On February 1st last year I woke up and poured myself a glass of milk and felt like I needed to puke like I’ve never puked before. Like, I was sure I was gonna hurl my guts out but by some miracle I didn’t and I went on with my day. Later I was joking with a friend about what happened and she chuckled and said “maybe you’re pregnant”..”, we both laughed it off but it stuck with me the rest of the day. When I got home that night I dug around under the bathroom counter and found a test, just to make sure that our joke wasn’t real despite only a 2 in 10,000 chance that it could be. I took it and forgot about it on the bathroom counter only to go back in a few hours later and see the two lines on that plastic stick. I drove down to the pharmacy and bought 4 more tests and took them all, and every one of them showed those pink lines as clear as day and my heart sunk more into my stomach. I was in my last semester of college and having kids was NOT something we had planned on for years, but all of a sudden the only thing I wanted in the world was a baby.
The next morning we went straight to the doctor and spent the whole day there. He told us it could end up being a normal pregnancy, but the odds were it would end in miscarriage but we would only know after a few blood draws.
That Sunday the doctor called and confirmed my HcG weren’t normal and he was expecting a miscarriage.
In that 48 hours I had decided I wanted wanted it to be a normal pregnancy, in fact, it became the only thing I wanted and I was devastated when I got the call on Sunday.
The next 12 weeks (yes, 12 weeks) totaled out to 27 blood draws, 17 ultrasounds, 1 ER visit, and the decision that it was an incomplete miscarriage and would need a D&C. The day before I was schedule for the D&C my HcG level returned zero. I had been hormonally pregnant for 12 weeks, that’s a whole trimester and was all but 2 weeks of my last semester of college.
But unless you’ve been through miscarriage you don’t know that it doesn’t actually end there. I was left to deal with all of the emotions I have stuffed deep down in order to survive those 12 weeks, and when October came and went I felt robbed; having suffered through so many weeks just to not get a baby out of it. And now I just cry a lot, in fact all of the time would be more accurate. Any sad story leaves me in tears. I cry in the car when sad songs come on, or at any episode of Grey’s Anatomy even though that NEVER used to happen.
This isn’t just my story, it’s the story of SO MANY other women who have been through miscarriage or pregnancy loss.
A year later and I haven’t shared this story for so many reasons; I felt like a burden talking about it, I didn’t want my own pain to steal joy from others, and because people don’t talk about miscarriage, they just don’t.
The reason I’m sharing this now is because I’ve learned just how many other women carry this same burden with them; coping in their own ways, and avoiding talking about it because it makes other people uncomfortable. But nobody should have to walk through the loss of a pregnancy and its aftermath isolated and afraid.
I have a box in our house of baby things that I occasionally add to. It’s therapeutic. Someday I will use the things in my collection but I also worry about going through loss again and wonder what I’ll do if that happens. One can only fill a void with so many board books and onesies.
This is my story but thousands of women every year go through their own. 10-20% of recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage so it’s likely that someone you’re close to is holding their own story and feels like they can’t talk about it. So here are some things to say and not say to help them:
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“How are you doing?”
“Is there anything I can do to help?”
Let them talk as much or as little as they need to
Let them cry
“Well it must have not been the right time”
“It’s probably best it didn’t work out, you’re not prepared for it”
“It’s just part of God’s plan”
“Good things come to those who wait”
Don’t be dismissive of them when they talk about it
If you don’t know what to say just listen
Don’t pretend it didn’t happen
And remember: miscarriage doesn’t go away. Every woman who has lost a pregnancy has to relive it on a regular basis when they go to see a doctor, when they see other people’s babies, and if they do decide to get pregnant again.
Gosh, if you’ve read this far thank you so much. And if you’re struggling with your own loss and feel nothing but isolation, you’re not alone. If you’re looking for support check out this directory of formal and informal support groups for miscarriage, infant loss, infertility, and more:
One More Thing: Years ago this would not have been the same story. Had I not been in a healthy, stable marriage I would have felt very differently about the situation and I don’t want anyone to think that my reaction now would have been my reaction then. One of the things that got me through the experience was knowing that I had a choice about my medical care, reproductive rights, and what happened to my body, and I would NEVER want another woman to have to go through an unexpected or dangerous pregnancy (or any other situation really) without knowing she had rights to make decisions about her own body. Just because my experience left me wanting a child does not mean other women feel the same way, and that’s OK.