A day once rattled off by memory as one that would be celebrated with joy, had within 10 short weeks transformed into the day that would never come, or at least how I’d planned. I’m sure my husband has long forgotten the excitement and anticipation that thoughts of early spring once gave us. I can still picture the hand-written reminder on the calendar, now replaced with a blacked-out scribble. As I turned my calendar from March to April, I was reminded of what the ink blot represented—the due date of what would have been our second child.
For those of you who’ve had a miscarriage, I’m so sorry for your loss. I have no doubt that it was one of the most lonely, painful, empty times of your life, as it was for me.
So why dredge up such a heartbreaking memory? Because I realized that as common as this experience is for so many women all over the world, we still get uncomfortable mentioning it. You would think in today’s world, we would have cracked this topic wide open by now—it’s not as if we don’t discuss about other dark sides of motherhood. The sad truth is, pregnancy and loss can unfortunately go hand-in-hand sometimes, and the emotions of this tragedy are all that more surreal for its “sudden about-face on joy,” as it was so poignantly described in a magazine article I recently read.
To my utter amazement, there is no medical term for miscarriage. In fact, my medical history now includes the word abortion, for lack of a better term. This classification completely stunned me the first time I read it. Right or wrong, I did not in any way choose for this to happen. And it’s a sad realization that no one, not even doctors, know how to talk about it. This may help explain why so many of us feel so abandoned and helpless in our own little “Quiet Club,” as I’ve heard our group referred as.
I know there has to be plenty of you out there who feel (or have felt) isolated by this traumatic event and I want to tell you that you’re not alone. It’s time for this generation to start talking, and healing by sharing together and bringing to light this very dark reality.
My private sorrow
Like many of you, my miscarriage was something I kept under wraps, telling only close friends and family, which I suppose, only made the situation that much more lonesome. I remember coming back from the ordeal after only taking a day off work, putting on my “happy face,” just trying to get through the day…still tearing up from the voice of the ultrasonographer in my head saying, “I’m sorry, but there’s no heart beat.”
How can anyone ever mentally prepare for those awful words? No heart beat? That can’t be right… My first pregnancy went so smoothly… This can’t be happening to me. But it was.
The first thing my doctor advised was that I got support in whatever way I needed… counseling, prayer, family and friends, even medication. I remember sitting in her office, tears streaming down my face, only faintly making out the words she was telling me. I drove home numb, not sure how I was going to tell my husband what had happened.
Once I was able to come to terms with the situation, I sought comfort in the few friends of mine who’d experienced the same devastation. It was ironic that not long ago, I was once trying to find the right words to console them, only to find myself on the receiving end—realizing there are no right words.
During those next few weeks and months it helped to talk with those who knew exactly how I felt—how I blamed myself and overanalyzed everything I could have done differently. What did I do wrong? Did I eat something…drink something….do something I shouldn’t have? And I shared the fears I had about trying to conceive again. Would the once joyful experience ever be the same for me?
In the article I read about miscarriage, it talked about the sense of innocence lost. It mentioned how most of us are women in our early to mid-30’s—we’re married, have careers and are fully aware of life’s complexities. But yet there’s this innocence that is taken away—the simple sense of pregnancy and its promise.
My husband and I didn’t hold back, maybe because we wanted to fill that empty void as soon as we could. We also desperately wanted to give our two-year-old daughter a sibling sooner than later. I’m so grateful we were given a second chance, but during the first few months of this current pregnancy, I missed experiencing the immediate joy I had when pregnant with my daughter. Instead, I was scared, and felt cheated of the positive feelings I was supposed to be free to have. I reserved my excitement, waiting for the other shoe to drop—in order to better prepare myself for disappointment. I didn’t want to get my hopes too high. Everything was done with caution; I even stopped exercising.
Over time, I found the strength to grasp onto that same hope I had with my first two pregnancies. But rather than shouting the news from the rooftops, my husband and I had maintained a cautious optimism and kept our joy quiet until we felt more certain that things were going in the right direction. It may sound silly, but even now I try to mentally prepare myself in case something was to happen again.
Getting ready to head into my third trimester, I’m growing more and more optimistic with every powerful kick and jab I feel. I’m also reminded of what one of my good friends had said to me about her miscarriage, and then birth of her first child. If things had happened differently, she never would have had the child she has now, whom she couldn’t possibly imagine life without.