Our First Miscarriage
Did you realize that miscarriage occurs in 1 in 5 pregnancies? I didn’t, therefore it was the last thing that crossed my mind when I finally had that first glorious positive pregnancy test (EVER!) at 39 years old. I was ecstatic and could barely contain my enthusiasm. It was so much fun dreaming up a creative way to tell my husband. We had already started the adoption process after quitting infertility treatments, so once he knew, we told our team that we wanted to hold off with the adoption.
Confirming Our News
My period was barely late when we found out. I called my OB/GYN’s office right away. They wanted to have us wait until something like 12 weeks to come in and they didn’t want to send me for a blood test. Needing confirmation, I called my Reproductive Endocrinologist(RE). She understood my excitement mixed with anxiety. We were scheduled to come in at the 6 week point for an ultrasound. I was all over the map emotionally between that call and our appointment, but mostly excited.
When the day arrived, I had a bad feeling. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but as I lay there on the ultrasound table with the tech eerily quiet, I knew that we were in for bad news. The doctor came into the room and took a look herself. It was confirmed, the fetal pole (as they are called at that early point in gestation) was small and there was no heartbeat. We were told to go home and wait to miscarry.
Since the RE’s office was an hour from our home, I notified my OB/GYN’s office. I got a call back from my doctor. At that moment I was a hysterical mess. He reassured me that it could have just been too early to detect a heartbeat. The office scheduled a follow-up ultrasound in two weeks. That two weeks felt like the longest two weeks of my life!
The day of the ultrasound, I wasn’t really having pregnancy symptoms. They had also done another blood test and my HCG levels (indicating pregnancy) were not increasing as they should. I pretty much knew what was coming. Did that make it any easier? No way! Not only was there no heartbeat, but they could barely even find evidence of my having been pregnant. My body wasn’t miscarrying naturally as it should. This is called a missed miscarriage. It seems it may have been related to my age or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome(PCOS). Either way, due to some other medical issues, I was advised to have a D & C.
Mercifully, I hadn’t eaten that morning, so before I knew it, I was being whisked off to surgery. I had been crying uncontrollably the entire time and everything was beginning to blur.
I’m not really a medication person. Anesthesia almost always makes me vomit so I usually avoid drugs. I’ve never been so thankful for the sedation and pain meds, which in addition to helping the pain and cramping afterward, dulled the emotional pain that I was feeling.
Some articles say that men cope differently with miscarriage and loss. This was a first for both of us and I can honestly say that my husband was almost as emotional as I was. We were deep in our grief while our biological clocks were still ticking away. It really helped to have one another as we walked through our grief.
Talking About It
Next came the difficult task of sharing the news with those who knew about the pregnancy. And then it started. The stories of everyone else’s miscarriages were shared with us. Who knew? Why don’t we all talk about this more openly? It helped to know that we weren’t alone.
Though not a counselor, I have a degree in Spiritual Psychology. This was helpful both in processing my own feelings as well as having a community of support to lean into. A wise counselor suggested that we do something to commemorate this lost soul. We had this tree in our front yard that never really grew properly so we decided to replace it with a new tree to honor the memory of this precious life.
The day that the tree was delivered and planted will be forever etched in my mind. It was a gray misty day with rain on the way. It completely matched my mood. I stood on the sidewalk and sobbed as the old tree was removed and the hole was dug deeper, just like the one in my heart. When the new tree was placed, I felt a sense of calm and completion come over me. We would always have this lovely tree to remind us of the baby. We named her/him Taylor and thus the tree became our “Taylor Tree”.
Mourning the Loss
Grief is like a wave. It ebbs and flows. Sometimes it feels more like a Tsunami drowning the mourners with it’s strength and force. Many people are uncomfortable around those who are grieving. The platitudes come out. “It’s for the best. There must have been something wrong.” “Don’t worry. You’ll get pregnant again.” There seems to be a comparison that happens. It’s an early miscarriage, not such a big deal, right?
WRONG. Hopes and dreams are there from the moment that a couple discovers that they are pregnant. It is the loss of a life not yet lived. For the woman, it is a reminder of the possibility that she may never experience the joy of carrying her child. Some feel like failures as women or that our bodies have let us down when we can’t perform this biological function. I felt it all, again. I say again because there is a grief process that occurred when I stopped fertility treatments and moved on to adoption in the first place.
Both that first grief experience and our ticking clocks helped us to process this grief more gracefully and efficiently. Within a month, we’d re-started our adoption process and were ready to move on. That said, everyone grieves in their own time. Please, allow yourself the dignity of your own process. I went on to have another miscarriage later, and I will tell you that my reaction was different.
To summarize, here are some things that we did to cope with our grief:
1. We cried. A lot. Be with your emotions. It is OK and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Grief has stages and they don’t always come in order. You will go through them in your own time.
2. We shared our news with close family and friends. While we had one another for support, it was so helpful to have the love of others. You may get some of the platitudes mentioned above. Remember, the person’s intentions are good. If that disturbs you, lean into a different friend or family member.
3. Seek professional counseling. This is a challenging time and support is important.
4. Consider naming the child if you haven’t. You were already imagining this child, give them an identity. It helps in memorializing.
5. Memorialize the loss somehow. Do whatever feels right for you from planting a tree, a small ceremony, a paver stone, and the list could go on and on. This is as individual as the grief process itself so make it special to you.
And lastly, you will move on when you are ready. Allow yourself the time and space that you need. Surround yourself with loving support and consider some of the suggestions listed here.
There are also plenty of books and websites for support. Here are a couple of websites that I like:
I hope that you’ve found this post helpful and I’d love to have you come join our community here.