Warning: This article discusses miscarriage.
On Sunday, January 28, 2018, I woke up at around 2 AM with the sort of symptoms no woman wants to be having when she is eleven weeks pregnant. I knew exactly what symptoms were a red flag because our second son, W, is a rainbow baby, or a baby born after a miscarriage. My first miscarriage was so early in my pregnancy it would have been easy to miss if I hadn’t been paying attention, but it left me hyper vigilant on which symptoms are the concerning ones. I had spent a good deal of my pregnancy with W on high alert and I had done the same with this one. When my troubling symptoms had not let up three hours later, we finally made the trip to the hospital.
I spent the next five hours sleep deprived and a complete emotional wreck while I was bounced to no fewer than three people to look over me, reeling from the thought that we could be going through this again. I had found out I was pregnant on Christmas Eve after two and a half years of struggling with secondary infertility, this baby had been our Christmas miracle. We had gotten a sonogram and a heart beat at seven weeks, I was only a week away from getting to make our big announcement to everyone. At the end of those five hours, we were finally pulled into a small room where a medical professional had the horrifying task of telling us that a heart beat had not been detected and our baby was only measuring at eight weeks. We were advised to do a follow up with my obstetrician just in case, but by the time we got home my miscarriage had kicked in full force.
A miscarriage at eleven weeks puts a much harder toll on a body than one at four weeks. The next few days after that are mostly a blur. I remember one of our dogs, Rey, the generally less cuddly one, stretched across the couch with me snuggling up as she sensed my distress. I remember how much of a mess we were and while I was curled up in bed and the couch dealing with the physical side of things, people could see an emotional toll on my husband’s face. We quietly let the family members and very close friends that had know about our pregnancy know that we had lost it.
We had never made it a secret that we had an early miscarriage before W. A decent number of our friends knew about it, but we had never been blatantly public about it. Clearly something was up with us now, and caring people in our lives were beginning to inquire, but we did not have the emotional stamina to rehash it out for each and everyone of them. I think what prompted me the most was a post from another mom on my feeds who disclosed that she had suffered a miscarriage just a few days before mine. I knew how alone I felt during my first miscarriage until I had started disclosing it and found out I wasn’t the only one, most women just feel like they aren’t allowed to talk about it. I wanted any couple I knew who might have to face this at some point to know they weren’t alone.
Together, my husband and I decided we would go public with this one and Facebook actually seemed like the best way to do it. We could take our time to put our message together once and not have to rehash it out over and over again when we just didn’t have the energy to be that emotionally vulnerable in front of everyone yet. We could sort of deal with common questions up front, but we could also let anyone dealing with a similar situation know that they were not alone and that there was someone who was willing to listen. I carefully crafted the hardest post I ever made and disclosed both of our miscarriages, the years of trying we had undergone, and the fact that we did not know if we had the emotional stamina to try again or look into other family building options. Clicking that post button was absolutely nerve wracking, but I did it.
We were very shortly hit with the strongest wave of support we had ever faced. Condolences came in through the comments, but our friends who were worried that they wouldn’t have the right words simply clicked that little sad reaction. It was a small gesture, but it let us know that this person acknowledged our pain and cared. It wasn’t just condolences that came in through the comments and reactions though, we also got stories from other mothers who had lost pregnancies or struggled with getting pregnant, sometimes both. They came from moms I saw regularly, but I had never known that they had faced the same sort of thing that I had. People tend to assume that someone who has one kid can easily have another, they also tend to assume if you have more than one it can’t possibly be hard for you at all. That was not true from what we had experienced or what we were hearing from women I actually knew. Those other moms became a significant part of my support for those first few months, they still are even now. As for the mom who also went through a miscarriage the same weekend I did? She reached out to me after I made that post and during those first few months in particular we had a habit of checking in with each other to mutually support each other.
It has been a hard year, but we got through it. We got through what would have been our due date, and we got through Christmas Eve with the memories of that positive pregnancy test still lingering. We have been able to deal with the depression that has hit me regarding this recent loss. What we haven’t had to deal with was any more inquiries about whether we were going to try for a girl since we have two boys or questions about if we want another kid, the common emotional landmines of secondary infertility. I wish I had good news to report on whether we will ever have that third kid, but I don’t. It’s still an unknown at this time. What we do know is that we have in two awesome boys and we are trying to make sure we enjoy them instead of getting so caught up on trying to have a third that we take them for granted. We know we have a very supportive group of friends that will be there for us even if we remain a family of four. What I hope we have managed to do in this past year is make it a little easier for other couples to feel like they can discuss their struggles and losses because they are not as alone as they may think they are.