Ariel Mendoza (24), mother to Onyx, born and passed away at 20 weeks and 4 days gestation.
Ariel shares -
“I’ve had two first trimester miscarriages. The first was a missed miscarriage and I needed a D&C because my body wouldn’t miscarry on its own. Despite being on birth control I got pregnant the month after my first loss and that pregnancy ended in miscarriage as well (a natural miscarriage). Despite conceiving naturally twice, I was diagnosed with infertility a few months after my second loss. I ended up getting pregnant on my own again a couple of months after the diagnosis but unfortunately had yet another loss. My third loss was at 20 weeks + 4 days gestation and was due to an incompetent cervix (a horrible term meaning I dilated too early) and pPROM (preterm premature rupture of the membranes). Our baby Onyx passed away 46 minutes after he arrived earthside.
I initially felt a lot of hate towards my body. Having three losses, I often feel that my body has failed me. After Onyx passed away, all I could initially think about was how my body didn’t do its “job” right and that here I am without the baby I want and love so much.
But I am trying to think positive for Onyx’s sake. Despite the horrible situation, my body created and carried a perfect little person. He heard my heartbeat from the inside. My body will forever carry his DNA. I was the place he called home for 5 months and for that reason I don’t truly “hate” my body. I do, however, feel incredibly disconnected from it and that struggle has taken over my life for the past couple of weeks.
One of the worst things about losing a baby is that my body didn’t adjust to Onyx passing away. I was looking forward to breastfeeding but having my milk come in 3 days postpartum was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with. I was already emotionally drained and that made it 100 times worse. I panicked and thought “I need to dry it up NOW”. I was so angry at my body. I thought “oh, you can’t keep a baby inside but you can produce milk to feed him?!” It was hard to leave the house or even watch TV because I leaked every time I heard the sound of a baby crying. It was yet another reminder that I’d never hear Onyx cry. Instead I cried and cried while stuffing cabbage leaves in my bra, drinking peppermint tea around the clock and pushing ice packs on my chest in hopes that the milk would disappear. It eventually did and that only brought yet another roller coaster ride of emotions for me - I went from being angry and wanting my milk to dry up to being sad and wishing it would come back to remind me that my body was capable of doing it’s “job”. It was a really confusing time for me.
I still have the línea negra. The increased body hair I developed during pregnancy hasn’t gone away. I have dozens of little pink stretch marks across my stomach that remind me of the tiny, perfect human who was once growing inside me.
I often feel like I don’t know who I am anymore. For 5 months my focus was Onyx. Every decision I had to make, I made with Onyx in mind. Every time I envisioned the future, it was a future with Onyx in it. Now here I am with an empty uterus, empty arms and no idea how to envision the future. I can’t remember the time before Onyx so having him taken away from us has left me in a crisis I never imagined I’d be going through. I’m struggling to figure out my identity after losing our baby. There is a physical emptiness that I feel in my stomach and it’s impossible to ignore. I am struggling to understand, accept and connect with my body after all it’s gone through.
I got really attached during my first pregnancy so losing that baby hit me really hard. I was so scared of having another loss that I didn’t allow myself to get attached during my second pregnancy. I didn’t wonder what that baby would look like, I didn’t rub my stomach, I didn’t write down my pregnancy symptoms. I thought that would protect me emotionally if I had another loss but it didn’t. If anything, I feel worse not having enjoyed that pregnancy. I did not give that baby the same love and attention I gave the baby from my first pregnancy and that was out of fear. Because of that experience I made sure to give Onyx all the love and attention I could and while that has made losing him even harder, I’m glad I let myself get attached to him. If I could share one piece of knowledge with other parents it would be to take the time to really be present instead of wondering and worrying about what the future may hold. I’m still learning to do that myself.
Very few people know about my first two losses. In fact, this is the most I’ve shared about my experiences. So many people have miscarriages but I initially didn’t share my story because it felt too personal and I didn’t really know anyone else who talked about having a miscarriage. However, since losing Onyx I’ve felt a strong urge to share my story. So many of us are suffering in silence. Sharing my story on social media has been incredibly difficult but it’s also really helped me start to feel whole again. I am participating in this project because despite my 4th trimester starting too soon, it’s still a 4th trimester. I want to break the silence of loss being a taboo subject. I hope that my story encourages others to share their experiences. I truly believe that through sharing we are building a community and that collectively we can begin to heal.”