Through blurred tears, I read and promptly deleted the “Your baby is now the size of a lentil!” notification that popped up on my phone as my husband and I silently drove home from the emergency room. We had just experienced our second miscarriage. The agonizing pain and cramping had finally subsided. It was over. I was no longer pregnant. Our baby was gone along with our dreams of finally having a sibling for our 3 ½ year old daughter. Medically, the worst part was over but when the physical pain subsided, the emotional pain took its place. I’m not sure which is worse.
The difficulty of this miscarriage took me by surprise – we had dealt with heartbreaking infertility for 4 years trying every treatment imaginable before our daughter was finally born via IVF. Since her birth in 2012, she has been the light of our lives… our whole world and we have loved every minute of our sweet, beautiful and funny little blessing! Shortly after her 2nd birthday, we tried an embryo transfer using one of the frozen embryos left from our initial IVF process. Right before Christmas we were given the news that there was no heartbeat and I miscarried a few days later. The first miscarriage was heartbreaking, but I seemed to heal and move on fairly quickly.
Over a year (and a handful of unsuccessful “natural” fertility treatments) later, I was giving my daughter a bath one evening when she suddenly started to get sad. I asked her what was wrong and she said, “I want a baby that I can help take care of. One who lives here with me. I just want a baby brother or sister of my own.” With that said, we decided it was time to try another embryo transfer.
After all of the injections, medications and the transfer, I was finally pregnant again! Morning sickness and all! But as I was watching my daughter’s dance class one Wednesday morning, I felt it; that distinct feeling every newly pregnant mother dreads… cramping and blood. A lot of blood. I pulled my daughter out of class and rushed to the clinic where my fears were confirmed. No heartbeat. I was having another miscarriage. Through the deafening silence in the ultrasound room, my daughter grabbed my hand and said, “It’s going to be okay, Mommy.” Her sweet words pulled all my tears to the surface… no one knows how much I cried that day.
It has been a few months now. For some reason the miscarriage itself was so much more painful physically and emotionally the second time around. Slowly the bleeding stopped and my pregnancy levels returned to normal. My husband, family, friends and even my body was moving on but I felt like I was still stuck in that hospital room. Why couldn’t I shake this? I tried to tell myself that people have miscarriages everyday… I wasn’t very far along, I shouldn’t be this sad. I was ashamed and embarrassed at how heartbroken I was not just for my husband and myself but for our daughter who wants a sibling more than anything. I pushed the feelings down and tried to catch up to everyone else who had moved on. I maintained the facade for a while until one day I saw a Mom shopping in Target with her new baby and I suddenly felt like I couldn’t breath. Tears wouldn’t stop pouring down my face and I realized that no matter how much I tried to convince myself otherwise, I wasn’t ok. I finally understood that it hurt so much because it mattered so much and that was ok. Even though I wasn’t very far along, I was still 100% pregnant and I was feeling 100% of the grief of losing that baby.
Awhile later, my husband, daughter and I were riding in the car – my husband said something really funny and I finally laughed. A REAL laugh. From the back seat I heard my daughter say, “Mommy, you laughed! Does that mean your heart is better?” She had understood my sadness enough to notice I hadn’t laughed like that in quite some time. But she also noticed that I was starting to heal. Though there were still down days, my old self was starting to resurface – enough to laugh again. “Yes, sweetheart. My heart is starting to feel better.”
No one talks about miscarriages because no one knows what to say. I get it. But what is worse is that no one talks about what happens after the baby is gone – the hormone imbalance, the weight loss, the weight gain, the cloud of sadness. I feel that not acknowledging miscarriages after they happen can make women feel like they should be ashamed to be sad – particularly if they weren’t very far along. What I learned is that it is okay to talk about what has happened because the reality is there is a piece of our heart that dies with that baby no matter how early we have to say goodbye. There is part of us that will always wonder who that baby would have grown up to be and we need to grieve for them without feeling ashamed.
A few weeks ago, my daughter and I were sitting in the waiting room at our chiropractor’s office when a mother and her teenage daughter walked in and sat across from us. We watched as the daughter leaned her head onto her Mom’s shoulder. They were laughing at something on her phone and chatting about nothing in particular. It was obvious they were best friends. At that moment my daughter and I looked at each other and smiled as if we were both thinking the same thing – that will be us. We were going to be ok. Whether or not our family is ever blessed with another child, her and I have an extraordinary bond that will span a lifetime and that is more than I could ever ask for! I pulled her close, kissed her head and whispered, “I’m so lucky that I get to be your Mom.”