Tell Me About Your Miscarriage

I first wrote this piece in late February, just after I experienced my 4th pregnancy and 3rd miscarriage. It was intended to be published to a website that disbanded. It’s been sitting on my google drive for months, and I’ve finally summoned the courage to post it here (a fabulous start-up website that I share with two other Moms), instead. But it is a bit out of date. Since writing this, I’ve gone on to experience another pregnancy and loss, as well as finally receive a diagnosis/explanation for my losses. I promise to write more on my journey as it unfolds. But without further intro, here are my thoughts from earlier this year:

 

There is so much silence, (and dare I say, “taboo”) around the topic of pregnancy loss. Why are we made to feel like we shouldn’t talk about something that is so common and such a natural, yet tragic part of life? I’ve seen statistics thrown around about pregnancy loss; some say 1 in 5 pregnancies end in loss. And I’ve even heard stats as high as 1 in 4! Yet, before my own miscarriages, I had never spoken to anyone about their pregnancy loss, ever. Once I began to open up about my own losses, other women opened up about theirs. I entered this whole private world of hurt and loneliness. Through talking about my miscarriages, I found healing. It hurts to think that so many women (and yes, men, but I will be writing this post purely from the woman’s perspective as it’s the only perspective I know) bear this pain alone. Many women I’ve met in the online pregnancy loss world keep their early pregnancies and losses secret because of the hurtful and misguided things they’re afraid to hear people say. Or because they feel ashamed of their losses (and this last reason breaks my heart the most). It is my hope that over time we can learn to treat the tragedy of pregnancy loss as a publicly recognized, significant loss. One that we can talk about unashamedly with our friends and family in order to heal and find peace. The first step in accomplishing such a thing, though, is having the courage doing just that: Take a deep breath, grab a tissue (or a whole box of them), and talk about it.

 

So, tell me about your miscarriage.

And let me tell you about mine, too.

 

Seeing those two little pink lines early one December morning instantly changed my perspective and priorities in life. They made the career plans I had been working on that year seem suddenly so unimportant. All the deadlines and challenges I was worried about last week were now insignificant, comparatively. There was something growing inside of me that was more important to me than life itself. I was going to be a Mom. There was no going back.

 

I still remember how my husband cried with happiness when I revealed my surprise to him later that day in the form of an early Christmas present. We had been officially “trying” for a few months, but we had dreamed of and planned for this day for much longer. I was on top of the world, more excited about anything than I’ve ever been in my entire life. I thought to myself: “there is another human life growing inside of my body. I, alone, am responsible for keeping it safe and healthy. And when this baby gets here I will love it and care for it more than I have ever loved or cared for anything.” As the days passed, I ate, slept, and breathed the excitement of my pregnancy in a way I never knew I could anticipate anything.

 

The cramping started one morning when my husband and I were relaxing on the couch together. “I’m cramping,” I said, slightly alarmed, but hoping that it was likely just another one of those explainable symptoms I had looked up on the Internet since finding out I was pregnant. Dr. Google assured me, once again, that what I was feeling was normal. As long as it wasn’t accompanied by bleeding, it was likely fine. A few minutes later, a trip to the ladies’ room (a VERY regular occurrence since becoming pregnant and having apparently lost all bladder capacity) revealed a streak of red blood on the toilet paper. A shaky phone call to the on-call doctor, plenty of reassurances that it was probably fine, two trips to the hospital lab for blood draws and two and a half agonizing days later, it was confirmed. I was having a miscarriage.

 

This happened to me over two years ago. I have a healthy 1 year old baby boy now. But recalling my first pregnancy and loss still brings tears to my eyes and an ache to my chest. I was due on September 1st, 2012. I will remember that date forever. That’s when my first baby was supposed to be born. No subsequent children or other happy life events can ever change that or bring that baby back.

 

After I lost that pregnancy, I felt the intense need to be pregnant again as soon as possible. My purpose was gone. Those priorities I had had before my very short-lived pregnancy hadn’t magically become important to me again. My life felt suddenly, startlingly empty. Was I still a mom? If a grew a very tiny being for a couple of weeks, never saw it, never held it, but knew it was there – what did that make me? I remember being left with this awful feeling that I’d dreamt the whole thing up.

 

Our second pregnancy happened so quickly compared to the first. I blinked and I was pregnant again. I was reassured by every doctor and friend and family member that the first loss was a fluke. I was a healthy, 28 year old woman. Experiencing two losses in a row is so rare. Be positive. Relax. I tried. I tried so hard to be positive. This time something didn’t feel right from the beginning. And yet I didn’t feel like I could tell people that or even fully admit it to myself. I had to be positive for the new life growing inside of me. But then the cramping again. And the bleeding. And the blood draws. And the bad news.

 

My second loss spiraled me quickly into a depression. I hadn’t even really started grieving the loss of my first pregnancy (and didn’t even know I’d have to) when the second one was taken away from me as well. Before I knew it, I was grieving the two most important things I’d ever been given. All at once. It was horrible. And incredibly lonely. Nobody else missed the life I was carrying because nobody else’s life had been so connected with it as mine had.

 

I am able to talk about my losses with such clarity now, but at the time, I was still discovering this new, heart breaking world. It took me awhile to accept that I had lost something profound and that I had to grieve in order to move forward. I had this impression from society that I should be able to adjust my expectations for the future and just move on and try again. I wanted to do that badly. And at first, I tried to. Unfortunately,  I discovered that just wasn’t possible. I had to feel the pain, go through the stages of grief, slowly and agonizingly. I had the support and patience of my husband. I had a lot of friends and family who wanted to be there for me, but didn’t know how. I felt that no one understood what I was facing.

 

As I struggled through my own grieving process, I began to wonder why I felt so alone in this, when it seemed from everything I read that it was actually quite common. That’s when I started opening up about it. When the mood so struck me in conversation with friends or even strangers, I talked about my pregnancies and losses. I even mentioned my losses on *gasp* Facebook. Yes, I made my miscarriages “Facebook official”. Why shouldn’t I? They were and are a huge part of my life experience. They aren’t my fault. They are something horrible that happened to me. I hoped through opening up that I could find healing. Unexpectedly, I found so much more than that. Women I hadn’t known had experienced miscarriage opened up to me about their losses as well, and I connected with them in a way I never would have otherwise.

 

Meanwhile, with very little help and support from the medical community, we decided to try again. My third pregnancy happened a few months after my second miscarriage. I worried every single day of that pregnancy. I panicked at every twinge. I checked for blood every single time I went to the bathroom. It was the longest, most challenging nine months of my life.

 

My son was born 4 days after his due date. Healthy, happy, beautiful, amazing. Worth it. Worth every moment of pain I had been through. He didn’t erase my past wounds but he helped me sew those last few stitches through the holes in my heart. Those scars will remain forever, but they ache a little bit less every day.

 

My story doesn’t end there, though. I have one more miscarriage to tell you about today. I might have more to tell you about someday, but gosh, I hope I don’t. This loss is still very fresh and the pain still raw. The moment that stands out the most from my miscarriage two weeks ago was the desperation I felt when I realized a loss was undeniable. I was lying in bed, my son was napping in the other room. The physical pain was so strong and I just desperately wanted to make it stop, to somehow physically hold that little life inside of me. I had an ultrasound scheduled for a few hours later, but I already knew what it would show, that the baby I wanted so badly was no longer living. This was supposed to be my son’s younger sibling. They would have been 20 months apart. At that moment, if I could just have told that future baby how much I wanted it, how much I loved it already and what a great life we would give it someday, I knew it would stay. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do anything but lie there helpless as another life was taken away from me. The helplessness and desperation is what I remember most from losing my last pregnancy. This was the first time I was far enough along to pass visible remains. I was surprisingly grateful for this because it allowed my husband and I to hold a somewhat impromptu burial for our little embryo in our backyard under our son’s favorite tree. It gave me a closure I never got with my first two losses.

 

With this loss, I had a larger outpouring of support. Was it because I was a tiny bit further along? Was it because I’d been so open about my losses recently and so people had a better idea of what to do? I don’t know. But this time, friends sent flowers, cards, text messages and E-mails. People left me heart-felt voicemails and brought wine and cookies. Nobody can take the pain away,  but it means a lot to have people recognize my loss as real and let me know they’re here for me while I grieve.

 

I wish I didn’t have go through this again. But here I am. I wish no one had to. But women go through this every day. Let’s make the process less lonely. Let’s be there for each other.

 

If you know someone who has experienced pregnancy loss, take the time to educate yourself about how you can support them through it. Below are some links of helpful things to do and say, as well as things you should avoid doing and saying. Of course, everyone experiences loss differently, and there is no one-size-fits-all reaction.  But in my experience, the most important thing is NOT to ignore the situation out of discomfort or concern about saying the wrong thing. Your silence will be louder than your words. Instead, the most meaningful thing you can do is to take the time to sit with your friend and say, “Tell me about your miscarriage.”

 

How to Help a Friend Through Miscarriage

10 Things You Should Never Say to a Woman Who’s Had a Miscarriage

After a Miscarriage: Supporting Friends & Family Through a Loss

 

 

11 thoughts on “Tell Me About Your Miscarriage

  1. I couldnt agree more. There is so much taboo on the topic of miscarriage, or so it seems. When I lost my baby in July, I was devastated and to add to that, I didnt think it would happen to me because I dont know anybody who has had a miscarriage(perhaps they have but havent told anybody). If miscarriage was more public, women wouldnt feel so bad about it happening to them. It sounds wierd, and sort of bad, but when people told me ‘dont worry, its so common it happens to LOTS of women’ it sort of made me feel better, knowing that I wasnt one in a thousand. Im sorry about your 3 losses, that must have been so hard 😦 x

    To add: I totally get what you mean by a ‘private world of hurt and lonliness’. Its as if you didnt even know that it existed until youre there 😦

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    • Thanks, Jess. I know we already connected on another site, but I just wanted to say thanks again for your comment. And *hugs* to you and the sweet baby you lost.

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  2. lovely post – i can understand completely – i’ve had 10 miscarriages – and a still birth baby boy – but the number and age does not count as 1 or 10 or 5 – it is still the same x i did find i went silent because people didn’t know how to handle me or it and they would only feed into my pain – i found I would have to comfort them and tell them its ok – so hence me going silent – now though – i do agree – people need to be educated and have knowledge xxxx Thank you for your post = the other thing I did was study a course in grief and bereavement which helped me to understand when i wasn’t feeling great. From timing how long I cried to finding a hobby or something I could attach my love to. We got a puppy a year later (wish I had sooner) as after studying it explained that we had purpose and our lives attached to something, preparing your life for your next stage – when that is taken away you feel at a loss – asking what now?!!! I was blessed to have my work’s research grow rapidly that took most of my time to keep me focused on an end result as well as painting through the pain. I landed up painting a picture of a woman with a baby – I don’t even remember painting this baby and a picture of a baby with wings – but it helped get out what was in my heart and head onto canvas. I landed up using myself as a case study of the importance to paint and do creative projects when you feel you are lost – subconsciously you are working through emotions and starting and finishing the painting to your liking is part of a transition. It does of course help to have a very good art teacher who can draw in proportion because you may need them just to draw the picture for you in proportion and you paint it. Its almost as if you are stroking your baby with the paint brush strokes. Not only that – you are achieving proportion and creating a ‘spiritual photo’ of an angel baby to put on your wall as they are part of the family. I put them and him in a frame. I now do this as a profession – so in a way – I am truly grateful as my children helped me to find a way to help others 🙂 I’m now creating an online painting course – obviously not loaded yet – for woman who have lost children how to paint their own babies and paint through the pain (on my to do list one day/soon) Thank you for your post and information x

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    • I love the idea of painting through the pain! Thank you so much for sharing, justine. That’s a beautiful way to work through all that heartache.

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  3. Since I had been on birth control at the time, was traveling extensively and dating a coworker in secret (since have married and have a child together), when I found out I was pregnant in September 2005, while in the ER thinking the pain in my abdomen was from appendicitis, I didn’t know how to process nor share my miscarriage with anyone. Even my boyfriend, now husband, at the time was at a loss (no pun intended), because we went from thinking I had appendicitis, to being asked if we want to keep it (I replied with “my appendix???”), to spotting and cramping a week later. It was a whirlwind of news and even though I hadn’t intended on getting pregnant, nor did I have a choice in keeping that baby as I lost it very early on, around 6 weeks or so, I still often think about what that baby might have been. It’s been nine years. I could have an 8 year old. I wonder how different life would have been, would we have stayed together as a couple with such a huge responsibility early on, in our twenties? The bedside manner of both ER doctors was harsh to say the least. The one who asked if I wanted to keep it, assumed I knew I was pregnant. Truth be told, he probably knew already that I was going to lose it. A week later, when I ended up in the ER again for the cramping and spotting, when I asked if I could take anything for the pain, that doctor replied, matter-factually, “you can take whatever since you are losing it anyway.” Boom. Tears. I really never could process in that week what was happening, but it still left an imprint and somehow, someway, I have a little, itty-bitty, hole in my heart from that loss, even nine years later.

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  4. Tilly, I can’t believe I never heard the full story of this miscarriage before! Thank you for sharing. ❤

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  5. I understand completely the pain of losing that first, tried for, wanted, loved, cherished baby. My first ended in a miscarriage at 7-8 weeks. When I lost my baby I shut down, I was so sick to my stomach, I couldn’t even eat. I hurt (emotionally more than physically) so bad, I didn’t want to believe I had lost my baby. I thought “maybe there were 2 and I still have one”. “Maybe I’m dreaming and I’m really still pregnant.”
    It didn’t really hit me until I went back to work about a week after it happened. Having to tell my coworkers (that were just as excited for me) that my dreams were shattered just confirmed what I hoped wasn’t real, the baby I so badly wanted was gone. Ripped from me by the hands of Satan and left a huge gaping hole in my heart. I know you from another website and I know you aren’t religious, but my story is. You see, the day after my first night back to work (working 3rd shift) was the day I let my raw emotions out. I cried and prayed to God asking him why, telling him I just wanted my baby back. His reply was to give Him the pain and I would receive something in return. I did, I gave him my pain and rested from my weariness. When I awoke I had an overflowing joy “the joy of The Lord” and peace that all would be ok.
    It took a couple of months for my husband to be ready to try again, and the first “try” was an accident (condom broke) and we decided it was God telling us it was time to start trying again. This all happened 6 years ago, I was 23 when it happened. I am now 30 with 3 beautiful wonderful children. My firstborn son is 5 years old and was born 2 days before the 1 year anniversary of my miscarriage. You know what’s even more amazing? He was supposed to be born the day before by induction, it failed and had to be restarted the next day. His name means “comfort of Yahweh” “decision of God”.
    I hate that miscarriage is so “taboo”. I have begun opening up about mine even more throughout the time I’ve been commenting and comforting others who are going through the pain of child loss. I still feel a twinge and pull on my heart strings any time I say the words “I had a miscarriage”, but I say them a lot more confidently now than I ever did. The pain of miscarriage is very real, and it scars you for life. The fear of losing the next baby is very real. I only lost one baby, and the fear when I bled with all three of my happy healthy children was consuming. I rushed to the dr each time for reassurance. I will never forget the pain I felt when I lost my first child, but it doesn’t define me either. It is a part of who I am, and I’m not ashamed to say so anymore.
    Prayers for you hun and big *HUGS*.

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