I Am One in Four
How to deal with the loss of a pregnancy
If you were like me, you had no idea how common miscarriage actually is. Why would you? As women we know pregnancy can happen, it's simple biology. What we don't know, or maybe choose not to know, is that one in four women experience a miscarriage. I had no idea. Until it happened to me.
The pain. The immeasurable pain you experience when a miscarriage happens is more than just physical. It's emotional, gut wrenching and horrible. If I knew what would happen to me this stage of my life I would have done things differently earlier. Regrettably life doesn't work that way. In some way I'm hoping that sharing my story may relieve some of my pain, and hopefully help someone else going through it now.
To better understand how I ended up here, perhaps I should start at the beginning. My twenties. I was so young, driven, and blind. I knew I wanted a family, but I thought not now, I will have time later. Big mistake. I used my youth to further pursue a career, to advance and make a future for myself where money and security wouldn't be an issue. I worked so many hours, sometimes seven days a week. I sacrificed friendships and family events, and for What? Money and a title. I kept telling myself I would make time for a family later. Always later.
Flash forward and I'm in my mid thirties. Where did the time go? How did I get here? To be honest I was no where. Working insane hours, no social life at all, and a cold lonely apartment. All that drive and determination doesn't keep you warm at night. I decided now was the time. I took that drive and put it into finding my match.
Luck would have it only a few short years later I met a wonderful man and we married. We both wanted a child. He wanted to wait a few years, but with my forties just around the corner I knew that was not an option. We agreed to not actively try conceiving but if it happened all the better. Just four months after we got married I was pregnant. Seeing those two lines on the test filled me with so much joy I wanted to tell everyone I knew. I'm glad I didn't.
I did what any woman would do after that positive pregnancy test. I called an Obgyn and made an appointment. She was just wonderful and helped me understand what was to come over the next several months. So began the blood tests. Everything was normal and we scheduled the ultrasound for 8 weeks.
I was in a daze. So elated and filled with hope. Little did I know that hope would fade. A few days before my scheduled ultrasound I began spotting. It was brown at first, yet it still worried me. I called into work the next day so I could see my doctor. She was so nice and kept trying to reassure me spotting can be normal. To be sure she did an ultrasound. When she inserted that little probe her nice reassuring demeanor turned stone cold. She said she wanted to run some blood tests and would be back with the paperwork. I sat there, frozen with fear. I had no idea what was going on. I waited for what seemed like hours. She came back in and handed me the paperwork. There it was in black and white, threatened abortion. I felt sick, the tears just flooded out. I couldn't move. I was terrified, trembling and terrified. I walked down to the lab, went home and waited.
I got the call less than an hour later. The words no pregnant woman ever wants to hear. "I'm so sorry, but you are having a miscarriage." I dropped the phone. I couldn't breath, my brain just blanked. How could this be happening? Why me?! Why? Why? WHY? I was devastated. I felt hollow, like all my hopes and dreams were being ripped away.
If the emotions weren't bad enough, the pain that followed made sure I was definitely having a miscarriage. The first two days after I got the news were like a period. After that was indescribable. It felt as if a thousand knives were stabbing my uterus, contracting to expel my baby. The bleeding was so bad I had to wear an adult diaper. I could barely walk, eat, even sleeping was a challenge. Pain medicine didn't even take the edge off the pain. My mind was empty. I did my best to push through, move on and heal. But i couldn't. During all of it I could only think, why me?
When the pain subsided I had my follow up with my obgyn. My hormones had returned to zero and my body was starting to go back to normal. It was in that room with her I learned the agonizing truth. That one in four women will have a miscarriage. That's 25% of pregnancies, and that's just the ones women know about. She explained that in her twenty five years as a doctor most women have one miscarriage and go on to have a healthy pregnancy. She had no reason to suspect I would be any different. She also said that when women conceive within six months of a loss the chances of another miscarriage drop significantly. I got my hope back. I was not alone. I am not a failure as a woman. Hope.
It was short lived.
Within five months I was pregnant again. I was scared. Scared it would happen again. I didn't allow myself to be happy. Not yet. My doctor wanted to keep a close eye on this pregnancy. I went into her office weekly for blood tests. Every week my pregnancy hormone would rise, just as it should. Rising and rising just like my hope. When I went in for a six week ultrasound she was hopeful. Until she saw it.
There it was. A sack, a developing spinal cord, a head and that was all. No heartbeat. She told me it was an archaic machine and sent me to another room for another ultrasound. Still no heartbeat. Nothing. I shut down. I don't remember much after that till I was sitting in her office. Blighted ovum she explained. The placenta had formed and was desperately trying to keep the non viable fetus alive. Non viable. She was concerned my levels would keep rising and suggested a D and C to remove the non viable fetus. Non viable fetus. Words I will never forget.
What followed were endless tests. I had to know why. Why did this happen. What did I do to cause this. Turns out it was a chromosomal abnormality that resulted in my baby not being able to survive. An abnormality from one of my eggs.
Miscarriage. It's an ugly word. It's an even worse thing to experience.
Until it happens to you pain is just a word. Emptiness is something you use to refer to your cereal box. When the one thing you've wanted your entire life is the one thing you can't have, the notion of being ok is just not possible in that moment. My husband doesn't understand. How could he? He is on the out side looking in, this type of loss is hard to describe. It's harder to live with it.
Every day is a struggle. Hope is a struggle.
I've been to fertility specialists, had all the testing done. The only thing any doctor can come up with is "it's just bad luck." Until I tried to go for IVF. I am not a candidate for it. My egg reserve is too low. So low it registers negative. I waited to long, my eggs are no longer able to do what nature intended. I am infertile. There is strength in knowing the truth, no matter how upsetting or terrible it is.
I'm still standing. What doesn't kill you make a you stronger. Or so I have been told.
Why am I telling you this? Honestly? Because I need you to know that you are not alone. I need you to understand that you did nothing wrong. That as terrible as it is, bad things happen. You can let it destroy you, or you can try and move on.
That's what I'm doing. My pain will always be there. It will never go away. I will have to live with it the rest of my life. And that's ok. Because I'm still here. I survived the worst thing I ever imagined and I didn't let it break me. Hope may be hard but I'm working on it.
My life now may not be what I dreamed of, and that's ok. Because I tried, I gave it my all. I'm also, not alone.
If you've experienced a loss, I feel your pain. I know the emptiness you're feeling. I can say, with absolute certainty, that you can make it through.
One day at a time.
Please remember, you did nothing wrong, and you are not alone.
I am one in four.