My husband and I had only been trying for a month when I took my first pregnancy test. It was a long shot, but I like to be as prepared as possible so I couldn’t wait for a missed period. Shock of shocks there were two very obvious lines. I went out and told my husband and we were both super excited…and a little panicked. I only told a few people (my parents, brother, sister-in-law, and best friends). I knew I wasn’t “supposed” to tell anyone before 12 weeks but I was so excited and I couldn’t keep it all to myself until then. Besides, if anything were to happen those were the people I would talk to about it anyway.
For the next month my pregnancy was completely normal. I had some morning sickness, a lot of heartburn, and was very tired. The day before my 8 week appointment with my doctor I was at work and started to have faint cramps and then started to bleed. I immediately called the doctor and the nurse assured me that this can be normal but that I should come in just in case. I left work and met my husband at the doctor’s office. I had an ultrasound and it confirmed our worst fears; I had had a miscarriage. I obviously knew that miscarriages happened, but I didn’t know much about them. After having one, this is what I learned:
- It happens a lot
I didn’t ask my doctor many questions when I first found out what happened. I needed some time to process before I learned more about it. When I went back a few days later to have my blood drawn (for the first of many times – you need to make sure your hormone levels go back to 0) she popped in the room to talk to me. The only question I could think of was “why?” She told me that miscarriages happen in 1 out of every 4 pregnancies. I never realized the percentage was so high.
Once I had had my own miscarriage and realized how many other people it had happened to I started to hear about it more often (or I just started paying more attention to those whose were talking about it). Other friends went through it, friends of friends went through it, and even celebrities were talking about going through it. Although I wouldn’t wish the experience on anyone it was nice to hear that other people knew what I was going through and that I wasn’t alone in my feelings.
- You feel guilty
After my doctor told me how often miscarriages happen she went on to tell me that nothing I did caused mine. It was very nice to hear, but I of course didn’t believe her. I went back through everything I had done the past 2 months to figure out what went wrong. In the month before I knew I was pregnant I had a few glasses of wine. The morning I found out I had fallen on my knees trying to catch my dog. Every morning I had a cup of coffee. I told her all of this, and more, and she still assured me that none of that caused the miscarriage.
Even if it wasn’t my fault directly, it was my body’s fault. I think that is the hardest thing to deal with. My body basically betrayed me. It was in charge of the most precious thing and it didn’t protect it. Even though I am a very logical person and understand what the doctor (and everybody else) told me it is nearly impossible not to feel guilty. The guilt subsides over time, but it never really goes away. Even now, no matter what anyone says, it’s still there in the back of my mind.
- It hurts
I thought once my doctor told me I had a miscarriage, it was over. What I didn’t realize is that my body still had to pass what remained of my pregnancy. She told me that I would bleed for a while and pass a few clots the size of a golf ball or lemon. I’ve read that some women don’t even feel this, but I felt every bit of it. Now, I had always had bad periods so I was used to painful cramps. And that’s how it started. Then the next day I had the most painful cramps I had ever felt (until I was in labor that is!). Those lasted for about an hour until I passed a clot. Once the clot came out my cramps immediately stopped.
I thought I was through the worst of it so I went to work that night (I didn’t really have a choice so luckily the pain had stopped). I was the director of a daycare and we had a Meet the Teacher night for the beginning of the school year. I had to stand there, smile, and meet the new families joining our school. It wasn’t easy but I at least wasn’t in any physical pain anymore. Then I went back to work the next day for our last day of summer camp. While most of the students and teachers were outside for recess I started having the really painful cramps again. I worked 30 minutes from my house and didn’t feel like I could safely drive so going home wasn’t an option. So I laid on the couch in my office hoping nobody came to the door. I heard a class coming back inside so I got up to go back to my desk and I passed the second clot. Again, I immediately felt better. Knowing what I do now I definitely wouldn’t have gone back to work so soon.
- It changes your next pregnancy
I was extremely lucky and was able to get pregnant again 5 months after my miscarriage. Although I was so excited that I was pregnant again I was also terrified that something bad would happen. I didn’t want to tell anyone because I didn’t want to jinx it. I didn’t want to buy anything for the same reason. I wouldn’t even discuss what we needed for the nursery, or when to have my baby shower until we had the 20 week ultrasound to confirm everything was okay. Even after that I was cautious with how excited I would let myself get.
Every time I went to the doctor to hear the heartbeat I would be in a panic until I heard it. If I didn’t feel him move enough my heart would sink until I did. My doctor even noticed how nervous I was and told me, “you need to let yourself enjoy this pregnancy”. I tried, but it wasn’t easy. I will obviously never know how I would have acted through pregnancy without having a miscarriage first. I am naturally a nervous person so I’m sure I would have had nerves along the way. I really think, though, that having one completely changed my pregnancy journey.
- You don’t get over it
About a month after I had a miscarriage I had a friend who suffered the same terrible misfortune. One day several months later we were on a walk and she said to me, “I thought I would be over it by now. When do you think we’ll be able to get over it?” I obviously had no idea but I said, “I think it’s like a breakup. We won’t be able to get over it until we are pregnant again and actually have the baby”. This turned out to be somewhat true. Obviously having my son helped me get over what I had been through. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and that I had to have the miscarriage so that I could have my son. I’m still not completely over it though. My heart still skipped a beat on April 13th (my original due date) and I’m sure it will for years to come.
Miscarriages happen a lot. Knowing this doesn’t make it any easier when it happens to you. This was my personal experience having a miscarriage and what I learned from it. I know that all people experience it differently and go through different things. I was very lucky that I only had one and that I was able to get pregnant and have my son after it. I know not everyone is this lucky and my heart goes out to those who are still trying.
I haven’t told many people (until now) that I even had a miscarriage. I thought it was important to write this, though, to help others going through the same thing. If you have experienced a miscarriage (or several), what did you learn?