October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month. Because of this, even though sharing feels scary, I feel called to tell the story of our miscarriage.
This is the picture of two people who had cried for hours after learning that their 9-week old baby in utero had recently died. We were exhausted and devastated. Jonny hated that I made him take this picture the night we found out – but I needed to do it to document our sadness from the day, because I knew that someday we would share this story in service to others. So to all of those parents who feel so alone in miscarriage – know that we share this loss with you.
Sharing our story feels scary and so vulnerable to me. But I’m choosing to tell it, not to receive sympathy, but to help raise awareness.
1 in 4 women experiences a miscarriage, yet it is rarely shared or spoken about.
Based on those stats, about 25% of you who are reading this have experienced at least 1 miscarriage. But when we recently experienced ours, we felt so alone, like we were the only ones who had gone through such a deep loss.
With that in mind, we are sharing our story to bring awareness to this topic and to start a conversation, because I think that it is so important that we no longer feel shame or the need to hide our true experiences.
And I’ll be honest, I’ve gone back and forth about whether I should share so openly. I’ve thought “maybe I should cut it back, or take this part out” – but, ultimately, I’ve decided to practice what I preach…
I’m choosing to get uncomfortable and be vulnerable, and I’m crossing my fingers that, through sharing, it helps parents who have experienced miscarriage feel less alone in their grief – and for those who fortunately haven’t experienced it, to understand it more so they can better support someone who is going through it.
So with that…here is our story…
In August, Jonny and I were so excited to find out that we were pregnant. It felt like this incredible miracle, as we had been trying to get pregnant for over 2 years, and when we moved home to Minnesota – BAM it happened naturally. We were shocked and excited and felt that it was meant to be, and that this sweet babe had just been waiting for us to move to MN, and now it was ready to join us.
We experienced all of the normal feelings that go along with a pregnancy – excitement, nervousness about how our lives were going to change, gratitude, wonder and dreams about who our little babe was going to grow up to be, and so much more.
And I felt so pregnant– tired, nauseous, super emotional, insanely hungry and amazed at how my boobs could grow so much in just a few weeks (finally – for the first time in my life, I had cleavage!).
We started excitedly telling our close family and friends, and we celebrated our pregnancy – dreaming up names and what life would be like when she/he was born on April 23rd.
At the beginning of my 8th week, we went in for our first ultrasound. Jonny was so excited, making up funny songs about how we were going to see our baby’s heartbeat that day. It was beyond adorable to see my husband so happy to become a new dad.
We met with our midwife, answered a few questions and then started our ultrasound. My heart sank immediately when she said “The baby looks pretty small and I’m having a hard time finding a heartbeat – let me go get the ultrasound tech.”
The tech came in and gave us unexpected, hard to hear news. She told us that while there was a heartbeat, it was beating slow at about 90bpm (at 8 weeks it should be around 150 bpm) and that the baby was measuring small at about 6.5 weeks.
They said there was about a 14% chance our baby would survive and that we should come back in a week and see if it made any progress.
We left the hospital and I collapsed in the car – sobbing and so scared about what this all meant.
The following week was filled with lots of nerves, tears, prayers, being super gentle with my body and asking for our families to love us up.
It was during this week that we didn’t realize how much we could love an 8-week baby in utero until we knew there was a chance that we were about to lose it.
At 9 weeks we went back for another ultrasound and they told us what no parent ever wants to hear – that they could no longer find a heartbeat and that sadly our baby had died.
The Doctor all too quickly explained to us our options – we could wait to see if my body would naturally miscarry, I could take a pill that would induce contractions and force my body to miscarry, or I could have a D&C and have the baby surgically removed. All options had their potential risks – all options sounded absolutely terrible.
I don’t remember what we did the rest of the that day – but I’m pretty sure it consisted of lots of tears and moving from the bed to the couch and back again.
That night our friends brought us pizza and drinks and thankfully continued to bring us food the rest of the week so we didn’t have to cook (note: if you have a loved one who has experienced a miscarriage, bring them food – it is an amazing act of service – and I promise you, they will be so grateful, because they will not have the energy to cook and/or want to eat out).
Ultimately, I ended up having a D&C and found it to be a relatively easy and painless process (I’ll write another blog on this someday soon). And from there, we started the healing process…both physically and emotionally.
And it’s been a process…for the both of us.
There were many things we have learned throughout this process, and I wanted to share some of them here:
Telling our close family and friends early on about our pregnancy was the best thing we could have done.
After we miscarried, we had a friend say to us “Well, maybe you shouldn’t tell anybody about your next pregnancy until you make it through your first trimester.”
First of all – No. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion on this, we personally didn’t want to hide our baby from our intimate circle because of whatever fucked up societal shame around miscarriage there is. Knowing we were pregnant brought us so much joy – even if we only got to experience that joy for 8-9 weeks. It made us so happy.
Losing the baby brought us so much sadness – and our circle came and swooped us up during that time. We didn’t have to go through this loss on our own – and we are so grateful for that too.
Because of this, Jonny and I feel it is so important that we start to change the way that people see miscarriage. It isn’t something to feel shame around, it is something to honor, grieve and love.
Our friends and family sent us amazing care packages, brought us food, sent us flowers, did our dishes, got us out of the house, and texted and called to check in.
We were held in our grief just as anyone else who experiences a loss should be. It didn’t matter if we were “only” pregnant 9 weeks. There is no “only” in pregnancy, which brings me to our next learning…
Pregnancy loss at any point in time is a loss.
There were a few (very brief) moments where I wondered if I should feel so sad, because I was “only” 9 weeks along when the baby died. But I knew that regardless, it didn’t matter. We had loved so deeply and then lost so deeply – and it was important for us to feel all the feelings and cry all the tears.
One of my best friends sent me an article called When it comes to Pregnancy loss, there is no only that reinforced this point. In it she shares “It doesn’t matter if a pregnancy “only” lasted for a few weeks. It doesn’t matter if it was an early loss or a late loss.
What matters is that there was already a baby who was loved immensely. And love cannot be measured in weeks.”
My husband experienced this loss just as deeply as I did.
As I was reading blogs and forums about miscarriage, rarely would I find anything that acknowledge the dad and his process of grief in this. I understand why that is – since it is the woman’s body who is carrying the baby, the woman is typically more emotionally attached, and it physically affects us much more. And this was true for us – it was overall much harder on me than it was on Jonny, but I think it is so important to point out that my husband lost a baby too.
My husband grieved and cried right along with me. It’s not just the person who is carrying the baby who suffers the loss – their partner suffers too. And I think that it is so important that we start acknowledging dads (or partners) in this process.
And in that we learned that…
The healing process takes time.
For the week immediately following my D&C, I felt a little bit crazy – physically, emotionally and mentally.
Physically, my body had just done a 180 from being pregnant to not being pregnant anymore and my hormones were going nuts.
Emotionally, I was all over the place – from having bursts of tears to experiencing moments of rage. Typically, I like to think of myself as a relatively emotionally stable person, so to feel all of these feelings so intensely and to not feel like I had a ton of control over them felt hard to me.
Mentally, I toggled between confusion, trust, acceptance, jealousy, and trying to figure out how to “fix” something that I knew ultimately couldn’t be fixed in that moment.
I share all of this because I felt so alone in these things until I read about other women experiencing them too – so just know that if you too are experiencing these things, you are not alone.
And although it took some time, we are healing.
It has been over a month now since we learned the news, and for the most part, both Jonny and I are doing really well.
There are moments when the grief sneaks up on me and I’ll cry. Or there are times when I hear about other babies that are going to be born in April and my heart sinks knowing that ours won’t be.
But overall, I’m healing and allowing myself to just be with whatever emotion presents itself – I give myself permission to feel it and then I let it pass.
And we are opening our hearts back up again and trusting in the process that someday we will give birth to a beautiful rainbow baby, knowing that this baby is on God’s timeline, not ours, and we can trust in that.
There is so much that we will continue to learn over the next months and years, but for now this is the start of our story.
We appreciate all of your love, support and compassion.
And if you have experienced a pregnancy loss (whether you are a mom or a dad), if you feel comfortable please leave a heart in the comments so we know that there is a whole tribe of us together in this and we aren’t alone.
If you resonated with this blog – please share it as a way to support other parents in their loss and as a way to bring awareness to pregnancy loss.
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