This is a tough one. I’ve tried to write these words so many times. I’ve thought it out in my head, I’ve typed and deleted. I still feel so uneasy about making this so public. Because honestly, I’m putting into words what I’ve barely been able to say out loud, what I haven’t even shared with my family and closest friends. It’s the story I’ve held on to so my loss could be secret, my grief unknown, and my fears safe within me so that no reaction or comment could further break me. But over time, the words have come, so here they are.
It was early June 2017. Austin and I spent the weekend in New York, celebrating graduations and big life changes with some of our favorite people. My nausea was horrible and I just felt weird. I couldn’t describe it. The thought crossed my mind, but I tried to forget it. Pregnant? No... Maybe… But probably not… Right?
I tried to shake the lingering feeling that this was more than just an upset stomach and do my best to make it through the weekend. But getting through wasn’t the same as enjoying. While everyone else hit the city’s bars and had 2am dumplings, I stayed back at the hotel, hoping a bottle of Tums and an early night would help me feel better. It didn’t. We returned home after the weekend and things only got worse. By the next morning I was pretty sure of what was happening.
Austin walked in the door after running an errand and I burst into tears as I hugged him and whispered “I think I’m having a miscarriage.”
We were a couple months away from moving across the country and I didn’t have a regular doctor to call. So I waited two days for an appointment with a doctor I’d never met, at a hospital I had never been to. The doctor didn’t give us much to go on because “we can’t say you had a miscarriage if you never knew you were pregnant.” I thought back to the pregnancy test I had taken a couple weeks earlier “just to see”. But zero lines showed up, invalid result. I tossed the test, figuring it was just faulty, and went about life as normal. But now we were here, and I was questioning everything about the last few weeks.
And while the doctor was polite, I left the office with little hope of an answer and headed down the hall for an ultrasound. The tech laughed in my face as I explained my symptoms. And despite my persistence that this was not the norm and so extremely different from anything I’d experienced before, she blew me off, annoyed that she was doing an ultrasound when I was “just having a period”.
I got home feeling even more horrible than before and started questioning myself. I wanted to talk to someone, but everything felt hard to explain, and if medical professionals didn’t believe me, what credibility did my story really have?
I cried a lot. I prayed for healing. I did my best to move on.
At the end of July, I took another “just in case” test and this one came back positive. Those first weeks of my pregnancy with E were exhilarating and terrifying. I found a different doctor who excitedly confirmed we were expecting and I felt overwhelming relief when we heard that first heartbeat on the monitor. At the end of August, we packed up and moved our growing family to the Midwest. Austin and I dived into new jobs, renovating our condo, preparing for baby, and life in the suburbs. In March 2018, we welcome our sweet little E, and she brought us overwhelming joy.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still mourn the loss we had. Sometimes I feel guilty thinking about it when I have a beautiful, thriving little girl now wrapped up in my arms. We could have had that other baby, and then we would have never known this one, and that’s sad and happy and so confusing. And as we think about expanding our family, fear trickles in, reminding me of the potential for another loss. I remember the pain, for both my body and my heart, and I question whether I could go through it again.
But when that happens, I hold fast to the promise Jesus gave. When he preached his Sermon on the Mount, he said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). In my sadness, my fear, my grief, my God walks with me, bringing comfort and healing, calling me blessed.
1 in 4 women will lose a baby during pregnancy, birth, or infancy. The more I talk with other women, the more I realize just how common miscarriage is. And yet, in many ways it still feels so secretive, so shameful, so hard to share. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I pray that this month, women around the world feel empowered to share their stories, to mourn their losses, and to experience the comfort that Jesus promises is ours to have.