My Miscarriage- A Personal Path to Healing
October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month. It is one of my favorite months of the year, but there’s a part of it that’s really hard. My husband and I lost our first baby. This isn’t a story I talk about a lot for a variety of reasons, a big part of that being guilt. In fact, if you’ve ever heard my engagement story it’s very short because of the circumstances surrounding it. When I hear a beautiful, sweet, happy engagement story, a big part of me is sad because as much as I want to share mine- the whole story is too hard to tell. This is a story only a few people know in it’s entirety. This is the story of my miscarriage.
My husband, then boyfriend, and I found out we were pregnant a few years before we conceived Avery. At the time, I was a server and in college full time and heavy into the party lifestyle. We were just keeping our heads above water and were still very young even at the ages of 23 and 26. When I got the positive test, I cried. I didn’t cry because I was excited or hopeful or happy, I cried because I felt like my life was over.
How awful is that? How selfish was I to feel like a baby would ruin my life, right?
I accept that judgement, because that’s how I feel about myself every time I look back on those feelings I had. The pregnancy caused me to go into a deep depression. I knew my friends at the time would not stick around, they were party friends. I felt like I was losing everyone and everything I knew. I was scared, I wasn’t ready, I didn’t want kids. I have a history of depression and now I realize that my partying was a sign that something was already going on, but hindsight is 20/20 right?
A few weeks later, my boyfriend proposed to me. Of course, I said yes. It wasn’t a big production, but that’s who we are anyway. It was a funny, sweet proposal. One that I remember very well, but a story I don’t tell often. After that, the depression seemed to lift a bit, and I became a little excited about the new baby. I announced it on Facebook and to my friends and family. I felt hopeful, but still unsure- not ready to give up the life I had. I went to an initial appointment, where my progesterone levels were low. Then I found out that I needed to change doctors because of insurance, I was struggling with financial aid, and I began to feel as if every day was a hurdle.
The day I turned 12 weeks pregnant, I started to bleed. Scared, I called a friend who came over and we went to the emergency room. A lot of that day is a blur, but I clearly remember the on-call OB telling me there wasn’t a heartbeat. I had lost the baby at 10 weeks and I needed a D&C. At this point, I hadn’t even called my fiancé. He was working and we needed the money, I didn’t want to bother him for nothing. I called him, in tears and broken, he asked why I didn’t call earlier and rushed over. We sat in that room, crying for over an hour- maybe even two- I can’t really remember. At some point my mom and stepdad showed up and they peeled me off of the exam table.
“You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.”
I said those words many times; the first was in that room.
The weeks following the miscarriage were a blur. I fell into a deep depression and began to spiral out of control. I began drinking a lot and my behavior started to alienate my friends, who had to take care of me. This spiral would go on for close to a year when finally I got help. If you know me, you know how stubborn I am. I should have asked for help earlier, but I thought it was something I could control. I just had to pull myself up by the bootstraps and keep going. When I finally sought out help, my psychiatrist was incredibly concerned for my health. Years of partying, a history of depression, and an eating disorder to boot raised red flags and I was immediately put on medication. Honestly, I’m still surprised my now husband stuck around. Not once did I ask about his feelings, not once did I let him cry or be angry or express how saddened he was by the experience. He had to pick up my pieces for close to a year or more. He had to listen to me yell at him for stupid things and watch me drink to the point of sickness. A miscarriage almost broke me, but he never faltered. He always loved, even when he may have hated me. I began going to therapy and, little by little, picking up the pieces again.
What helped me the most was learning that I wasn’t alone, that other women experienced what I had. But, here’s the thing, you don’t know that until after the fact- possibly WAY after, when you can finally talk about it again, when you’ve almost healed. When we got pregnant with Avery, I was terrified. We didn’t tell anyone for 14 weeks, I felt on edge every single day of that time. I couldn’t go through that again. Our relationship wouldn’t survive.
I was taking a genetics course at the time and in one class we talked about miscarriage. We talked about it from a biology standpoint, not an emotional one. We learned about why miscarriages happen, how the genetics play into it and that your body knows something is wrong, something that could be harmful to you or the developing baby. I remember telling my professor about my miscarriage and how much this lesson helped me realize that it wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t something I did. While a lot of women find solace in religion, I found solace in science. Knowing how incredibly smart my body was helped me heal.
When I look back on that time, my heart hurts for that young woman. I wish I could go back and hug her, tell her she will make it, she will come out stronger than she ever was before. I wish I could tell her that this hard time will push her to do great things, she will be a loving mother and a supportive wife, and she will provide women with a safe space to bring their troubles and their happiness. I wish I could tell her no challenge would be harder than this one, that if she can just make it through this, she will be ok.
No matter how hard this time is or how broken you feel, it will be OK. You aren’t alone. My heart aches for you, momma, but I know that you will make it; you will pick up the pieces and feel whole again.
With love and strength,