I had a miscarriage.
There. I said it.
It was hard for me to talk about it when it happened, but I’ve grown to know that it’s healthy to talk about it. I talk about it because I know so many women are out there living it privately. They’re ashamed, heart-broken, and confused. And, many feel alone in their pain.
I’m here to tell you – you are not alone.
According to the March of Dimes, about 15-25 percent of recognized pregnancies will end in a miscarriage. Prior to having mine, I certainly knew people who had one or even multiple miscarriages. But, I had never talked to them in depth about it. I don’t know if it made me uncomfortable or if I thought it would make them uncomfortable. Either way, I was terribly in the dark about miscarriage and all that comes with it. Here are some things I had to learn in the silent sadness of my own.
There’s not “one type” of miscarriage.
Miscarriage can happen at any point in the pregnancy. And, sometimes your body doesn’t even know it has happened.
I always assumed if I were to have a miscarriage, it would make itself known through bleeding. What I didn’t know (seriously – how did I not know this?) is that there’s such thing as a “missed miscarriage”. A missed miscarriage occurs when a fetus dies, but the body does not recognize the pregnancy loss or expel the pregnancy tissue. As a result, hormones may still be released and women may continue to experience signs of pregnancy.
That was my situation.
My husband and I were excited for baby number two! We scheduled our eight-week confirmation appointment. As we awaited the ultrasound, I joked with the doctor that “hopefully there’s only one in there”, as twins run in my family. She proceeded to do the ultrasound, and then got very quiet. She asked me to check my calendar to see if I had miscalculated my cycle.
No. I knew I was eight weeks along, and I now knew something was wrong. There was no movement, no heartbeat, and she told us the baby had likely stopped developing late in the fifth week.
It. Was. Devastating.
I sat, wide-eyed for what felt like an eternity as we discussed options. We set a follow-up appointment for one week later. My husband and I shed some tears, shared some hugs, and headed back to work in a daze.
There are a couple options to work through a missed miscarriage.
We went back for another ultrasound a week later. The week in between was emotionally difficult. I worked. I mothered. I forced smiles. I carried on as well as I could. The follow-up ultrasound reconfirmed that the baby had passed away at the end of the fifth week.
Nearly four weeks later, my body still had not recognized what had happened. The doctor laid out options for me. I could go the route of a D&C where, typically under anesthesia, the cervix is opened and the tissue is removed from the uterus by a doctor. Or, I could take medication called Misoprostol, which forces the uterus to expel everything.
I opted for the medicine, since I wasn’t very far along and it seemed to be the least invasive. I was majorly freaked out by this, and I’ll admit I got lost in the land of Internet message boards. No one in my circle had ever taken this medicine that I knew of, so it was with great fear of the unknown that I went that route.
I stayed home from work for two days. The bleeding lasted for two weeks. I had pain meds, but I only took a couple of doses. Physically, it really wasn’t too bad – just intermittent heavy cramping. Certainly the emotional pain outweighed the physical.
It’s not your fault.
As you can imagine, I was heartbroken for some time after finding I had lost our baby.
When it first happened, I blamed myself. Did I drink too much coffee? I was trying to lose weight around the time I got pregnant – did I starve the baby before I knew I was pregnant? Was there too much stress in my life? Shame was the wrong path.
My doctor (who was amazing through all of this) assured me there was nothing I could have done. This was not my fault. Blaming yourself will not change anything.
I did wallow for a few days. I was distracted and sad for a few weeks. But, what really got me through this time, was that every time I looked at my first-born daughter, I realized how blessed I was. I had one beautiful, healthy, living child. She would make me laugh. She would give me hugs. And, when you have that kind of sweetness in your life, it’s difficult to stay sad for long.
Even if you don’t already have children, find the blessings specific to YOUR life, and focus on those. And I can’t stress talking through it enough. Confide in your partner, your family members, and in your friends – especially friends who have been through it. Their strength will become yours.
But, you’ll never forget.
I do still think of the baby I never got to hold – every day. And, that’s okay. Yes, it’s sad, but it would be unfair to forget. He or she was my child even if it wasn’t for long. I loved you even though I never met you, and I will truly never forget you.
I hope I haven’t been too graphic in my account here, but I want women to know that miscarriage is common. It’s awful that it happens, but it happens.
If I could flip a switch that would ensure no one else ever had to have a miscarriage, I would. You will get through this, just like the millions of women who have gotten through theirs as well. Hang in there! Many hugs from me to you.
If you have lost a baby, we would love to help you honor him or her. Today, October 15, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. You can fill out a form to visually honor your little one on this Forever Loved Wall.