I’ve been avoiding this post for over a month now. I’m scared to cry again. I’m scared to be taken back to how deep and dark it felt for so long after we found out. I’ve experienced loss in my life, I’ve experienced hardships and heart break but nothing prepares you for learning that you’ve lost your baby.
I kept thinking how sorry I was that my body couldn’t grow this little life. I grieved for the future that we planned for you baby, even in the short time we knew you were there. I carried you, no sign of your passing for 3 weeks past your last heartbeat. You were loved longer then you lived, we were still dreaming of your little face while your heart fell silent inside me. We had so much hope for who you would be and your part in our little family. You made your grandparents and great grandparents so happy. You had cousins SO excited to meet you. For that I am grateful. I knew I was pregnant early on and I am glad that I knew so early. It gave me more time with you. I got to announce it to your daddy. You were loved from that very movement I found out but we waited to announce you to the “world’.
I was reminded a few times that, a friend of a friend lost their baby early on, and it is hard to un-tell people if you lose the baby. I thought at the time; “sure, that makes sense, I will play it safe and wait till we hear the heartbeat.” However, post loss, I read an article from scarymommy.com that made me realize not sharing I was pregnant took more from me. I didn’t get to fully celebrate your life. I want to encourage women to share their joy whenever they WANT, celebrate life even if only for a few weeks. Your baby is real and deserves to be celebrated.
I was 11 weeks and 2 days. My midwife sent me for an ultrasound because the week prior we couldn’t hear the heart beat via doppler. I was assured that’s normal since dopplers don’t work as well early on. So, I swallowed my fear, told myself it wasn’t going to be us, that this baby was meant to be born and I was just overthinking it. We took the first available appointment the next Tuesday and luckily Dave could get the morning off work to go with me. I wasn’t nervous; we had plans to announce it publicly after the appointment. I couldn’t wait another week to tell everyone, after all we were SO excited and this was just a formality because our baby was FINE. We had told family and close friends but because of the stigma of not to announce until after 12 weeks, we were waiting to hear the heartbeat first.
It’s a blur. Having two different ultrasounds, with a silent technician, knowing something was wrong right away, while Dave held my hand trying to reassure me, I started to cry. The Dr. (who had little tact or empathy) explained the baby’s heart beat had stopped around 8 weeks and that it wasn’t my fault, this happens in the first trimester often. They left the room and I thought I was going to be sick, I felt numb, the room wouldn’t stop spinning and I thought I would never stop crying. Sure, to them it was common, a part of their job. While words like “viable” and “sustainable” were thrown at me, there is no line graph where the love you feel for life inside you increases with the number of weeks it gestates. Pregnant is pregnant. Loss is loss. I often felt like I shouldn’t be so sad because it was “early”, but we had envisioned a life.
We went to the midwife’s office from the hospital, she said all the right things, held me as I sobbed and we went home dazed. I cried for what seemed like the whole day. My face hurt and my eyes swelled. I couldn’t sleep, I didn’t want to eat, I wanted to punish my body for what it had done. NOTHING logical made sense. It was my body. My fault. It was my karma, but for what? I knew Dave was sad, I felt guilty for falling apart but all I could do was think that I deserved this pain for some reason. Grief is a tricky thing, especially when it’s a part of you. I don’t want to dismiss grief in other ways but it’s different when it’s a life you have had inside of you. It’s such a dark place.
I had so many friends and family reach out but I couldn’t talk to them. NOTHING anyone could say mattered, Dave’s love and logic made me mad. I am a DOULA and knew the statistics and the logic but it just didn’t matter. I feared my body, I was scared that we would never be able to have the babies we wanted. We had planned this baby, I track my cycles. I am the one that loves to educate women on Fertility Awareness Method and Family Planning. I eat all non-GMO and Organic, I work out and am healthy. This shouldn’t have happened to me (my feelings, not logic. It shouldn’t happen to ANY women). I felt like I lost not only this baby, but all possibility of having any others. Even if we could get pregnant again it would end in loss, or worse an unhealthy baby at birth. I was mad that it stole the joy of pregnancy, the joy of announcing it and having a blissful pregnancy like I had always thought I would. Now I would always be scared, scared we wouldn’t get pregnant, scared until we were past 8 weeks, then out of the first trimester and then what? Scared I would lose the baby at 4 or more months, because I know that can happen too. Before it was a faraway woman who that happened to. NOT ME. Now, it was me.
The statistic is 1 in 4 women. Which the statistic can’t be that accurate since women experience loss early on and might not have known they were pregnant or didn’t go to a Dr. So, who really knows how many women have experienced this. It makes it worse that our culture says not to share your exciting news until after 12 weeks. Those who have lost early on probably didn’t share the good or bad news with you, so it seems less common to most people. Miscarriage isn’t just a loss we feel emotionally. It happens to our bodies, inside of us. We experience it physically. To expect a predetermined level of grief from a woman who has lost a pregnancy is absurd and presumptuous
Why is that a rule? Why do we wait? Why do we have a rule that keeps us from sharing our joy? A rule that leaves us un supported through the trials of the first trimester? This is the time to share the excitement, to get advice and ask for support. It felt wrong to not share our excitement right away, people were surprised when I had shared even with close friends, so “early” on, but we couldn’t help it. I felt more connected to the women I work with, I could finally relate to them in a physical way. I had many friends texting me often asking WHEN we were going to get pregnant. I was excited to say we were in fact pregnant. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Friends and family should know, they should be excited with you and check in on you. We have gotten away from the tribe mentality but I can tell you, without this community of friends and family I wouldn’t have come out of that dark place. I wouldn’t be sharing this. They gave me space and no one pushed me but I was showered in love. I couldn’t hide myself away and continue to lie to myself that it was all my fault. I couldn’t let the irrational fear take over. I wanted to. I felt I deserved it for whatever reason but love is so much stronger. I was held every night as I cried. I was cared for by my mom while Dave had to go to work, even my dad came to stay with me. When I couldn’t speak, I had them to speak for me. I was so numb and the idea of staying that way felt better then dealing with it but I have an amazing support system who reminded me of my own light and constantly reminded me that I could grieve in any way I needed.
Now with some distance from the experience I wanted to share. I want people to understand the 12 week rule is dumb, I want women to know they can and will come out of the darkness, I want the stigma of miscarriage to go away, I want women to reach out to me or their support system if and when they want to. I am sharing because I felt trapped in grief. I felt trapped even with support. I wanted to share because it makes our baby more real. I want to SHARE how our baby’s short life impacted us and we will never forget, because SOMETHING positive must come from the life lost. When I was ready to talk to someone, anyone who had experienced this, I turned to my birth community. I was shocked at the number of women who had similar stories. My birth community is but a sample of all the women you know, imagine how many of them have lost a pregnancy, and how many are aching to talk about it.
Miscarriage is not that most popular conversation in our culture. I get that and I will say it again, 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. Even more women suffer alone in the early weeks, not seeking medical attention. Because of the misconceptions around miscarriage and the 12 week rule many women suffer alone, while the world goes on unaware.
I can’t imagine now hiding your life. It makes me sad that I didn’t shout it from the roof tops the moment I found out. It made it harder to live life and feel the pressure to act normal while you passed through my body weeks later. I felt trapped in sadness and grief but not many people in my day to day knew you were there, so I was supposed to “act” as if life was normal. I felt like I was seeking attention by sharing my loss. I didn’t want to tell people because the idea of appearing like I wanted sympathy or attention from this. I still felt like it was my fault and people would silently judge me, not knowing how common this can be. I felt guilty for moments where life seemed normal, or I laughed. It made me mad that I had to deliver you and then had complication ending in the emergency room. I was mad that what was already traumatic was made more so. I hated my body, and to make things worse, the hormones your body goes through at that time makes logic harder to grasp on to.
Let’s share our loss and gain strength from our community. If you are unsure of what to say to someone who has lost a pregnancy, it’s actually really simple. Just tell them that it is okay to feel whatever they are feeling. It is okay to grieve, and that you are there for them. Being reassured that there was no proper way to grieve this and that it would get a little easier every day helped.
An article I read shared this quote from Dr. Jessica Zucker, a psychologist who specializes in women’s health, created a line of pregnancy loss cards. My favorite reads as follows:
“Grief knows no timeline. Take all the time you need.
If you want to rest, do. If you want to scream, do. If you want to distract yourself, do. If you want to cry, stuff your face, hibernate, go on an adventure, call me morning noon and night, do.
Be gentle with yourself.”
A step forward for me is to share this with you, for you to share this with others and I am working daily to treat my body with love and to be gentle with myself.
I am a Doula, Childbirth Educator and Primal Health Couch. Essentially I am a women's health nerd. I have struggled with Autoimmune issues for the last 10 years, and more recently fertility issues. This along with my birth work, has driven me to self research. I have added a blog to my site in hopes of giving resources to clients or those interested in these topics. I would love feedback and comments.
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