Her due date was September 26, 2005
Her due date was September 26, 2005. She would have been Emilia’s Irish twin. But we never got to meet her. To be honest, we’ll never really know if the baby we lost was a boy or a girl, but when several years ago we decided to tell the kids, Emilia named her Frances and it seemed fitting that Emilia should name her. Now, Frances even has her own Wii character (as does my father) and I think it’s pretty sweet that the children decided to honor them in such a way, their own way of keeping them alive.
When Carlos and I got married in March 1998 there was one thing we knew for sure, we wanted a family, and, since to be honest, we were both in our thirties, there was no need to wait. Unfortunately, little did we know it wouldn’t be as easy as we thought.
For more than two and a half years we struggled with infertility. It may not seem like a long time, but when you want something so badly, 2 1/2 years is forever. You never think it’s going to happen to you. I had quit smoking (yes, embarrassingly I was a smoker since the age of 16, and I don’t mean a social smoker – I was a pack-a-day smoker), the doctor had told me to stop running so I was doing minimal exercise, I was trying to eat healthily, I even had to have several procedures done because of female issues, and nothing. Until one day, finally, and right before we were supposed to start fertility treatments, it just happened. I was pregnant.
I’d love to tell you that I enjoyed being pregnant but I’d be lying. I really did not like it, at all! However, fortunately, I was allowed to start exercising again and I began to walk and swim several times a week. I still gained over 60 pounds during my pregnancy but that may have been due to my McDonalds hamburger addiction! True story: I once drove into one McD’s drive-thru, and as I ate my order I drove into another – not one of my proudest moments!
After Manuela was born, Carlos and I both knew we wanted to have more children. But again, the struggle was real. So real that I began to look at adoption, both in the U.S. and internationally. I was determined that Manuela was not going to be an only child.
Once again the doctors could not figure out what was wrong but we could not get pregnant. And once again, right before starting treatments I got pregnant in a little over 3 years. Since exercise and eating healthy most of the time during my previous pregnancy had not stopped me from gaining 60 pounds, during my pregnancy with Emilia I ate everything I wanted and, guess what, I still gained 60 pounds. Emilia was born 2 weeks early, without any anesthesia – but that’s a story for another day!
And then it happened. Sometime around New Year’s Eve, I got pregnant with Frances. We were surprised, to say the least, especially after trying so hard for so many years to all of a sudden get pregnant so quickly. And we were thrilled. The pregnancy seemed to be progressing perfectly until that Saturday in March, 12 weeks to the day, when I just started bleeding. Carlos took the girls to my mom’s house so I could relax since it was the weekend and my obstetrician had recommended rest. But it just wouldn’t stop. Throughout the night it continued and the next morning I woke up from the little sleep I had, pale and weak. Carlos immediately drove me to the doctor’s office where they took one look at me and sent me directly to the hospital. They said I was lucky. They said that I had lost a lot of blood and that, obviously, I had lost the baby. It was like a knife pushed through my heart. I didn’t know how I would recover.
But I did recover. A combination of knowing that I had to be present for Carlos, Manuela and Emilia, and getting involved in my Church and my faith was crucial. Knowing that I was not alone kept me going.
But the story doesn’t end there…a little over a year and a half later I got pregnant again and that was a huge surprise to everyone, including the doctors. I was having blood work done a week before a surgery I needed when they told me. They also told me the chances of survival of the baby were almost zero. There were too many complications and it did not seem viable. I was scared, terrified even, but I will never forget how many people were praying for us (and I will never forget how upset I was with Carlos that he had asked people to pray for us because it was my own private battle – even though now I’m happy he did). I even remember one specific day when Carlos took the girls to a ministry softball game and the women’s group came to pray over me. We believe we had our own miracle because, on the day that we went to see the specialist to see what the chances of survival were for the baby, she said everything looked perfect – all the complications had seemed to have vanished. It was still a very touch-and-go pregnancy though, so touch and go that I bled during the entire time, the baby decided to make an appearance a month early, and of course, he was breach! Some of you may actually know my biggest surprise, which is how he likes to refer to himself, is now my happy and lively 7th grader, Nico.
It felt right to put my feelings into words on this day, October 15th, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I’ve been wanting to write about Frances for a long time, and today, as I wrote, I couldn’t hold back the tears. She will always live in our hearts.