October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. The latest statistics are that 15-20% of all confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage and that 80% of miscarriages occur in the 1st trimester. Although this is something that almost 1 out of 4 women experience, it is a topic that is rarely talked about.
If you have ever been pregnant, then you know the feeling of waiting to hear your baby’s heartbeat from an ultrasound or fetal Doppler machine during your OB exam and then breathing a huge sigh of relief when you hear the beautiful “thump….thump….thump.” If you’ve ever suffered through a miscarriage, then you know the complete and total devastation you feel when you hear nothing at all.
Four years ago this month, I was already the mother of three. My husband and I had always wanted an even number of kids, especially since there is such an age difference between the first two and #3. We wanted him to have a sibling close in age like our bigs were. We also knew that this would be the last one.
When we decided to try for #4, I got pregnant pretty quickly. When I took the home pregnancy test, we were ecstatic! I knew exactly when I conceived and how far along I should have been. When we went to our first OB appointment, according to my cycle and calculations, I should have been 9 weeks along. My blood work and urine test confirmed I was indeed pregnant, but the ultrasound did not support my timeline. My OB said that there was indeed an embryo, but it didn’t look like I was as far along as I thought. She told me to come back in two weeks to have another ultrasound.
I immediately felt like something was wrong. I just knew that I had the dates correct. But, hopefully, I was way off and I just had to wait two weeks to confirm that theory.
After the longest two weeks of my life, it was finally our follow up appointment day. As soon as our OB started the ultrasound, I knew from the look on her face that something was wrong. I will never forget her looking at me and saying the words “there is no heartbeat.”
It’s hard to describe what I felt at that moment. The absolute agony and overwhelming anguish was something that I had never felt before.
I don’t remember much of what happened after that. Between my sobs, I heard the doctor say we needed to schedule surgery ASAP and how sorry she was for our loss. I just felt numb.
Three days later, I had a D&C. I don’t think I left my house for two weeks after that. I didn’t want to see anyone. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I have never in my life felt such true sadness. It was debilitating. I felt completely alone and like I was the only person in the world who had ever been through this. How would I utter the words, “I lost the baby” when people who didn’t know, asked how I was feeling?
Once word got out, the reactions I got from some people was quite mind blowing. I was told, “Why don’t you just be thankful for the three kids you already have. Some women can’t even have one.” “Once you get pregnant again, you will forget this ever happened.” “Were you technically even pregnant? I mean, there wasn’t even a heartbeat.” Now, I am going to hope that these people just didn’t know what to say in this situation, so coming across completely insensitive and cruel wasn’t their intention. That didn’t make it any less painful to hear. From the minute I saw the two pink lines on the home pregnancy test, I was pregnant. When it was confirmed by a blood test, urine test, and an ultrasound, I was pregnant. I had every pregnancy symptom there is. My body was 11 weeks pregnant. I was already imagining who this little baby was going to be and planning for life with this new member of our family. I was this baby’s mother. Just because the baby stopped growing and didn’t survive, did not and does not mean that I didn’t experience the greatest loss imaginable. A part of myself died that day too.
However, the majority of the reactions I received from my family and friends were amazingly supportive, and I could not have gotten through those first days, weeks and months without them. What surprised me the most, was the amount of women in my life who I found out had also had miscarriages. How did I not know? Why do we not talk about it? Why is it such a taboo subject? Well obviously from reading my story, it’s not enjoyable to talk about such a tragedy much less hear about it. It’s awful and sad and depressing. This is a club that no one should ever be a member of, but unfortunately, it is a club with millions of members. Therefore, wouldn’t it help those of us who are members to talk openly about it? If it could help others feel like they are not alone, shouldn’t we discuss it?
There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think about the baby we lost. I did go on to have a healthy baby a year later. Yes, I am indeed lucky to have four children. It doesn’t take away the pain, loss, and grief I experienced from the baby we lost, though. That is a pain that will never go away.
1 out of 4 women will experience a miscarriage. We need to start talking about it.