I found out a few weeks ago that October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness and Remembrance month. I don’t usually think much about the never-ending international celebration days/months but unfortunately, this is one really hits close to home. As a woman who has suffered a miscarriage, I think one of the hardest parts about going through this type of loss was how uneducated I was. While we were trying to get pregnant the first time, I remember wondering why women don’t share their pregnancies until the 3-month mark. I knew the end of the first trimester meant a much lower chance of miscarrying but I didn’t understand why women would want to keep it a secret. I figured if I ever lost a baby I would want the support of all of my friend and family. Boy, was I wrong. My ignorance was caused, in part, by thinking it would never actually happen to me. I didn’t find out until after my first pregnancy ended that miscarriages are incredibly common. Approximately one in four pregnancies will end in miscarriage. Really think about how scary high that percentage is! You would think if that many women have suffered pregnancy loss we would hear about it all the time…but we don’t. It’s not any woman’s responsibility to share her story and I totally understand why most don’t (especially right away), but opening up about our experiences can help other women SO much. Within a year after my pregnancy loss, two of my close friends also suffered miscarriages. Those women were able to lean on me and ask for advice because I was open about what had happened to me. I know I found a lot of peace in other women’s stories of healthy pregnancies after losing their first and I am now lucky to be one of those happy endings. You’re about to read 4 stories of pregnancy loss from me and 3 other very brave women. All of the women hope their stories will bring them peace and help other women going through the same thing. I am so grateful to all of them and I hope this will help someone out there feel a little less alone.
Andy and I were talking about getting pregnant before we even got married. We knew we were “ready” (HA!) and couldn’t wait to start a family. A couple months before the wedding, I got off of my birth control and talked with an OBGYN about any special accommodations I would need to make to get pregnant after being diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). PCOS is the leading cause of infertility in women and I knew from the moment I was diagnosed at 18 that I may have a hard time having children. I got back onto a medication I had been on before called Metformin, but other than that I was fine to start trying. Our first real attempts came on our honeymoon and I was convinced by the time I got home I would be pregnant. Silly me. A month went by, then two, then five, and still no pregnancy. I was getting really frustrated and frankly, concerned. Growing up everyone tells you how easily you’ll get pregnant when you have sex and there I was 5 months into trying to track my irregular periods and having sex constantly with nothing to show for it. Right before I was about to lose my mind, it finally happened.
I had been taking pregnancy tests every month and after month 6, I unexpectedly got what I was hoping for. I know all the ladies reading this who have gotten a positive test know how incredible that feeling is. You’re all of a sudden SO nervous but even more excited. Andy was out of town, so I went out to the store and got a little box to gift wrap the Atlanta Falcons “daddy” jersey I had bought 6 months ago in anticipation of this day. When he got home I told him I had an early Christmas present for him and pulled out my phone to film him open it. I still have that video and it was one of the sweetest reactions I’ve ever seen. He was in total disbelief but so, so happy. Our half year journey had taken a toll on him too and he was so relieved that we finally had a reason to celebrate. We waited a couple of days and then told our parents. We asked them to keep it a secret and told them we’d be seeing the doctor in a few weeks. The following few weeks were chaotic, we were in the middle of moving from Nashville to Atlanta and a little heavy lifting was inevitable. Then we got screwed over for several thousand dollars by our moving company and the resulting stress was unbelievable.
I think I had known I was pregnant for about a month when we went in for our first ultrasound. It was a miracle to see that indeed a baby was forming. We got all of our information from the doctor including the folder filled with all the information on taking care of yourself during pregnancy and what to expect over the next year. I really mean it when I say I felt like I was floating. I was so happy to finally be able to say I was a mom. We went out to the grocery store later that night to load up on some healthy food and as I was walking down the aisles I started to feel nauseous. I thought I would be fine but as I walked it continued to get worse. I told Andy I was going to sit at the tables at the front of the store to wait for him. When we got home I went to the bathroom and noticed a little blood. I had heard spotting was common in early pregnancy so I just waited to see if it got worse. By the morning I still hadn’t stopped bleeding. It was heavier than spotting but lighter than a period. We called the OB’s office that we had been at the day before and without hesitation the nurse said curtly “you’re having a miscarriage.” I was SHOCKED. I said “what? No, no I’ve read you can bleed in the beginning…this can’t be a miscarriage, we just saw the baby yesterday!” She again, very rudely, said it was a miscarriage and that this happens in early pregnancy all the time, you’ll just have to wait for it to pass and if it doesn’t I would need a D&C. I asked her if I could come in for an HCG test to confirm it was actually happening and she hesitantly said sure. After getting the results back and comparing them to the day before’s test it was clear that I was, indeed, miscarrying.
I was sobbing in the hallway and I remember nurses just walking by me like it was nothing. Even the doctor I had just seen the day before who was so excited to start talking baby with me just walked by me without even a hello. Andy and I got into our car and both just lost it. His disappointment coupled by seeing me absolutely devastated was more than he could stand. We went home and within a few hours the physical pain was almost as bad as the emotional. It was like period cramps but worse. The bleeding was out of control, so Andy went to the store to get extra pads for me. While he was gone I sat on the toilet and after one of the worst cramps I have ever had, I heard something fall into the toilet. There it was, my baby. It didn’t look like much that early on, but I felt like a piece of my soul had just been ripped out and thrown into the trash. I wasn’t okay. I wasn’t okay for months. To make matters worse we were leaving in 2 days to go back to California. I still felt nauseous and disgusting and I just didn’t want to leave the house. When we arrived, seeing Andy’s family who already knew what happened made me sick. Here was the girl that made them think they would have their first grandchild only to rip that dream away from them a few weeks later. Talking about it was much more difficult than I thought. I figured I would want people to be there for me but really, I just wanted no one to bring it up.
After I got back to Atlanta I found a fertility specialist to make sure I wasn’t fighting an unwinnable battle. After 4 more months, a lot of tests, monthly ultrasounds to track my egg releases, and one small procedure to clear out my tubes I finally saw another positive test. The second time we kept it a secret for much longer and were much more cautious about everything. I had a good feeling, though. I knew the chances of miscarrying twice in a row were low and I just felt like this one was different. After seeing a strong heartbeat 2 months in we were reassured by our new OB that this baby was going to stick around. I remember my friend Jackie telling me after my miscarriage that some women believe that the babies they lose are never really lost, they just needed different bodies to make it into the world. Well, wouldn’t you know that one year to the day after losing that first pregnancy, my sweet little Lily was born. Maybe my friend was right, maybe I never really lost that first baby, she just needed a different vessel to become the sweet little angel I hold in my arms every day.
Deanna Mendez is a loving wife to Joe and stepmother to 2 children. Follow her story at @deannaemendez
My husband and I had been trying for a baby of our own for a little less than two years. This isn’t a very long time, but my husband is 12 years older me and I’m at the end of my twenties, so the longing to get our family started had a little more weight on it. I, unfortunately, fell into an unhealthy position of severe chronic headaches due to something found in my brain that left normal everyday life horribly difficult. Most days I spent on bed rest. This put a pause on our trying for a baby. 6 months into working on getting me healthy, we found out I was pregnant. Of course, it happens when you’re not trying. We were overjoyed and a little worried, because I still wasn’t right. But who cares, I’m pregnant!
The first 2 months were tough. I was exhausted and nauseous along with the headaches, which made everything worse. But the joy of having our baby outweighed it all. We originally thought we should wait to tell our close family and friends about the baby until all was well, but come on, what could go wrong? God is in control. So, we shared it with most everyone closest to us.
At our 8-week visit to the gynecologist, my heart was in knots. I was so excited to see our baby but also so scared we wouldn’t hear the baby’s heart. After doing an internal sonogram, our doctor said she couldn’t see anything. She told us “this is most likely a miscarriage”. I felt mostly shocked at first. As soon as she left the room, I cried holding my husband. I didn’t want to believe it. Our baby was the one piece of joy I felt like I had to hold onto with everything we had been through all year. The worst part wasn’t that we didn’t hear a heartbeat, it was that we didn’t see a baby at all.
My doctor had me do multiple blood tests to see where my hormone levels were. After confirmation, she said “100% miscarriage”. In the days that followed I didn’t bleed. For almost two weeks I kept saying “I will have hope until I can’t have hope anymore.” In my mind, that would be the moment I started bleeding. As a mom, I couldn’t give up on my baby. The day I miscarried, I had to be brought to the hospital. I was in so much pain from the contractions. The thought that kept going through my head was, “why do women even want to get pregnant and give birth? This is miserable” but then I’d think “because at the end there’s a beautiful reward.” What’s so sad about a miscarriage is there isn’t a reward…you’re not bringing life into the world, you’re bringing death. Then you have to mourn and remember that this isn’t your fault. In your mind you’re the only one experiencing it but, even worse, you’re not. After the miscarriage, my heart would actually hurt knowing how many people go through it.
That day in the hospital my sister made a comment about how she didn’t understand why this was happening. She didn’t understand why God wouldn’t do something. I found a strength in me that I didn’t know I had. I told her not to be angry with God. I said, “Our baby is the lucky one. He got to skip this world and live forever with God. I will not be angry with God and put our baby’s life and the gift that he is in vain because of my anger. I will find a way to let this bring hope and life to my life so that he had a purpose here on earth. So that his life can change my life so I can impact other people. So, don’t be angry. Don’t let his life be in vain.”
I had no idea that was inside me. But it shaped me and changed me. That little boy has inspired me to live again. I have spent the last few weeks finally starting to feel healthy again. We haven’t even found a real “solution” to my health, but somehow hope has brought health.
Our little somebody may have been tiny but he was mighty and continues changing our lives, every day. There is so much more to come and I choose hope to lead me there.
Kimber Cork is a wife, mother and business owner. Follow her story at @ber_22
I had a one and a half-year-old and my hubs and I decided that we would start trying for a second on our family trip to Hawaii. Well, we came home from that trip and I found out on a Thursday afternoon that I was about 4/5 weeks pregnant. I knew something was WAY different than my first pregnancy but couldn’t figure out what. I woke up the same night I took my positive pregnancy test in excruciating pain and started heavily spotting. I knew something was wrong, so off to the hospital I went. My husband was out of town and I felt so alone. I was rushed into emergency surgery with an ectopic pregnancy. They ended up having to remove a Fallopian tube. It all happened so fast that I never really had time to process any of it until after I recovered.
Even then it was hard because no one talks about these things. I tried to keep going, after all, I own two businesses, have a toddler, and a family but eventually, I broke. The best thing I ever did was going to talk to someone. I want everyone to know that everyone’s story is different and we are all here for you no matter what you need…. someone to listen, give advice, need a hug, help you find a therapist…. anything at all. No one needs to go through this alone and everyone needs to know we are here for you.
Lindsay Mosher is a wife and mother to a boxer named Belle. Follow her story at @lindsaymmosher
I felt very alone through my experience because I realized people are uncomfortable with the subject and don’t want to talk about it. That was the hardest part for me. I felt like the only way I could heal was to talk about it. Be honest and tell my family how I was feeling and what was actually happening but far too many people don’t know what to say or how to react. My advice for those people is that you don’t have to talk, rather listen. Don’t change the subject when someone needs to talk to you about it, don’t pretend nothing happened because you’re uneasy talking about it. Just listen. Yes, it’s awful and there’s no right away to respond to it and there’s also nothing you can say that would make it better for the person that’s experiencing the loss. But this is the time your ear could really make a difference in helping someone get through what is the darkest, most difficult, painful time a woman’s life.
I remember the night before I planned to take a pregnancy test. I actually laid in bed before falling asleep and prayed for a positive result. My period was late but I have far from normal periods so nothing new there. I woke up that morning and peed on the stick. Waited those 3 minutes with my heart beating out of my chest and just hoping to see ‘PREGNANT.’ (I got the test that said pregnant or not pregnant because I didn’t want to have to try to look at faint lines to determine I wanted to see that one word!) We were ecstatic over the news. I cried tears of joy, immediately started to think of baby names and how close in age my child would be to my niece whom I love beyond measure. I even started a baby registry that I planned to keep private until we had made our big announcement. Then I called the midwives office and made my first appointment. I was only 2-3 weeks at the time and they didn’t patients until 10 weeks so I had a while before I saw a doctor. I bought ‘What to Expect when you’re Expecting’ and spent countless sleepless nights looking at baby clothes, nursery decor and checking to see what I should and shouldn’t be eating. For weeks it was just something my husband and I knew and there was something so special about that. We had endless conversations about where we wanted to raise our child and the adventures we couldn’t wait to do with a baby in tow!
We hit the 10-week mark and headed for our appointment which was just a bunch of paperwork and meeting our midwife and talking health backgrounds. We loved our midwife, Amber. At that point, we figured it was time to tell our parents and siblings only. And we would share with everyone once we had our ultrasounds. We scheduled our first ultrasound a week and a half later and could not wait for that day to come! We arrived, waited for a while and then were called back. They put the cold gel all over my stomach and started looking. The ultrasounds tech wasn’t saying much but that didn’t mean much to me at that moment. She then sounded a little concerned and I immediately knew something wasn’t right. She wasn’t pointing anything out to us, simply snapping some measurements. She then told me the words I truly had NEVER expected to hear ever. It hadn’t even crossed my mind there was a chance! “The measurements don’t add up to how many weeks it’s been since conceiving.” My heart sunk. I knew the day was correct because I keep track of EVERYTHING. She couldn’t say more but needed to contact my midwife to have them see me ASAP.
We left that office with me sobbing. The cute dress I’d worn was covered in tears and snot. We saw our midwife the following day. My hormone levels were still high but the measurements were definitely concerning. She told me my option was basically to wait it out and have my blood checked the following week to see if my levels had dropped. I knew deep down in my heart but a huge part of me also held onto hope. It was the following Thursday afternoon, a week later and I did my bloodworm and headed upstairs to see the midwife. At this point, my levels had dropped and it was evident that this would end long before I wanted it to. I had 3 options: 1. Wait and miscarry naturally (whenever that might be) 2. Take a pill that would basically initiate the miscarriage. 3. Have it surgically removed (putting it into nicer terms). For me I couldn’t initiate it, I was still holding onto some sort of hope that maybe they were just wrong altogether. So, I was going to wait for my body to tell me I was no longer carrying a healthy baby. 2 days later I woke up (Saturday morning) around 5 AM with insane stomach cramps. I was scared to get out of bed because I knew what I’d see when I sat down on the toilet. Sure enough, that was the day. My body knew I wasn’t pregnant and now we were having to accept it as well. Nothing could have prepared me for the pain, the sights I saw, the feelings of guilt I felt. I had convinced myself it was my fault. I felt like my husband would be disappointed. I had just lost our first child. How would he ever forgive me?
It took many, many months before my days weren’t consumed with the loss. I kept thinking about how far along I would have been when Christmas rolled around. Heck, I’d be lying if I said it’s not something I still think about almost daily. But we just hit the year mark and I’m starting to get hopeful that one day soon I will get that rainbow baby!
I know these women’s experiences haven’t been easy to read. The sad reality is, so many of us will go through this. I think that it is important to be positive and think good thoughts after finding out you are pregnant, but it is also important to know that it doesn’t always work out. Being educated about what can happen will make it easier to know when you need to seek medical attention and to know that the loss of a pregnancy does not mean something is wrong with you. If you’re going through this right now, just know that if you do open up about your story when you’re ready, there will be plenty of other women who are able to relate and help you through it. I’m always here to talk and I hope my story of loss that lead to two healthy pregnancies will give women hope the way other women’s stories did for me.