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What Having a Miscarriage Taught Me About Motherhood

I originally wrote this in early May 2018. I woke up sometime around 2 am and couldn’t go back to sleep. This is was sitting on my heart and I had to write it out. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was already pregnant with my rainbow baby, Benjamin. Now, in the fall of 2021, I am lucky enough to be the mama of two earth side babes. I had a miscarriage in early 2017 and this where I was mentally just over a year later. Despite giving birth in two different ways, my miscarriage was one of the most physically painful things I’ve ever been through. This post has been very lightly edited my by dear friend Marina. I am choosing not to change tenses even though this post was written over three years ago at this point. The day I’m publishing this is the first day that I’m rereading it myself, but I want to share my story for anyone who might be going through it. I see you.

There’s nothing like losing something to show you how much you really wanted it. Very few people know that this is something I went through last year. It’s taken me some time to process it, understand it, and accept it as part of my story. 

My story and experience is just one of hundreds of thousands of women that experience a miscarriage every year. Around 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, so it’s very likely that if you haven’t experienced one, that someone you know has. When this was happening to me, it was very comforting to know that I was not alone and to read other women’s experiences and stories. It gave me comfort, it gave me hope, and it eased my pain, even if only for a few moments. Opening up the conversation on a difficult topic like miscarriage allows us to connect on an intimate level and start grieving on the path to emotional healing.

When I realized I might be pregnant, I waited two weeks after a missed period to take a test, just to be sure. So as one should, I made a doctor’s appointment. 

Beginning to wrap my mind around something that I always thought would happen one day that was actually happening now had me elated and in a bit of a daze, to be honest. Having children is something I always planned for my late twenties, and the decision to maybe start trying now was a spontaneous one. It happened so quickly, it felt like magic. Basically, I blinked and I was pregnant. 

In my head, I started mapping out what the next year would look like for us. We talked about how things would need to change, what practicalities we’d need to consider, how we’d tell our parents. You know, the normal “holy shit we’re having a baby” stuff. There’s a history of miscarriage in my family and I’m aware of the risks and statistics. I knew I would need to be cautious the first few months as everything progressed. Even still, I warmed up to the idea all at once and fell into a dream.

A few days later, after getting my blood work done, an official confirmation, and a “congratulations” from my doctor. There was nothing particularly unusual about that appointment other than the fact that I go a flu shot. I started to have an uneasy feeling on the way home. Like there’s something not quite right, a glitch in the matrix.

We went home and my uneasy feeling continued. I had a Skype call with a friend in the early evening and that’s when I started feeling sharp pains in my abdomen. After hanging up, I laid down for the most painful night of my life to date. For me, it felt like part of me was dying. My entire abdomen was sore to the touch and I bled heavily for over twelve hours. I debated going to urgent care and called my doctor’s office’s nurse night line but there was no answer. I tried to use a heating pad for a while and even got in the bath, only to end up laying in a pool of blood. I finally fell asleep in the early hours of the morning feeling like I lost something so vital to my existence. When I woke up, I called my doctor and they had me come in immediately. They did an ultrasound and used the words “spontaneous abortion.” 

I understood. Yet, I was heartbroken in a way I didn’t expect. I knew I would be sad, of course. I didn’t expect to be utterly devastated. I guess that’s the thing about grief. It hits you when you never see it coming.

I went home but the pain did not subside. It was the kind of pain Advil couldn’t touch yet I couldn’t bring myself to take the prescription pain meds I asked for. I had two more ultrasounds in the following weeks and wouldn’t stop bleeding for another six weeks. It wasn’t something that came and went quickly, it impacted my life directly for two months. I couldn’t even begin emotionally healing because my body hadn’t yet accepted that it was over.

It may have been the hormones but realizing that I had lost something before I even really had it was overwhelming to me. I felt the loss deeply and cried my eyes dry. 

Eventually, I healed as time went on. I was able to resume my normal activities physically and could finally stop having my blood tested every week. Things we’re coming to a new normal. Just a few months before, I was living in a I’ve-never-been-pregnant world, and now, its I-had-a-miscarriage. Sometimes it slips from my mind as things tend to do. Sometimes I’m sad about it and sometimes I’m not because that’s just part of the healing process. It’s not something I’ll ever really “get over.” It’s part of my story now and more importantly, my medical history. It’ll always be there in my charts and in my heart.

What Having a Miscarriage Taught Me About Motherhood:

I lost my child early, only at six weeks. Reading the experiences of other helped me realize that a loss, no matter when it happens, is still a loss. Your child made their way into your heart and left before you were ready to let go. And you’re still a mother. 

You Can’t Do It Alone

I actually told a handful of friends as soon as I knew. I had a lot on my mind and really couldn’t keep it to myself. Plus, on a practical note, we had some pending travel plans for the year that really wouldn’t have been fair to string my friends along knowing that it was going to be a no-go for me. Everyone was elated and incredibly supportive. I’ve really never appreciated my friends more, to be honest.

They were incredibly kind and understanding, sending flowers, chocolate, Starbucks gift cards, and their favorite books. I felt an enormous amount of gratitude and felt very loved in a time I needed their support. 

They say not to tell people about a pregnancy before 12 weeks but I personally will be forever glad that I did. My friends were by my side throughout the entire process and I knew they were there for me, however I needed them. I wouldn’t have wanted to go through this without them. Having that support system there, even through a miscarriage, taught me that having my support system there when I am a mother to a living child, will keep me floating.

Time For Yourself Is Crucial

I’m now in the age range where a lot of people I know are having children. Their pictures are all over social media, and almost inescapable. I’m happy for them, but I needed to hide their photos at the same time. It wasn’t fair to me to continuously remind myself of something that could have been mine but wasn’t meant to be. 

A year after the fact, it’s not as necessary now. Though with anyone who has a baby born around my due date, I apologize for the fact that I’m still hiding your posts from my timeline. I’m happy for you, but still sad for me too. Recognizing I need that time and space now will be crucial in the future. Most people are using social media for their highlight reel, but as an aunt two times over, I’m aware of the hectic days and sleepless nights that are going on behind the camera.

Trust The Process

My due date was September 19th. On September 22nd, I fell into talks with what would eventually become a book deal. The book was written by early December. Though, not a fair exchange by any means, completing such a project would have been difficult with a newborn. To me, it was the universe’s way of saying, “stick to your plan and trust me.” Some people might find this silly, but to me, it is a comfort and reminder to trust myself. It’s a reminder that good things can and will still happen—like rainbow babies after miscarriage storms.

Motherhood Doesn’t Have One Look

After I told a few people about what was happening, it became apparent to me that many women and close friends of the women I knew had gone through something similar. In one case, one woman got pregnant again two months later after her miscarriage. This wasn’t the case for me. 

Someone else had multiple miscarriages in a row before having a child. Another woman never had a miscarriage yet has several children. Another had one at 12 weeks and went one to have another child several years later. One had a child and then had a miscarriage a few years later. These are women of all ages and the one thing they have in common is that they are mothers. 

And Most Of All…

My miscarriage taught me that motherhood is the capacity to love. It’s the ability to forgive. It’s the ability to heal and move on. Motherhood has always seemed like a far off concept to me. Like something that will happen to another version of me sometime in the future. And hopefully, it will one day. Only time will tell.