Nobody knows what day it is. Not my closest friends or parents — my biggest support system. Not my husband. Not the doctors or nurses or even my own OBGYN. This day, three years ago, has been forgotten by all — all but me. The day I took some deep breaths, fell asleep sedated by the general anesthesia, and endured a D&C performed on my unviable pregnancy.
At nine weeks and two days I said goodbye to everything I had wished and prayed for for myself and my family. Another baby to love, a sibling for my son. Suddenly the sleepless nights I was dreading with a newborn and the chaos that would ensue with two little ones was something I was desperately longing for. More than just a fetus left my body that day. With the fate of a heartbeat gone, my hopes and aspirations for my unborn child died, too. My heart was broken, and I felt as though my own body had betrayed me, failing in the one thing it was supposed to do.
I sat alone in my my grief, only telling a handful of people what I was going through. I felt shame and I felt anger, and I didn’t talk about it — but I should have. Instead, I did what so many others do when dealing with pregnancy loss. I silenced myself.
But I was one of the lucky ones. I miscarried in July and by March stood with a positive pregnancy test in hand. I had already gone through months of negative pregnancy tests. Each negative test rubbed salt in the wound left from my loss. This is what I needed, I told myself. A positive pregnancy test would enable me to fully heal from the pregnancy that didn’t survive. And although the baby that never came to be could never be replaced, I also knew that for me, having a new pregnancy to focus on — the future I so desperately wanted for my family — would aid in my healing process.
My husband and I were ecstatic. We had worked so hard for this, we had been through so much. We were ready to let our guards down and be happy again without the weight of what was missing. What we weren’t prepared for was the cloud that loomed over us.
For every exciting moment, every ultrasound to be grateful for, every healthy doctor’s visit, there was the fear of “what ifs” and “it could happen again.” As we listened to the heartbeats — immersed in the rhythm that was life — it was impossible to ignore that it may be the last time, for in pregnancies there are no guarantees. Every ultrasound in which the tech concentrated a little too long, and every doctor’s appointment that the heartbeats weren’t immediately found, my hands would clench my husband’s, fearful of bad news. And while we hoped for the best, we were cautiously optimistic due to the reality we had already faced.
While miscarriages are being spoken about in a way they never have before, the effects of how miscarriages emotionally change the outlook of future pregnancies still lurk in the shadows. New life does not erase the pain felt by a life lost, and pregnancy loss of any kind can vastly change a mother’s view on any future pregnancy.
Gone are the innocent pregnancy days filled with wonder and excitement and in its place arrive angst and doubt. Rather than complaining about nausea in the first trimester you panic on a day you feel OK. As the tenderness of your breasts may dissipate in the second trimester, it doesn’t provide relief, it only elicits concern. Instead of the annoyance that comes late at night in the third trimester when those kicks are keeping you awake, you experience dread if you haven’t been woken. How do you learn to trust your own body again? How can you trust in the process and find joy in the next pregnancy? Speaking about it is just the beginning.
I know I am not the only one. I know so many experience so much worse, but I also know I will always remember. What, for some, is a distant memory feels like it happened yesterday for others. The pain that day was palpable and for so long hung over me, and still, two healthy children later, has never completely faded. Everyone’s story is their own. Some may move through the grief quickly, while others grieve deeply and continue to do so, even through their next pregnancy. And others still are struggling with sustaining a pregnancy. We all experience pregnancy loss differently, but each story is just as important as the other. So please share your stories with each other and know that you are not alone. The more we share the more we can feel supported.