It’s hard to imagine these days, with my hours filled with carpool lines, cheerleading uniforms, legos, the toothfairy, sight words, and bedtimes, that there was a time of great loss in my life. It’s hard to imagine when I look in the eyes of my three healthy children, that there was a time when I wasn’t sure that I would become a mother at all. In honor of Pregnancy & Infant Loss Month, I thought I would repost my own personal connection to this month, the story of my own miscarriage.
It has been 8 years now, and though my heart has healed, and I am the very, very proud mom of Brantley, Grayson, and Bennett, I will never forget the baby we lost, and the way that the whole experience reshaped who I am as a human, as a woman, as a mom. I have a gratitude for my children now that I don’t think I could have possibly understood without my miscarriage. I have a powerful empathy for other women who go through the devastation of miscarriage that I don’t think can be understood otherwise. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, but my miscarriage ended up changing me, and I have grown into a stronger person and a better mother because of it.
So here is the original post that I wrote three years ago. The words still sting and make me tear up, but sharing my story was and is very cathartic and curative. Perhaps it will reach someone that needs to hear it.
This is painful for me to write.
Just rereading that sentence back to myself makes my eyes well up. My stomach is flipping. As a defense mechanism, I believe, after I’ve gone through difficult or painful events and after the dust has settled and things get back to normal, I compartmentalize my pain, and I push the memories into a dark corner of my mind and my heart to be filed away. And I try my damnedest to not go back and not to expose myself to the feelings. Not to remember. But, I have been inspired by a few friends to share my story. A story that I have in common with so many, but (understandably) so few talk about.
They probably have that same dark corner of their mind full of pain, disappointment, shame and devastation. I understand.
But I want to share my story, because I want the quiet ones know that they are not alone. There is nothing wrong with keeping that dark corner unoccupied. The pain is real, it’s brutal, and it’s shitty. No getting around it. And now, more than five years later, it still stings. It more than stings.
It aches. Always.
One early evening in mid April of 2008, I fell asleep on the sofa as soon as I got home from work. I don’t really ever take naps, so this was very out of the ordinary. I knew I had not been diligent about taking my birth control, so I bought a pregnancy test.
It was positive.
Scott and I had not really talked extensively about when we wanted to have kids, and we were not “trying,” but we were thrilled. We told everyone we knew. We even got some gifts, and bought a few onesies and jammies for the baby. We were so, so excited.
I had no idea how far along I was, so I made an appointment with my doctor, went in when I thought I was about 10 weeks along, and due to a last minute work meeting, Scott couldn’t make it. I wasn’t concerned or upset, no big deal, I’d go by myself and call him immediately after.
I went back to have my ultrasound, laid down. The tech put the monitor on my stomach. “There’s your baby!” she said. I smiled and looked at my teeny tiny, peanut of a baby on the black and white screen.
“And here’s where the heartbeat is supposed to be.”
Supposed to be. As in, Where it should be, but it’s not.
“Hold on, sweetie, I’m gonna go get the doctor.”
I began to cry.
In the quiet solitude of that ultrasound room, I cried. I knew what that meant. I’d done enough googling and internet research to know what that meant. I knew what the lack of pregnancy symptoms over the last 4 weeks meant. There was no blood, no warning, no hint that something was wrong. But I knew what a motionless baby, only measuring 7 weeks and 5 days when it was supposed to be 10 weeks meant.
I knew what no heartbeat meant.
We had lost our baby.
The doctor came in, I cried harder. She asked if someone could come pick me up, I said no, I was only a mile and a half from home.
I remember nearly driving off the road because I was crying so hard.
Screaming. Feeling like I was in a movie, or like this was all a dream.
But it was really happening. To me.
I got home and called Scott. I wailed into the phone, “I need you to come home. You have to come home.”
“Why? Are you okay?”
“I lost the baby. I lost our baby. We lost our baby.”
Scott came home and held me. I called my mom and we cried. I will never forget overhearing Scott call his mom. We had to schedule a D&C, and Scott fought with the hospital scheduler for me to get in the next day.
Our baby was gone. We couldn’t handle actually seeing it happen, so we wanted the procedure done as soon as possible.
I cried all night long.
The next morning we just waited around to go into the hospital. I was trying my best to hold it together. We got to the registration desk, they asked what we were there for. I said, “A D&C.” And started crying again.
My mom and dad came to the hospital. My brother and his wife (girlfriend at the time, but now wife) were there. My brother in law clasped my hand, looked me in the eye, and told me how sorry he was for us. My sister in law, who was studying out of state at the time and was flying down that particular weekend for the wedding of one of her lifelong friends, changed her plans to come and be with us. I will never, ever forget the amazing and unwavering support from my family, and each of them being there with us that day at the hospital. Actually, it was my brother in law’s birthday.
May 9, 2008.
The procedure was completed, we went home, we rested, we got my meds, we chatted for a bit with family. We hung out with my brother in law and sister in law that night. We tried to get back to normal as fast as we could. “We’ll just try again,” Scott said, eternally hopeful.
I had wonderful friends and family stop by, bring flowers, send beautiful cards, bring delicious food, provide wonderful company. I knew I was loved and cared about.
But our baby was gone.
I wondered why. I wondered if God was punishing me for something. I wondered what I had done wrong. I wondered if something was wrong with me. I thought to myself over and over,
What if I can’t have children.
The thought consumed me.
But we went on with our lives. The lab results came back showing nothing remarkable, no genetic abnormalities, just a random miscarriage. Just a statistic. One of the 20% of pregnancies that end in miscarriage. This pregnancy was the 1 in 5 that ends in miscarriage. But I could not get past it.
My body failed me. My body turned against me. My plans worked against me.
I was completely out of control.
I walked through each day as though everything was okay, but I was empty inside. I was terribly depressed, I was angry, I was unstable. But I worked, I socialized, I lived as best I could. But all I could think about was a baby.
We waited the three months that our doctor recommended before we started trying again. The first month, I took a pregnancy test the day I should’ve started my period, which was a Friday.
It said “pregnant.”
I told Scott, and again, we were thrilled. We told our parents, and we all rejoiced, but on Monday, I got my period. Chemical pregnancy. No baby. We told our parents, and we were back to square one. That period was nothing but failure rubbed in my face. That period was just confirmation, that oh yeah, your body is supposed to be carrying a child, but, sorry, not this month.
NOPE. YOU TRIED, YOU SCHEDULED, YOU DOUBLE CHECKED YOUR CALENDAR, YOU DID EVERYTHING YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO DO, BUT THIS IS NOT UP TO YOU, AMANDA. YOU ARE NOT PREGNANT.
Another month of crying myself to sleep. Another month of second guessing myself, my life, my faith, my everything. Scott, trying to comfort me and reassure me, would tell me that “we’ll just keep trying, it hasn’t been that long.”
“Easy for you to say,” I’d think. You weren’t the mother. You didn’t want a baby this bad.
It wasn’t your body that the baby died inside of.
But that was all unfair. He was hurting too. I wasn’t mad at Scott. I didn’t blame him.
I blamed myself.
Again, we moved on. We worked, each day, in and out. We did what we were supposed to do to try and get pregnant again. And I feared that every month would end in disappointment.
And then my period was supposed to come.
And didn’t. And didn’t. I was too afraid to take a pregnancy test. I could take a blood test at the employee clinic at the hospital where I worked, so I did. And I was terrified to call back for the results.
But I did. And it was positive. I tried to curb my enthusiasm when I saw Scott, when I got to the restaurant we met at for dinner, and we just hugged. We told our parents and our siblings, but they all held their breath, not wanting to be hurt again. Preparing themselves for our hurt again.
But things were different this time.
I was sick. My sense of smell was heightened. I was exhausted. But when it came time to go to the doctor, I made sure Scott was coming with me. And when the nurse called us back to the ultrasound room, I cried the whole way as we walked back. I tried to take even breaths so I wouldn’t hyperventilate. I didn’t know if I could hear the solemn words again. I prayed as HARD as I could, and laid down on the table, holding Scott’s hand so tightly.
The tech put the monitor on my stomach, and we saw the baby.
And we saw the flicker. We saw where the heartbeat was supposed to be.
We saw the heartbeat.
We saw Brantley.
I cried. But cried such happy tears this time.
My pregnancy progressed, and I called the doctor regularly. One time I thought I had for sure torn my placenta (indigestion), then the baby wasn’t moving enough and I was sure the cord was wrapped around her neck (she was resting), and I thought for sure I had shingles or impetigo or something (just a heat rash).
I didn’t take a full and complete breath until I held my first born. On June 11, 2009, at 40 weeks and 3 days, I held my baby.
My Brantley girl.
The baby that made me a mama.
And then I exhaled, so deeply.
Miscarriages are very common. My doctor told me that if a woman gets pregnant enough times, she will (statistically) have a miscarriage. But that does not make it any easier on the mama. You have plans. You have dreams and wishes and ideas for your family. Losing our baby is the mot painful thing I have ever been through. People try to comfort you by saying well-intentioned things like “God has a plan for you,” and “everything happens for a reason.” But if you have ever had a miscarriage, you know never to tell another mother who has lost a child that “everything happens for a reason.” Oh, so you mean that there’s a good reason behind the fact that my child has just died inside me?? Yeah, there is very little comfort in that.
I tell this very private and painful story because there are so many women who struggle with miscarriage. With infertility. With loss. With depression and pain. What I want to tell them…
…what I want to tell YOU…
…is that you are not alone.
It is okay to be really, really angry.
It’s okay to not understand and wish you could.
It’s okay to be angry with your husband because they can seemingly move on so easily, and you just can’t.
You are not alone. I have felt your pain.
To be honest, I did not recover rom my miscarriage until I was pregnant with Brantley. And then it was a whole other world of emotions to deal with. And I have not yet gotten over it. I don’t think I ever will be able to, completely.
What I will tell you, is that you will get through it, and you can come out on the other side a new and different person. A better person. From this experience, you will grow. Soon after my miscarriage, a family friend of Scott’s told me that if I wanted to be a mother bad enough, that I would be. It may not be in the way I had imagined, or in the time frame that I had planned, but I would be a mother. That brought me great comfort, surprisingly.
What I didn’t know at the time, was when she told me that, I was actually already pregnant with Brantley.
You will see the world differently. You will see your family differently. You will love differently.
I will say, it may be easier for me to say this all of this now, as I reflect upon the three beautiful children that we have since been blessed with, but at the time of my miscarriage, I didn’t have any children yet. I had no idea what my future held.
But, I do know this. God was with me the entire time.
And He is WITH YOU.
If you can’t find comfort in that right now, I understand.
I was there.
But I hope that you will be able to find comfort.
And I’ll pray for you and that you can exhale deeply too.