One year ago this week, I suffered a miscarriage. Wait… That doesn’t sound right… I lost a baby… We experienced a pregnancy loss… None of these words seem to fit… I was 11 weeks along in the pregnancy. The child would have been born around the first of February of this year.
You can miss someone you never met…
Last fall, I read an article that talked about how common miscarriage is and how by not talking about it women feel alone, guilty, and lacking in support. I didn’t save the article and can’t recall exactly what it said… but it stuck in my mind… In trying to find it, I came across many articles. I think this may be the one I read back in the fall… Definitely worth a read… http://www.lipstickandpolitics.com/mind-body/why-cant-we-talk-about-miscarriage.
I also came across several other great articles that are worth looking at… Here is just a small sample…
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rachel-toalson/miscarriage-the-grief-that-we-cant-talk-about_b_6542852.html – “Keep that sonogram picture, the one that proves she had a heartbeat once upon a time, the one that says she lived. You’ll be glad you did.” I wasn’t given an ultrasound picture, though I had two transvaginal ultrasounds. Wasn’t even treated kindly by the ultrasound tech.
http://lifeyourway.net/why-we-dont-talk-about-miscarriage-and-why-i-am/ – “Talking about the fear of miscarriage while actually in the first trimester feels a bit taboo, as if we’re tempting fate or claiming the inevitable. If we’re really honest, sharing your pregnancy at all during the first trimester is a bit taboo itself (and it seems as if the number of people who wait to share their pregnancies has grown even in the past 12 years since my first pregnancy). I’m not criticizing anyone’s personal decision to wait—and I think it would be fun to keep it a secret that you share only with your husband, even if there is no way I can personally pull that off for more than 24 hours—but I do disagree with the cultural pressure to wait to announce a pregnancy in case you miscarry.”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/timoria-mcqueen/true-story-i-had-a-miscar_b_4683831.html – “After telling a few friends what had happened, many of them shared that they had also suffered a miscarriage. Some had several, yet no one had ever talked about it. There is a misconception that miscarriages are rare, when the reality is that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage.”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ann-zamudio/now-is-the-time-to-talk-about-your-pregnancy-loss_b_7513288.html – “As many as 20 percent of all known pregnancies end in a miscarriage. And yet, many people who haven’t been directly affected by pregnancy loss seem to think the rate is somewhere closer to 5 percent. That’s a staggering difference between public perception and reality. Especially when it’s such a painful reality for so many women and men.” “In generations past, pregnancy alone was something of a taboo topic. It was shocking just for Lucille Ball to appear pregnant on her own television show. Television executives expected audiences to be scandalized by the physical manifestation of her marital sex. If the mere image of a pregnant woman was taboo, imagine how that extends to losing the baby.”
At the first ultrasound, at about 9 weeks, there was a baby and a faint heartbeat, but the measurements were only showing about 6 weeks gestation. I was basically told ‘I must be confused about the dates.’ We cautiously told a few people about the baby, but I resisted a ‘big’ announcement and making it ‘Facebook official.’ Two weeks later, I started spotting. Though the spotting stopped shortly after it began, I was offered the opportunity to come in for another scan. A second ultrasound showed no growth and no heartbeat. The ultrasound tech said nothing to me and we were unceremoniously dumped back in the waiting room. My OB was on vacation that week, so I waited to see someone else to get the results. I had met the other doctor once before in another venue. She was kind and commented that she was glad I had my 1 and 3 year olds to hug. She asked if this pregnancy had been planned. We went home. I still felt pregnant and didn’t start bleeding for another 24 hours. It took several days before the pregnancy symptoms ceased. I was fortunate that I didn’t need any further medical intervention.
We are told not to tell anyone we are pregnant until we are past the ‘safe’ time, whether that be an early ultrasound, the end of the first trimester, or some other event. I remember my mother not telling anyone she was pregnant with my brother until she was way past 3 months along. I totally understand the desire to keep the news of a pregnancy to oneself for a while. Sometimes treasuring your ‘secret’ and enjoying the knowledge of something special without opening it up to others is part of the celebration. But, not discussing something out of fear or cultural prohibition is disheartening and harmful.
This actually was not my first miscarriage. My first occurred at 5 weeks, the month before I became pregnant with my son. So, 4 pregnancies… 2 healthy babies, 2 miscarriages…
I have thought about the conversation around early pregnancy and miscarriage for several months now and am sharing all this in the hopes that my small voice will help nudge that conversation towards one that is more open and supportive. If you don’t tell anyone about the pregnancy, who do you talk to about its loss…?
On that note, I will cautiously say that I am currently 8 weeks along with another pregnancy. It’s a strange place to be… Excited but cautious… Hopeful but anxious… So it goes with life. In the upcoming weeks, there will be blood tests for genetic screenings and ultrasounds to look at heartbeats and other physical indications. These events will bring us some comfort, but as is always true in pregnancy, we won’t ‘really’ feel better until we hold the baby in our arms. And even then, we all know that loss is always a possibility. So, here is to loving and losing… here is to hoping…. for health and happiness… January and February will bring the birthdays of our daughter and son. We hope it will also bring the ‘birth-day’ of another child, another much loved and wanted addition to our family. Here’s to hope!