Click here to read The Rocky Road to Motherhood, Part I
I miscarried during Christmas, a time when we are supposed to feel festive and happy. A time to celebrate family and the important things in life. We didn’t put up a Christmas tree that year, the only year we have ever not decorated for the holiday.
We felt cheated and empty. It seemed that everyone around us was announcing their pregnancy and having babies left and right. Of course, you never know other people’s struggles. And we knew a lot of women who couldn’t get pregnant despite their best efforts. Some of them are mothers now, and some of them are only mothers at heart.
I had already scheduled a laparoscopy at the doctor’s recommendation. It’s an exploratory surgery to find out if there is something physically preventing pregnancy. We discovered I have a third, non-functional Fallopian tube, around which there was a lot of scar tissue, multiple cysts, and a wee bit of endometriosis. While most people our age were recovering from New Year’s Eve parties, I was recovering from surgery.
We went out to breakfast after one of our subsequent ultrasound appointments, the appointment during which we saw three eggs near maturity but were told it wasn’t likely that they would be viable. We were about halfway through our meal when someone walked by our table with a baby in a car seat carrier.
I shouldn’t have looked, but I couldn’t help it. I always notice babies and adore them. This baby had big, blue eyes and looked right back at me. I lost it. I couldn’t hold back my tears and my longing for my own baby. We left right away to feel sad and disappointed in the comfort of our own home.
Seven long weeks after the surgery, I conceived for a second time. I will never forget: I was doing yoga in our living room when I felt an unfamiliar pang in my lower abdomen. Could this be the elusive ovulation cramp? We went to the doctor’s office the next day and saw that the eggs had all been released.
This time, I passed the pregnancy test a week before I should have tested. This time, the hCg numbers increased at an impressive rate, but we were still cautiously optimistic. We had crashed hard last time and didn’t want to be heartbroken again.
On April Fool’s Day, we saw on an ultrasound not just one little heartbeat fluttering like crazy, but two. Amazingly, two of those three eggs did mature enough to become fertilized and transform into teeny-tiny fetuses. Twins–we were surprised in the most pleasant of ways. We would become a family of four from just the two of us.
The first friend who received the news from me in a text message thought I was joking. We announced the happy news personally to our families, and it was the best feeling when my dad whooped and hollered in a Chinese buffet after we told him. My sister and I got to be pregnant at the same time for a few months, she in the last few months of her second pregnancy and me in the first of mine.
As foreshadowed, my pregnancy was difficult. It was high-risk and lasted 38 weeks. I had painful edema, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and back and hip pain like I’d never known before. I required five strategically placed pillows just to sleep comfortably, although intermittently.
Three insulin injections per day and twice as much blood testing, compression stockings that I couldn’t put on by myself, frequent perinatal visits and never the same doctor twice. Many ultrasounds and heartbeat-monitoring sessions. I was on bed rest for two and a half glorious weeks at the end. It was a rocky road in and of itself, to be sure, but it was successful.
Thinking about it now, over seven years and two beautiful, healthy “rainbow babies” later, the miscarriage still knocks the wind out of my sails. I still grieve for the lost pregnancy, the life that ended before it had a chance to really begin. I tend to feel any loss deeply, but these waves of sorrow washed over me like nothing I had ever known.
I felt like I had done something wrong, that this was my fault, and that my baby couldn’t live because of me. I felt like the criminal and the victim. A lot of people like to say everything happens for a reason, but that is exactly what you don’t want to hear during a miscarriage.
I share this story because I was recently reminded that miscarriage happens all the time and because I felt scared and alone when I had one. Few people talk about it. Like infertility, it remains mostly hidden, and keeping it hidden implies shame and embarrassment. I am not ashamed or embarrassed. It was one stop on the rocky road to motherhood for me, as it is for many women. It is my hope that through sharing this, at least one woman out there will not feel alone.
You are not alone.