I have a story to tell. It isn’t an easy one to share. It’s deeply personal and I wish it had never happened to me. And yet this story is one of the most defining moments of my journey in motherhood.
I also know that I am not the only one to whom this story belongs.
I lost my baby yesterday.
When I woke up yesterday morning I was pregnant with my third child.
When I woke up this morning I wasn’t pregnant anymore.
This baby came as a surprise. My husband Ben and I had talked about having a third but we weren’t really “trying”. I found out in the middle of our family vacation that I was pregnant. I was overjoyed.
My pregnancy continued uneventfully through the first trimester. I had morning sickness, fatigue, and an ever-growing abdomen. And yet, throughout that time I was uneasy. I kept wondering, “What if something goes wrong?” It’s a common fear but I couldn’t wait for my first appointment so I could put it to rest.
Finally, at 11 weeks I met Ben at the doctor’s office for my first ultrasound.
The doctor had me lie back, placing the ultrasound probe inside of me. When I looked at the screen, I saw the small shape of a baby but it wasn’t moving. With my last two babies, when I saw them on ultrasound, they were always moving.
In that instant, I knew. I knew that my worst fears had come true. The baby on that screen, my baby, was not alive anymore. I turned and looked at the doctor’s face. Her solemn expression said it all.
She pointed to the screen and said gently, “This is normally where I would see a heartbeat, but I don’t see one. The baby is only measuring about eight weeks.”
I was 11 weeks along. Somewhere around week eight, things went wrong.
I turned to look at my husband. I will never forget the look on his face. The sadness. The pain. The heartbreak. It was his baby too.
What happened next is a blur. The doctor explained a lot of things, about chromosomal abnormalities and how none of this was my fault. She said now we would have to talk about the next steps, because my body hadn’t recognized that the baby wasn’t alive anymore.
I stared at her, willing myself not to cry, trying so hard to focus on what she was saying so I wouldn’t hear the voice inside of me saying, “Your baby is gone.”
I was faced with two choices. I could either schedule a procedure to have the baby removed, or I could take some medication to pass all of the tissue at home. I decided to use the medication. Ben took the rest of the day off of work to take care of our kids while I waited for the miscarriage to start. It was an agonizing wait. I wanted it over as quickly as possible. But I also knew that once the pills worked, my baby would be gone forever.
I have never been through a miscarriage before, and I wasn’t prepared for what it would be like. I’ve known a few moms who have been through it, but it’s not the sort of thing we usually talk about at play dates or over coffee. I didn’t know how horrific it would be.
I sat in the bathroom and waited, nausea washing over me, and then the cramps came. The pain was almost more than I could bear. I began to lose a lot of blood. And then, all of a sudden, as I sat there, I lost my baby, and I knew it. That was the worst part. I want so badly to forget it. But I never will. Afterwards, I spent the rest of the night in bed shivering, both from a fever and the magnitude of my loss.
I woke up this morning, and I felt empty. In the quiet of the morning, before my kids were up, I lay there and wondered if I would ever be able to get out of bed again. I placed my hand on my strangely flat stomach and thought about how my baby was gone. It took all of my energy just to breathe. It wasn’t until my two year old son burst into my room, proclaiming that he had pooped in his bed that I felt a surge of energy to get up. God bless that child. From that moment on, it’s just been one foot in front of the other, one minute at a time.
The road ahead feels a bit like a black tunnel. I don’t know when I will get to the light at the other end, but I do know that sharing this story is a step towards that light. Miscarriage is a hard thing to talk about, and yet statistics tells us that one in four women has experienced the loss of a baby.
Many people have asked how they can be supportive. Grieve with me. Speak kindness to me. Remind me that God is with me. Most of all, be vulnerable with me, and create a space for me to be vulnerable with you. That’s where true healing begins, when we can tell each other our stories, authentically, no matter how difficult or painful they may be.
Jenny Cowan is a happy wife and mother of one girl and one boy. You can follow her musings along on her blog, Musings from Mommyhood.