Life ─ All According to Plan
Annika, Sofia, Bjorn… from the age of 5, I was planning my future.
My plan included the names of my children, which were most often cute Swedish names, how many children I’d have, and the fact that I was going to be a midwife or doctor.
Inspired by Anne, the midwife who had helped deliver my brother, I wrote sweet notes and pencil-drawings to her about how I, too, was going to help women bring new lives into the world. In junior high school, I was the first in my class to master infant CPR ─ mentored by my home economics teacher, Bev.
I was the most sought-after babysitter in the neighborhood at the age of 13. I volunteered hours at the local hospital during high school and graduated to the most coveted job of working in the maternity ward and carrying down the babies when they were ready to be discharged.
In hindsight, I’m not sure if I loved medicine or babies more.
So, while in college I changed my career path, but my desire for a family never wavered. As I planned my career progression, I factored in children and maternity leaves over multi-year timelines. I was committed to my career, but also knew there would never be a ‘right time’ to pause for children.
After about two years of marriage, my husband and I decided to try for our first child. I read all the books and online advice, tracked my temperature, ovulation, and overall health. I still remember standing in my bathroom with the shock of a positive pregnancy test. While we wanted a family and were committed to being young parents, now that the plan was becoming a reality ─ were we ready?
The fearful feeling was replaced by early pregnancy symptoms, but as they quickly dissolved, I became nervous something was wrong. My body didn’t feel pregnant.
Katie, my kind nurse practitioner, tested my HCG levels over multiple days and reassured me that all was well. This odd feeling never really subsided though, and at my 16-week appointment, there was no heartbeat. Unfortunately, a dilation and evacuation (D&E) would be required because I hadn’t spontaneously miscarried.
I could barely catch my breath as I moved from the exam room to where they scheduled the surgery. My thoughts were a blur.
Beyond the procedure and recovery, my mind turned to “why me?”
This wasn’t part of the plan.
I was an active and healthy woman. I didn’t do drugs, drink alcohol, or consume caffeine. Could it have been that long run I took last week?
I was devastated. I pondered gloomy thoughts of whether it was harder to lose a child already known to me or a child based on a future dream ─ a child that I would never get to meet.
As I shared the news with a few close friends and family, I learned very quickly that I was not alone and how common miscarriages were, many times occurring without an individual knowing they are pregnant.
Julie, my sister-in-law, shared with me her experience. My friend Penny baked me a cake. My husband did his best to comfort me. I thought about my days volunteering in the hospital and the teardrop sign on the door, which signaled a loss.
Ultimately, I gradually and gratefully found comfort in the experiences of those I connected with in an online community. I learned the language and acronyms of my newfound community ─ cry it out (CIO) and trying to conceive (TTC). I learned of the sadness of those experiencing multiple miscarriages and helped celebrate the joys of those who delivered a healthy child after miscarriage. I knew I was not alone and found comfort in the anonymity of being able to share openly and honestly how I was feeling.
Eventually after some time, we were ready to try again.
Months of healing, followed by some minimal fertility help, eventually led to us delivering a healthy boy.
Life doesn’t always go as planned, but sometimes the future is more than you imagined.
Lisa D. is an executive at a Fortune-500 organization and mother of six boys ages 8 to 18.
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