Editors Note: Special thanks to LTS member Talana for sharing her story.
No one wants to talk about miscarriage. Unfortunately, it’s extremely common, and you’ll hear your doctor say up to 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. That’s supposed to make you feel like you’re not alone, right?
Although…no one wants to talk about it, so you’re back to being alone. Too many women suffer in this way, and feel that they aren’t allowed to grieve for their children. Those who haven’t experienced it don’t understand, and those who do just want to process it, seemingly move on. I don’t want to remain silent because I know someone is out there right now is suffering alone, and feels like she’s not allowed to grieve because her child never had a birthday.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss awareness month, and to help those other women, I want to share our story.
My husband and I were eager to start our family. We waited a couple months longer than we wanted to even try, so when we gave ourselves the green light, we were ready! After four months of BFNs (Big Fat Negatives), I finally saw two pink lines. I was so excited that I had tested way early, about 4 days before my period was due. That day I went to a Halloween party at my friend’s house and I joked with her about how my costume would probably not fit again. I planned for the baby’s Halloween costume the next year and what I would wear to match. I was thrilled to share my joy with all my friends. Nothing could bring me down.
The next day I started spotting pink. I was a little worried, but assured myself it was just implantation spotting and nothing to worry about. It went away and I didn’t think about it again. The next day the spotting came back. I went to the OB and got my blood drawn, maybe I just needed some extra progesterone to make the spotting stop. While I waited for the blood test results, the spotting got worse. Finally, the day after my period was due…my “period” came. I knew it wasn’t just a period, I was pregnant. I had 3 positive pregnancy tests, including a digital that said YES! But now it was gone.
The doctor’s office called and said that I “wasn’t pregnant,” and the way the nurse said it sounded like she thought I was never pregnant to begin with. No, the hormones had dropped too low by the time I had my blood drawn. But at the time, the way she said “not pregnant” seemed to invalidate my loss. I had no reason to be sad because I just wasn’t pregnant at all, right?
The medical community calls these early losses “chemical pregnancies” because you can only validate the pregnancy with a chemical test (the baby is too small to see on ultrasound). The term is so clinical, so harsh, and it made me feel like no one recognized my baby. That he or she never existed, and I had no reason to be upset. I was not only crushed by the loss of my child, but I felt like I wasn’t allowed to feel that way. The infamous saying, “But if you hadn’t tested early, you wouldn’t have known,” is meant to make women feel better, but instead it made me feel like they didn’t value my baby because I could have never known about him/her.
Yes it’s true that many women experience chemical pregnancy losses and don’t know it. However, for those of us who DO know, we feel it and we treasured our little ones. I had dreams and hopes for my baby the moment I saw that second pink line. I had to grieve the loss of my baby and those dreams. Feeling alone and like I wasn’t allowed to grieve only made it worse. My baby deserved to be cherished and recognized as a person even though his or her life was cut so very short. So, I guess my point is that every life is precious, no matter how tiny they are or how short they lived.
I wish this was the end of my story, but it isn’t. Four months later we were blessed to see those two pink lines once again. This time I couldn’t get as excited right away. I tested early again, and what if it happened the same way? So, I was cautiously optimistic until the day after my period was due. We made it past. Now we could be happy, right?
My first loss stole my ‘pregnancy innocence’ and I worried through the coming weeks. I barely had any symptoms, no morning sickness or anything. I didn’t even feel pregnant, and that made things worse. As the weeks went by I relaxed a bit more and got more excited. I had some spotting, and I would go get checked out by my OB, everything was fine.
One Sunday I bled a bit more than just the other spotting, so it worried me. It was Sunday so the doctor was closed. We went to the ER to find out what was going on. The ultrasound showed a strong heartbeat and a little baby bean 9 weeks old. 4 Days later I had my appointment. My husband usually came with me, but I told him he could stay at work because we just went on Sunday and everything was fine. It was just a checkup. Unfortunately, that meant I was alone when the ultrasound tech told me the heartbeat was gone and my baby had died. Somewhere within those 4 days my baby passed away.
I waited a week to see if I would miscarry on my own. It was the most horrible week. I felt like I was in limbo, between being pregnant and not pregnant. I couldn’t even figure out what to say. I knew my baby was there, but also wasn’t. I wouldn’t wish that experience on my worst enemy. At the end of the week my body had done nothing, so we scheduled a D&C. I didn’t like having to go through a procedure, but it was the only way I felt we could finish what nature started. More so, I just wanted it over so I could grieve.
We never really named our first little one, so we just referred to them as baby, but we named our second Gabriel. I’ve always loved the name, and it seemed fitting. To help us honor our little ones, we took all the positive pregnancy tests and ultrasound pictures and put them in a small box. We went to the backyard and buried it as a private funeral. I think that helped us finalize the losses and give respect to their short but important lives. I definitely recommend doing something to recognize the lives of those lost to miscarriage.
A Time to Heal
When it was all over it still took a long time to heal. It seemed like everyone was pregnant or had a baby around me, and it was all very painful. I felt jealous and angry a lot before I moved to acceptance. The stages of grief are real, and they don’t always go in a neat tidy order. You can bounce back and forth. You can think you’re okay one day and the next be caught up in sadness. It’s all normal, and it’s okay for you to feel that way. Ignore anyone who tells you that you should have gotten over it by now, because they don’t understand. I want you to know you’re not alone; others have been there and DO understand even if you don’t know anyone who does.
Miscarriage does feel private and personal because of the nature of it, and because there’s no outward sign for others to see. However, that doesn’t mean you have to shoulder the burden alone. Internet communities like Living The Sacrament have other women who have been there, and http://www.stillbirthday.com/ has a lot of resources and stories to help you process pregnancy and infant loss. You are not alone.
Editors Note: Special thanks to LTS member Talana for sharing her story.
About the Author: Laura is a 30 year old wife and mother of one adorable little girl. She sometimes works from home doing technical writing, but also spends time writing creatively and doing other crafty things. She is a nerd and proud of it! She loves Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Anime/J-drama, but also enjoys a romantic comedy just like all the other ladies. Laura has been a member of the Living the Sacrament community since it began and she loves spending time in fellowship with the other women on the boards.