That was the question I got asked the day after it was confirmed I had miscarried. I was light headed, a bit nauseous and out of it but had never been more certain that I was in fact not pregnant.
Growing up, I remember speaking to my moms friend every so often and her telling me about the miscarriages she had. How traumatic they were, how much she wanted a baby, how even between her two children she had another miscarriage. Another friend told me how much she cried every miscarriage she had, how she had had many, how she never thought she would get pregnant and how sad they made her.
I knew so many women who had early miscarriages, multiple miscarriages and even one friend who had one months and months into her pregnancy. She named that beautiful baby.
When we easily (and by easily I mean it took 6 months) got pregnant with H, we knew we were lucky. I was the happiest pregnant person, I felt great, calm, excited and lucky that I wasn’t incredibly morning sick and didn’t have complications. This joy was made more prominent when early on in my pregnancy, my good friend who was also pregnant had a terriblely traumatic miscarriage. Matt and I talked about how lucky we were. Even after I had so many complications following H’s birth we would say how thankful we were to easily have a happy, healthy baby, we were so lucky.
It took us (perhaps mostly me) three full years after my son’s birth to even start considering the thought of having a second child. Many long chats with my husband, my friends, my sister-in-law, my family. My good friend put me in touch with an incredible doula who had a similar birth story to mine, who had experienced trauma, a c-section and went on to have a successful vaginal birth. I thought if she could do it, if I knew someone who had a successful v-bac, then maybe I could do it too.
We started trying.
A year passed.
Finally, finally, I had implantation bleeding. I knew in my gut I was pregnant. I know my body and I had never had bleeding outside of my cycle except for the one time I was pregnant before. Except this time I had all the early symptoms but never a positive pregnancy test. I knew in my heart I was pregnant but my period came, and it was intense.
I was ok.
It was early, I didn’t even have a positive test. I told myself all the things you do, it probably wasn’t viable and so I had a miscarriage. Sad, but it was natural and a part of life. It didn’t register with me in an all consuming tragic way.
The very next month I felt pregnant again. On the day my period was expected I took a pregnancy test, and I was pregnant. Yahoo! Finally, I thought, my body knows what it’s doing and we will finally have a second child.
My husband was reserved, after the previous month. I understood, lets not get our hopes up if I will only be disappointed again. We took 4 different tests over the next two weeks, even getting those dating ones to make sure it was progressing as expected, and it was! The first person I told was my Doula, then I called the midwife, next my family doctor, then my other practitioners. We didn’t tell friends or family because Christmas was coming up, I would close to the second trimester and what’s more perfect than telling people you are pregnant at Christmas!? C’mon, everything was. the. best.
Until it wasn’t. One morning before we were leaving on a trip I started spotting. My mind lept to miscarriage but a quick google search and chat with my doula let me know that spotting can be normal. The week went on and the spotting continued. I told myself this is normal, every pregnancy is different and this one might be a little less perfect than my first.
We went on the trip. I faked drinking alcohol in front of my best friends, neglecting to tell them I was pregnant because I had a lurking feeling things weren’t right. I didn’t want to be a downer on our fun getaway.
I woke up the day after our vacation to a large amount of blood. It wasn’t just spotting anymore, this was progressing to full out bleeding. I knew I was miscarrying.
We already had an ultrasound scheduled for that day, funny how life works isn’t it? But I knew I was miscarrying. The ultrasound tech said everything looked normal, it was just smaller than I thought, maybe I was wrong about the implantation date? We saw the baby, saw the heart beating, she printed us a photo which we still have. But deep down I knew.
I knew as I waited 3.5 hours for the ultrasound results in my doctors office. It was the last day before Christmas holidays so I had no other choice but to sit and wait. The receptionist went beyond her job, offered me sympathy and pads out of her own supply as the cramping and bleeding intensified. I waited, but I already knew.
Almost 4 hours later and there weren’t any answers, “you could be miscarrying but it also could be a perfectly healthy baby, you might just be wrong about the implantation date.” I wasn’t wrong, I knew what was happening.
3 days passed, I had two blood tests and a second ultrasound and what I knew was finally confirmed. My doctor had to call me from home to tell me, it was Christmas eve and I had miscarried.
The most difficult part of my miscarriage was feeling like I was going through it alone. There is such a stigma surrounding telling people before 12 weeks because around 10 to 15% of all pregnancie end in first trimester miscarriage. The timing of everything also made it more difficult because we were at Christmas parties, holiday events and ultimately Christmas dinner with acquaintances, friends and family. And when I was experiencing lightheadedness from trauma and probably blood loss I was even asked “are you sure you aren’t pregnant?” knife. through. heart
I don’t know if it was the same for you, but for me it seemed like the second we were married we were asked “so when will you have kids?” and this line of questioning doesn’t end until you produce a baby. And yes, I said produce like cattle. Then you think you are safe until immediately being asked “so when will you have a second?”. For me, this has been a long almost 4 years of being consistently asked by everyone from family members and friends to a nurse on an operating table (I kid you not, literally as I was being prepped for surgery on my leg) about having a second child. I needed to give my son a sibling so he wouldn’t turn into an “only child” and also give him an instant life long friend.
I know these people mean well, they are telling us what they know from their life experiences. But the reality is that most people never truly know what’s going on with another person and to be brutally honest, it isn’t any of their dang business.
We shouldn’t have to justify our choice to have children, or not to have children, or to have one child or having many children to anyone, not even family members.
And as a society, we need to stop asking women about what is or isn’t going on in their uteruses.
Don’t think I’m over here on my high horse either, I am 110% guilty of all of the above. I have no filter or inside voice so there have been multiple situations where I have said insensitive things to friends, family, acquaintances maybe even strangers (but probably not on an operating table). I’ve asked when people will have babies, a second, if they will have a third. I have been there too but I know it isn’t right and my experiences will make me pause before asking a question about another person’s uterus again.
Other than the obvious, the other crappy part about having a miscarriage is that everyone expects you to just get over it.
There is the usual response, which I too am guilty:
“There was something wrong with it, it wouldn’t have survived, your body knew what it was doing”
Ummm… let me make very clear that unless a miscarrying person has said this to you first, not a cool response. Ever. This statement may or may not be true, I’m not a scientist or doctor (big shocker, I’m aware) but I know one thing, it’s certainly not compassionate or empathetic.
Then there is:
“You’ll get pregnant again.”
Oh thanks for totally minimizing the trauma and loss I just experienced like it didn’t exist. You’re right and it makes me feel soooo much better, not!
For these very reasons it’s even more important that we mind our own beeswax when it comes to other women’s bodies. If its not your uterus its not your place to ask if they want a baby, are trying for a baby or how many babies they want to have.
One of my friends refers to me as “a private person” because I’m usually not open about the deeply personal things that go on in my life. I’m choosing to share my story here because I felt alone during my experience, I didn’t want to sadden my friends and family during festive Christmas cheer with my downer story. I didn’t want others sympathy or to hear their well intended suggestions or comments. However, I truly feel that if the topic of miscarriage was regularly discussed openly, then less women would feel alone through their experiences and we would all be better equip to support them.
Instead of asking someone about their body, we should be caring about who they are and what goes on in their lives. If they choose to share something deeply personal like a miscarriage, infertility or other things then we should be there to listen.