One in four women will experience a miscarriage in their lifetime. To many, this is a mere statistic. It will never happen to me we think.
Until it does.
A pregnancy loss, whether early in the pregnancy, before a heartbeat can be detected on an ultrasound, until the final week of pregnancy, can be incredibly devastating.
I am one in four.
I remember the joy and trepidation I experienced when I saw two pink lines appear on the pregnancy test I decided to take after experiencing several symptoms that I felt may be indicators that I was expecting. At that point, I had not been pregnant in two years, and while I had carried two other children to term, I didn’t remember the exact nuances of every pregnancy sign. I made the trip to the feminine care aisle of the grocery store near my house, discreetly tucked the two tests I purchased under other items within my cart, and made the trip back to my house to determine if we were going to be adding another member to our family.
Fear overwhelmed me as I questioned myself. How was I going to be able to raise three children? I considered myself to be a good mother to my two boys, but could I possibly handle a third? What about my two living children? Would I be putting them at a disadvantage by adding another child? A silly question considering that I was already pregnant, but this doubt and similar thoughts raced through my head, as I Googled the term, “raising three children” and read multiple articles from parents detailing the struggles of raising more than two children. I cried for the remainder of the evening, and in to the following morning. I was stressed, tired, and wondered how in nine short months I was going to become capable enough to mother a third.
One short week later, I stood in the restroom at my office, horrified at the sight of blood. When we are not trying to conceive, we welcome this sight, knowing that our bodies are functioning as they should. When pregnant, blood is the last thing we want to see. I instantly went in to a panicked mode, and as I dialed my doctor’s office, the noise of others preparing their lunches in the break-room filling the silence within me, I ventured towards the dark place.
The space in between fear and hope that makes us question everything.
I instantly assumed the worst, knowing that even though, by medical standards my pregnancy was still considered a fetus and not a baby, that my BABY was dying. As I followed prompt after prompt to finally reach a live person, I rehearsed what I would say. This is how many weeks I think I am. No, this has never happened before. I’m not sure why. I sputtered these words as I bombarded the receptionist with my information, and drew in a deep breathe when she instructed that I come in immediately for a blood and urine test.
I called my husband, and waited as he arrived at work, to drive me to the doctor’s office. On the ride over, I held my breath, until the pressure of the air building in my chest made it feel as if my ribs were going to shatter. After all, my heart already had. I followed the motions, offering my arm for the blood draw and my urine for the sample. I waited. I waited until the photographs of newly born children and the newborns walking in to the building with their mothers became too overwhelming, and I had to leave. I was instructed that I would receive a call shortly.
The line is faint. The nurse stated, when she called me what felt like a lifetime later. I asked what this had meant. Was it too early in the pregnancy, and I didn’t have enough of the hormone? Or were my worst fears realized? Was it faint because I was losing the baby? She tried to reassure me, stating that it was likely too early, and that if I continued to bleed, I should come back in to the office. She also handed me a sheet to have lab work done. I was to have blood samples taken on that day and then again after 48 hours to see if my levels were increasing. From those results, we would determine my next steps.
I spent the few days between blood draws laying on the couch, foolishly thinking that if I were to relax and remain in a stagnant position that I could stop the bleeding. Yet it continued, and my anxiety mounted, as I waited for Monday and my final blood test to arrive.
On Tuesday afternoon, one day after my final blood draw, I received the phone call that my baby had died.
These things happen. Based on your medical history, we aren’t sure why, but you can start trying again after two cycles. The nurse repeated this information to me as if reading from a script, and in my anger I disconnected the call, cutting her off mid sentence. I could not even begin to comprehend what was going on. I had two successful pregnancies and two living children. I always felt superior, annoyingly so, in the fact that when I filled out forms, I could enter next to number of pregnancies 2, number of living children 2. Now, I could no longer say so. The very body that had allowed me to conceive had caused me to lose the pregnancy. It had betrayed me.
After my pregnancy loss, I suffered an emotional breakdown. I was bitter and angry, not only at myself and my failure of a body, but at God. I was angry at a God that I had trusted and believed in, who I believed had allowed me to suffer such pain for no reason.
Rather, it was a reason I didn’t understand at the time.
Five short months later, I was blessed for a small period of time, to be able to receive another positive pregnancy test. This test felt like a light in a haze of overwhelming darkness, and I felt hopeful. After months of pain, I was ready to be happy, ready to embrace the second chance I felt I was being given at being able to raise three children.
Yet six days later, my first experience repeated itself. I was one in four. Twice. I wanted so deeply to pull myself from the anger I had felt upon experiencing my first miscarriage. I vowed to myself that this time, rather than being angry I would allow myself to be thankful for the ability to become pregnant again, knowing that while my body was capable of becoming pregnant I could no longer sustain a pregnancy. However, I found myself spiraling back in to the darkness, returning to the bitter shell I was.
I was not able to carry a third child to term, and at this point in my life, I have no intention of attempting another pregnancy. However, if I did, I would want to write these words to myself, and to any mother who dares to hope after suffering the pain of a miscarriage or pregnancy loss.
Dear mother, in this moment, embrace the life that is growing within you. I know that fear resides in the depths of your heart and in your mind. After all, we have been here before, and we know what the end result yields. We understand that at any moment, our lives can change, and we know the pain that loss brings. We celebrate each milestone with hesitation, questioning at which point in our journey these milestones will stop. Each trip to the restroom is filled with anxiety, as we check our toilet paper and wonder if this trip will be *the one*. Ultrasounds will no longer bring joy, at the sight of our children, but will be markers for relief when we see that the child growing in our belly is still moving and growing. Doctors appointments will become chores, things that we dread, because we fear that our doctor will provide bad news. We will question each symptom, wondering if we are tired enough. Nauseated enough. Pregnant enough. We will wait to purchase baby items, or tell family or friends because we have done so before, and we have then had to explain why we no longer “look” pregnant. Fear will be the one emotion we will feel at all moments. But mother, who dares to hope, attempt to remain faithful. Pain doesn’t make sense, nor does loss. The darkness will try to swallow you, engulfing you and convincing you that this will happen again. And it may. But in these moments, while you are pregnant, try to enjoy the life that is yours and yours alone. Be still in this moment, and understand that while your path may not clear, things will begin to make sense. Dear mother, you are strong, and your body is strong. Trust in this above all else.