Miscarriage Can Be So Lonely
They say that one in four women have experienced a pregnancy loss, so in a way, I guess I've thought of miscarriage as something “normal.” Not as in something that should happen to you, but as in something that if it does happen to you, you wouldn't wonder if there was something wrong with you or think the world was ending or wonder if you could ever survive, because hey, it's common, right?
I've always felt badly for women who have had a miscarriage, of course, but I never tried to pretend like I knew what it was like or say anything more than, “I'm sorry,” because I realized that there is a line between those who have had a loss and those who have not. I didn't try to cross it when I couldn't, but I still thought that deep down, a miscarriage would be hard, but still a pretty common experience.
I've heard so many stories of women who have had a loss that I thought if it ever happened to me, I would know exactly how to cope and what to do and how to make it through.
But oh my gosh, I couldn't have been more wrong.
When I found out I was pregnant with my fifth baby, I was actually secretly incredibly excited. I probably shouldn't have been, it being my fifth baby and all, but I was. I was thrilled to complete our family and excited for the chance to have a healthy pregnancy after a somewhat difficult and complicated fourth pregnancy.
So when I started bleeding one day around 7 weeks, I told myself it was nothing, despite the fear that gripped my stomach. And when the bleeding got worse and I made the hour-long drive to my midwife and she asked me if I was ready to look at the ultrasound screen, I told myself that I was, that I could do this, that I was strong.
But I wasn't.
I wasn't ready or strong or prepared at all for the complete devastation of looking at that completely still and empty ultrasound screen. I wasn't prepared for how complex a miscarriage can be. I wasn't prepared for the type of loss I had — what do you call a miscarriage that takes two months? What do you call a pregnancy that never saw a baby but had rising hCG levels that continued to go up? What do you tell people when they ask you how far along you were when you honestly have no idea if what's growing inside of you is still alive or dead?
During and after my miscarriage, I was surrounded by love and support. I've never felt so much support from women who have lost a pregnancy, but I've also never felt so alone in my life.
No one can walk that journey of grief with you. No one can make you take your hands off your face to look at the ultrasound screen. No one can talk you into facing your first pregnant woman after you are no longer pregnant. No one can help you when you hold your first baby after yours has been drained from your body.
Miscarriage can be so, so lonely.
It's so hard, because now that I know what life is like on the other side, I wish I could walk that journey with the mothers who will join us here. I wish I could take away their pain and prepare them for what's coming and share some of their sorrow.
But I can't. I can only stand here, on the other side, with open arms, loving them as they make that journey only they can make – alone – knowing that they will feel so lonely, even though they are never truly alone. Because we are here, all of us, who have walked before them, alone, but together at the same time.
Have you experienced a miscarriage?