4 Hard Lessons I Learned After 12 Miscarriages
If you were to read my kindergarten yearbook, you'd come across a mini-bio of myself where I answered questions prompted by the teacher. One question asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, and while my fellow classmates answered with typical kid replies, like “police officer,” “astronaut,” and “doctor,” my answer was different. At the small age of 5 years old, I was certain that when I grew up:
I wanted to be a mother.
The idea of becoming a mom was never a question for me, and as I grew older, my answer to that question never changed. I had a rough outline of how I wanted my life timeline to go, and after meeting my husband in high school and marrying after we were done with college, I felt my dream title of “mom” was just around the corner.
My husband and I had been married for only a few months before we started trying to get pregnant, and to my surprise, it didn't take long for me to be staring at those two lines confirming I was pregnant.
After sharing the news with my husband and mom, I did what every pregnant woman seems to do — I complained about the size of the prenatal vitamins I was taking, I called my doctor and made an appointment, and I daydreamed about morning sickness and what baby kicks were going to feel like.
Then, it happened: I had a miscarriage. Statistics show that miscarriage happens in about 10 to 15% of all confirmed pregnancies, usually in the first trimester. Most often, women will go on to have a healthy pregnancy, but the path to motherhood and growing my family was more complicated than I ever imagined it would be.
I went on to have four amazingly perfect children over the 10 years of growing my family with my husband, but we didn't just have the one miscarriage, which on its, own can be devastating. We had 12, and I learned a lot about myself and how people see pregnancy loss in the process.
It Never Got Easier
“You should be used to this by now,” an emergency doctor said to me as I was lying in the bed, crying after receiving the diagnosis that I was having another miscarriage. I knew there was nothing that could be done, and having been through it before, I was pretty sure I was losing the baby.
The coldness I had received from that doctor shocked me. Does anyone really find the process easier the more you experience it? Sure, it could be true for some things like how putting contacts in becomes less scary over time, but when it comes to miscarriage — losing a pregnancy and a baby — it got harder as time went on, and fear really set in.
If you've heard women say that they felt isolated after a miscarriage, it's completely true. No one likes to hear sad stories, especially when it may burst the bubble of the perfect idea of a to-the-point pregnancy, but for so many women and their families, miscarriage upheaves that ideal, and no one is willing to listen or talk about it and offer comfort.
I had a great group of friends who were by my side after my first few miscarriages, but as the number grew larger and I became more scared, the concern dwindled. I had received the very clear message that no one wanted to hear about it anymore.
They were over it, but I wasn't.
I experienced the same lack of support within the medical field as well, and it baffles me to this day. I can't tell you how many doctors I saw throughout my 12 miscarriages, and never once did I receive any information or support upon leaving the hospital on what to expect or what the process of healthy grieving was.
I Played the Blame Game Hard, and I Wasn't the Only One
The term itself is cold and blaming: “miscarriage” — implying that there was something I did to cause it. While somewhat true in the sense that my body was to blame, I came down really hard on myself since I was causing so much pain to my husband and my family. The cause of the pregnancies ending too early was determined to be a result of a blood clotting disorder that caused my body to produce too many clots — killing off the placental flow to the baby.
It wasn't just some fluke of nature, and that was apparent as the number of losses continued to grow. With each pregnancy, I pleaded with my body to keep this baby safe and became preoccupied with making sure I never did anything wrong. I religiously took my prenatal medication and the medication prescribed to keep the blood clot risk lower. I ate healthily, never exercised too hard, and walked on pins and needles for the nine-plus months.
I learned that I wasn't the only one playing the “blame game.” Others were taking me to task, telling me I should have taken a hint that it wasn't meant to be. While some people were more outright in their finger pointing, others questioned why I needed another child if I had had so many losses. When it comes to family planning and growing, no one's opinion really needs to be interjected.
Support after Miscarriage Really Goes a Long Way
Having support around me as I navigated the confusing path of perinatal grief was so important in my healing. Having others who understood what it was like — or at least really tried to on some level — and allowed me the space to share my feelings, work through my guilt, and held my hand through the anxiety was everything.
I can't change my path to motherhood, but thanks to the support of my family, friends, and a few select doctors, my arms are full, and I am able to live my dream job every day.
Have you had to learn any hard lessons on your path to parenthood? Please share in the comments.