October is an interesting month for me. Suddenly, posts from many mothers begin appearing on my Facebook feed talking about miscarriage.
These women, whether I know them or not, are my kin. I suffered two early miscarriages prior to my successful pregnancy with my son.
Back in April of 2011, two months before I conceived my son, I wrote a bitter post on my personal blog, excerpted below:
These are the babies I could have had. For whatever reason, my body won’t let them develop and grow as they should. It refuses the one thing my heart has desired since I was a young child.
… I’ve been married for almost six years and have been pregnant twice. But I have no children. I have memories of finding out we had conceived. I have memories of seeing my tiny babies on the ultrasound machine screen. I have memories of painfully losing my embryonic children to the abyss of the world.
The first time, it was a surprise loss. Though I had few symptoms the entirety of my short-lived pregnancy, and though my baby measured a week small (which is still technically within normal, especially if you ovulate later than the alleged average of 14 days), I didn’t put too much thought into worrying. And then, at exactly nine weeks, I was cramping and spotting. An ultrasound at Urgent Care the next day showed I was no longer pregnant. This was followed by days of pain – physical and emotional. And anger. And resentment. But we kept trying for a baby. It took nearly a year and a half.
This time, I was cautiously optimistic. Most women who miscarry go on to have successful pregnancies. The chances of it happening more than once are slim to none. And I felt so much more pregnant this time around. I had morning sickness and was thrilled even though it wasn’t particularly fun. I had mid-day exhaustion. I had intense thirst and hunger. I just knew everything was going to be okay this time. But at about eight weeks in, just before I had my ultrasound, everything faded away almost overnight. I still felt physically miserable, but it was different and I knew it. At the ultrasound, this baby also measured small – even smaller than my first, and I was a little further along.
From there, I knew I had already lost this one, even though it had the faintest of heartbeats. The first had had a heartbeat, too. And I just sat around, waiting for my body to give me the physical signs, ready for the hardness of nature to show itself. I waited for weeks. Actually, no, I waited for four weeks until my body finally tore me apart losing what was left of my second pregnancy.
And in the morning, after it had rained outside from the moment I felt pain into the night as I slept, the sun was out and I felt calm. It was the strangest thing, but I was also grateful it had come and gone in such a flurry. I had already spent a month in the dregs; I didn’t need another week of misery.
Since having those miscarriages, I have known so many women who have lost their babies “to the abyss.” Every pregnancy is the potential for a new future. When you lose a baby, you are left with a deep wondering about what could have been, as well as the jarring reality of what no longer is.
I grieved for a long time over my first loss. It was hard to go anywhere for a while because everyone seems to have children. Every other person can successfully carry a child to term, if not multiple children. It is difficult not to carry jealousy in your heart.
With the second, I became pregnant five months later. Becoming pregnant after a loss is a whole other can of worms, truly, because there is a fear within you during the entirety of the time you are carrying that child that they, too, will cease to exist. And you have no control over this. Surrendering any semblance of control, or working to control the few things you can (such as diet and other health-related habits) is all you can do. Because that first loss leaves a scar — an experience you cannot just wipe away or “replace” with another pregnancy.
So yes, I look at these women, brave enough to speak out about a subject that brings sadness to our souls, and count them as sisters. I don’t know their pain; we’re all living different lives and experiencing loss in different ways. But I know there are far too many who I can now empathize with. I don’t know that we can change that any time soon. But talking about it and taking the stigma away from this painful topic does help.
October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Everyone is welcome to light a candle that evening for the souls gone too soon from this earth.