Stephanie. Emily. Not sure what we would’ve named her. I say “her” because she made me sick. I was resting on the couch all weekend long, just like when I found out I was pregnant with Abby. I took a test and there was a line, a “barely there” pink line, but as the instructions say, any line is a positive. I was pregnant again at 38 -- feeling pretty lucky so late in life.
I felt sick all that weekend and then felt fine. Strange. I took more pregnancy tests; the line was still barely there. I overanalyzed and called my doctor; something didn’t feel right and I had symptoms come and go over the next week or so.
My doctor didn’t want to see me until I was two weeks late on my period, but I started spotting and asked her if she could just give me a pregnancy test since the ones at home were faint lines. She squeezed me in and confirmed I was pregnant, but the hormone levels were low. She said that the levels should double every two days or so; mine were barely climbing. She saw nothing on my ultrasound and told me I might be having a “chemical pregnancy.” I hated that term – it sounded like my body was playing tricks on me. Two weeks later, the spotting turned into bleeding and I went in to the doctor. She told me I had a “threatened miscarriage” and sent me home for bed rest. After a few long days of waiting, I miscarried.
I can’t describe the feeling; emotionally, it was one of the worst things that ever happened to me. To make matters worse, some of the people in my life kept their distance after my miscarriage. There really is nothing perfect you could say, but just saying sorry for your loss is good enough for someone going through grief. Treating someone like their miscarriage is contagious is probably not the best thing to do. It’s actually hurtful.
The best response I got was when I told a dear friend at work that I can’t stop looking at the calendar and thinking how the baby would have been so many weeks along, since I marked my calendar up the second I found out. She immediately told me, “Want me to buy you a new calendar?” Such a sweet response, any support was appreciated.
Here’s something else: You never forget a miscarriage. I was lucky in a way to have such an early miscarriage. As my doctor said, “I’m so sorry, but that was a life that wasn’t meant to be.” She was right.
The guilt was overwhelming though. I was trying so hard to be pregnant; I wondered if I had done something wrong. Was I not eating right? Should I have lost more weight? Should I have done less or more exercise? What if this was my fault? That guilt made me sick to my stomach, but I know now that was just me being hard on myself. Bad things happen all the time. I learned an early miscarriage is most likely a chromosomal abnormality.
I sometimes pull my boy’s hair up into a ponytail and think, “He would have been a cute girl. I wonder if the baby I lost would have looked like him.” I’m so thankful to have the two little blessings I have today, but I still carry grief for my loss.
And I’m not the only one. About 15 to 20 percent of all pregnancies in the United States end in miscarriage, according to national estimates. But few women talk about their loss; it’s like a secret club you never wanted to be a member of.
To be honest, I didn’t want to write this article. I want to forget my miscarriage. I want no one to know about this chapter in my life and I’d love to focus on the two lives I’m charged with today. But I wrote this for the readers out there who are struggling to start a family. I don’t know what you’re going through, but know this: I feel some of that anguish and I hope the very best for you. All you can do is get the care you need. See a specialist if you’re concerned about infertility or your OB/GYN for a pre-conception check-up.
Today at 7 p.m. in all time zones, families around the nation will light candles in memory of those lives lost during pregnancy or in infancy. If you want to donate or know more about SIDS, pregnancy, and infant loss see firstcandle.org.
The other message I’d like to leave you with is this: Sometimes it doesn’t work out and that’s not your fault.