When I regained consciousness, I discovered I was lying in a pool of blood. As I was unable to get up, I shouted for my husband Andy. It took several attempts before he woke up, but when he saw me, he became instantly alert. After picking me up and helping me to dress, we left for the hospital.

Andy drove right up to the door of the accident and emergency department, but when he tried to help me out of the car, I shook my head helplessly. I couldn’t even walk a few steps. So he ran into the hospital, and a moment later, he returned with a nurse pushing a wheelchair. Soon I was lying in a bed, while a young doctor in a pristine white coat, clipboard in hand, took initial notes.

“I was 12 weeks pregnant. I’m miscarrying.”

“Miscarrying? How do you know you’re miscarrying?” interrupted the doctor. “We’ll have to do an ultrasound before we can decide that.”

I sighed. After giving birth to eight live babies, burying a newborn and suffering seven miscarriages, I knew exactly what was happening.

I tried to explain about the huge pains I was experiencing in my abdomen, but the doctor didn't want to hear. “We’ll transfer you to the women’s ward, and then first thing in the morning, we’ll send you for an ultrasound. That’ll give us more of an idea what’s going on.”

I tried again to tell her about the pains, and then gave up. It was far too difficult. No one was listening.

A wardsman arrived and he wheeled my bed along corridors, through double doors, along more corridors. Andy followed alongside me. He tried to smile in order to reassure me, but his eyes were anxious. The bed was bumped into a lift, and when the doors reopened, I could see we had arrived at our destination: the women’s ward.

A nurse directed my bed into a room, but before she could examine my notes and find out more about me, an old lady in the opposite bed cried, “A bedpan. Nurse! I need a bedpan.”

The nurse started towards the door to go and collect the necessary equipment. Then she turned and noticed the look of pain on my face. I’d let my head slip over the side of the bed in an attempt not to faint.

“A bedpan!” The old lady was getting desperate but the nurse ignored her plea. She took my pulse, and read my notes. And although I was incapable of saying it, I thought, “Poor lady. Please go get her the bedpan. I’ll be okay.”

But apparently I was far from okay.

“Why have they sent you up here?” the nurse demanded. I had no idea. “We’re going to have to send you right back downstairs again.” A few minutes later, I was being wheeled back into the lift, down a few floors and out along another corridor.

Was I dying? I considered the facts and decided I was in a very bad way. Perhaps I should pray. So I began to recite the Rosary in my head, as we continued our journey along the endless maze of corridors. After a Hail Mary or two I gave up. I’d always assumed if I were in dire need, I would pray more fervently than I’d ever prayed before. But I couldn’t. I had no energy. I could concentrate on nothing but the pain.

Finally we came to the high dependency unit.  A nurse came out to help manoeuvre my bed through the double doors. “I’m sorry, sir,” the nurse apologised to Andy. “We need you to wait here. We’ll come and get you when your wife’s condition is stable.” Andy’s worried face disappeared instantly as the doors slammed shut in front of him.

What happened next is a bit of a blur. I remember nurses and doctors saying worrying things in very calm and controlled voices. There were needles and tubes and injections and drips. Electronic numbers raced and danced on a monitor behind my head. And then finally, the pain in my abdomen subsided and I knew I was going to survive.

Once all the drama was over, I was left alone to rest. I wondered where Andy was. A long time later, he appeared.

“Where have you been?” I asked.

“Outside. No one came to get me. They forgot I was waiting. In the end, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I came in to find out what was going on.” Then he added, reaching for my hand, “I thought you’d died.”

I squeezed my husband’s hand and immediately reassured him: “No. I’m not going to die. I’m fine.”

 I wasn’t really fine. I still had surgery to face but the worst was over.

Later that day, once back from surgery, I was anxious to be discharged and allowed home. The doctor had promised that as soon as I’d had a few units of blood pumped back inside me, he’d consider my release… as long as I could walk without fainting. While the blood was being transfused, a social worker arrived.

“I visit all the mothers who've had a miscarriage...  I’m sure it’s a very sad time for you. Your feelings of loss and grief are normal. I’ve brought you some information…”

I brushed the woman’s words aside. There was nothing new she could tell me about miscarriage. I explained I’d suffered a few before. The social worker smiled uncertainly, and then seeing she couldn’t help me, rose from her chair. Before leaving, she added, “I hope next time you are here, it will be under happier circumstances. Good luck with your next baby.”

I shook my head, “There won’t be a next time. I won’t be having any more babies.”

I was so glad to get home that night. All the children crowded around me as I walked through the door, their eyes big and anxious. Was I really all right?

“I’m fine,” I said smiling. “A bit of rest and I will be back to normal.”

Everyone sighed with relief and someone said, “We’ll look after you, Mum. We’ll do everything around the house. You can rest in bed.”

Many years ago, when I had only a baby and a toddler, and I was wrapped up in the delights of young motherhood, a close friend said to me, “Sue, what are you going to do when your baby years come to an end?” I barely acknowledged her question. It was much too soon to worry about the next stage of life. I had plenty of time to have lots more children. All I could imagine was being pregnant, having babies, breastfeeding… enjoying a growing family. There was no room in my vision for a time after babies.

I lay in bed that night, after having arrived home from the hospital, and relived in my mind, that difficult day. I thought about the baby I’d lost. He was the last. I’d come to the end of the road: The time after babies had arrived.  It wasn’t my decision. God was telling me my baby years were over, and I accepted it.

“What are you going to do when your baby years are over?” Years ago, I hadn’t wanted to think about it. I had no answer. I do now.

My baby days are over and I’m thankful for all the joys of that time. I have so many happy memories… plenty of sad ones too. There were many unexpected sufferings and I’m grateful to God for carrying me through them all. I am also grateful for my husband who hugged and laughed and cried with me, as babies were born and babies died.

Now I’m enjoying the present moment, with the family God blessed me with. I still have lots of mothering left to do. And God has other jobs for me as well, I'm sure. There are new adventures waiting…new joys, new sorrows...  God has it all worked out.

Life after babies? It’s good.

How about you? Do you ever wonder how you'll feel when there are no more babies?... Or perhaps you've already found out...
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  1. Even when times are good, now, I find it hard to look back on your losses and, also, our own. It makes for very teary reading. I'll never forget that weekend for its mix of joy and grief - two losses and a birth, within hours of each other. The fragility of life suddenly becomes all too apparent when a life-threatening miscarriage, a teenage tragedy and a newborn coincide.

    I've been thinking, in the past few days, about what life will be like without a dependent toddler. It's a bit hard to imagine having so much free time. After spending nearly half a lifetime being totally responsible for other people, it's going to feel strange.

    I'm glad you're enjoying life, Sue. It would be so disheartening to think that life loses its joy as our children grow older.

    God bless:-)

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    1. Vicky,

      Yes, joy and sorrow exist side-by-side. While we are celebrating, others are grieving. I felt that recently when Ian died. We attended his funeral and grieved, and then a few days later we rejoiced at the baptism of our friends' son. Joy and sorrow do not seem to have any place together, but maybe one gives us hope when we are bowed down by the other.

      "It's a bit hard to imagine having so much free time." Vicky, i'm sure you won't have as much free time as you imagine! Although we have more choices about what we spend our time doing, when our little ones become more independent, there is certainly no shortage of things to do. I don't think God intends us to sit back and say, "Now I can rest. That job's over." Instead I'm certain He has more work for us to do, which is good. We are still needed. As you know, since my children have moved on from babyhood, I've done all kinds of things I never imagined I'd be doing. Life is an adventure. Maybe if we are willing to let go of one stage and embrace another, we will feel peace, and find joy and fulfilment in ways we never expect.

      Thank you for sharing my story. God bless!

      Delete
  2. I love reading your stories about baby loss, grief, and mothering. They really touch my soul. I think my baby days are over, too. I haven't had a hysterectomy nor have I ever had a miscarriage (I feel very humbled by that). You know, sometimes I feel less than a mother because I haven't suffered a miscarriage. Sometimes I feel like I can't say, "I'm done having babies" because I haven't undergone that suffering. But still I feel like I'm at the end of my baby days. We took apart the crib this weekend and the trash guys hauled the wood away this morning. My husband had a few thoughts of remorse, but I had none. Isn't that terrible? I don't know where I'm going with this comment, but I really don't feel like I'm in a place mentally and physically to have another baby. I have a feeling it's because I already have a lot on my plate or do I? Sorry for the ramblings, Sue. God bless you!

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    1. Grace,

      It isn't terrible that you had no thoughts of remorse when you put away the crib. It would be harder to be constantly looking back and yearning for more, and not feeling at peace. Yes, we sometimes have more than enough to keep us busy in the present moment. I had a time when I felt unable to take on any more babies. I just wanted to stop and regroup, enjoy and give attention to the children I already had. Maybe it's not about having as many babies as possible, but having the babies God intends us to have. There are certainly times when we have to take into account our personal circumstances. In my case, I did eventually have another baby after those feelings of not being able to cope with more, and I'm glad to have her!

      Grace, thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I published the post wondering if I should have. I've heard people say we shouldn't share such things but keep them to ourselves, because they are of a private nature. I, however, think we gain so much from sharing.

      God bless you!

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  3. Wow Sue Ellen, I'm so glad you surviwed. These words you wrote here, you wrote just for me! I have come to the end of my baby years as well. My 6th and last child starts school tomorrow, and I'm done trying to have more babies the later tries ending in miscarriages -- though thank God not as dramatic as yours. I'm praying and trying to find my new equilibrium.
    New adventures waiting, you say. It's up to God to lead our way, but it suddely seems much brighter. Thanks. God bless and keep you.

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    1. Uglemor,

      That miscarriage happened a few years ago but the details are still etched so clearly into my memory. What I was left with, was not pain, but rather gratitude. I came home feeling so grateful for what I had and grateful for my life. There really wasn't any room for sorrow and regrets about what could have been, or what I was leaving behind. So in a way, it was easy for me to move onto life after babies. Babies can give so much joy, but sometimes so much suffering as well. I knew it would be difficult to deal with any more of that kind of suffering, and I was relieved I wouldn't have to. No more beautiful babies to join our family, but also no more miscarriages and deaths to be mourned. Maybe you understand what I'm saying.

      I am very sorry for your own losses, Uglemor. Someone said that we all belong to an exclusive club. The membership fee is so very high, but we are sisters together, understanding each other and joined by our common experiences. Maybe that was what Grace meant when she said she felt like less of a mother because she has never suffered a miscarriage. Perhaps we all want to share each other's sorrows and we can only do that to a certain extent unless we have suffered ourselves in a similar way. I forgot to say to Grace that I think suffering comes in many forms, and we all experience it as mothers, even if we never know pregnancy loss. Mine was dramatic but no more difficult than other mothers' sufferings.

      New adventures? Perhaps God is just waiting for us to accept where we are, and then He will give us the peace we need to move forward.

      Thank you for your comment. God bless you too!

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  4. I found out a long time ago. I was sad for a little while but then I got busy with teenagers and decided 2 was enough! 2 children and 4 stepchildren, I might add!

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    1. Colleen,

      I love sharing your photos of your sons and grandchildren. I am not a grandmother yet but I hear it's a wonderful stage of life. There are certainly many blessings still to come, even though I've left my own baby days behind. You said you 'got busy'. Perhaps that's the secret. When we are busy and needed, we haven't time to dwell on things that could have been, or have regrets about the past.

      Thank you for stopping by, Colleen.

      God bless.

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  5. Thanks for this moving post, Sue. As you know, I've had four miscarriages and three ectopic pregnancies (and five live births) and like you,I nearly bled to death from one of the ectopic pregnancies. I agree with you that life is good after babies. While I miss having a baby around the house (my youngest is 13), I have to admit that I'm happy I'll never go through a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy again. Of course, now we look forward to the future and grandchildren!

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    1. Ellen,

      I was thinking about you and your experiences as I was writing this post. It is good to be able to share with friends who understand. I also like sharing 'after baby' experiences with you. Yes, there are certainly a lot of things God intends us to do, now that we are no longer having children! Life is good.

      My baby years were very, very special. Even now I do sometimes wish time would slow down just a little so I can savour these last years of having youngish children. But I am at peace about it all. And I too am happy the sorrows of my childbearing years are over, though at the time, I was willing to risk and bear all that suffering.

      Thank you for your comment, Ellen!

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  6. This was a tough read...thank you for continuing to share your experiences. I know there are other women out there who are going through the same thing, and since you've published these posts, hopefully they'll find this blog and learn they're not alone.

    We, ourselves, decided to only have one child, and we've been blessed that he's turned out healthy. I just don't think I could do it again - all those late nights and the time I would have to give up with my son in order to welcome a new baby into the house. I guess you find ways to make it work, but I like our current dynamic. It seems to work well for us.

    Wishing you all the best...and continued healing...

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    1. Angela,

      Thank you for reading my post. I know a lot of my posts aren't happy reading and it is kind of you to continue to share them. I hope that, although they are tough reading, they also contain a little hope. Life is so very difficult at times, but we do survive to say once again that life is indeed good.

      It sounds like you had a hard time during your son's babyhood. Babies are a lot of work. For each child, I had to question whether I was ready to dive back into the deep end, especially when there were no guarantees we'd be having a healthy baby. But looking back, I am glad I took no notice of those hesitant feelings. All the sacrifices were more than worth it. Where would I be today without my younger children? I don't know, but I am so glad I am right here, still enjoying mothering and homeschooling. I also sometimes wonder who I'd be if I didn't have my children. I wouldn't be the same person at all. They have changed me in many ways, all good ways. Yes, children are a blessing.

      It is a little sad when a new baby comes into the family, and we don't have so much time for the older child. The dynamics do change as you suspect. None of my children (except for the first) have ever had me to themselves, but they do have lots of siblings to love and grow with, and that is also very special. It's also a great learning experience!

      Angela, thank you for your best wishes. It is always good to hear from you!

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    2. Sue -

      You're spot on! I did have many difficulties during my son's babyhood. But his birth did two things: 1.) reminded me very humbly about my limitations and 2.) made me into a far more caring and compassionate person. They change us so much, don't they?

      I love being able to spend so much time with my son one-on-one, but I know we would find a way to make room both physically and mentally if we were to have any more children. I think a big part of my reluctance is actually tied to self-esteem, in that I'm not sure how good of a parent I could be to another little one. That realization definitely came after having my first, where I had to just sort of dive in head-first, flail around, and hope to figure things out. Although maybe the second time around is a little easier, because you know more than you did the first?

      The fact that you've done this so many times and so successfully is inspiring, to say the least!

      All the best,

      Angela.

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    3. Angela,

      I was going to be the perfect mother to my first child. I read all the books and tried to do all the right things. But I think I failed. It didn't really matter. My daughter survived despite me. I have come to believe that children don't need perfect parents. They just need love, and love is limitless. There's more than enough for all the people in our lives.

      I also thought it was me that was going to determine my child's outcome: I wanted to make sure they were of good character, had the skills to go out there and survive in the world, be the best people they could be... I never considered that my children would affect my character and who I am. While I was trying to produce perfect children, they were doing their best to produce a perfect mother, by giving me the challenges I needed to make me grow. For example, as you said, we grow more caring and compassionate as we parent. We become more patient and less selfish... My children are still challenging me and I am still growing. I'm still a long way from perfect but I've moved some way from that inexperienced person I was with my first child. I bet my later children are grateful for that!

      Yes, mothering is certainly a lot easier second time round. Although a second child might be just as needy as a first child, we have more skills to deal with it. I think we're also more relaxed and don't worry so much. I have so many special memories of mothering my first child just because she was the first and it was all new and miraculous. But I think my enjoyment of mothering increased as our family grew.

      I have to admit I had some difficult times mothering my children (I still do). But looking back, it's not those times that I remember. Really, it's the joys that live on.

      I guess what I'm trying to say (using a lot of words!) is none of us are perfect, we all have our limits, but we all have what is necessary to parent successfully, and that is love. Angela, just from reading your blog, I know that is exactly what you're giving to your son, and you would find more if it was needed for another child.

      Thank you so much for your comment. Best wishes to you too!

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    4. Sue -

      I wanted to be perfect for my son, too. I read SO many books, hoping to find out exactly how to manage that, thinking there had to be some kind of magic formula. Obviously it didn't quite work out that way. You hit the nail on the head - they give us the challenges we need to make us better people. Perfection isn't possible, which is part of what makes us human, and kids need to know/see/understand that.

      The older my son gets, the less I tend to worry over the little things. When I think back to how nervous we were the first weeks we brought him home...I'm sure having another child would be like that, too. Nervous at first, but slowly learning enough to feel a little more confident. I like this stage so much better, though the worries I have are more complex as he grows.

      What you write about not remembering the difficult times is SO true! I have to remind myself of that when the rough times are right underneath us!

      Thank you for the kind words!!

      -A.

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    5. Angela,

      It is so lovely to continue this discussion with you!

      You said, "I like this stage so much better, though the worries I have are more complex as he grows." You are so right. As children grow it gets easier to take care of their physical needs but then we start to worry about all kinds of different things! We move on to worrying about education and character building... one day we find ourselves worrying about our children driving a car alone!!!! I guess that is just part of being a mother.

      I think I'm actually a much more relaxed mother than I used to be. Maybe I'm learning that worrying doesn't really help. There comes a time when we just need to trust our children. It's not all up to us after all.

      Angela, I wonder if you ever read my post called "Memories of an Inexperienced Mother." If you did, you'll know what type of mother I was when I set out, and how my imperfections didn't make any difference to my first born child. http://www.sueelviswrites.com/2012/02/memories-of-inexperienced-mother.html

      Yes, I was nervous too! I couldn't even bath my baby properly.

      It's always lovely to share with you, Angela. I hope you are enjoying your beautiful new home!

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    6. Sue -

      What a wonderful post about inexperienced motherhood! I had the same thought you did upon leaving the hospital that first time - why on earth isn't anyone stopping me?! And while we didn't have problems with the bathing, we had NO idea how and when to put the baby to BED and actually had to ask his pediatrician. Looking back it's beyond comical :)

      On a completely different note - is there a way for you to add a feature to your blog where, when someone writes a response to a comment, we're notified via email? Sometimes I forget to look back the following day, and I'm afraid I've missed out on some of your responses!

      All the best,
      A.

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    7. Angela,

      Thank you for sharing my post. I have to laugh at the old me. It's just as well children are tough and survive their parents.

      I couldn't find any way of turning on a comment notification feature for each individual post without changing the way the comments are set out. As far as I can see, this feature is available with a drop down comments box, but I prefer this way of displaying the comments, as I can reply directly to each comment and the conversations are easy to follow. You could subscribe to ALL comments I suppose, though you may not be interested in keeping up with every conversation. Sorry Angela! If I discover a new way of doing it I'll let you know. I am always so pleased to see you return. Thank you!

      Delete
  7. Another very moving post Sue, You are so good at that...Thank you for sharing your story with us...I am sure it will give solitude to many who read it. And from what I have read of the comments it has...May God Bless You , Leanne

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    1. Leanne,

      It is so lovely to hear from you! Thank you so much for reading my post. This was a story that just wanted to be written. The words were running around my head and I had to sit down and type them out. I really don't know why. It is so good to share with everyone who left a comment. We all have different circumstances but so many similar feelings and concerns.

      May God bless you too!

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  8. Sue,

    You are so good about bringing a positive note even to the most painful things. I am pretty sure my baby years are over, too, since my youngest is almost 10 and I am nearing the big half century mark.

    I find for me that most emotional things are a back and forth movement. I feel emotional, then I am OK with the situation, then I revisit the pain again. It is similar to my conversion, I suppose -- I have to keep "reconverting" regularly. At least now that I am older I sort of expect this instead of being astonished at revisiting things I thought were past!

    Anyway, I think your writing about your experience, and sharing it with readers, is an act of mercy.

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    1. Willa,

      I have been thinking about your comment all morning. (I published it when I turned on the computer first thing this morning, but it is only now, I have a free moment to reply.)

      I have been mulling over the fact that good always comes from bad. Sometimes the good isn't revealed to us until a long time has passed... I know many women struggle to adjust to the next stage of life after babies. Your feelings of a back and forth movement describe it well. But I never had to struggle like that. Because of all the pain and suffering that was associated with my childbearing years, I was ready emotionally and physically to move on. Maybe I was spared that difficult adjustment period. I'd never considered this before I read your comment.

      I am always amazed at the kindness of readers when I share personal experiences. Thank you for reading and stopping to leave your comment.

      God bless!

      Delete
  9. Dear Sue,
    I don't know if you will read this, but I found your blog today, and this post touched my heart. Right now baby number seven is lying on the bed next to me, all of five months old. I have had three very early miscarriages over the years and there is a fifteen year difference in age between my oldest and youngest. My pregnancies have become increasingly complicated. My last baby was in the NICU over a month. I know I should feel done. But what I really feel is the fear of having to go through another preemie birth. (I have had four.) I packed away all the newborn to 3 mos. clothing this past weekend and cried. It is hard to imagine not having more babies. But it is hard to imagine getting through another high-risk pregnancy. I am really struggling to find peace. And I just want to trust in God and believe that he will know what I need. Some days "Thy will be done" is hard.

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  10. Anonymous,

    Thank you for reading my post and sharing your own experiences. I always see comments, even if the post is old, and I'm glad you stopped by.

    I'm sorry you have experienced so much pain while having your children. Usually we associate babies and pregnancy with nice warm happy feelings, and no one mentions the suffering that can also be involved.

    I know for myself, having children was such a mix of joy and pain. The pain was all worth it in order to have my children, but there were times when I wondered if I could bear any more suffering.

    I guess when I came to my last miscarriage, I knew I wouldn't have to suffer this way any longer because it seemed very likely this was my last baby. That made it so much easier to move onto the next stage of my life. It was a relief in many ways. I guess I felt very grateful for the children I had and also for my health. I have so much.

    I wonder if you are wanting more children but can't face the thought of more suffering associated with a possible preemie birth. But maybe you're thinking if you avoid having any more children, you will have to adjust to the next stage of life, and you're just not ready for that? Both choices sound so difficult. Life can be so complicated sometimes. I really only had the one choice so I didn't have to agonise over what was the right thing to do. I just had to accept.

    I have always found that acceptance eventually results in peace. This doesn't mean I didn't struggle a long time on my own before I gave in and accepted God's will. I had to get tired and use up all my own resources before I trusted enough to give in and accept. I also learnt to live in the present moment. Perhaps you could enjoy your baby without dwelling too much on the future? I do believe God will look after you and help you through whatever lies ahead. I will pray.

    May God bless you.

    ReplyDelete

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