When I went in for my 10-week pregnancy appointment, my baby had no heartbeat.
When I went in for my 10-week pregnancy appointment, my baby had no heartbeat. Over the previous weeks, some type of defect had overtaken its ability to grow, and it just stopped beating. The fetus was one without life.
It’s an event that happens to women all the time.
Now, months later, it’s an event that comes with hindsight and peace – at least mostly. But at the time, hurt feelings were an understatement. I was full of more strong and sad emotions than I knew how to comprehend – piled under layers of roller-coasting hormones. In about 30 seconds I’d gone from mom-to-be to having walked around not pregnant for the last three weeks without even realizing. My husband was literally oceans away (deployment), and I was left with an empty uterus and the feeling that within my body, it was just me.
Thankfully, my mom was there to hand me tissues and make awkward reassurances that only your mom can use to make you feel better.
Because really, the whole thing was like an out-of-body experience. The technician handled it terribly (she was fired weeks later), and the business manager was all facts. There was a surgery to be scheduled, and she needed me to understand X and Y before handing me a manila envelope full of literature on what was about to be done to my insides. After all, it was my first time being pregnant, and I was a newbie on all accounts.
But as it turns out, there’s no secret miscarriage exit. You don’t get to sit in her office and cry and then leave graciously with your puffy face. You have to walk back through the waiting room, past all the pregnant women, and you have to pretend you’re not crying. At least that’s what I did. Only once I was safely in my mother’s car did I let the tears run loose.
People came out of the woodwork after that. I asked my husband and parents to tell family – luckily we hadn’t yet made our milestone social media announcement – and people began reaching out to us. Co-workers, strangers who’d heard in passing from our family, even friends I thought I knew quite well told me they’d miscarried too, years earlier, and didn’t like to talk about it.
Losing a baby – really, before it’s even much of a baby – is such a personal thing. Everyone handles it differently; I’ve seen women whine in cringe-worthy fashion across Facebook, while others kept the info tight-lipped. For me it felt right somewhere in-between. I didn’t want the constant sympathy, but I didn’t want my pain to be ignored, either. I wanted quiet reassurance from those I loved, when I needed it most.
As it turns out, there’s really no easy way to go about it. Grief is to be handled in one’s own way. There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact, it will help you through the process. However, miscarrying – and my subsequent getting-over-it process did leave me with a few lessons learned.
1. Understand It’s Not a “Bad Word”
Miscarriages shouldn’t be taboo. Don’t be afraid to tell others, it might make you feel better.
2. Find a Happy Medium
But you shouldn’t shout it from rooftops, either. No matter how open you are about the process, not everyone is going to react like you want them to – that’s true with everything in life, but when feelings are at stake, negative feedback hurts worse.
3. Give Yourself Time
Getting re-pregnant right away isn’t the answer. Due to deployment, I didn’t have the option. But now I look back and think how it would have been a conception out of grief, not excitement to try again. Besides, the body needs time to heal, doctor’s orders, but IMO, the emotions need even more.
4. Educate and Educate Some More
There’s so much can go wrong in a pregnancy, yet we expect everything to go right. I don’t know why I wasn’t more aware of the odds – approximately one-third of women in my age range miscarry; I believe, had I been better prepared, the sting would’ve been less profound.
5. There Are No Guarantees and That’s Okay
It could happen again. But even if it does, I am not alone.
Despite what society has shown us, miscarriage isn’t a bad word. It’s a personal grieving experience, and each woman should feel comfortable expressing those feelings as they see fit. It’s a lesson that’s hard-learned, but will help through the experience overall.