Talking about miscarriage is difficult. It’s a sad subject, and I fear that I will bring pain to anyone I broach the topic with. I also have this perception that people will think me weak, deficient, or flawed in some way for having had one. But in spite of it being taboo, it’s a topic worth understanding.
How Common Miscarriage Is
Losing a baby is shockingly common. According to the March of Dimes, 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, but most often it’s early enough that the woman doesn’t even know she’s pregnant yet. WebMD says 15-25% of recognized pregnancies end in a miscarriage.
I was just on the cusp of sharing the news publicly when we lost our baby, but I never got the chance to share our news of joy or pain.
You never know what is going on behind the social media front. I was going through weeks of agony, but I simply didn’t post much during that time.
I did share the news privately, though, often face-to-face, and that was where I found a beautiful and heartbroken sisterhood of women who had lost babies.
Women I’d known for a long time and never breathed a word of their tragedy, opened up about what they’d suffered.
If you are going through a miscarriage, share your news with loved ones.
Miscarriage is Complicated
Why do women miscarry? The vast majority of the time miscarriages are the result of a chromosomal abnormality or for some other reason, the fetus isn’t viable.
Sometimes, underlying health problems like diabetes will cause a loss, but the vast majority of the time, women don’t know why they miscarried, and it’s cruel to ask them why.
Miscarriage is shrouded in mysteries that I’m sure are scientific, but seem oddly mystical.
I used to think that miscarriage was simple. You simply lost your baby, and that was sad, of course, but not something that was overly complicated. I was sorely mistaken.
For weeks doctors, midwives, ultrasound readers, couldn’t give me a straight answer as to if my baby was thriving or dying.
Assessing what was going on inside the womb is difficult. I was reminded of Schrodinger’s cat, who was neither dead or alive until it was observed.
I later learned that my baby stopped growing at six weeks, but we all continued to believe the baby was alive and well for another seven weeks, as did my body. My body continued acting like it was pregnant, growing placenta and giving me morning sickness.
At week ten, we started to suspect something was wrong. We proceeded with an expensive ultrasound, appointments with two doctors, my midwife, and two blood tests.
After all that, all we knew was that we didn’t know. Things didn’t look good, but my midwife assured me over and over that things could all be fine.
Then, when we thought I was thirteen weeks along, my husband rushed me to the ER.
I bled onto the passenger’s seat of our car while our toddler was captive in his car seat screaming for Mama.
My husband and I were humbled. The night I went to the ER, I’d never seen so much blood in my life.
My first thought though when we realized we were losing our baby was, “What a waste.” I’d spent weeks completely disabled by morning sickness. I took time away from my toddler to take care of myself, and for what?
The pain of that night was that of labor. It was so much pain for no baby at the end, just a huge emergency room bill.
I had no idea how expensive it is to lose a baby. We had bills from doctors, the lab for bloodwork, the ultrasound technicians, our midwife, and the ER.
And I felt very foolish, but I’d also purchased a prenatal workout program, several books, vitamins, maternity clothes, and special food, all with the belief that I would be pregnant for the next nine months. It was all for nothing.
I wish I’d known how common it is to lose a baby. I’ve always wanted a big family, but I never took the time to actually map out a timeline.
Take the effort to map out your timeline for children when you are young, and give yourself extra time for possible losses or delays in getting pregnant.
We women only have a small window of time to bring life into this world. Don’t waste it.
The most important lesson I learned was how precious life is. Just a few generations ago, a miscarriage could have easily killed a woman, but I was safe. Thank heavens for modern medicine.
I am also grateful for my sweet toddler during that time. I could see him anew, as a miracle.
It seemed incredible that he could have come into this world so perfect and robust. He deserves to be cherished every day for the wonder that he is.
He was also my testament to the fact that I could still have another baby. My heart goes out to women who have miscarriages without a child of their own yet. I don’t know how I could have borne it without my toddler.
Life is precious. None of us know how long we have or what stressor could next derail our lives. All we can do is live in the present with our family.
Get on the floor with your kids and play; watch all the learning and neural connections being made.
On your deathbed, you won’t wish for more time at the office, you will wish for more time with your loved ones.