Miscarriage is common, but it's still an uncomfortable topic that many avoid. Shining a light on it through my own story.
"You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection." -Buddha
No two women's journey to or through motherhood looks exactly the same. For many though, it is marked by the experience of loss, grief and longing. It is believed that about 1 in every 8 pregnancies will end in miscarriage. For how prevalent this is, it is still something that is often not talked much about, being kept in the shadows of an aching mother’s heart, doused in shame, guilt and remorse.
I now know these feelings all too well and empathize with all women who have lost a pregnancy, at any stage.
After two textbook, healthy and full term pregnancies I was eager to have a third child. My husband though, was not quite as enthused by the idea. We had countless discussions, arguments and late night debates over our divided positions. He finally agreed to give me one shot, literally, and if I wasn’t pregnant I would let it go.
Turns out I’m not so zen afterall. I did not end up pregnant and I could not let it go.
A few months later, as I prepared to fly with my 2 and 4 year olds across the Pacific to meet my husband where he was working in Australia, I saw the coveted two lines pop up on a test several days after my period was due. I was elated. The feat of escorting my two young children through 4 different airports could barely deflate me, I was going to be wonder-mom, of 3.
When I started having some brown spotting on one of our last flights I chalked it up to implantation or just overdoing it lifting all of our luggage and traversing the airports with a stroller weighed down by tiny, yet heavy, humans. I contemplated how I would tell my husband and daydreamed of this baby sharing his birthday, as the due date predicted.
We arrived in Melbourne, got settled in and attempted to adjust to the time difference. I woke up super early and crept to the bathroom to reassure myself with another positive test, only to get the opposite. When I realized it was in fact not morning, but just several hours after I had gone to bed, I excused the negative as a waste of a test, too diluted of urine.
Out of tests and ready to adventure we set out the next morning to see the city. My spotting was still there, but still light and not requiring any products. After a few days though I was bleeding heavily, more than I normally would, filling my cup in just a few hours. I emailed my doctor's office, receiving a wait and see reply.
I wanted to hold on to hope, but it was pretty obvious. This pregnancy was over before it began. I hadn’t even told my husband yet.
I pushed my sadness and disappointment aside to carpe diem on our first international family trip, trying to convince myself that this occurance was not worthy of my attention or my energy, afterall I had barely even been pregnant.
Life went on. We came home to quarantine during Covid and my stay at home mom duties were in full swing.
Spring turned to summer and amazingly, I became pregnant again. Understanding that miscarriage is common and often a fluke of nature (despite having placed plenty of blame on myself) I was confident in conceptualizing life with this next child. A later due date, but the third baby I had dreamed of nonetheless.
We wasted no time in telling our older children, filming their reaction and sharing it with family. My daughter was so excited at the idea, as she had been asking for another baby for some time. We took our joyous news to our family’s beach cabin and told the last few relatives about our impending addition.
The day after ticking the box on telling the final few siblings and cousins, I sped to the bathroom feeling as though I had wet myself. If only I had. Bright red blood pooled in the toilet, my heart breaking at the sight.
I laid in bed the rest of the day, thinking if only I could make it stop, if only I had not jinxed it by telling everyone so soon, if only I wasn’t so far from the doctor’s office, if only.
The bleeding never stopped and 7 weeks marked the end of my hope for the family I was trying to create. This time it was not so easy to push my pain to the side, or distract myself with the shiny appeal of traveling in a new country.
We continued to quarantine, my grief leaving me less than the ideal mother to the two children whose births I had up until now taken somewhat for granted.
One day my son, 2 at the time, found me crying. When he asked me why I was upset I told him that I was sad that the baby was no longer growing in my belly and would never be born. He sweetly reassured me, “Sometimes I get sad when the babies stop growing in my belly too.”
What compounded my grief was not simply the fact that I had now rendered myself infertile, incapable of carrying a child, but that my husband felt only relief and continued to assert that we would not have any more.
My pain was so deep. In my attempts to make sense of things I blamed myself. I felt undeserving and unworthy. I felt flawed and broken. It was as if by some fault of my own I had willed these loses into being as punishment. My mind tormented me with reasons for my suffering, coming up with countless excuses for why I didn't deserve the child I so badly longed for.
I saw a fertility specialist, seeking answers, wanting to understand why this was happening to me. She basically told me I could get whatever tests done that I wanted, but it was likely just “one of those things,” and that I could probably have another healthy pregnancy in the future.
While I still pined for that new baby bliss, my husband had scheduled a vasectomy. Fool me twice, shame on me.
As fate would have it, his planning skills are not his greatest asset and he happened to book it for his busiest work week of the year, ultimately causing him to cancel. The next week I got a third lucky charm.
And so here I am, halfway through another pregnancy. Pregnant for the third time in a year and experiencing pregnancy in a completely new light. I never in either of my first two pregnancies held any apprehension. Even in the pregnancies that I lost I had basically no doubt or fear. This time though, coupled with the death of my best friend, loss has felt inevitable.
I have been so unable to attach to the idea of this possible reality, my mind convinced that another heartache is in store. It is a daily exercise to sit in the comfort of knowing that I am still carrying this baby, today, and that as now is all there really is, I can be grateful for what is.
What a contrast to the usual practice of needing to sit with discomfort, I must work to feel joy or appreciation for this child, because in so many ways it feels like it will never be mine.
I do not have a crystal ball. I have no idea what the future holds. My greatest lesson through all of the loss I have experienced this year is that nothing is guaranteed, nothing is to be taken for granted. What is real is what is happening in this moment, and nothing else really matters.
So I sit in gratitude for the children giggling in the other room, for the husband who has granted me a wish that was in no ways his own and for the baby that grows in my belly, just starting to kick and offer those tiny reassurances that hope is a safe thing to hold on to.
For all mamas who have experienced loss, all mamas who fear losing and all of those that love and support them - I offer you a compasionate hug and the awareness that loss is not a matter of worth or deserving. Loss is a part of life; it is a lesson gifted to those whose souls crave the strength and resilience it can give. Loss is not a punishment or a condemnation, but an opportunity for growth and a gift of greater gratitude on the other side.