I write a lot about the four children I had in a timespan of five years. But, there is one child that I have never written about. That’s the one I never met. The one I miscarried four years ago, today.
It was early in my pregnancy. I found out a few days before Christmas that I was pregnant and, wow, was I excited. We wanted more children and I couldn’t wait to add a third baby to our brood. Family was in town for the holidays and, although I originally thought I’d have a doctor confirm the pregnancy before making an announcement, I couldn’t help but explode with the good news.
Days later the doctor quickly confirmed what I already felt in my body. We didn’t know how far along I was so I spent hours online playing with due date calculators to figure out when our next blessing would arrive. I got out my maternity clothes (because I felt like I needed them already). And, for the next few weeks my husband and I would lie in bed discussing baby names and arguing over whether or not we’d be adding another boy or girl to our mix.
But, then I started bleeding.
Of course it was a Sunday, so reasonable (i.e. non-emergency care) wasn’t an option. I had no choice but to just research like a mad woman as I waited the 25 hours until the doctor’s office would open.
Maybe everything was okay, I mused. Could it be this was the infamous “implantation bleeding?” Or, maybe I was suddenly a “spotter” but everything was fine. There were dozens of stories online of people who experienced bleeding but went on to have healthy babies. I spent the day trying to read as many of these kinds of stories as I could in order to keep some remnant of hope that I was not losing this baby. But, every trip to the bathroom was a cruel reminder that the outcome might not be the one that I wanted.
Sunday night was long, sad, and uncertain. Monday morning began a long week of tests that finally ended in a short conversation on Thursday. “I’m sorry,” is all the doctor’s office could offer.
Truth is: it hurt so much more than I thought it would. I had only known of this pregnancy for a few weeks. I wasn’t that far along. I didn’t have any ultrasound pictures. I had two other, healthy, children. But, it still hurt.
I felt ashamed of just how long it took me and to what extent I needed to grieve the loss. Was it appropriate to be crying day and night over a baby that barely existed? My husband tried to understand but I just don’t think he could, fully.
I knew that it was common to miscarry (10-25% of all pregnancies don’t make it to full term), but that didn’t help me feel better. I missed that baby, already. I missed being pregnant, already. And, more than anything, I hated the question in my head that taunted, “Will you ever be able to have another baby?”
Four years later I know the answer to that question. But, I can tell you that the fear and grief I experienced immediately after my miscarriage didn’t go away as soon as I got another “pregnant” reading on the EPT. My next was riddled with a level of concern that never plagued me during my first two pregnant stints. I’m quite certain I held my breath on every trip to the bathroom for the first six months of my next child’s incubation.
One thing that bothers me, a lot, is the way “conventional” wisdom tells women that they should, in case of miscarriage, not tell others that they are with child. I think there are many valid reasons to keep your pregnancy a secret–maybe you don’t want to lose your job or you just haven’t found the perfect way to announce it yet — but fear of miscarriage, I believe, is the worst.
Miscarriage is hard and lonely. No one really understands what you are going through unless they have suffered the same type of loss. But, because we encourage women to keep their lips sealed just in case, this, by de facto, causes women to have to keep the secret when it happens. This leaves a lot of women all alone to deal with the grief and consequences. Who’s going to call their friends who didn’t even know they were pregnant and tell them the sad news? Chances are most of us would rather just find a way to deal with it on our own.
If you have experienced a miscarriage, I’m sharing this today to let you know that you are not alone. You are not wrong to grieve. You are not silly to have felt both attachment and loss. And, I can assure you it wasn’t that uncooked deli meat you ate or those boxes you lifted…No, it wasn’t your fault. So, please don’t feel guilty.
If you are struggling, know that there is help out there. Support groups exist here in Dallas, like Caring Hearts which meets at Texas Health (commonly Dallas Presbyterian) or Shiloh (a program of Watermark Church) which also helps women struggling with infertility. I know that for me, having other moms share with me that they had also experienced miscarriage was helpful to my healing process.
I had a miscarriage. This is my story. Maybe yours is similar. Maybe yours is even more difficult. I have friends who have, literally, gone through ten plus miscarriages. I know others who have had the pain of miscarriage compounded through d&c procedures. But, because there are so many of us have gone through miscarriage (often in secret), I invite you to also share your story so that other women will know they are not alone.