October is pregnancy loss awareness month. A few weeks ago, one of our brave writers pointed out that women today don’t talk about miscarriage enough. She spoke of the shame and embarrassment many women feel, even though miscarriage is common.
She encouraged women to come forward and talk about their losses before sharing her own experience. These are my stories.
My first pregnancy loss was not a miscarriage. When my husband and I first conceived, we weren’t exactly planning to have a baby yet. We lived in a two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn and we had only been dating a little over a year. Nevertheless, we were ecstatic.
I suppressed my feelings about the events that followed my pregnancy and loss so much that I actually ended up blocking out most of my memories. In order to write this post, I had to search the archives of an online pregnancy support group board to bring up these details.
March 14, 2010:
“I am 5 weeks pregnant tomorrow. Yesterday I had a very light pink discharge when I wiped, which went away immediately. This morning and throughout the day, I have had some dark brown discharge. It looks nothing like my period, but I’m still somewhat worried of course… This is my first pregnancy, I am 33, and my boyfriend and I really, really want this baby.”
March 15, 2010:
“I woke up at 5 am with terrible cramps and lower back ache. I can’t help thinking the worst at this point. I tried staying optimistic, but after last night, I just feel in my heart that I’m losing my baby. Going to the doctor today. Please send good thoughts my way.”
March 15, 2010:
“Update: Like most of you said, it is old blood. Doctor did tell me, however, that there is a 50 percent chance of miscarriage at this point. He said everything still looks OK and my cervix is closed. If the blood turns bright red, he advised me to go straight to the hospital.”
March 19, 2010:
“Final update: I woke up on the 17th with unbearable cramping and bleeding. I was rushed to the hospital. After some tests, they determined that my pregnancy was ectopic. The baby had implanted in my ovary. I had to have emergency surgery. They, of course, removed the pregnancy, which at that point had become life-threatening for me. It’s hard to say why this happened to me since I was not considered to be at risk at all for it, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.”
My second loss was a miscarriage, but not the kind of miscarriage where you are doubled over, tears streaming down your face. I had what is called a “missed miscarriage,” where the baby dies quietly in your uterus unbeknownst to you.
Some say a missed miscarriage is worse because you are blindsided and it’s harder to process the loss. Others say it’s better because you don’t go through the physical pain of your body getting rid of the baby. I say it’s not a contest. A loss is a loss. Every single one is equally painful.
April 13, 2011:
“NT scan today! Leaving in a half hour. So nervous, excited, nervous, excited, etc.”
April 13, 2011:
“Update: Had my NT scan today only to find out that I had a missed miscarriage at around 7 weeks, 6 days. I should have been 12 weeks today. We are devastated especially since I had my first ultrasound the day before at 7 weeks, 5 days, and everything looked good with a strong heartbeat. As soon as my baby was on the ultrasound today, I knew something was wrong because he looked exactly the same as the first ultrasound. I still felt like time stopped when the tech said, ‘Unfortunately, there’s no fetal heartbeat.’ We are so crushed. I had no cramping, no bleeding, nothing to indicate something was wrong. Just more bad luck. I’m so sad, but I WILL be back on here very soon, you can count on that. Today, I feel defeated, but I will pick myself up and try again. This will happen for me.”
I was right. On June 17, 2012, I gave birth to my rainbow baby, Violet. Two years later, we completed our family when our second baby girl, Sabine, came into our world.
Did age play a factor in my early losses? Not in my case. In fact, I was at the “right” age with my failed pregnancies. It was only at an advanced maternal age (over 35) that I was able to carry my two baby girls to term. I was and still am a healthy, nonsmoking, fit woman who just happened to have an ectopic pregnancy and a missed miscarriage. Why did this happen to me? It happened because it’s common. It happened because I did nothing wrong. It just happened.
What I do know is that I only wanted two kids and that I can’t imagine my life without Violet and Sabine. Yes, it’s cliché, but it’s also true: It was meant to be.
These are my stories. Don’t be afraid to share yours. We’re listening.