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I think soap operas are where I first heard of miscarriage. After I experienced miscarriage myself, I learned that it happens in one out of four pregnancies – and that doesn't even include all the pregnancies that are lost before they are even known. I also learned that even though miscarriage happens to so many women, knowing that doesn't make the loss any easier to bear.
I remember going out to breakfast with a friend I hadn't seen in a while. I wasn't showing a bump yet, but I was so giddy about my positive pregnancy test, I couldn't keep the news to myself.
"I'm pregnant!" I said, gesturing so enthusiastically I almost knocked the basket of toast off the table. I spilled all the details: how far along, when I took the test, and so on.
My friend was happy for me, but she was also measured in her reaction. Then she rattled off the statistics for miscarriage. Since I was of advanced maternal age and I'd had trouble conceiving, I was already familiar with this information. I knew those statistics by heart.
A few days later, when the doctor told me the baby's heartbeat was too weak and the prognosis was bleak, I wondered if my friend had cursed me. After a couple more weeks passed, I didn't need the doctor to confirm it. I didn't have any spotting. Mostly I just felt different in a way that's difficult to articulate.
Because my husband and I had been actively trying to conceive, I was very conscious of my body at that point in time. The first few weeks of my pregnancy felt kind of buzzy – like there was a fizziness inside as my body was getting ready for something. So when that feeling abruptly stopped, I was aware of it immediately. Then the cramps began: First like the dull pressure of a stomachache, then increasing until they felt more like strong, incessant period cramps. It was as if my uterus was a stress ball and someone was squeezing it aggressively. That's when I was certain.
My doctor advised me that having a dilation and curettage (D&C) to remove the tissue could affect my chances of conceiving in the future. I didn't want to take that risk, so I decided to wait and let the fetal tissue pass naturally. I think a part of me also wanted to feel every moment of the loss – my last days with a baby I would never get to know.
The miscarriage was hard on my body. I spent a couple of afternoons crumpled on the bathroom tile. I bled more than I thought possible. But even worse was what the miscarriage inflicted on me emotionally.
Miscarriage is a wound that no one can see. I was still expected to show up for work, run errands, carry on with all my daily activities as though everything was normal, even though it wasn't. I was grieving. And grieving takes time.
At first, I was angry with my body. The miscarriage felt like a betrayal, even though rationally I knew I didn't do anything to create this loss. It wasn't my fault, it only felt like it was.
I found it challenging to be around other women who were pregnant or who had infants. It was especially difficult with one of my closest friends, who had conceived about the same time as I did, except she successfully carried her baby to term. The more time passed, the harder it was for me to watch her belly swell, knowing mine would not. Our relationship has never fully recovered.
I don't actively mourn my loss anymore, but I do think about the baby I never had. I remember the projected due date, and every year I think about how old she'd be now. I also have a name I would never consider for another baby – it belongs only to her.
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.