The fragility of life

This is already hard to type and I’m not sure why I’m sharing it. I guess to let someone dealing with something similar know that you’re not alone and it isn’t your fault.

A few weeks ago we got the amazing news that we were pregnant with our third baby. Fourth if you count an early-term miscarriage between our son and daughter. That was tough on our family. It happened in 2016 when I was still on Active Duty in the Air Force. We lived in Washington state which is across the country from any family. So we dealt with it alone (with the help of some close military friends). We were devastated and immediately wondered what we had done wrong.

The answer was nothing. Miscarriages happen fairly commonly. We learned that from our doctors, but also from friends and family who let us know they had dealt with something similar. It doesn’t make it easier, but it makes it a lot less lonely.

Throughout that experience, we were extremely thankful to have our healthy two-year-old son. I guess it was comforting to know we could have healthy kids. There are many people who want to have biological kids and can’t.

But we were also scared because we knew we wanted a bigger family. Shortly after, we found out we were pregnant again and 9 months later our beautiful daughter was born. We were excited and terrified during that entire pregnancy.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. When we knew we were pregnant again we were cautiously optimistic. It’s hard to kick that last bit of fear after losing a baby. At the first ultra-sound, we got great news. A healthy heartbeat and everything tracking normally.

We were both relieved. I couldn’t help but tell my side of the family and some close friends (earlier than Sarah wanted me to of course).

This past Monday, we had our second ultrasound. There was a woman who came out of an appointment before us and was embraced by a doctor in the hallway. We assumed she had just found out she lost her baby. My wife and I looked at each other and our kids, and did one of those “it’ll be okay” hand squeezes.

During our ultrasound, I immediately knew something was wrong. The doctor wasn’t as chatty as he normally was and did a bunch of zooming/searching. Then we got the news. No heartbeat.

We lost our second baby and it hurts really bad.

As a father, it’s a weird feeling. The news is crushing. I love my family with everything I have, but at the same time, I know I can’t be feeling it as bad as my wife. She was literally developing our baby inside her. She also has now had the excruciating experience of her body getting rid of a dead baby…twice.

She’s incredibly strong and brave. She’s handled this with more courage than I could ever imagine having.

So now we’re recovering as a family. Our kids are 4 and 2. We told them they were having a little brother or sister, but we haven’t told them they won’t be. I don’t know if we will or not…maybe they’ll forget we ever said anything.

We’re also trying to figure out what this means for us as a family going forward. We wanted to have another baby before this happened. Do we want to have another one after? Are we wrong if we do or don’t (the answer is no, we’re not wrong either way)?

I didn’t take any time off work. I probably should have. I work for Lambda School which is an incredible company. I also work in a remote position which makes it easy to take time off…but it also makes it easy to not take time off. I am 10000000% certain I could have taken as many days as I needed to off from work and no one would have raised a question about it. But I didn’t. I don’t think it’s an ego thing….I’m really not sure why I didn’t take some time off. It has certainly affected me during work. I’ve been in a couple of meetings where I didn’t have as much patience as I should have and in general I just wasn’t myself.

So to anyone going through a similar situation or really any challenging situation know this:

You’re not alone.

Don’t blame yourself.

Find someone to talk to about how you’re feeling.

Take the time you need to recover. You probably won’t be yourself at work anyways.

Appreciate your life and loved ones when times are good, neutral, and bad (and tell them you appreciate them).

Cry when you need to.

Invest in great companies, hold them long-term, and stop “trading” options. Okay that last one was a joke… I still have my sense of humor, but this has been a really tough week.

Thanks so much for reading and I fully realize there are other people in the world in much worse situations than my family and me. Have a great weekend. Squeeze your loved ones.

Austin