Coincidentally (or not), the date I opened my computer to type this blog post holds a lot of meaning for me. It is the exact day, three years ago, that our first pregnancy was confirmed as a miscarriage. There is a lot of time that stands in the gap of then and now. However, I still remember it like it was yesterday. I always thought I’d tell my husband, CJ, in the cutest way that we were expecting our first baby. But, when that test turned positive, I thought I was going to burst. I screamed, “CCCCJJJJJJ!!!!!!” from the bathroom. It was nothing Pinterest-worthy, but it was real. It was us, it was authentic, and I’m so glad I have that memory. We kept the secret longer than I ever thought I’d be able to. If you know me, you know secrets are not my strong suit. I get a teensy bit excited. You’re lucky if you ever get a Christmas gift from me without a spoiler beforehand. I will never know why that baby didn’t stick around with us, but I do know it taught me more than I ever thought I’d have to learn.
1. Most people mean well.
This is a hard one. Do people ever really know what to say when someone is grieving a loss? If you do, please let me in on your secrets. I find that I usually end up settling on the statement, “I have no idea what to say. I am so sorry.” What seems more difficult, though, is knowing what to say to someone when you truly have no idea what they are feeling. This is something I had to recognize when I was receiving everyone’s seemingly kind words. I still, even having been through this, don’t have the perfect words to hand you tied up in a bow. I do, however, remember a few phrases that I didn’t necessarily love.
I would avoid using the phrase “at least” when talking to a friend who is suffering or has suffered a miscarriage. It may seem so innocent to you, and I know it is! Phrases such as: “at least you didn’t hear the heartbeat” or “at least you didn’t know the gender and name the baby,” and so on always made me question if my sadness was justified. Am I allowed to feel this sad when I didn’t even know the gender? Am I allowed to be this sad when I hadn’t given this baby a name?
“Aren’t you relieved you can get pregnant?”
The short answer to this question is, yes. I am relieved I can get pregnant. But, when I am still reeling from the loss, this comment makes it feel like this pregnancy is being skipped over.
“Everything happens for a reason.”
Ugh, ew, yuck. Just don’t say it!
“Do you know what caused it or what went wrong?”
First of all, no mom wants to even consider they may have done something to cause their miscarriage. You may be truly just a concerned friend, but I promise your friend’s doctor is doing their job. Please don’t ask this question unless your friend offers it up.
2. There is still a stigma.
I wish I had kept count. I wish I had written a tally-mark for every single person who has said to me, “I had a miscarriage too!” I wish I knew why women feel the need to be so silent. I understand some people are just more private, and that is absolutely your right. I do know one thing that made me feel better is how MANY women had experienced the same thing I was experiencing. I did not feel as alone.
3. My goodness, I was naive.
I always dreamed I would have a perfect pregnancy. I kept this sweet secret, mostly because I thought I’d have 9 months to share it with family and friends after we heard the heartbeat! When I saw blood on that terrible day, I still don’t think I knew I was losing the baby. We rushed to the doctor and I was having my first ultrasound (unscheduled). I was 7 weeks and 2 days along. We heard the heartbeat in spite of bleeding. I cried those happy tears you see in the movies. The nurse told me, and I’ll never forget it… “After you hear the heartbeat, your chance of loss is less than 5 percent.” Why wouldn’t we immediately go tell our families and best friends? So, we did just that. We got to celebrate this life with our people for a little over 24 hours. The next night I woke up in excruciating pain and I was gushing blood. A night spent at the ER (worst experience – that’s another story for another day) would confirm we had lost this baby. I wish I could hug that happy girl before her world came crushing down. She WAS a mom and she was so full of hope!
4. It can be the most lonely experience.
Miscarriage is so physical for the woman, but almost invisible for everyone else. I felt the effects, physically AND hormonally, for almost a month afterwards. My sweet husband (and if you know him you know… he is the sweetest) was there for me in every way I could’ve asked for. However, the shock wears off for everyone else. They have to pick up the pieces and carry on, and I felt like I was left alone. I was reminded every single day. I could not escape it. If this happens to you, and I pray that it doesn’t, PLEASE make sure to ask for help if you need it. Do not suffer in silence. The people who love you the most will not grow tired of being your ear. I promise.
5. It broke my heart, but it prepared me for more.
It wasn’t but three months later I would take another positive pregnancy test. I was so scared. I spent this whole pregnancy dealing with intense anxiety. The Lord tested me — I had an anterior placenta. This just means my placenta was on the front of my belly, in between Whitt and myself. I couldn’t feel him kick like most women can. I don’t I think I took a deep breath until the day he was born and I heard him cry.
I feel so incredibly fortunate to be one of the ones who can say, “if I hadn’t lost that first baby, I wouldn’t have Whitt.” (This is also one of those things I hated people said right after our loss.) This is true, though. That miscarriage broke my heart. It shattered it. But, it opened me up for the love I have for my little guy now. I can’t imagine my life without him.
One can only hope that going through an experience like this will allow for more — for the opportunity to be a testimony for others. So, that’s what I’m trying to do now. We are all in this together.