“I had a miscarriage last week.
In between dropping the kids off at school and doing some grocery shopping, it became clear that something was wrong. After a frantic call to my doctor I went in for an ultrasound and lab work, which confirmed what I already knew: we’d lost our baby before we ever got the chance to hold him or her. I was 10 weeks into the pregnancy, not yet out of the woods of the first trimester, so not very many people knew yet. We were still in the time when you’re not yet supposed to tell anyone about the baby, you know, just in case… Except then what? How are you supposed to behave? When actually you’re feeling broken inside, but since no one knew about the baby and no one is supposed to know about the miscarriage, what then? We’ve been down this road twice before, but it seems this is something that just doesn’t get easier.
When Justin and I were first married, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. There were a lot of symptoms that went along with it, but the most troubling was that the doctor had said we may have difficulty having children. That fear was soon compounded by the heartache of losing our first two babies during pregnancy. Fast forward 11 years later and imagine how lucky we felt this summer to learn we were expecting our fourth child! Realizing how quickly our kids are growing up made us so grateful for one more member of our family to love. We talked about names and bedroom arrangements, about how excited our daughter would be if she finally got the sister she prays for every night, or how fun it would be for our youngest son to be a big brother. We prayed for our baby, and looked forward to having one more child to love.
We hadn’t yet told our kids about the baby, because of the ‘What if…?’ Our first miscarriage meant that every positive pregnancy test that followed would be met with overwhelming joy, but also with the shadow of fear. Days of anticipation filled with hope, but also worry. And now here we were again. I called my husband at work and choked out through my tears that I needed him to meet me at the clinic, because something was wrong. My doctor was so genuinely kind, and she tried to soften the blow of the words she had to say, knowing it was not what I hoped to hear and there was nothing to offer as a buffer except compassion. She met my eyes and spoke slowly and gently, and said quietly that our baby had died. Miscarriage. Failed pregnancy. Words that bother me, because even though multiple doctors have assured me there is nothing that could have been done to prevent this, those words themselves carry an unintended blame that I can’t say I am able to completely keep from sticking. If I’ve misspoken or had a misstep, you know who is to blame, don’t you? What about then the literal carriage of our baby? Failed pregnancy isn’t better, is it? Maybe there isn’t a word that can make this, this losing of my baby, feel less devastating.
Justin and I left the clinic. I told him I was going to stop and get some groceries before I picked up the kids, and would meet him at home. Because what else is there to do? There is no funeral to plan. There will be no grave to go and visit, to serve as a physical reminder in the world that someone I loved is no longer here. No formal way to grieve. So I guess I will get the groceries. Just the start of acting normal, even though my cheeks are tear streaked and my heart is aching. I had my 1-year-old son in the cart as I returned it to the stall after loading the groceries in the car, and the employee collecting the carts stopped to smile at him. My son smiled back, and pointed at his new shoes that he is so proud of. The employee commented what a beautiful son I have, and asked if I had other kids. ‘Two,’ I said. ‘We are just headed to pick them up from school now.’ The man smiled, and said, ‘So he is your last then, the baby of the family?’
I feel the lump in my throat that means I’m going to start crying, and suddenly the tears I had barely been containing while grocery shopping start pouring again, and I’m quite a mess, right there in the parking lot. ‘Well, I guess he is, but…’ Except a few hours ago I didn’t think he was, but then I found out that I’d lost my baby, the baby the world didn’t know about yet. And I haven’t had enough time to process this so I am in tears and my sentence is left unfinished. Likely this small talk has turned out to be a lot more than this poor man bargained for today. He pats my shoulder kindly and before walking away he says, ‘Everything is going to be okay. God always has a plan.’
I go to the school to pick up my kids and put my son into his stroller. I walk him over to the place where I told the older two I would meet them, looking forward to hearing how their second day of school has gone. Jared is saying, ‘Mom, mom, mom…’ until I peek at him around the stroller, which makes him laugh. When he tips his head back to laugh it is one of the most beautiful sounds in the world. My daughter runs onto the playground first, wearing a flowered dress with her brand new glittery tennis shoes. She runs up to hug me and I take a second to appreciate her beautiful curly hair in its long braid, her hazel eyes, and the freckles across the bridge of her nose. My 9-year-old son is not far behind her, and he gives me a hug too. He’s still enough of a little boy to not care if his friends see him, but when he hugs me my chin now rests on his head and I know it won’t be long before he is taller than me.
50% of my pregnancies have now ended in miscarriage. Strange to think about since the 50% of the time they didn’t, I was lucky enough to become the mother of three of the most incredible people I could ever have the honor of knowing and loving. Three times my pregnancies have ended in total heartache, but three times they have resulted in the greatest miracles and blessings of my life. Standing there on the playground looking at my three kids playing, and grieving for the three I didn’t get to hold, I am overcome with gratitude that flows just as strongly as the sorrow. I’m so very heartbroken, but there just isn’t any room to be angry or feel cheated when the hand I’ve been dealt includes the three that are here with me.
Because we didn’t tell everyone about our pregnancy, I know I don’t have to tell everyone about our miscarriage. Except I kind of feel like I need to, so the world knows our baby existed. Miscarriage is, unfortunately, so common, and so I know a lot of people I love have probably been through this too. Tonight I will be saying a prayer for all of the parents of children they never got to hold. I certainly would never advise a friend to ignore a major loss in their life and to carry on like everything’s fine even if they aren’t – so this time I’m not going to expect that of myself. I’m not brave enough for tattoos, and I fear that my lack of a green thumb might kill a flower I could plant in memory of our lost children, so these words are the only way I know how to make sure the world knows our baby was here. It was only a brief time, but long enough to have broken our hearts when they were here no longer.
Until we meet someday, little one, please know we loved you already.”
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