Miscarriage: Life after loss.
I don’t really know why I am writing this. I think it’s mostly because I have always been someone who needs to write their feelings down to really understand them. I don’t know if I’ll share this but if I do, I hope whoever is reading this finds some comfort knowing that they aren’t alone in their grief.
Miscarriage is lonely and jarring in a way that is hard to put into words. It breaks a part of you deep inside in a way that is hard to describe. There is an unreasonableness to it – the way you can know that there was nothing you could’ve done to stop it and yet you feel a weight of responsibility and guilt as though you could’ve. It feels helpless and hopeless.
We found out we were pregnant right around Christmas of 2021. We hadn’t been trying for long and I was surprised when I saw the “+” on the pregnancy test. I was excited. I couldn’t believe we were so lucky to have had success so quickly. I was so surprised that I came downstairs and just told Jeremy rather than finding a fun and sneaky way to surprise him, which had always been what I thought I would do. He was just as surprised as me. We were so excited.
We booked our first doctor’s appointment for after the New Year. When we found out we were expecting, we estimated that we were about 6 weeks along. By the time we saw the doctor, we were about 8 weeks along, which he confirmed based on my cycle. We got a requisition to have our first ultrasound around the 10-week mark. We ended up booking it closer to the 12-week mark because the clinics were so busy, and we were anxiously counting down to the day we would get to see our little baby.
Just a few days after that first appointment, I began experiencing some light spotting. I went back to my doctor who confirmed that my cervix was still closed. He let me know that this could be the start of a loss, but it also may not be, and that some spotting can be normal. I tried to not worry, but I was worried.
The spotting went away, and I thought we were in the clear. Week 9 passed without event, and I allowed myself to sigh a breath of relief and feel excited again. And then, as we neared the end of Week 10 the spotting came back, this time more aggressively.
We were away from home at our cabin, so we drove about two hours to the Kelowna hospital. We spent 8 hours at the emergency waiting to see a doctor, only to be told that they didn’t have a specialist on-site anymore and that I would need to come back the next morning to hopefully see the appropriate doctor. The doctor we spoke to did do a type of sonogram that showed the baby, but he said it was not the ideal procedure to determine whether we were miscarrying or not.
Since they were quite uncertain about whether or not I would be able to see the appropriate doctor at all in Kelowna, we decided it was best to drive back home and go to a local hospital. On the way we passed Royal Columbian Hospital and so I went there and waited another 8 hours to see a doctor.
Unlike in Kelowna, due to the current local healthcare rules, I waited alone and learned about our loss alone — though this standard was not held for the vast majority of patients awaiting care. I won’t get into specifics about this experience, but I will say that what I experienced at Royal Columbian Hospital was truly one of the most awful experiences I have ever had with our healthcare system. I know a lot of really wonderful nurses and doctors and I have always held so much respect for healthcare workers. However, the treatment I received from this particular group of healthcare workers was so appalling and unkind, I still can’t believe it.
After learning about our loss, I was taken back to the large and crowded patient waiting room to wait for instructions on what I should do next. I sat there and cried. I don’t really know how long I was in that room. At some point, one of the nurses saw how upset I was and took me to a side hallway where the doctor met me and let me know that now all I had to do was go home and wait. The loss would begin in the next few days.
And it did. A few days after we got home, the spotting increased, then the pain came, and then the loss. We had been going through a very difficult time for other reasons, and the loss of our one glimmer of joy was earth-shattering. For me, it had been what had been keeping me going. I was devastated knowing that we would never get to meet our baby. It was hard to comprehend. Even now, my heart is in my throat thinking about it. I wouldn’t wish this kind of heartache on anyone.
What do you do with the positive tests that brought you so much joy? What do you do with the weekly photos documenting each exciting week that passed? What do you do with the announcement gifts? I don’t know. I don’t have those answers. I’ve kept them. Doing anything else hurts too much. It would feel like we were pretending that they were never there, and I’d rather feel grief for them than pretend to feel nothing at all. They were here; they meant something.
I had looked forward to checking my “what to expect” app each week for new developments on our growing baby, and turning those off by reporting our loss made my heart ache in a way that I felt all over my body. Our exciting time of believing that we would be parents was coming to an end in a way I had always feared but was entirely unprepared for. And this little life that we had so many dreams for was never going to get to live.
A few months later, in April, we found out that we were expecting again. This time, I was more careful and didn’t allow myself to feel fully excited. I held back. However, this time, I did surprise Jeremy. I gave him the positive test all wrapped up in a gift just before his birthday – I couldn’t wait until his birthday because I cannot keep secrets. We were excited but more measured. That’s one thing loss robs you of once you’ve gone through it — you no longer allow yourself to fully feel because it’s too painful to allow yourself to feel all that love and excitement and then to lose it.
This loss came sooner but without warning. We were about 8 weeks along and were getting ready to go out for a family dinner when the loss very suddenly began. I was sad, and I felt guilty that I never gave this life the full amount of love and excitement I had, and that it deserved because I was scared to lose it. I still feel bad about that often, and I pray in my mind that they know that there was and is love and joy for them here.
Life carries on but you carry something new and sad with you. You’re part of a club you never wished to be a part of. You hear of someone’s loss and you understand all the pains and aches of what they are going through. And you know they’ll now carry it with them. Everyone processes pain differently, but you know that what they are feeling is a profound sense of loss – a heartache that feels like a weight on your chest as you try to tread water.
In August, we learned that we were expecting again. We had been trying with more intention this time, using ovulation strips and tracking my cycle very closely, and so I tested very close to the beginning of my cycle date. Again, I was scared to allow myself to be excited. I didn’t surprise Jeremy this time, instead I just told him and we agreed that we wouldn’t allow ourselves to get ahead of ourselves this time. But, this time was different.
As we passed 10 weeks, I began to feel excited. We got to see our baby on the Ultrasound and we received good news – there was a heartbeat, and it was strong. It felt like forever in between Ultrasounds (we didn’t have many at all) and doctor visits. I wanted constant updates, so much so that my parents gave us a monitor so we could listen to the heartbeat, which we did, each and every night. In November, we learned that our sweet baby was a little baby boy — just what I had intuitively felt he was going to be. And the weeks kept passing, and our Liam kept growing.
And now he is here, and he is the most amazing little guy. He is such a happy boy — his nature is just to be joyful and smiling. I feel lucky every time I look at him. How blessed are we to be this baby boy’s parents? It can’t be measured.
I’m a mom now to the most incredible little boy. It has been the best experience of my life. I love seeing his eyes light up when he wakes up from a good nap, the way he half-smiles sleepily as he drinks his bottle of milk, his concerned face and raised eyebrows when I play peek-a-boo with him, and the way he laughs when Jer plays with him or when we make monkey noises at him. I love the snuggles and naps together — the way his little hands just barely reach the sides of my arms when he snoozes on me. I have loved every bit of being a mother, seeing him grow and change, and seeing who he is developing to be.
He’s sleeping next to me as I write this and he is so sweet and peaceful. Sometimes I love it all so much that my heart pangs for the little half-smiles that I won’t ever get to see, the laughs I won’t ever get to hear, and all the other little unknowns from the two babies I lost. Who would they have been? I feel guilt for losing them even though I know it was not my fault, guilt for having moments of sadness when I have so much that I am thankful for, and heartache for those two lives and for that time in our lives.
If you’re reading this and going through a loss, just know that you are not alone. I know how hopeless it can feel, and how lonely it can be in your grief. I want to tell you that it goes away but I’m not certain that it does. You carry it, and sometimes it washes over you. What I can tell you is that you have a whole community of women who are here for you. They are a part of this awful heartbroken club and they are ready to hear you and be there for you. Don’t be afraid to reach out.