My miscarriage story
As part of her journey towards healing, Tot Green Living expert Aida Garcia-Toledo shares her personal miscarriage story
Miscarriage happens, more often than you might think. Anywhere between 15-25% of recognized pregnancies end in pregnancy loss: that is one in 4 pregnancies ending in miscarriage every single year. While the majority (50-75%) of miscarriages end shortly after implantation, resulting in bleeding close to the time of the woman’s period means that many women may not even realize that they had conceived (this is called a chemical pregnancy), the rest overwhelmingly occur before the 13th week of pregnancy. So miscarriage is relatively common and yet, still taboo; we just don’t talk about it.
We need to start talking about it because miscarriages – for lack of a better word are hard to deal with on your own. They are painful (physically and emotionally) and can be accompanied with all sorts of feelings: shame, guilt, anger, confusion, sadness and bitterness, usually followed by more sadness. This tsunami of emotions is probably the reason we don’t talk about it …. but it’s also the reason we need to talk about it.
So, lets talk about it.
I recently had a miscarriage. I have friends that have gone through miscarriages but I never thought it could happen to me — until it did.
I had two easy, healthy pregnancies and have two beautiful healthy sons. My husband and I were not looking to have a third child and the pregnancy was definitely not planned. When I eventually took a home pregnancy test, after being two weeks late for my period, and it was positive there was no giddy celebratory dance. When I told my husband I was pregnant our first thoughts were “what have we done?” And “where is this baby going to fit? We had just renovated and moved into a house with only two bedrooms upstairs.
As the weeks passed by, however, before my first doctor’s appointment we started warming up to the idea of becoming a family of five. It grew on us and we found ourselves looking forward to having a baby.
Thinking back, perhaps on some level I felt something was wrong, and I did remind my husband we couldn’t tell anyone about the pregnancy until I went to the doctor and confirmed there was a healthy baby growing inside of me. As soon as I said it I caught myself and felt weird about having said it — after two healthy pregnancies why wouldn’t I have a healthy baby growing?
There is no way anyone can ever be prepared to have an ultrasound technician go quiet and have your doctor come in and turn serious then proceed to explain that the baby is measuring 6 weeks with no heart beat when you should be 8 weeks with a heart beat.
“WTF does that mean?”, I wanted to snap but, instead, I stared blankly at him and nodded as he continued to explain how this most likely meant miscarriage and in no way was it my fault, that it was usually nature taking its course due to a problem with genetics and, well, I don’t really remember much of what followed. I went numb and I tuned him out.
I do remember tearing up and turning to my husband and saying “I’m really sad” those are the only words I could vocalize without bursting into tears. I also remember asking the doctor if he was sure…. part of me didn’t really believe this could be happening. Maybe the baby was just a bit behind schedule, surely he/ she would be a fighter and be ok if we gave him an extra week or two?
As I left the doctor’s office, only to return a week later for one more ultrasound (unless my body naturally miscarried on its own before, which the doctor advised could happen), I kept thinking “I’ve had two healthy pregnancies how could I possibly be the “miscarrying type”? I knew, on a logical level, it probably wasn’t my fault but on the drive home, as the concept of possibly losing a baby sunk in, I started wondering if I could have done something to cause this.
Could I have been exposed to toxic new construction materials in our recently renovated home, even though I had gone out of my way to choose eco-friendly materials, opening windows every day and using an air purifier?
Could the past two months of intense stress finding out that our eldest son had a learning disability, having to search and apply to new schools for him while dealing with his frustrations and anxiety have had something to do with it?
Could my first negative thoughts of not wanting to go through another pregnancy and the newborn phase have had something to do with it?
I felt guilty and it made me so so sad. I know the doctor had explicitly said nothing I had done had caused this to happen, but the guilt quickly penetrated my every thought.
It was a waiting game. I had to wait a week for my next ultrasound — and that was one of the hardest, if not the hardest week of my life. It was an emotional rollercoaster. I had this huge emotionally taxing and terrifying secret I didn’t want to share, but I had to attend to house guests, attend my kid’s school celebrations with a smile as if nothing was wrong when all I really wanted to do was stay in bed for the week hiding — or at least have permission to walk around with a sign that read ‘I might be losing a pregnancy don’t talk to me, don’t look at me, just feel sorry for me’. At times I was optimistic, fully believing the baby inside of me would be ok — but then there was also a lot of late night and shower crying.
Two days in I started feeling slight pains in my stomach. “Was that it?” I thought. “Was my body starting to miscarry naturally?” I can see how knowing you might miscarry would help if one were to miscarry naturally — at least you know what to expect, but knowing it might or might not happen, or not knowing when, also brought with it additional stress and anxiety.
As the days passed, and I allowed myself time to mourn and understand what had possibly already happened inside of me, I accepted it. I did have a tiny bit of hope but I was also ready to hear bad news at that second ultrasound.
And so it was.
I decided to scheduled a D&C, also known as dilation and curettage (I felt it would be easier, psychologically, for me to get it over with rather than wait for the body to naturally miscarry) and it was physically done.
Emotionally, however, it took a bit longer. I cried some more, mostly in the shower where no one would see. It amazed me how strong the feeling of loss was. Time quickly helped me heal, but I still thought about it from time to time — what would my kids have thought about having another sibling? What would the baby have been like? I imagined myself pregnant. Even three months later I still think about it on occasion. My husband, who had been amazingly supportive, says he didn’t think about the baby after the miscarriage was done, maybe its the mother-fetus bond or maybe it was just me but I still do think about it sometimes.
After having gone through a miscarriage I can honestly say three thing :
- Allow yourself time to mourn. If you are sad and want to cry: do it. If you want to hide in bed a bit; do it. Give yourself time and deal with it in your own way.
- Remember that first thing my doctor said to me? Repeat and understand it: it is not your fault. No guilt, because guilt sucks. There are many reasons for a miscarriage but experts say that most cases of miscarriage in otherwise healthy women are due to chromosomal abnormalities: it is Mother Nature doing what is best.
- When you feel up to it, talk about it. It will help you feel less lonely and maybe even give you strength … and it might help someone else who has gone through it or will go through it some day.