We begin The Story Project with Megan Weber. Megan is a soft-spoken woman with kind eyes and a big heart. Since attending Gathering Hope 2018 last year, she has quickly become active in our community—she’s often one of the first to jump in to comfort a fellow mother when women post in our Facebook group and she was open to becoming a table leader for this year’s gathering when we approached her with the idea. We are thankful for her willingness to support other women who have survived the loss of a baby and appreciate her openness in sharing her story.
Megan, please introduce us to your baby.
I have always wanted to be a mom.
I knew I might have a hard time getting pregnant, because I stopped having natural periods when I was 18. Instead of finding out why, the doctors just put me on birth control. Fast forward to when I got married at age 27 in 2011, we started working on having a baby. After trying for a year, we went to the doctor and they sent me to a fertility specialist. He told me I would have to lose weight before he would give me any fertility drugs. He said I had PCOS and put me on Metformin for it. I lost 50 pounds and after being on the medication for about 8 months, I started having periods on my own.
I was about to try Clomid when I had a random breakdown about some sausage not making it home from the grocery store. My husband stared at me in disbelief and said gently "Babe... take a pregnancy test." I did the next day, and there it was. Two lines. I sent him a picture of it at work and said, “Does that look like 2 lines?" and he came straight home, picking up a digital pregnancy test on the way. We went to the fertility doctor and saw the heartbeat on a tiny little line on an ultrasound. He said I was about 6 weeks. Everyone in the room was excited.. but I was kind of in shock and disbelief. It didn't feel real. I later felt that me not being as happy as everyone else caused the loss..
They told me the due date was June 17, my granddaddy's birthday. (He passed when I was 16.) We got the positive test on my cousin's birthday. We saw the heartbeat again at 8 weeks at the fertility doctor and then I transferred to an OBGYN. She saw me once then told me to come back at 12 weeks for an ultrasound. Everything felt normal. I was queasy and tired and had all the symptoms. I wasn't going to tell anyone besides our parents, but I was talked into telling our whole families on Thanksgiving. (I was 10 weeks along). We sang to our baby, we called it Fetey. Wifey, hubby, and Fetey, because we were not sure if it was a girl or a boy... and fetusy is hard to say.
My ultrasound was scheduled for Dec 9. We went in wearing our traditional Santa hats and all. We were not expecting anything out of the ordinary. We went in for the ultrasound and she looked and looked and looked and then said, "Maybe you aren't quite as far along as we thought. We are going to do the vaginal ultrasound." She left to get the doctor. I felt my throat get tight.
The doctor came in and did the ultrasound. The doctor found Fetey.... She said, "Oh.. I don't see a heartbeat." I heard my husband say "Awww..." And then I couldn't hear anything else. I stared at the ultrasound, at the baby with no heartbeat. The ultrasound tech asked if we wanted pictures printed. I stared at her and my husband, knowing me said, "Yes please." I just couldn't respond.
Our doctor was very kind and gentle, very sympathetic. She didn't want to do a D&C because she wanted us to be able to try again as soon as possible. But Fetey only grew to be 8 weeks in size and she believed my body would not naturally expel the baby because, it hadn't done so yet. She prescribed Cytotec. The lady at the counter asked when our next appointment was. We said we wouldn't need one and she didn't understand at first, but then she got all sad looking and just said, "Oh."
We went home. I called my dad and told him we lost the baby. I didn't want to wake up my mom because I knew she would be asleep. I should have called her, because my parents first baby was stillborn--she would have understood how I felt the most at that moment. At the time, we lived in Colorado and they couldn't come see me because they lived in Texas and couldn’t travel because of an ice storm. My husband chose to cry alone and not let me see... I wish he would have let me see. He told his mom and we let our parents tell everyone else.
That night, I put the medicine in. The first dose didn't work. I had to go back to the office for more and I asked for the stronger dose. The lady at the counter didn't know if it was for a miscarriage or an abortion. I didn't elaborate because it was too painful, so I got some stares from the staff as they gathered it up for me. On December 11, 2013, we went home and I put the medicine in. Late that night the process began. It was painful, physically and emotionally. I passed my baby in the toilet...I didn't know where else to go. My husband collected it--I was afraid if Iooked, it would scare me from trying again. Part of me regrets not looking. The next day, we took Fetey to the doctor’s office to be sent off for testing. The tests came back inconclusive and the medical records listed the event as a "spontaneous abortion.” That wording, I wasn't ready for.
What about your experience left you looking for support? Was there anyone who supported you well? What do you wish had been available in terms of support?
Having a miscarriage is very sad, scary, and isolating. People don't know what to say. They either say some platitude that makes them feel better and you feel worse, or they say nothing, as though your baby never existed. I was alone in Colorado, my family and friends were all far away. My only saving grace was an old high school friend. She saw on Facebook that I had a miscarriage (I decided to be open and honest about it from the beginning), and she asked for my phone number. She texted me daily checking up on me. She kept asking me how I was, long after everyone else thought I should be "all better" and "over" it. I don't know how I would have gotten through it without her.
My mom helped, too. She had a stillborn baby and knew how much pain I was in. But I had a hard time going to her because I was afraid of making her live through it again. I wish that I would have gone to a grief counselor. I wish I had Gathering Hope. This community is so loving and so supportive. It is amazing.
How did you find Gathering Hope and what helped you decide to come? What would you tell a mom who may be hesitant about attending a gathering?
In 2018, my mom saw a segment about Gathering Hope on the news and she told me about it. I had already been talking about my loss openly and honestly on Facebook and having people PM me about their losses, supporting each of them the best I could. I instantly wanted to go. I tried to get her to come with me, but she didn't want to go. I went even though I wasn't sure what I was going to, but I knew I wouldn't be alone. I knew I would be in a room of others who knew what it was like.
I would tell a hesitant mom that Gathering Hope is very healing and beautiful. Yes, I cried. Just minutes after walking into the door, a woman prayed with me and took me to a table leader who went with me to light a candle for my baby. She called Fetey a baby. There was singing, and candles. I got to talk about my baby and not make everyone else uncomfortable or feel like I had to stay silent. It was like the funeral I never got, because we don't have funerals for miscarried babies. It was beautiful, because I wasn't alone. I could share in their pain and we could all support each other. We could talk about what happened. I have never felt the presence of God more than I did in that room that night.
Have you been to a Quarterly Social and what was your experience like? What would you tell someone to encourage them to come?
I love the quarterly socials. I have been to them all! You can hang out with other women, get a break from life, and you don't have to tiptoe around your grief or loss. You can mention it (or not!) and not feel like someone is going to be super uncomfortable and not want to talk to you after you mention it. It is wonderful to be around others who just understand that grief is not something to be ashamed of. It is not something you just get over or that ever really goes away. It is something you just kind of learn to live with.
How has being involved with our online community impacted your journey or healing?
Yes! It is so healing. I feel called to help other moms going through what I went through and I can do that there. But I also have my own moments where I need someone who understands. I can go and cry or vent when someone said something awful to me about my loss, or just talk about my baby and remember my Fetey in a safe space. I am more at peace with my loss now than I ever have been. It is a blessing.
What made you decide to volunteer with Gathering Hope?
I had already been feeling called by God to help loss moms, I just had not found a way, yet. I have never felt anything else so strongly in my life. Gathering Hope is an outlet for that. There was no question for me when I filled out the survey at the end of my first Gathering. I was absolutely ready to help in any way I could. Knowing I can help is so fulfilling for me. It helps me transform my grief into something useful.
What is one thing you would share with a mom who finds herself at the beginning of her journey?
I would tell them go through your grief. Do not try to avoid it or bottle it up. Feel what you feel. Your feelings are not wrong. Anger, sadness, even peace or joy... nothing you feel is wrong. Let it happen. Let it come as it comes and live through it. The more you try to hide it away, the harder it will be.
Also: this is not your fault.
How has Gathering Hope made a difference in your life?
Gathering Hope has brought peace to the most difficult and darkest event in my life. It has made me feel love. It has brought me closer to God. Gathering Hope has helped me with a calling to help other moms. It has given purpose and meaning to my loss and my grief. It has given me a small way to serve God through helping loss moms, one of the most vulnerable groups of people. Gathering Hope has changed my life.
Are you one of the 1 in 4? We hope you’ll join Megan at Gathering Hope this October, as we honor both babies and mothers, together. We invite you to connect with us online in our private Facebook group as well, HERE. Gathering Hope is a free event and registration helps us create a beautiful evening for you. Sign up to join us HERE.
Photography: Judy Rodriguez Photography
Makeup: Lydia Mercedes
Hair: Shannon Morgan