In the Spring of 2013, my husband and I were young, carefree newlyweds. Less than two months after saying “I do,” we were overjoyed to find that we were expecting our first child. We happily switched from unpacking wedding gifts to window shopping for our baby registry and dreaming about the future of our little family.
And then that excitement turned to colossal heartbreak when we were told by a doctor that I had a miscarriage 13 weeks into my pregnancy.
A miscarriage is the loss of a fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy. I actually knew people who had a miscarriage, but their story always sounded something like this: “I lost my baby, but it’s OK.” It was mentioned passively and never seemed like a big deal until it happened to us.
I know that each person’s experience with loss is different, but my world was completely shattered. Unrelenting sadness, despair, and loneliness enveloped my entire being. I’d never been more lost and confused.
I’ve had six years to comprehend what happened to me and there are so many things that I realize about miscarriages now that I wish I’d known sooner.
It Wasn’t My Fault
There is an immediate guilt that runs through your body when you learn that you couldn’t protect your unborn child. In most instances, a miscarriage occurs spontaneously and there’s absolutely nothing that could have been done to prevent it. It took several years for me to forgive myself and accept that I was not responsible for my loss.
It’s estimated that 1 in 4 women will lose a baby during pregnancy, delivery, or infancy. Not that this fact is comforting, but it’s evidence that there’s an entire population of women and families struggling similarly. Since I started sharing my miscarriage story, I’ve discovered support in unexpected places and been able to connect with an empathetic network of women.
Grieving is Necessary
At the time of my miscarriage, I was the director of a child development center. Even after I notified my supervisors of my loss, it seemed like my absence was inconvenient and I felt pressured to return as soon as possible. In hindsight, I wish that I would’ve advocated for myself better and taken time to absorb my thoughts and emotions. I highly advise any women who find themselves in this unfortunate situation to grieve. Your healing may never be complete, but allow yourself to process the trauma as much as you can.
My Husband was Grieving, Too
Since I bore the physical burden of the miscarriage, it didn’t occur until later how much my husband was impacted. Experiencing something so distressing that early in our marriage affected our relationship negatively and we found ourselves in counseling to repair the damage.
People Will Say the Wrong Things, but They Mean Well
When I did open up about my loss, I can’t tell you how many times I heard “at least you know you’re fertile” or “you can always try again.” None of it ever made me feel better. I can see now that those who love you want to help, they just don’t know how and you have to remember their intentions.
You Never Forget
When school started this year, I realized that if I’d had a successful pregnancy, I would have a 5-year-old entering kindergarten. I still acknowledge my due date and dread the date my miscarriage was confirmed. Although we have two beautiful, healthy daughters now, random thoughts pop into my mind constantly and I can’t help but wonder what that child would be like today.
Knowing all of these things would not have made my miscarriage any easier, but I would have been better equipped to seek support for myself and my husband. Now, I try to be a source of strength and hope for other women and families who have had a loss. Our experiences are unique and deeply personal, but there’s mutual devastation that we all share. I’ve found that it’s helpful to lean on people who can relate and will listen openly to your story.
Locally, there are several monthly opportunities to connect with other women and families who have had a loss. You can also find designated events throughout October for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.