name is Liam Phillip.
I cried and cried and cried. Not the hysterical cry from when I was overwhelmed with the pregnancy news, but a low constant sob that still hasn’t quite stopped. I cried for my beautiful boy, who I just knew would look like my oldest son, who I knew I would never meet, never hold, never nurse. I cried in regret for the words I spoke to myself and God, not trusting Him or myself. I cried that my kids would never meet their brother.
Blood tests confirmed what I already knew and I saw each result, spaced days apart,dwindle down to nothing. I returned to work after summer break, keeping this pain at bay, until not just one, but two, coworkers announced their news: One was about to be a new mom, and she shared my due date; the other’s wife was due days before that. Her baby was born later, but his was born on my due date.
It has been six months since my baby should have been born, and many emotions are at play for me. I am still in mourning to be honest. I am mourning not only my baby boy, but I am mourning my fertility. We do not dare “try again.” I could not bear to try to replace him with another. As this one wasn’t planned to begin with, I reacted horribly, and besides, what if I lost the next baby, and the next, and the next…? No, I can not go through that again. The doctor said it probably happened because these things just happen. There is nothing wrong with me medically, except that my eggs are pretty old. Yes, there is something sad about probably not being able to bear anymore children. Every month is filled with dread, regret, yet relief. This is one of those areas that I have to truly put my trust in God.
I am starting to talk about him little by little. Many friends did not know I had a miscarriage, so they do not know quite what to say. Here is what not to say to a 44 year old woman who has lost a baby: “It’s best anyway. There was probably something wrong with it.” “You did not want to have a baby this late in life anyway!” “You are lucky to have kids already.” “You already have three perfect kids. Why tempt fate? It could have been abnormal.” While all these things could be true, I am a mother through and through. No one can tell me I am better off without my baby.
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Charla is a life-long Catholic, married since 1995. She has three children who attend Catholic school and university. Charla has been teaching high school English literature at the same Catholic high school she attended for over 15 years. She has Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, Latin American Studies, and Secondary Education, as well as a Masters degree in Education. Charla has served as a lector and Eucharistic minister at her parish and school. She enjoys reading, cooking, running, and all activities involving her children. Her special devotions are to the Blessed Mother, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and the Holy Rosary.