'There was nothing I did or could have done to prevent it': A reader shares her heartfelt experience of miscarriage
A mom healing from a recent miscarriage reached out to us to share her story in hopes of bringing awareness from the stigma around miscarriages and infant loss.
Read her moving story below.
"Despite what you may think you know, miscarriage is extremely common and one in four women have experienced this loss. That’s 25% of all pregnancies that will end in a loss before 12 weeks.
The risk goes up as you get 35 or older. That’s a scary thought if you’re pregnant or planning to be. But the reality is that most of us don’t know how common it is or we don’t think it will happen to us.
Especially if you’ve had one or more healthy full-term pregnancies before. I didn’t think it would happen to me, but it did.
I am one of the lucky ones
After a positive pregnancy test, those two lines change your life in an instant. The early excitement is soon replaced by, what any expecting mom will tell you, normal fears about how the pregnancy is progressing.
We are told by our doctors that miscarriage is uncommon, and that all those aches and pains, and even a little bit of bleeding, is all normal.
That pregnancy symptoms come and go, and maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t get morning sickness. Sometimes it is fine, most times we convince ourselves and use Google to calm our ‘irrational’ fears that something is ‘wrong’ or might go wrong. And then it does.
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I’ve had two previous pregnancies. Both of them went by problem-free and I have never had any health or fertility issues. I am one of the lucky ones. So when I learned I was pregnant for the third time, although nervous, I wasn’t overly concerned anything was wrong or might be wrong.
Blood tests after the initial pregnancy pee test, confirmed I was indeed pregnant. I had all the usual symptoms, that would come and go. I had no abnormal cramping, no bleeding or spotting - nothing to tell me that I needed to be concerned.
My husband and I were excited waiting for our 8-week scan, to see the heartbeat and confirm a due date. We’d done this twice before, so it was almost a ‘business as usual’ appointment with my gyne.
We chatted about how things had gone so far, about how big my other kids were getting and how exciting it would be to add a little baby to our family. I readied myself on the bed for the ultrasound, making small talk while the doctor checked my blood pressure.
Those 20 minutes seemed like hours, moving in slow motion
As the ultrasound blinked into motion, my eyes searching for the first glimpse of our little bean. I knew the routine, the doc would measure crown to rump to get an approximate gestational age to calculate the due date and then turn on the sound to hear the pulsating noise of the heartbeat.
Except, he didn’t say anything as he scanned. He measured, and measured again. Tried different angles, pushed different buttons and the look on his faced changed from a smile to a frown. My heart dropped, there was no fluttering movement at the centre of the image, where I knew it should be.
Also read:"My heart was torn out of my body, I wanted to die!"
He finally uttered the words I knew were coming. I can’t find a heartbeat. My husband urged him to check again, my gyne called another gyne from the office next door just to check again. Those 20 minutes seemed like hours, moving in slow motion. My world crumbled around me, tears flooded my eyes.
My precious baby’s heart had stopped a day or so before that first scan at 8 weeks 5 days. My body failed to recognise the loss. I was experiencing a missed miscarriage. My husband held me in the ultrasound room as we cried.
I couldn’t face knowing I was carrying my dead baby inside of me
In the hour afterwards, my gyne would tell me that usually, a loss before 12 weeks is due to chromosomal abnormalities. That this was my body doing what it was supposed to do. That there was nothing I did or could have done to prevent it. It brought little comfort.
I now had to decide what to do next. I could wait for nature to take its course, I could take medication to start the process or I could schedule a surgery to remove the ‘products of conception’. I opted for the surgery. I couldn’t face knowing I was carrying my dead baby inside of me for any longer than I had to.
I knew I wouldn’t emotionally be able to watch the process of passing my dead baby. I scheduled the surgery for the next day. I am fortunate that we live in a country where I have choices and control over my body, but it was still one of the hardest decisions to make.
That evening we cried, we cried over the loss of the life we had planned, the memories we didn’t get to make. Instead of calling our friends and families to share good news, we were telling them about the loss.
That’s the thing, you’re told to wait until 12 weeks to make sure everything is okay to share the news that you’re expecting, but most miscarriages happen before then so most miscarriages go unspoken about.
Also read: Shining the light on child loss with The Empty Project
It’s a heavy burden to carry alone. And you feel alone. No one knew about the pregnancy, no one shared in those first moments of joy and now there is no one to share in your grief.
But the internet is full of forums and groups of women who have experienced miscarriage, some even after 12 weeks. While reaching out into some of my circles I learnt that more and more women had experienced this loss, some more than once.
All of a sudden I wasn’t so alone. I part of a special and secret club of heartache. The one you find at 2 am when you can’t sleep and your pillow is wet from tears while you’re scrolling through news feeds and Googling things like missed miscarriage and D & C recovery.
Would knowing that miscarriage is so common lessened my worries in those first few weeks? Probably not. I know there is nothing I could have done to prevent it. But, perhaps I would have prepared myself a little more.
Perhaps I would have been more excited and cherished the short time I had with my little one knowing that there is a much greater risk that those weeks might be all I had.
Maybe I would have shared my fears more openly and had the support I needed in those early days and in the days following the loss.
Please do not say any of these things to someone who has experienced a miscarriage
I’ve learnt that because miscarriage isn’t spoken about, most people don’t know what to say when you’re grieving. You hear things like, everything happens for a reason, trust in God’s plan, you still have two beautiful children to be grateful for, you can always try again.
Please, please do not say any of these things to someone who is or has experienced a miscarriage. Validate and acknowledge their loss, and their pain. Offer empathy and support. Allow them space to grieve and know that there is no ‘normal’ in how anyone processes this loss.
Some might get over it quite soon and be eager to get on with their lives, other might takes weeks or months to deal with the loss. Both are ok. There is no timeline and you don’t ‘get over it’. You just learn to live with it.
I have been lucky to have an amazing friend, who is also a life coach. Working through this with her has really helped. There is no shame in reaching out for professional help, or any help at all. Whether it is asking a friend to take your kid/kids for a play date, or merely ordering dinner in because you’re not up to cooking, do whatever you need to do in order to give yourself time and space to heal.
Also read: Hilaria Baldwin: Opening up about miscarriage made it 'less scary'
My husband has been my rock through this all. He has shared his feelings with me and kept the house running in the early days when I wasn't up to it. I have learnt that I need to communicate with him about what I need, and not create an expectation without clearly voicing it. It helps us to navigate the emotional minefield and not get caught up in misunderstandings.
As I sit here, 11 days from the surgery and 12 days since we learnt our baby had died, I am still not okay. I am taking it day by day, moment by moment. I am hopeful that this experience will teach me other things.
Like being kind to myself and allowing myself to feel my feelings whatever they are. To take time and enjoy the beautiful things in my life, because I know that they are fleeting.
I honour the memory of my little one, for it will always be part of who I am. But this loss does not take away from all that I am, it just becomes part of me.
Being happy does not take away from the memory.
I’m back at work and life is moving ahead. Some days are easier than others.
Share your story with us, and we could publish your letter. Anonymous contributions are welcome.