We lost our baby last week.
A week before it happened, I dreamt it was a boy.
We had told close friends and some family that we were expecting. The due date was May 31 —four May babies! Excitement. Joy. We had started clearing out the “nursery” just for fun.
On Tuesday, October 5, 2016, I went to my appointment. The nurse asked if I had taken tests at home. “Yes, of course,” I said. “We have to ask everyone,” she replied. She told me the pregnancy test showed only a faint line. The nurse sounded so cautious and sad. She told me that if I were to start bleeding or have bad pain, I should go straight to the ER. Then she did a blood test.
I was furious and scared. We had a perfectly normal first pregnancy. Why would this nurse suggest that something horrible was about to happen? No.
The next morning, I was told that my HCG number was low. “How low?” I asked. “Very low. I’m so sorry. It is a viable pregnancy, so it can go one of two ways. We’ll know a lot more when we take your blood on Thursday.”
The next three days were a blur. I cried, I felt sick, and I was numb, all at once. I woke up and drove to school to face my 80 students (10th- and 11th-graders), hiding my endured pain and anxiety.
I waited until Thursday for my second blood test. I had asked the nurse to call close to 9:30 a.m. the next morning since that was my planning block. I called them because I couldn’t wait, but the nurses were all busy. When I went to the bathroom, I had started bleeding.
No. No. No.
On my drive home, the office called me back. My HCG number was much lower, and the woman on the other end said it was a miscarriage. She said she was so sorry and asked if there was anything she could do.
What can you do in a moment like this?
I’ve tried to write down my feelings, but I just sit silently, typing, deleting, typing, deleting. How can you express this loss? It isn’t known or seen, and those who haven’t experienced it will never know the feeling.
When I used to hear that someone had a miscarriage, I always felt terrible for them, but I didn’t know.
Maybe they were stressed out. Maybe they had a drink, or three, when they conceived and didn’t realize.
I didn’t know that miscarriage occurs in 1 out of 4 pregnancies, 25%, and there is usually absolutely no reason. The baby is there, alive, and then it is gone.
Now that I’ve been through it, here’s what I know:
I know the fear of not knowing whether or not you will lose your baby.
I know the internal shame — as if it is your fault — as you try to think back to when it could have gone wrong.
I know the desire to tell friends in person, but the only way it was possible was through words. I can’t face this reality out loud. I can’t hear this.
I know the naïve hope that somehow it is all a mistake. Maybe my baby is still there.
I know the anger, the furious anger, toward whoever tells you the news. Who do you think you are?
I know the pregnancy symptoms you feel, and then feel dissipate, as your heart breaks more each day.
I know it’s not a one-day deal. You are reminded of the loss every time you go to the bathroom, sometimes for two weeks or more.
I know the pain medication needed to get through the cramps, and I know how much your back will ache.
I know that with each day, I feel a little better. Maybe I can talk about this with other women. Why don’t we talk about this?
I know how many people face miscarriage. It’s so common, yet so silent. Because it hurts.
I know how people don’t know what to say. And I don’t know what to say to myself.
“At least it was early.” It was still my baby.
“It happened for a reason.” What was wrong with my baby?
“It means something abnormal was happening, and the baby wasn’t forming properly.” Will this happen to my next child? How do I know it will be okay?
I know how, even though it’s over, it will never be forgotten. I will always stop on May 31 to think of the what-ifs. I will probably think about this every day of my life.
But you didn’t even know the sex yet, they might think. They will never understand.
I know the fear of moving forward. Should we try again soon? Will something go wrong again? Can we handle a baby at the beginning of the school year? If we don’t try again, what if it takes a long time to conceive?
What if my heart gets broken again?
This happens to many women. Some face infertility. Some face multiple miscarriages. Some face ectopic pregnancies. Some face stillbirths. They are all losses. These women are strong. They go back to face work, friends, and family.
A friend put it perfectly: “Everything has changed, yet nothing has changed.”
Why don’t we talk about miscarriage more? Why is there a stigma around it? I’ve thought about this a lot in the past week. I’m a very open, honest person. Yet, for days, I was silent. I couldn’t face it. I couldn’t say it out loud.
I’m heartbroken and OK, all at the same time. I have physical symptoms, yet I’m feeling better. It’s almost like I was letting other people down when I tried to talk about it. When I hear myself say, “We lost the baby,” I have mixed reactions. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I quickly respond with, “Yeah, it’s OK, though,” to take the attention away. I’m OK, and I’m not OK.
Maybe this is how every woman feels, which is why we don’t talk about it. How do you express such a poignant situation?
If only we could find the women who have suffered. If only women, once they move forward, would talk about it more. Maybe schools should even talk about it more.
I knew nothing about miscarriage until it happened, and although nothing can prepare you, we can definitely do a better job of starting the conversation.
For now, I’ll take a deep breath each morning and get out of bed. I’ll hug my sweet toddler and ask about Thor’s cape or his minion named Dave. I’ll take him to the sitter’s, hug him deeply, and drive to work. I’ll face my students with a smile, eyes more tired than usual, and teach them the importance of grammar and expressive writing.
Maybe writing will heal them, as it heals me, when they go through something just as difficult. Then, maybe they’ll be able to talk about it, and if they can’t stand to hear it out loud, at least they’ll write.