I remember the blissful state of shock and excitement I felt, upon learning I was pregnant, like it was yesterday. My stomach still literally flutters when I think about it. I also remember just as strongly the soul crushing numbness that followed a short month later when I was told that the baby did not look as big as it should for its gestational age and the heartbeat was too faint. I walked around in a daze for the next two weeks waiting to miscarry and still clinging to the hope that the doctor was somehow wrong. It was all I could do to breathe and at home I pretty much cried without end.
Miscarriage, like most things in life, is not experienced the same way by everyone. I have had conversations with a few who have simply shrugged their shoulders at the turn of events and moved on with life. There is nothing wrong with that or those people. But, in my experience, the majority of women do not move on so easily. Speaking for myself… I was a Mom from the moment I knew about that little baby.
Like most newly pregnant women, I immediately started thinking about that child. What would they look like? Who would they grow to be? What would we name him/her? I never got the answers to those questions and they haunted me greatly for a while. They still hover in the corners of my mind. I don’t think the ghost of what could have been will ever leave me completely.
When I was blessed enough to conceive again, this time with twins, I was beyond thrilled. Both heartbeats looked strong on my early ultrasound, so I didn’t expect to learn at my 10 week appointment that one of the babies had very recently stopped growing. Looking at the little arm buds that were forming and the outline of the head on the ultrasound, it was impossible to know or understand what had happened. Thinking about this moment still brings me to tears. I was so happy that the second baby seemed to be doing well and was assured there was no reason to think she would not continue to do so. However, I had also just lost another baby. Another set of questions would go unanswered. Not a week goes by that I don’t have a moment, however fleeting, when I find myself wondering if Nora’s twin would have been as sweet and snugly as she is. Would he/she have had the same coloring or been as picky of an eater? Would they have had a really unique sibling relationship? Was it a boy or a girl? I could go on.
Here is what I have learned from my miscarriages:
– It’s the elephant in the room. People don’t know how to talk about it. This is true of those experiencing it as well as those who you choose to tell. It is my hope that if more people talk about it, it will become more acceptable to talk about. This is why I have ultimately become fairly open about my losses.
– It’s okay to be sad and even to mourn. I felt a tremendous amount of guilt about how hard the experience was for me. I was in the midst of struggles with infertility and losing that first baby also meant another huge road block in my tremendous desire to be a mother. This may or may not have made the experience more devastating for me, but all I know is, I was sad. Sad, like I have never been before in my life. Aside from my parents and my husband, the world in general seemed to think I should only be a little sad and move on quickly, but I just couldn’t. I have since come to terms with this feeling of guilt and shame that I had about not reacting in a socially “acceptable” way because I realize that I needed to mourn the loss of my babies (both times). Because without that, it was as though I was pretending they never existed when the fact of the matter is that, to me, they couldn’t have been more real.
– I love my husband. His support through my infertility and miscarriages showed me the best there was to him and our relationship. I will forever be grateful to him for that.
– I can give to others what was not available to me. Sometimes people need to talk through these experiences with other people who will listen and not judge. Who won’t give them a pep talk if they don’t want one, but will rally when they do. If I can make someone who has experienced a miscarriage feel even slightly less alone than I did, I will do everything in my power to do that.
I am so blessed to have Nora and Meredith in my life. They make me laugh daily and are truly the answer to a prayer I said daily for many years. I am a proud mother of two beautiful little girls. But, in my heart, I will always be a Mama of four.