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 been actively trying for a baby, though not in earnest. We were leaving it up to chance a bit. The loss was unbearable. Again, though, I kept most of my feelings to myself.
Losing a child at any stage is painful. It can break your spirit, and the grief is overwhelming.
Earlier this year, I feared once again that I was dealing with a loss. Because I’d been breastfeeding Daniel for nearly a year, I hadn’t had my period, so when it came back, I knew that I’d have to start taking precautions not to get pregnant again. But when my next course was due, I found that I was late. I took a test, which was positive. But immediately I started bleeding again. The flow was heavy and I had terrible pain. I assumed that I had lost the baby, and I went into grief mode. I told Mark, and he was very supportive. I cried a bit, and I tried to tell myself that it was too early for another baby, anyway, and that there is a greater plan at work.
But just as I’d started to accept it (I’d even told a couple of friends), the bleeding stopped as quickly as it’d come. I took further tests, and all came back positive, each clearer than the last. Digital tests were showing a surge in hormones, which I knew meant that I was definitely still pregnant. A doctor’s visit confirmed it, and here I am now at 36 weeks pregnant with that tiny miracle I was sure I’d lost.
Now, my fears are different. As the new baby approaches his due date, I worry (as I have for all of my babies) that something could happen to him. I’ve written many times about my brother, Jacob, who died of SIDS at less than three months old. Tomorrow, October 16th, would have been his 36th birthday. The last few days I’ve been in the slow agony of early labor, and one of my biggest fears is that this little guy will come on that day and my fears will be exacerbated. I can’t tell you how much respect I have for my parents for getting through the agony of losing a child… I can’t imagine the pain they must have gone through – especially with having two other children they had to care for at the time.
In the last year or two, I’ve known several of my fellow bloggers who have had to deal with the agony of loss. Each story is heartbreaking, and each family carries with them the constant sorrow that goes along with it.
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.