January 22, 2014 – Days after I find out I’m pregnant for the second time, I experience signs of miscarriage, and soon get confirmation from my doctor that I’m no longer pregnant.
January 22, 2015 – My beautiful daughter is born.
Miscarrying is awful. Almost two years later I still can’t really think of much that’s helpful, eloquent, or inspiring about such a horribly sad loss.
But, after talking to SEVEN other friends (that I know of), who have experienced such loss, I’ve committed to trying to at least share the little that I can, in hopes that someone may find it helpful if they miscarry, or have a friend or family member who has recently miscarried.
My husband and I were thrilled to find out we were pregnant again shortly after my son turned one. The newborn fog had lifted, and we could see that while it was crazy hard, having a child could also be simultaneously lovely, even fun. The same Friday night we found out I was pregnant, I began rifling through my sons newborn pajamas, snapping a picture of my favorite pair and sending to a friend, “I forget how tiny they are when they’re newborns!”
The next day, we had planned a one night family getaway to a water park hotel. We had a blast and I woke up that Sunday only mildly concerned when I realized I’d begun spotting. I knew that spotting didn’t necessarily equate to miscarriage, and I remained calm and called my doctor. I’ll always remember the exact words that the nurse used, as she told me to sit tight for a few days and remain “cautiously optimistic.”
Within a few days, it became clearer to me that I was probably miscarrying. My doctor wasn’t in the office, and I insisted on getting seen by another doctor by Wednesday. An ultrasound revealed my worst fear. When the doctor looked on the screen, there was no tiny bean shaped baby.
“I’m so very sorry,” she said, as I tried but failed at fighting back tears. Partially undressed, feet in stirrups, and my husband squeezing my hand, I just felt like I had to get out of there, get home, and pull the covers over my head. I cried all the way home, and avoided our nanny, who was home with my son. I pounded out a few quick emails saying I wouldn’t be coming to work the next day, and thought about the baby I wouldn’t have.
Nine months from then, I wouldn’t be delivering a baby, a brother or sister for my son, and a much wanted addition to our family. I wouldn’t feel his or her kicks throughout my pregnancy, never kiss the top of their head, or send them off to school.
My husband held it together, letting our nanny know why I holed up in my room all day, and that I could use her help as I wasn’t feeling great from cramping. He helped put my son to bed, and we crawled in together, totally beat and defeated. Finally, he began to cry. I think it’s fair to say that men don’t experience miscarriage in the same way that women do, but he was crushed to say the least.
This was common, I knew, and I wasn’t naive enough to think I was immune to the possibility, but it’s just not something you can remotely understand until you’ve experienced it. Slowly, I started telling friends and family members. While no one could take away the pain I was experiencing, I felt truly loved and well taken care of. A friend who knew I’d been laying low, called with a proposal to join her at her daughter’s play. Another stopped by at work for a huge hug and continued to check in with me. I received emails and words of encouragement from moms who’d had miscarriages and gone on to have more babies. I was well loved and taken care of, and for that, I was thankful.
Even though it was early in my pregnancy, almost two years later, I still mourn the loss of the baby I miscarried. While some moms think about their baby every day, if I’m being honest, I don’t. It happens at random times, and not so random times, and it always feels like someone knocked the wind out of me. Two of my best and oldest friends have had miscarriages since then, and in each case, I tried to be supportive of them, but relived the experience myself as I talked to them. I’ve cried for them, and tried to refrain from telling them exactly how to feel, but support them and acknowledge that their grief is valid, and may not disappear entirely right away, or ever.
Though my doctor told me we could begin trying again soon, we waited a few months, and became pregnant a few months later. Like many women who’ve experienced miscarriage, I was more guarded this time. I was happy, but didn’t feel like I could really allow myself to get excited until my 13 week appointment. Getting in the car on the way home, I just broke down and started sobbing. I knew nothing was a guarantee until the baby is born, but felt like I could breathe at that point.
My daughter was born a year from the day I found out I was miscarrying. She is amazing. It is not lost on me that had I carried the first baby to term, I wouldn’t have my daughter. I can’t completely wrap my mind around that, and have decided I won’t let myself think about it too much. I am a Christian, but don’t understand why this happened beyond the vague scientific descriptions I’ve read of miscarriage. However, I can truthfully say that I’ve felt God throughout this process – in the love I received from friends and family, and in knowing that He’s using me to comfort other women going through the same thing. And in the timing. The crazy timing. How my daughter’s birthday will always be a bittersweet reminder of how good can come after bad. I’ve heard the term “rainbow baby” used to describe children born after miscarriage or infant loss, and I can completely agree with that description – she is a burst of color after a dreary period of rain and sadness.
I’m thankful that even in the last year, I’ve noticed more discussion around miscarriage. I can absolutely appreciate that some women want to grieve privately, but am thankful for those who’ve shared their experiences, as it continues to help me deal with my emotions. If you know anyone who is miscarrying, the best things you can do are to apologize for their loss, if you’re a person of faith, offer to pray with or for them, and allow them to talk without probing too much on details unless you’ve been in the same situation or are sure they won’t mind. Asking if a pregnancy was planned isn’t helpful.
I’m praying that this reaches at least one other person who is hurting today. I can’t offer everyone hope that they will successfully carry a baby to term, but can say that one miscarriage is not an indicator that you won’t ever have a baby. I’m thankful for the opportunity to share with this community of women, and for the support of other moms who have shared their stories alongside me.
My son Oliver, with my “rainbow baby,” Julia