My pregnancy announcement to my husband was, by all modern standards now, totally boring. I told him that we’d meet at home after work so I could test to see if we were pregnant. He stood outside the bathroom door as I unwrapped all the packaging from the box and tried to comprehend the CliffsNotes version of peeing on a pregnancy test.
I waited and sat there quietly. Pee was still on my hands, having fumbled with the test. Our bathroom door had a keyhole that was big enough to see through. I could see my husband standing there, waiting for me to give some indication if what we thought was happening was true and real. I looked away from the keyhole and down at the stick.
I was pregnant.
I opened the door and our eyes met, and he knew. I didn’t say a word. He jumped up and down so hard and so high that he hit his head on the door frame. We laughed and cried, we swayed and hugged, and with each movement like a pendulum, our house creaked along and we were so very happy.
We kept our pregnancy a secret because I thought you were “supposed to” wait a predetermined amount of time before you told anyone. I decided I needed to tell my mother, but other than her, we continued to keep our pregnancy a secret. We told no one about our joy.
I was at work when I noticed the brown discharge. It wasn’t enough bleeding to be concerned, I thought at the time. I proceeded to attend the work potluck that afternoon, engaging in small talk and trying not to let the afternoon’s discovery in the bathroom weigh on me. I went to a Halloween party with my husband that night. I pretended to drink as we continued to keep the secret pregnancy from our friends. I could feel more spotting, so we left the party.
I awoke the next day to severe cramping and started to pass clots. My husband drove me to the emergency room, and I cried as I watched the neighborhood zoom by my window. The signs in the ultrasound room all said the same thing: “Do not ask your ultrasound tech about your ultrasound results.” More secrecy. I lay there frightened. My eyes burned when I finally closed my lids and let my eyes roll back in my head. I prayed that my body would hold the baby inside.
The staff at the hospital said they weren’t sure if I was having a miscarriage. I was early in pregnancy, so an ultrasound couldn’t be definitive. They wanted me to go home for bed rest and have lab work done at my doctor’s office. So for the rest of the weekend, two full days, I lay in bed — hanging on to hope that maybe the pregnancy would stay. I cried to my husband and mom. Then I would cry alone, to no one. I fell into a deep sleep that lasted for hours and woke only to wish to go back to sleep and avoid my reality. There was no fast way to spend the time alone in bed.
We sat in a small waiting area to get the lab work. We were hoping the HCG was rising, not going down. Rising meant the pregnancy was still viable. I saw the familiar face of my family doctor, and he ushered us into a side room to share the results. In the most loving and compassionate way possible, he told me my pregnancy was over.
I went back home, lay in my bed, bleeding and cramping, and had the rest of my miscarriage. Eventually, I felt the need to tell a few people. We didn’t even tell them we were pregnant, and now we had to tell them we had a miscarriage.
I think back to the woman I was, lying in bed at home, so very scared and alone. I was scared to tell anyone and terrified of what was happening to my body. The miscarriage was a secret and so have been my feelings since then. But what I want you to know is that I wish I hadn’t kept my miscarriage a secret.
I wish I talked more about my miscarriage.
I wish I didn’t minimize my grief about my miscarriage.
I wish I didn’t try to tell myself that other people had bigger losses and grief.
I wish I held space for myself to be sad and not try to hide it.
I wish I didn’t rush back to work.
I wish I didn’t force myself to attend events and parties when I didn’t feel like it.
I wish I didn’t try so damn hard to make everyone, except for me, feel so comfortable.
I was on another planet, and I wish I’d known at the time it was okay to stay there until I was ready to take a trip back.
I still think about my loss.
I grieve for the many what-ifs and the whys.
Keeping my miscarriage a secret didn’t wipe away my grief.
Miscarriage and your grief don’t need to be kept a secret.
You don’t need to make anyone but yourself comfortable.
You don’t need to grieve alone.