What It Was Like To Lose My Son When I Was 5 Months Pregnant

Photo: Christy Goldstein
loss and grief
Family, Heartbreak

No one should face heart break like this alone.

My life came crashing down when I heard those two words — "No heartbeat."

No one can prepare you for this moment. There are no words anyone can speak that can comfort you, even though I looked around at each face and saw pity in their eyes.  

You have to sit there and just take each blow of grief and loss as it comes. 

By almost 5 months into a pregnancy, you relax. You're given the false hope that everything will be OK because you made it passed that dubious 3-month mark. When I reached the 3-month mark in my own pregnancy, I had no idea the heartbreak that waited for me just a little further down the road. 

I am not married to the father.

I got pregnant when he and I first met. It wasn't my original plan to choose him to be the father of my child, but subconsciously, I guess I did. At 33 and still single, you start to realize how little time you have left if you want to have a child. And in this day and age, having a child out of wedlock is accepted — at least more so than decades ago.

He and I had a chemistry I hadn't felt in a long time.

It was comfortable and just so damn easy. Hell, if I didn't know that we had just met, I would have assumed we've known each other for years. Had I not become pregnant that night, I think he and I might have dated. Maybe we would have made it as a couple ... maybe we wouldn't have ... but we will never know because in this short span of 6 months, I saw the real him in the wake of this crisis — and it was not a pretty sight.

I knew I was pregnant before the test confirmed it. That mother's intuition was strong within me. And I also knew I wouldn't be bringing him home one day. 

Yet, I felt determined to try my damnedest to prevent what my intuition already knew.

I told the father I was pregnant right before Easter. I knew there wasn't really an ideal time to tell a 27-year-old that his life was about to change in as little time as it took to write a text message.

He and I had texted each other the week before about us seeing each other soon, but it never happened.

It became the beginning of a lot of broken promises from him. I tried to avoid texting him this news, but his actions prevented me from telling him face to face, so via text is how he found out. 

His response was typical for an immature guy. And I expected nothing less from than more broken promises in quick succession. And yet, I still wanted him!

Despite him showing every red flag in the book, I had still fallen for him. Partly because of our initial connection ... and the rest because of Xavier Eliot, our son to be. 

I knew the sex of the baby because at 3 months along, they found extra amniotic fluid around his neck, indicating a genetic disorder. If I could go back to that day when they found that fluid, I would have told my doctors that I didn't care if that extra fluid meant Down Syndrome or any other genetic disorder.

It wouldn't matter to me what my baby had, I would have kept him regardless.

Image of baby Xavier Eliot in utero, provided by the author

Every ultrasound and every test I had to do, I did alone.

The father did not want to make this "situation" real, so he avoided every aspect of what showed him the reality.

As my stomach grew and my heart swelled for the love I had for my unborn child, so did my hope that the father would come around. I wanted so badly to see the person I thought he was that first night we met. But he never reappeared ... or maybe this immature version was the real him all along?

Then the day came when I found out I'd lost my sweet son, Xavier, before he ever made it into the world fully. 

I found out he had passed on was the day of my 3D/4D scan with my family and friends in attendance. I lay on the folded out chair seeing the baby on a huge screen and even I saw the amount of swelling on the screen.

My stomach dropped as I thought to myself: This doesn't look right.

After what felt like an hour, the technician (a friend of mine who worked at the facility) said to me, "You need to get checked out, I'm not getting a heartbeat."

Survival mode kicked in.

My mind racing with so many details and possible movements from Xavier that I thought I had felt over the past few days. I kept thinking: Didn't I just feel him move? Or was that a week ago? 2 weeks? She's wrong, she has to be wrong.

So many thoughts, so many questions that she, and even I, couldn't answer. 

I called my high-risk doctor on call and was instructed to go to labor and delivery at Ohio State University. I immediately knew this wasn't going to be a wellness check and the possibility of them telling me something different was slim. I was so lucky to have one of my best friends there go with me to the hospital. 

Upon arriving at the hospital, I must have told my story over and over to each new face I encountered. Every nurse that came in, was trying to make small talk and had my friend not been there, I probably would have told them where to go with their small talk. I was there for one reason and it was not to hear their stories of how their days were going.

The first doctor came in and tried to find his heartbeat, all the while I was thinking, "How hard can it be to find?"

The longer they made me wait, the longer I had to sit there and deal with something I didn't want to face. The doctor said she needed another set of eyes to make sure and luckily (or unluckily) the next doctor was quicker. She confirmed that he had passed on, most likely a week or two before. It fit the timeline of that dreaded amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling test I never wanted done. 

And that's when the tears that had been waiting patiently inside me came out fast and furious. Of course the first thing I thought of was how I was going to be able to deal with this? And deal with it alone.

The next thought I had was about the father, thinking that he got his wish. He wished this away and he got it.

They asked me if wanted to be induced and give birth, or if I wanted a D&E which is similar to a D&C, but a little different given how far along I was. I knew if I gave birth, my already raging hormones would double and I didn't think I could handle seeing my baby like that. So I opted for the lesser evil in this situation.

Three days later, I was scheduled for the removal of Xavier.

In the days in between, I felt like a fraud walking around everywhere looking pregnant.

As a result, honestly the procedure was welcomed so I would stop getting asked how my pregnancy was going. I had just had a maintenance man at my complex ask how I was on the same day I found out that I lost Xavier.

I don't know who was more mortified, him or me, when he asked that question and got my response.

Photo of the author while pregnant. 

On the day of the removal procedure, my basic survival instincts kicked into overdrive; my mind just wanted this over with.

I wanted to go back to February when I was in the best shape of my life and to that moment the father and I met for the first time so I could rewrite that history and choose differently. I prayed to go back and never meet him. I prayed for Xavier to still be inside kicking me and to feel that he was safe again.

So many emotions, so many thoughts. Your mind is not supposed to compute this many extremes.

But in a time like this, that was all I could do. 

I so badly needed the father, no matter how he felt about me or Xavier, to hold me and let me cry.

While I was going through hell, he got to act like nothing had changed. He hadn't even told his family, nor his friends. I've never hated someone so much in my life and yet, at the same time, cared for him deeply.

When you're pregnant, the attachment you can feel for the father is mind boggling, especially in a situation as precarious and confusing as mine was.

It's been one month since Xavier has passed.

The cremation and the picking out of the urn and necklaces was complete. The father, being absent from everything else, actually made it to the planning of the cremation. Which surprised me.

What surprised me more was that he purchased a necklace for himself. Which I have no doubt, will sit in a box in his closet, never to be thought of again.

To my fellow moms out there — don't let anyone tell you any different: You are a mother, you just have to wait to hold your baby. But, one day you will hold him or her, and when you do ... hold that dear baby you lost tight and never let go.

The healing begins for me.

My heart is broken by this and by the father's lack of presence and support.

The swell of my pregnant stomach is almost gone and Mother Nature was kind enough to remind me very quickly that I'm no longer pregnant.

Miscarriages and still births are rarely spoken about or written about, so I wanted to share my story so other women can know they are not alone.

If you need to cry, cry.

If you want to yell at God, then yell at Him.

Do you feel like punching something? Then punch something! 

Put your anger and frustrations out there to the universe, because if you don't, the emotions you feel will come out in other unhealthy ways.

Take as much time as you need, because there is no timeline for grieving the loss of your baby.

I didn't cry much that first week. Instead, I put my frustrations into going to the gym, because I still needed a release. But ultimately, crying was the only way to get it. Even if it meant I would cry for days, it needed to happen.

I still feel numb as if this was just a dream.

The one person who should have been there to hold my hand wasn't.

But, if this heartbreak taught me anything, it's that I love myself enough to make it through the unthinkable — even if that means making it through alone




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