I don’t often talk about my own experience with miscarriage. I’ve had three in total, and each has hit me hard. When I was growing up, I didn’t want children. I saw myself as career-driven, wanting to make a difference to the world, and I thought kids were annoying and got in the way of life. But it wasn’t long after my 20th birthday that I realized how much I wanted to have children of my own.
Part of it was that I was diagnosed with PCOS, a condition which can make you infertile. I was told that having kids without assistance was going to be next to impossible for me. When someone tells you that, you can’t help but immediately feel defensive. You want to prove them wrong. And that was exactly how I felt.
My miscarriages all happened in the course of about four years. I was “lucky” in some ways because with all three of them, they happened before I officially knew I was pregnant. One of the problems associated with PCOS is that you don’t have regular periods. So when mine were late, I thought absolutely nothing of it. It was only when the pain and the bleeding were worse than normal that I went to the doctor and confirmed what I thought might be true.
My first two happened around 6 weeks into the pregnancies. Because I didn’t know I was pregnant, I had no real anticipation or hopes before the diagnoses. While it was a shock and a huge disappointment, it wasn’t something that I felt I could talk about or share my feelings on. There were women who had lost babies they knew about. They were farther along than I was. They had more to lament. I felt selfish and stupid for being disappointed.
My third miscarriage happened around 8 – 10 weeks. I had felt something was wrong for a week or two, and I wanted to verify what I thought might be happening. I was too afraid to tell my husband, so I went to a different doctor than usual and had a test done. He confirmed a positive pregnancy test, but by that point, I was already beginning to bleed. I was sent for an ultrasound which confirmed that I had a blighted ovum. The doctors referred to it as a “missed miscarriage.”
I was devastated. By this point, my then-husband and I had not been actively trying for a baby, but we had decided to stop trying to prevent a pregnancy and leave it up to chance. I was ready to become a mother, and this loss felt unbearable. But I decided once again to keep my feelings to myself.
Losing a child at any stage is painful. It can break your spirit, and the grief is overwhelming.
Eventually, I remarried and went on to have two healthy pregnancies and births. When my second son was a year old, I began to fear I was once again dealing with another loss. I’d been breastfeeding for nearly a year, and I hadn’t yet had my period return, so when it came back, I knew I’d have to start taking precautions against getting pregnant again. When my next course was due, I found that I was late.
I took a test, which was positive, but almost immediately, I began bleeding again. My flow was heavy, and I had terrible pain. I assumed I had lost the baby, and I went immediately into grief mode. I told my husband, and he was supportive, but he didn’t really understand. How could he? I cried, but I tried to tell myself it was too early for another baby anyway.
Just as I’d started to accept the loss, the bleeding stopped as quickly as it’d come. Further tests all came back positive, each clearer than the last. Digital tests showed a surge in hormones, and I knew that meant I was still pregnant. A doctor’s visit confirmed it, and when I asked about the bleeding, she said that it could have been anything from random bleeding to an early miscarriage of a twin. There was no way of knowing for sure.
I went on to have two more healthy baby boys, and I am grateful for them every day. But my heart knows that I have more babies in heaven, and I can’t forget them in my prayers.
Throughout my pregnancies, I feared losing my babies. And once they were born, I feared even more. My brother died of SIDS at three months old, and my whole life has been colored by that loss. I was the rainbow baby born after he had died.
Losing a child is the greatest agony I can imagine. I have friends and family members who have had their children die, and it is a loss greater than anyone should bear. It is a constant sorrow they carry with them forever.
So it is with them and all of us in mind that October 15th has become Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. The goal is for anyone who has ever been affected to light a candle at 7pm local time. Leave it lit for one hour in remembrance of those angels we have lost. By doing so, it will create a constant wave of light around the world that lasts the whole day.
To all of you who may be affected, you are in my thoughts today. All those who feel alone – know that you are not forgotten.