Why more women should talk about their miscarriage

(I wrote this in 2015 for a blog I no longer use. They are my original words but are somewhere else on the internet. Also some of these words are no longer true I have since lost a parent and was lucky enough to have a beautiful baby boy.)

I have usually been lucky enough to be two steps away from the everyday heartbreaks in life like the loss of a child, a parent, or countless other tragedies that happen in the news, on my Facebook feed, or to others I only know from a friend of a friend. I knew that miscarriage happened because of TV shows and articles that dramatized it, or tried to bring to light how often it happens. Until a few months ago I had no idea how close to home it could really be. I had no idea that 15-20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, or that it’s believed that 40% or more may be a closer number. I didn’t know that a chemical pregnancy is when you are pregnant for the few days to couple weeks leading up to your period and then it is gone just as fast when the period comes. These were all ideas that I separated myself from because all the women in my life who became pregnant didn’t talk about it if they did lose their pregnancy, and they went on to have babies.

My mother said she never feared losing her pregnancies because she just “knew” that she wasn’t going to. If my mom can have four successful pregnancies years apart then why would I worry about it? I never thought maybe the women in my life experienced the pain of a miscarriage before they finally saw through nine months of pregnancy. Maybe they don’t talk about it not only because it hurts, but also because they don’t see other women talking about it.

As many as 3 million known miscarriages are reported a year, and this year two of those miscarriages were mine. My first miscarriage happened months ago and only a week after my husband and I discovered that unintentionally we had become pregnant. I was experiencing the symptoms but had no idea because it was all new to me. Though I only had a few days to process my feelings I was excited and so was my husband. So of course we were horrified when a week later I had the severe cramps and bleeding that comes with miscarriage. I was heart broken and scared when I had to go from this new idea of becoming a mother, to the reality that at least for now that wasn’t going to happen. The bleeding didn’t stop for two weeks and my grief tapered off with it.

After some processing and a lot of talks about the future we decided that this time we didn’t want any surprises so we decided that we were ready and that we wanted to have a baby. I never thought I would get pregnant the first week we tried but I did and in just a few weeks I was feeling tired, emotional and hungry all the time. I began researching and watching baby documentaries. Taking notes in a little book I bought specifically for the cause. Reading everything about pregnancy and babies I could find. Every time I experienced something new and weird I would ask my mom if it ever happened to her.

We started talking about plans and even though I decided not to announce it publicly until 10-12 weeks I started telling some of my closest friends and family. I never made it to week 10 however because on Monday night I started bleeding. It was bright red and spotty at first so I told myself it wasn’t a cause for concern. I decided to go to sleep and wake up in the morning to go the hospital. I was scared. I woke around two in the morning in pain and bleeding pretty badly. I thought about calling an ambulance but I have learned that once it starts there isn’t really anything a doctor can do except monitor you for severe bleeding and help with the pain.

After hours of crying and trying to sleep I finally went to sleep and woke up in the morning. I got ready for the hospital and when I arrived I wasn’t bleeding very badly and the cramps had stopped. I pretty much knew it was too late but part of me hoped it had passed and that my cervix was still closed. I was only seven weeks along and hadn’t even made it to my first doctor’s visit, but the doctor at the hospital let me know I wouldn’t need to worry about prenatal check ups. Instead I needed to see a doctor and make sure that my miscarriage was happening naturally and there were no infections. So instead of gearing up for hearing my babies heart beat for the first time at eight weeks I am here bleeding and trying to figure out how I am supposed to sit through a doctors appointment where it’s possible that I will need assistance in clearing out fetal tissue.

Though its true I was not far along, I was already planning our baby’s future. Trying to find a cute way to announce my pregnancy and looking forward to giving my niece someone to play with that will be close to her age. I was changing my diet, cutting out the bad stuff and talking about it all the time. I was scared but I was ready for the fear. We were ready for the upcoming months. I know why women wait to announce their pregnancies. I know why they grieve silently and tell few of their miscarriages. I don’t want to be that woman. I don’t want to ignore the details that matter. Like how quickly your HCG levels can drop over night. Or that sometimes your baby can stop developing a week or two before you ever even know you’re miscarrying.

I wish more women in my life had talked about it before it happened to me. I wish someone had told me the symptoms or how terrifying it is. That you bleed way more than you ever would on your cycle or that sometimes you can still feel pregnant for a couple days afterward. I wish I had known that even though in early term miscarriage you may not have ever seen a picture of your baby you’ll feel like you just lost something that was so close to being in your hands. That for some reason you would feel embarrassed to talk about it to the people who knew you were pregnant.  That sometimes you’re both so hurt you’ll find yourself arguing over something you just can’t control. I just wish someone had told me and let me know it was okay. It’s okay to feel alone in your sadness and be a little jealous when you see pregnancy announcements and baby pictures. That you’re still going to smile and feel so happy every time you see your niece or any other baby for that matter.

I can’t help but to wonder how many women could have benefited from more openness about the chances that something could go wrong with their first pregnancy. Or that the odds are actually larger then they may think. As sad as it may sound it would have really helped me. If women knew how often it happens or that they probably know some women who have experienced it, maybe they won’t assume the worst when it happens to them. I’m not going to even though there are chances that something is wrong with me and I may never have a healthy pregnancy. Because I have seen the numbers and honestly the likelihood is that my body was still trying to get it all together from the last time this happened and if we wait four to six months and try again we will be just fine. Nearly 50% of women who miscarry twice go on to have a healthy pregnancy with no complications. When there are complications a good number of those women go on to have babies after some medical intervention. The odds aren’t huge and to be honest they aren’t concrete but I won’t be quiet about it, because more women should know. You don’t have to go to an online forum for support. Open up about it, and share your heart breaks because as many as 40% of women you know may have experienced it too.

 

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