For Patricia Emmanuel, watching parts of her baby go down the drain was probably the hardest part of her miscarriage she can ever recall.
A few weeks earlier, a positive pregnancy test sent Emmanuel to the moon and back. She was ecstatic about having a baby—her first.
Through a reflective smile, she says, “I was so happy. I just knew I was going to have a girl so I went ahead and even named her.”
Her obstetrician and gynaecologist (OBGYN) confirmed her pregnancy, but a subsequent visit to the sonographer’s office to have an ultrasound done brought some burdensome news to Emmanuel. Though the ultrasound affirmed a four-week-old embryo, no heartbeat could be found.
“At the time I did not know what that meant. I mean I knew it did not sound good, but I needed the doctor to tell me more,” Emmanuel recollected.
An explanation, which involved hope, was given to then 30-year-old. Both the sonographer and her OBGYN told Emmanuel, it was still very early in her pregnancy and there lied the possibility for the heartbeat to develop a bit later.
Though these words should have been comforting to Emmanuel, she said, in her ‘spirit’ something did not feel right.
“I don’t know if they were just trying not to scare me or if they were being honest, but I just felt like that would be it—that there was not going to be a baby after all, but I knew nothing of being pregnant prior, so I had to just trust the process,” she resolved.
A few searches on the internet did corroborate her doctor and the sonographer’s explanation, but they also revealed to Emmanuel, such could signal a miscarriage.
A second trip to the sonographer in keeping with her one-week time to revisit deemed nothing changed—an embryo is seen but no heartbeat.
Again she was told to wait it out. A final visit one week later revealed what Emmanuel felt all along since that first day she was told her baby did not have a heartbeat—she had miscarried.
“The sonographer said the ultrasound was showing the embryo had begun to detach,” Emmanuel recalls.
In the days to come, she would experience a moment in her life she would never forget. On her doctor’s advice, expulsion of the embryo was induced.
“I was at home when I engaged the method for expulsion. Within a matter of three hours of inserting the pills, I was in pain and felt like I needed to use the toilet. But when I sat on the toilet, all I saw was blood and then I heard the sound of something dropping in the toilet. At that point, I knew what it was,” Emmanuel said.
She spent the rest of that moment that day, standing in her bathroom, with tears streaming down her face as she helplessly watched the water wash her baby down the drain.
“Her name was Calian. I always think of her and even to this day I say a prayer for her and I wish her happy birthday,” Emmanuel concluded through teary eyes and a sideways smile.
On October 15, several countries celebrated Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.
While it is not observed globally and not in Trinidad and Tobago, director of Mamatoto Resource and Birth Centre, Debrah Lewis said she wished it was, as too often the sentiment of miscarriages implied one should just get over it as one could have another baby. She said while one might be able to have another child, it could never replace the loss of that particular child.
Lewis added, “The other common misconception is that if it is an early loss that it is easier than if it was a pregnancy that was further along. That is not so at all. Any loss is a loss with all the grieving that goes along with it.”
Lewis said women and their families must be allowed the time and space to grieve the loss as they need too.
“Most women report remembering every year on the date of the loss, what would have been the birthday or Mothers Day or when they see a child that is the same age as that baby would have been,” Lewis explained.
As such, Lewis said Mamatoto formed a cost-free monthly support group called “Babies Who Live Only In Our Hearts.”
Mothers who have also suffered a loss facilitate the group and help others cope with their loss.