I’m writing this in October. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. It used to be a little mark on the calendar that I barely even noticed. And then it happened. I had my own miscarriage story. I became the 1 in 4. It is estimated that as many as 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. That is 25%. That is an overwhelmingly large number of women who undergo the pain and heartbreak of a pregnancy loss.
And yes, I said heartbreak. In our culture we have this false perception that a miscarriage is something easy to get over. As if the excitement and pregnancy announcements at 6 weeks of pregnancy can be forgotten at 8 weeks when that precious baby died. It’s a devastating blow. And most of the women who I have witnessed experience pregnancy loss do not simply shake it off.
Where My Story Begins
I’ve always known that pregnancies are not guarantees that I will hold a healthy baby in my arms. With my first child I began heavily bleeding at 13 weeks. We were out of town, and we rushed from the hotel to the emergency room. They were able to do an ultrasound which showed an active baby, but after doing a pelvic exam and checking the bleeding they weren’t hopeful. I can remember the grim looks as they told me that while it wasn’t 100% certain I was having a miscarriage, it would be in my best interest to prepare that I was. I bled heavily off and on for four weeks. In the end, I did hold my precious son, but it was an unsettling start to my experiences as a mom.
After the rocky experience with my first baby, I was confident that all was well with my second baby. I was not bleeding, I had the “necessary” symptoms. So I was simply excited to show my little boy his baby sibling on an ultrasound at our 9.5week appointment. When the doppler was placed on my belly, I could tell something wasn’t quite right but it didn’t dawn on me how wrong things were until the ultrasound tech told me she was going to get the midwife. And that’s when I knew. There was no heartbeat. And with that lack of heartbeat, my heart broke and my miscarriage story began.
I Was Not Okay
In the weeks to come I remember telling family and a few close friends that I was okay. But in reality, I was not. I was shattered. Waves of panic attacks began to hit me, and I had a deep anxiety that something would happen to my son and that I’d also never have another healthy baby. I missed my baby; I missed the sweet anticipation of holding a baby and the dreams that came with that baby. My heart shattered for my husband who had also lost his second baby and for my son who would never know his little sibling. As friends announced pregnancies and births, I did my best to be happy for them but inside I was screaming. Why was I not sharing in their joy? Why was my baby in heaven, while others were holding their babies? For months I grieved, until a new baby to anticipate was given to us. But the grief from my miscarriage story did not stop there. It simply changed.
Rainbow Babies Aren’t Just Rainbows
After the roller coaster of emotions of grief, I thought that expecting my rainbow baby would bring healing and joy. And it did. To an extent. When my second son was born, I can remember crying tears of relief that he was okay. That I had a living, breathing child in my arms to love on. Because, honestly, that entire pregnancy was awful. I worried. Worried that I would not hold be able to hold this baby, for the baby to be taken away just like the last. I had anxiety and cried over and over to God for Him to please let me hold this baby in my arms.
A few months after our second son was born, I discovered I was once again pregnant. You would think that carrying a rainbow baby to term would have eased my fears. But it didn’t. My fourth pregnancy while expecting my daughter was even worse. The panic attacks increased and my anxiety became almost debilitating. I worried again that I’d lose my fourth baby, just like I had lost second. I did give birth to a healthy daughter, but the healing process and emotional journey was painful to say the least.
Miscarriages Steal Life and Joy
Miscarriages steal life from the hands of those expecting. But they also steal joy. It’s a heartbreaking, horrible process to go through. I needed many tools to assist me with emotionally recovery. I still grieve for the baby I lost, but also for the blissful joy that I lost when expecting my other children. It is almost impossible to describe the fear and worry that comes along with a Mama who is expecting a baby after miscarrying another.
Today, I have peace that I will one day meet my baby again in heaven. I know that my baby is being held by God, even though my arms still ache to hold that baby. My life is blessed with three beautiful children, and I cherish them so much. I am grateful.
But I am also the 1 in 4. One of the women who have known the loss of child. One of the women with a miscarriage story who has grieved and mourned the loss of her child. Sometimes it felt like I was alone. Like no one could understand, and that the grief was unbearable. But there is a whole community of women who are willing and ready to support you and grieve the lose of your child. I never want anyone to feel that alone. But, know this. If you are also one of those women, you are not alone. You are 1 in 4. And after the grief has quieted a little, it is time for us all to rise up, and make a community. A community that supports others who have gone through the horrible realities of miscarriage.