Eight weeks into my fourth pregnancy, it ended. Spots appeared as if out of nowhere; these little specks of hopes and dreams lying against faded fabric. I saw the dark blood and broke a twenty-five-year streak. I dropped my first f-bomb.
The word echoed around the bathroom, feeling unfamiliar and rough against my lips. I glanced over at the toddler who was sitting on the couch, happily chewing on buttered toast and watching an episode of Paw Patrol. His two-year-old-self was completely oblivious to the emotional earthquake threatening to shake our small apartment, and for that, I was glad.
I sat in silence and struggled to breathe through lungs that were no longer working properly. What air was left in the room had grown heavy, weighing down upon my shoulders and pressing into my chest. Few words seemed strong enough to contest the range of emotions that had suddenly slammed into me. I cried black mascara tears and gently hugged the flabby belly that had been stretched and loved on by five babies. My heart aching, I whispered and prayed over the child I would never know. “Stay strong, wee one. Stay strong.”
And she did. Until she left us, five days later.
This is pregnancy loss. It is not polite or polished. It breaks us up and knocks us aside, leaving behind bloody trails of a broken self. I wish this story didn’t belong to me, but it does. It belongs to me, and it belongs to you. It belongs to your co-worker, and to that woman patiently waiting at the bus stop, to your childhood grade three teacher, and to your best friend.
This story belongs to all of us.
Society does a great job of sweeping sensitive subjects under the rug. We love glowing pregnancy ads but hate to use words like “blood” or “cramps” in the same sentence as “woman.” In our desire for delicacy, we’ve forgotten that the truth still needs to be told. We’ve let miscarriage and pregnancy loss become taboo topics that are “better left undisturbed” and in the process, abandoned a cloud of invisible women.
Yes, miscarriages are ugly. They’re emotionally and physically scarring, and yet 1 in 4 pregnant women bear these wounds. These statistics are astonishingly high for something that we tiptoe around so frequently.
I’ve had three miscarriages and a stillbirth, and I’m not alone in this. It’s probably easier for me to count the number of married friends who haven’t had a miscarriage than to count the ones who have.
I wish that I didn’t understand pregnancy loss so well. Four out of five babies have disappeared from my womb and left me wondering “why?” We all know that life is precious and delicate, but when you’re slapped in the face with that reality over and over again, you wish you could go back to taking it for granted. It hurts less to be naive. But the cost of naivety is too high if we’re leaving women to hurt and grieve on their own.
It’s not easy to wake up each morning checking for blood, analyzing each cramp and twinge, and wondering when you’ll hit the end of this beautiful dream. Every pregnancy, I told myself that if we could just make it to that first ultrasound, if we could just see a heartbeat, then I could begin to hope. But the truth was that from the moment I saw those two pink lines on the pregnancy test, hope had already begun to bloom.
Because how can you hold yourself back from dreaming of the little life hidden deep within? How can you not begin to imagine your baby’s entrance into this world: pursed lips letting loose a glorious cry, ten wrinkled toes squirming, and baby blues struggling to see for the first time? A child that looks like me, a child that looks like him. A child that will one day be an artist, an athlete, a dreamer, a friend.
And when that blood appears, when their little life begins to ebb away, you crumble. You’re left with aches and labour-like pains but no baby to show for it. You struggle for clarity, feeling desperately alone but too vulnerable to tell anyone what you’re going through. You have loved for mere days but when this little babe disappears, they take a chunk of your heart with them. Life no longer looks like what you’d thought it would.
And the truth is, this may not be the first time you’ve gone through this, nor the last. 1 in 6 of every known pregnancy (women who have had a positive pregnancy test) ends in miscarriage. While we’re familiar enough with this statistic, we’re less likely to discuss the approximate 2% of women who experience two miscarriages in a row. Less likely still to think about the 1% of women who experience three or more miscarriages in a row.
This is my story and it might be yours too.
You ate your greens and popped your prenatal pills; you steadfastly avoided hot tubs, sushi, and roller coasters, but this baby still left. You feel as if your body has failed you and wonder if this loss was your fault. Was it that cup of coffee? That box of groceries I carried from the car?
It’s difficult to break miscarriage myths when no one talks about reality. It’s difficult to share our stories when we feel ashamed of them. So in case no one has told you this yet, this was not your fault.
You had a miscarriage but you are still strong.
You had a miscarriage but you are still a mother.
You had a miscarriage but you are not alone.
We’re in this together, so let’s talk about it.
So glad you have given this issue a voice!
Thank you, Janina!
I never thought it would happen to me. It’s left me feeling flat and like the only unlucky person on earth, your story and make others assures me that I’m not alone. It’s only been 2 weeks and I still don’t understand what happened why and if I’ll ever forget ?
I’m so sorry that it happened to you. Losing a baby is so physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting – it can take a while to begin feeling like yourself again and that’s completely normal. But you’re definitely not alone in this and you will certainly never forget this little one. Even though you don’t get to hold them in your arms, you’ll always carry them in your heart. Feel free to find me on Facebook (MommyMannegren) and send me a pm if you ever need someone to talk to!
Wow, I can’t begin to tell you how every single thing you wrote resignates with me. I had all of those thoughts, “was it because I had a little coffee or did I strain my body to much?” It is so exhausting trying to put your mind at peace that it really isn’t your fault.
Thank you so much for this post.
Thank you, Eva! I’m sorry for your loss but thankful for your willingness to talk about it. There are so many aspects to miscarriage that we either never talk about, or we have incorrect information about. We may wrestle with guilt, but it truly wasn’t anything we did wrong. Sending hugs and remembering your little one today.
On behalf of my 3 angel babies, Gabriel, Jesse and Matthew, I thank you for reminding me I am not alone, even though I may feel like it sometimes. Blessings to you.
Hugs to you, Gina! We are never alone in this. Remembering Gabriel, Jesse, and Matthew with you. ???
Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sure it wasn’t easy.
In March of 2013 we found out I was expecting our first and on April 30th – after just shopping for a maternity dress none the less – the bleeding started. I was almost 14 weeks along – but the ultrasound in the ER showed that our baby was 9 weeks.
Thankfully, in June of that year, we were lucky enough to fall pregnant again. That baby is now a 3 year old red haired girl. ?
I’m sorry to hear about your loss. Thank you for helping to break the silence surrounding miscarriage. As difficult as it is to talk about it, it’s also really beautiful to get to remember these little ones together. And congrats on your daughter! We’re hoping that when we finally get our rainbow baby he or she will be a red-head too. 😉
I am sorry for yours as well ?
It hasn’t always been easy for me to speak up and share my experience, especially at first. As unfortunate of an experience that a miscarriage is, it is nice to know that there’s such a wide community of people who’ve been through exactly the same thing.
Each pregnancy is full of worry now. I was worried the entire time with my second princess – sadly not a ginger ?. I’m not sure my nerves can take getting pregnant again.
Red heads are fun! But get ready, because with that hair comes a looooot of attitude and spunk lol.
Good luck and best of wishes ?❤
I had a missed miscarriage. No bleeding. Continued morning sickness and all other pregnancy symptoms. But my baby’s heart had stopped beating. And baby had stopped growing. Doctors had me wait weeks for a miscarriage to occur naturally. It never did and I ended up in surgery. I can still barely talk about it. We wanted our baby so much. I grieved for weeks after. It still hurts. Thank you for bringing attention to this difficult topic.
Oh, Elizabeth, my heart hurts to hear this. My second miscarriage was a missed miscarriage too. I went in for my nine week ultrasound but the baby was only measuring six weeks and there was no heart beat. I waited another two weeks before I started miscarrying naturally and that was one of the longest waits of my life. I so wanted to hold onto that baby, to not give up hoping, but I knew in my heart that they were gone. Thank you for sharing this. These are the sorts of things that no one ever warns you about and it’s so refreshing to hear such honesty in your story. Thank you.
I have lost two babies too, one a miscarriage and the other, Sarah at 15 days old. They would be 25 and 23 this year. It gets easier but you never forget. I look forward to meeting them in heaven eventually, for now I have raised their siblings, 3 fabulous blessings that make me proud.
Beautiful! It’s so encouraging for to hear from other loss mamas who have walked this difficult road before us. Thank you for sharing this, Stefanie.
5yrs ago… my first pregnancy ended with a pending miscarriage… i remember seeing my little one on screen, but they could barely get a heart beat. they had me test my HCG levels which were still high… then right before Mother’s Day… the pains started… i thought i had to use the bathroom but instead i had a miscarriage… i felt terrible flushing life away… the pain doesn’t stop there… the aftermath of it was just devastating… the scans and testing to make sure there was no more existence of my little one. it still haunts me… we saw a therapist who also experienced one and she said we won’t forget and even when we try, we may become emotional around the time of loss… and won’t undersrand why until we remember… we named our little one Elizabeth Adam (both mean first born). we’re blessed to have 2 beautiful girls, but come Mother’s Day, it can be rough. Thank you for posting and sharing.
Hi Reese, I hope that your Mother’s Day was a day full of remembrance, reflection, and peace. I know how bittersweet in can feel to celebrate holidays when a little one is missing. And I can only imagine how it must have been to have miscarried so close to the Mother’s Day. I love the name that you picked out, Elizabeth Adam – so very precious. Your therapist is right, we never forget. We always carry them close to our heart. Sending hugs and much love to you and your family.
Thank you for sharing your story. It helps to read the experience of someone who understands. that has been the most difficult thing for me throughout my three miscarriages that no one seems to understand how painful it is. I am almost a year since my last pregnancy and I’m still feeling nervous about been pregnant again as they have no answers as to why it’s happening.
Jenifer, I’m so sorry to hear about your recurrent loss. It’s so heartbreaking, and frustrating to keep losing baby after baby, and my heart grieves with you. I know what you mean being nervous about future pregnancies – your whole perspective of pregnancy has been forever changed and you’re so hyper-aware of the risks. Praying for strength and peace for you as you continue on this journey. The heart of a mother is so brave. ♥️
Thank you for sharing. It is such an awful taboo. I have had an ectopic myself and found it extremely hard especially when people of fear of upsetting me just ignore it completely. Not their fault but societies.
I wholeheartedly agree! After my first loss, I realized that people weren’t talking about it because they felt it was going to be too painful for me. What they didn’t realize, however, was that I wanted to talk about it! For me, it was more painful to have people ignore my loss completely or act as if it didn’t happen. So thank you for speaking up and sharing a bit of your experience. This is how we break taboos. Hugs to you as you grieve the loss of your little one.
I absolutely love how you wrote this. I nodded the whole time, it’s like you put my words on paper(or a screen, hah)! Thank you so much for sharing and I hope many more eyes see this as I believe you put it perfectly.
Thank you so much! I just lost my 4th at 6w3d after IVF. Sometime I feel so very alone.