They say you shouldn’t announce a pregnancy until you are at least 12 weeks along. The thought being that the risk of miscarriage is highest within the first trimester – sharing the news too early, and then experiencing a loss would result in having to share that news too. Many women would rather keep that news to themselves – although to be completely honest I don’t understand why, especially after going through it myself.
Let me back up – a few weeks ago I found out I was pregnant with my second baby. We told everyone right away because we had been trying for a while and I was on my 3rd round of the fertility medication Clomid – the last chance I had before being referred out to an infertility specialist. So everyone (in our immediate family, anyway) was pretty clued in to what was going on. Why hide it at that point, right?
Exactly one week from my positive pregnancy test, I started miscarrying.
I knew instantly. There was nothing to question, there was no maybe – it was undeniably obvious what was happening. But, I called the doctor anyway… because I had never experienced this before and had no idea what I was supposed to do. Is there a protocol? Are there do’s and don’ts? I didn’t know. How would I?
Of course, this all happened after work hours so I was waiting for a call back from the exchange. In the meantime, I was able to get ahold of my primary doctor who told me to “pop a few aspirin and I should feel better in the morning.” Not. Even. Joking. Those were his recommendations. Not to mention the fact that I am, after all, allergic to aspirin. So even if I did consider this “good advice” I couldn’t do it anyway.
The OB on call wasn’t much better. She actually tried to instill a shred of hope by informing me that patients with severe bleeding, like myself, have actually gone on to carry and deliver full term babies so I shouldn’t jump to conclusions.
Hmmm. Really lady? Really? Is that the best thing to say to me right now?
If I hadn’t just gotten a negative pregnancy test while I was waiting for her to call back, I would have probably believed her and held on to the possibility of still being pregnant all weekend – when I wasn’t.
What upped the ante of this situation even more was that I was alone.
My hubby had been in NYC on business in the days prior, and still had a few days to go until his return. So I was dealing with a toddler and a miscarriage on my own for the most part.
Here’s the thing, I understood that this was all part of God’s plan. I got the fact that this was, most likely, not a healthy pregnancy from the start. That it happened early, so it was likely that the process would be easier on my body than if I was further along, which was true. I had no pain, just minimal cramping. It was as if I was having a really, really bad period – only I wasn’t, because my body was literally, and quite physically rejecting my pregnancy. However, other than the fact that I had to wear a gigantic pad, I wouldn’t have even known it was happening.
For these things I am thankful – truly.
If a miscarriage is going to happen, it will happen. That is fact. So I am grateful that the process was easier for me than many others. It didn’t hurt (at least not physically), it happened naturally so I did not need a D&C and I am able to try again immediately (if I want to).
Emotionally, however, I was not that rational. At first, I did my best to keep it together. Once my husband came home though, it was a different story. I was in full blown breakdown mode. I couldn’t help but grieve the loss of what could have been. What that pregnancy would have been like. Who that child would have become.
Granted I was hopped up on synthetic hormones, on top of my natural ones, so it wasn’t a huge surprise that I was extremely emotional – but what did surprise me was the depression.
With the birth of my son postpartum was a breeze, no issues at all. Which did come as a bit of a shock since I had struggled with bouts of depression in the past. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would experience the whole postpartum depression thing with a miscarriage – but that’s exactly what happened.
Luckily, because of my psychology background, I was able to recognize the warning signs and knew what I need to do to get out from underneath my personal black cloud. But, others aren’t so lucky – which is why it’s so important to have a solid support system.
Miscarriage is not something that is often talked about – there is a stigma attached to it. Like it is something not worth speaking about, or that it is something to be ashamed of. Neither of which are true.
The loss is real – no matter how far along you are.
The feelings you have associated to that loss are real – every last one of them.
If you share your pregnancy, and then go on to miscarry, you aren’t un-telling anything. You were pregnant and you experienced the most common complication in pregnancy. You did not announce it too early – you didn’t jinx it – you didn’t do anything to make this happen.
People can, and likely will, be unintentionally insensitive.
Saying things like it was “good I was “only” a few weeks pregnant”, or, “it wasn’t as if I lost a “real” baby”, or, “just pop an aspirin, go to bed and the whole thing will be better in the morning.”
I genuinely don’t think these statements are made with any malicious intent, quite the opposite. I think that people often downplay scenarios as a way to try and be uplifting – a type of glass half full, silver lining, conversation filler, if you will. Because often times people don’t have a clue what the right thing to say is.
The only way to change these types of comments, and the negative stigma surrounding miscarriage, is to open up and share our stories. Make ourselves vulnerable and let others into our lives after experiencing such deep hurt and loss. Take away the secrecy surrounding it all and take control over it instead.
There is so much power in sharing our stories – so much! This is why I don’t understand the silence surrounding this issue, and why I want to change it. We can help each other. Through our own healing we can help others heal – and together we can take the shame and isolation away.
That is why I am writing this – is it deep? Yeah. Is it personal? Very. But if it can help one person feel less alone – just one. Then I will be glad I opened myself up and let you all into this chapter of my life.
With hope for the future, also comes fear.
I’m not sure what is worse, the fear of possibly losing another pregnancy or the fear of not knowing what the immediate future holds as far as being able to conceive again. But I refuse to become paralyzed by the unknown. Whatever path this experience leads me down I am ready to take it head on.
And with so many unanswered questions moving forward there are a few things I know:
Life is fragile and this experience has made that clear. You never know what tomorrow holds so cherish each day for what it is and find joy in everything and everyone that you can.
It has confirmed how much I want and am ready for another child – before the miscarriage I had doubts about my ability to handle two children, if I was really ready. Now I am certain.
It has strengthened my relationship with my husband. He went through this ordeal too – not in the same way, but he felt the same sense of loss and the guilt associated with not being home to support me during that difficult time.
I don’t know how this chapter will end, or what is next for me on the fertility front, but one thing is for sure – I will be open and honest about it with all of you, because I am not ashamed and I know I am not alone.