This is the story of my miscarriage.
I had a miscarriage in 2008. It was my first pregnancy, and it wasn’t planned. Actually, we were totally shocked. I didn’t feel ready. I didn’t even feel like I wanted to try for a pregnancy at that point, but there was that positive pregnancy test in my hand in the bathroom at work one afternoon.
I knew something was different in my body right away because I started having heart palpitations which was odd for me, and eventually my super regular period was late. I decided to take the test one day because I just ‘had a feeling’. It threw off my whole day. Mostly, I was surprised, but somewhere deep, deep down I was also a little excited.
When I told my husband, I think his emotions were split like mine. Early pregnancy can be a tough thing for a partner to connect with, in my experience. Before there’s anything to see or feel you’re kind of just going on faith that something is growing in there.
Things went along fine for a few weeks. I had a doctor’s appointment and all seemed well. We also had an appointment set for a dating ultrasound to find out our due date. Then one day out of the blue I started bleeding - lightly at first and then more heavily. We decided to go to the hospital. Part of me was hopeful because I had heard stories of bleeding during pregnancy and everything turning out fine. I was also really scared and surprised. It was one of those things that you knew happened to other people, but not to you. To me.
In the emergency room I was taken, by myself, to a private room where a lady (doctor, nurse, lab technician - I’ll never know) said to me, “we’ll do some tests, but it doesn’t look good”. And then she left. I was alone in the room with those words. I didn’t see her again for the rest of the time I was there that day, but that moment will always be the clearest memory I have from that trip to the hospital.
Eventually, I was able to ask for my husband to come in with me. I had a blood test and a urine test and I was sent home for one week of bed rest and a follow up ultrasound. I was told I was still pregnant for now, but I would need to take it easy for a week to stop the bleeding. Things felt very confusing. When I first took the pregnancy test, I was nervous and surprised and, to be honest, a little annoyed. Now knowing the pregnancy could end, I was scared and so regretting the feelings of annoyance that I had in the beginning. I had become comfortable with a pregnancy and excited about having a baby.
A couple days later I knew it was over. I saw it in the toilet. I didn’t know exactly what it was, but I knew the pregnancy was over and seeing it there in front of me was devastating. I went to the ultrasound by myself and things were confirmed. I should have never gone by myself, but I was trying not to make a big deal about things and keep things from being dramatic. The pregnancy was relatively early, somewhere between 9 and 12 weeks, and I was afraid no one would really care that much. Also, it’s strange but I felt like I would have to justify my sadness of the loss of a pregnancy that early on - which it turns out I did need to do with some people. We hadn’t even told anyone about the pregnancy yet, anyways.
My feelings after the miscarriage were intense, unexpected and uncontrollable. I didn’t expect to feel so sad. But I did. I was also in pain physically. I can’t remember much about that now, but I know I was weak, tired and had lots of cramping. I spent a lot of time in bed.
Then there was my husband. He was sad about the loss, of course, but he certainly couldn’t relate to the loss I felt. I couldn't explain it myself. At the time, I was mad and frustrated that he wasn’t experiencing the same things as me. Looking back at the situation, 12 years later, I understand perfectly.
After a week at home, I went back to work. The following weeks were full of sadness. We had only told a few people about the pregnancy and loss. I didn’t tell my bosses, I simply gave them my doctors note requiring time off work and left it at that. It felt like I was the only one who was truly suffering from this loss. I avoided my pregnant and new parent friends for a long time. Each new pregnancy announcement was almost unbearable. At some point in the following months, I remember things slowly started to feel okay again.
As far as medical care goes, I did receive a phone call from my doctor confirming the miscarriage, which I already knew from the ultrasound appointment. Other than that, I was pretty much on my own. At the beginning of my next pregnancy, he mentioned I should have had a D&C (Dilation and Curettage which is a procedure to remove any excess tissue from the uterus) following my miscarriage. I had no idea what that was, and I asked why I wasn’t told about that at the time. No answers (awkward). Those were the days when I didn’t know to research and advocate for myself and my health. Thankfully, my second pregnancy was fine.
I will never forget the day I learned I was pregnant with that first baby, the day I miscarried or the deep sadness that I felt afterwards. I will also never forget how I felt speaking with some people after my miscarriage as well as during each of my pregnancies following.
It’s hard to know what to say to someone who has experienced the loss of a pregnancy or baby - I get it. I would suggest something simple like, ‘I’m sorry for your loss’, or, ‘you are not alone’.
If you’re not sure, saying nothing and just being there to make someone a cup of tea is also a great option.
Just for fun, here’s a list of things not to say to someone who may be trying to get pregnant, is pregnant, doesn’t want to get pregnant or who has miscarried. Sometimes we mean well, but end up doing more harm than good with these statements. I’m able to laugh when people say these things to me now, but not everyone is there.
When are you having a baby?
(It’s none of your business)
When are you having another baby?
(Also, none of your business)
You’re not having another baby, are you?
(Still none of your business)
You can’t be sad about something you never had.
It wasn’t meant to be.
It’ll happen when the time is right.
You’ll regret not having a baby.
(No, I think that’s you)
Was it something you did?
(Maybe it was something you did?)
To all the people in my life who have experienced a loss - you are not alone.