October 15 is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
I went back and forth as to whether I was going to write this blog. But I decided it was necessary, for myself and for anyone else who has ever felt as I have.
Miscarriage is common.
I know we do not like to say that (at least out loud) because it’s scary. As a pregnant woman, you almost feel like you’re jinxing yourself just by muttering the word.
You hold your breath through weeks 1-12, obsessively monitor your symptoms and reassure yourself with the notion that your statistics improve as every week passes.
You don’t read about miscarriage. You don’t talk about miscarriage. But the fact remains, 2 out of every 10 women will miscarry their pregnancy.
For most, you manage to push through your neurosis and make it to the later trimesters with a healthy baby.
For some, the unthinkable happens.
For some it happens in the first trimester, for some it happens later. For some, it happens in the birthing suite, or on operating tables, or in the home.
Either way – it’s tragic, it hurts, and once it happens to you. You begin to feel a different type of stigma – shame.
I know because it happened to me. I got pregnant without blinking, had a dream pregnancy, carried a healthy, beautiful baby boy to term and then had the most incredible birth anyone could ever ask for.
I was professional at baby-growing. At least I thought.
When my husband and I decided we were ready to try for number 2, it happened just as easily as the first time. Except this time the pregnancy didn’t start out as dreamy. I was sick, exhausted, and having trouble getting through the day. But the sicker I got, the more I felt reassured, because the sicker you are the healthier your pregnancy is right? And I had even heard a heartbeat! I mean, once you hear a heartbeat you’re in the clear, right? Wrong.
I was diagnosed with a missed miscarriage on July 22, 2015 at 10 weeks. I had zero symptoms, had hormone levels in the correct range and was as sick as ever. My body was still pregnant, even though my little baby’s heart had stopped beating 2 weeks before.
I did not tell a soul besides my parents and my husband. I locked that secret away and put on a brave face. What would people think of me if they knew I lost my baby? How could I look my pregnant girlfriends in the eye? How could I buy baby presents and play baby shower games and ooh/aah over newborns if everyone in the room knew I was a newly-bereaved mother? How?
The act of growing a human being inside your body is not 100% foolproof. Chromosomes do not always align as they should, organs do not always develop as they should, delicate hormonal balances do not always stay in perfect harmony as they should.
Things happen, usually 100% outside of our control.
So why the shame? Why the silence?
We internalize our pain and put on a brave face to the world because we feel like we have failed. Why couldn’t I make this happen? Why did my body fail me? What could I have done differently? How come she did it and I could not? Why me?
Little do we know, we aren’t alone.
And if we weren’t sitting in shamed silence – we would be aware of that.
I love that there is a movement to put names and faces to the large community of women who have lost their unborn and newborn children. We can share our experience without fear of judgment.
You aren’t alone. It wasn’t your fault. You won’t ever forget, but your life will go on. You are a mother – the strongest and most resilient type of human being in existence. And you will be ok. Your journey is far from over.