I had a miscarriage.
There is something incredibly emotional, empowering, and therapeutic about saying that out loud. I have shared parts of my story privately, one-on-one, or posted tidbits of information on social media to help encourage others, but I don’t think I have ever plainly spoken those words to myself. And yet, I know there is power in speaking truth aloud to ourselves and to each other. So, why the silence? Why do so many of us, as women, carry the burden of pregnancy and infant loss alone?
This is my story.
We had been struggling to get pregnant for two years and were diagnosed with secondary infertility, unknown. Yes, we were the one third of couples with no explanation for their infertility. There we were, a family of four with two beautiful children who were perfect in every way, yet our family felt incomplete. We weren’t ready to be done having children and growing our family. As naive as it may sound, we didn’t realize that decision would be made for us.
Within weeks of our diagnosis we received a dramatic surprise – I was pregnant. In an instant, two years of challenges and unexplained circumstances suddenly melted away. We were filled with hope and excitement for this baby. Finally, we could grow our family to five, and enjoy watching our children experience the excitement and anticipation that comes with welcoming a new little one!
Then it happened.
Within weeks the hope and joy left as quickly as it arrived. I was having a miscarriage, and there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop it. I remember lying in bed, curled up in a ball nearly willing myself to stay pregnant. While laying there, I filled my mind with every positive thought I could muster. This was just a bump in the road; I wasn’t actually having a miscarriage. But, no amount of positive thought or cradling my stomach could save this pregnancy.
Certainly we were sad and extremely disappointed, but I was completely unaware of the solitude and isolation I was about to experience. I thought I understood the heartbreak that comes with miscarriage, but I was clueless. The comprehensive list of emotions a woman experiences after pregnancy loss is endless. It wasn’t self-inflicted and I wasn’t alone. In fact, I was surrounded by people at home, at work, and at church. All of these people would care, but they were simply unaware or, if they knew, they were unable to relate.
We can end the silence.
Right or wrong, pregnancy and everything it includes (infertility, miscarriage, pregnancy loss) is a very private matter in our culture. So, we go it alone, even though the path has been walked by so many before us.
Like many women, I have always waited until the second trimester to share my pregnancy with others (with the exception of my husband and our parents). There are many good reasons to wait. Maybe you want to tell your family in person and they live in another city or country. Maybe you want to plan ahead before telling your employer and colleagues, or you need to figure out what it will mean for your career. Or, maybe you simply want to be assured by your first doctor’s appointment. Waiting is just what you do, right?
According to BabyCenter, 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, with 80% of miscarriages occurring in the first trimester. It’s no wonder I was silent – very few people knew about our journey with infertility and our surprising pregnancy, and they were not the people that we spend our days with (mostly work colleagues and church friends). Looking back, that was a mistake.
As women, I hope for a time when we are no longer cautious about sharing our news with the very people that will celebrate with us and hold us up when things don’t go as planned. I realize that our reasons are many and legitimate, and there are many factors that need to change before we can feel comfortable with sharing every piece of our story. Cultural change may never happen, but I encourage you to be brave and share away! Your story will inspire, encourage, and uplift others.
I will always remember.
1 in 4 women will experience miscarriage in their lives – I am one. Unfortunately, this was the second miscarriage in our parenthood journey. Our babies weren’t with us long enough to receive names – not that they weren’t deserving of them – but that doesn’t make them any less loved or hoped for. It’s amazing how quickly your heart falls in love with such a precious gift!
I still look at the three gorgeous souls that I now have and imagine what life would be like with two more. Who knows? Maybe I wouldn’t have one or more of my children if I hadn’t lost my first and fourth babies. However, I truly believe this is the life I was meant to have, and now I walk with empathy for every mama that says goodbye in an untimely way.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Bloomington Moms Blog is one of many groups who would like to remember families who have been impacted by pregnancy and infant loss, and help build awareness of such loss which is often dealt with in silence.
If you have experienced pregnancy or infant loss, there are national and local support groups available online and in person that can help. We encourage you to connect with others for support and share your story. Here are just a few resources for you to consider:
IU Health Bloomington – Bereaved Parents’ Support Group and Resolve Through Sharing (RTS) Perinatal Bereavement Support Group
Bloomington Family Wellness – Bereavement Support Group
Sherwood Oaks Christian Church – Pregnancy Loss Support Group