By the time I delivered my son in August of 2015, it felt like I’d been pregnant for over a year. Why? I went through a first trimester miscarriage in October 2014 (Read my whole story here).
I took today off from work today in anticipation that this would be a soul crushing reminder of what I was supposed to have. Overall, I’ve had a fairly pleasant day. My friends and I took a walk through nature and had some lunch. I had an exhausting day yesterday so I’m sure that has helped temper my mood as well.
I did however think today be an appropriate day to write down some reflections I have had on my miscarriage last year. Although I won’t necessarily say I’m grateful that the miscarriage occurred, it is a bizarre thought that had the loss never happened, I wouldn’t be carrying my son now.
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5 Things I Learned from my Miscarriage
Miscarriage is Common
Before I had my miscarriage, I had never really thought about it. When I found out I was pregnant, I told a few people. I understood that miscarriage was a risk, but I just assumed it happened to other people not me. After all, I worked out, followed a vegan diet, and wasn’t under a lot of stress. I knew it wasn’t usually the mom’s fault, but I assumed it was relatively rare. Afterall, no one in my life had ever had a miscarriage, so what were the odds that I would?
It turns out quite a few people I knew had had a miscarriage. A grandparent, a coworker, an old friend. It’s something I wish I had known sooner as they were the ones that really understood what I was going through. Miscarriage isn’t something that’s talked about. It’s still filled with stigma and shame. It’s also not something that comes up in conversation. And when would it? I’m not ashamed of what happened to me, but there aren’t very many opportunities to talk about it.
Miscarriages are Painful
Unlike the rare instances of a miscarriage you see portrayed in media, my miscarriage was not quick. Although my fetus stopped growing, my body didn’t recognize that fact for 4 more weeks, meaning my body still thought I was pregnant even though the baby was no longer growing.
I went in to the doctor for a 9 week check up and ultrasound 9/26/14. I had no clue that anything was wrong. My morning sickness had been getting better, but everything I had read said morning sickness got better when you entered the second trimester. I assumed I was feeling better since I was nearing the 12 week mark.
When the nurse practitioner had a hard time finding the baby, I assumed it’s because I was chubby. My husband and I laughed. Silly baby! Stop hiding; we want to see you. However, once she found it, it was only an empty sac. No heartbeat; no baby. She told me that I had a blighted ovum that appeared to have stopped growing around the 7 week mark. My body had failed to recognize this. I began spotting a few days later; light for the first few days, then heavier and heavier. By October 6th, I assumed the worst was over. What no one told me was that I would experience contractions. I had uterine contractions for 4 hours each night for two days. Typical childbirth contractions can be very painful; but many women are able to get through the pain and intensity knowing that they will get to meet their baby soon. Contractions from a miscarriage have the added intensity from knowing that you won’t get to meet you baby.
Miscarriages are a Roller Coaster of Emotions
I was a roller coaster of emotions. Sadness, anger, confusion and even embarrassment.
I was bitter and angry at both myself and the unfairness of the world. My cousin at was pregnant at the time, and seeing her made my heart wrench. Of course I was happy for her, but that was supposed to be me. It was supposed to be my life. Commercials on TV for baby products, nursery rhymes, children’s drawings… anything related to babies and pregnancy would set me off.
During our first ultrasound my husband and I laughed when the nurse couldn’t find our baby. We thought it was hiding, and we continued to be excited for our baby. We laughed and joked while she searched. Looking back on that… I’m so embarassed. Of course it’s not logical since we had no idea at the time, but I cringe just thinking about it. This feeling has followed me to every single ultrasound or heartbeat monitor. I am unable to express any excitement until after we hear the heartbeat.
Miscarriages Rip the Joy from Subsequent Pregnancies
It was difficult to find any joy in subsequent pregnancies. I would count down the days to ‘safe’ times. Second trimester, date of viability, high percentage of survival, full term…
Everything became the sign of a miscarriage. Not being sick enough, a slightly upset stomach, round ligament pain. I was constantly on the lookout for signs of blood.
I had the misfortune of being diagnosed with a subchorionic hematoma during the first trimester of my first pregnancy.The day before Christmas I woke up and I had started bleeding. My heart broke. Luckily, I was able to get in for an ultrasound and found out I had a subchorionic hematoma, a common reason of bleeding during pregnancy.
Once I was able to feel baby kick, I got a bit of relief. I could poke or tap my belly and my baby would move in response. But, the constant loom of loss still hung over me every day.
Miscarriage Put Things into Perspective
In no way am I saying having a miscarriage will cure mental illnesses (indeed, it can even aggravate some), but having a miscarriage really put things into perspective for me. I’ve long struggled with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Even though the miscarriage was a horrible experience, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. In comparison, my problems just don’t seem as bad anymore. Bad day at work? Feeling unattractive? The sadness and anxiety those things used to make me is nothing in comparison to finding out I lost my child. Most of the things in my life that make me unhappy are minor and changeable. And I think about that a lot. Sure I still get down sometimes, but I feel as if my mind went through hell, and nothing compares to that.
Please don’t hesistate to get reach out and get help if you need it. Seeing a mental health professional can be one of the best things you can do for yourself.
Overall, I wouldn’t say I’m grateful for the miscarriage. Going through that was undoubtably the worst experience of my life. It made me a member of a club no one ever wants to join. What I am grateful for is the experience of having my son grow inside me, which wouldn’t be possible had the miscarriage not occurred. My mental health has even improved since before I had the miscarriage. I look at the miscarriage as just something that happened to me, neither positive or negative.
Speaking about loss can be so difficult, but I encourage you to share your story. Reading and listening to others really helped me feel less alone.
More Posts On Pregnancy & Child Loss
- 9 Ways To Honor a Baby Lost Too Soon
- 5 Ways to Support a Loved One Through a Miscarriage
- My Miscarriage Story
- Essential Oils for Child Loss
- 7 Ways to Honor a Lost Pregnancy on Your Due Date
- 5 Things I Learned From my Miscarriage