Losing a Pregnancy, Finding Community

I suffered my first miscarriage in silence because I followed the rules. I didn’t tell anyone I was pregnant, because you weren’t supposed to announce a pregnancy until you were past your first trimester. That was the rule. The theory was that you didn’t want to have to tell everyone you had a miscarriage, if it happened. But for me? It happened. And only a very few people close to me knew, so I had to go about my life acting like nothing was wrong. When deep down my heart had broken.

Let’s stop for a minute and think about this.

Somewhere along the way, society established this rule so that people could GRIEVE ALONE AND IN SILENCE. And after an eventual diagnosis of being a “Repeat Aborter” – I can tell you that suffering a miscarriage is devastating and grieving needs to proceed in order for healing to take place.

Finding Friends Who Understand

Lucky for me, I discovered blogging in 2004 and found an online community of women like me who were suffering from repeated pregnancy losses in a community that wanted us to keep quiet about it. We found humor in our tragedies, nicknaming ultrasounds “Live Baby Checks” and making macabre jokes about accumulating several “You’re Having A Baby!” bags that they give you at your first doctor’s appointment, and yet never getting an actual baby out of it.

And lucky for ALL of us, the years that followed created swells of women beginning to be open about their losses. After every loss that I wrote about, new people that I knew in the real world would come to me with their stories. Aunts, teachers, friends and family. They’d email me and call me to offer their condolences and then tell me their stories. Some of them had kept quiet for decades, and were finally able heal a little bit by sharing with me their loss.

Coping With Loss

Pregnancy loss sucks. Whether you’ve suffered 1 or 15…it just sucks. It breaks your heart and makes you angry. I have never been a sad or a resentful person; but my miscarriages devastated me. And they made me so very irrationally livid about the joys of people around me. And at first I was ashamed of this. I was ashamed of the jealousy I felt when a friend announced a pregnancy soon after I lost one. I was embarrassed at the wave of anger that would wash over me when someone complained about an “unplanned” pregnancy. I was mortified by the bitterness I felt when family conceived easily, and delivered uneventfully. My pregnancy losses made me a very ugly person.

An odd side-effect of having a miscarriage meant that I never peacefully enjoyed another pregnancy. I was always bracing for the loss.

But luckily, my blogging community helped me through that. They helped me ease the bitterness and find the joy for the beautiful children being born around me. They helped me work through the anger to find the excitement for friends and family. They taught me that all of these feelings were part of the grieving process, and that I shouldn’t feel shame about it. They taught me it was okay to hurt and angry, but that I should try to also hold on to hope. And to joy.

An odd side-effect of having a miscarriage meant that I never peacefully enjoyed another pregnancy. I was always bracing for the loss. Every ultrasound was tense until I saw the flutter of a heartbeat on the screen. Every trip to the bathroom had me terrified of the inevitable signs of the end. Every hour that passed without feeling fetal movement made me worry that my unborn child had lost their battle. We even rented our own Doppler fetal heart monitor during the pregnancy with our daughter, just so I could ease my mind when I was anxious.

Do you see how crazy it makes you? I RENTED MEDICAL EQUIPMENT. But my community of women who had tread those waters before me? They helped me not feel so crazy. Or to at least they taught me to OWN my crazy if I had to feel it.

And now, those days are past as we recently took steps to keep from ever having children or or the inevitable miscarriages again. My physical ailments were becoming too painful and my emotional state too fragile to suffer through any more losses. Last year’s loss was the last one I knew my heart could handle. We closed the door on that part of our lives, grateful we succeeded in building the family we have.

Don’t Suffer in Silence: Speak Up

But also? I’m grateful for the community I found to help me through all of the losses. If you’ve suffered a loss, know that there are more women around you than you realize that have walked the path you’re stumbling down now. They’ve come out of the other side of the sadness and can help you find your way. I don’t care if you only knew you were pregnant for a week before you miscarried, you deserve time to grieve and time to heal. Do not try to suffer alone. If you tell your story, someone will tell you theirs. And just knowing you’re not alone will do more to help you heal than you’ll realize.

Local Resources

Healing Hearts for Baby Loss of North Alabama (Closed Facebook Group)

RTS Bereavement Program for Pregnancy and Infant Loss (Huntsville Hospital)

Compassionate Friends (Huntsville Chapter)

4th Annual National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day Ceremony

October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

On the 15th, please consider posting this via social media – “Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Let’s take some time to remember the babies who were born asleep, or whom we carried but never met, or those we have held but could not take home, or who made it home but didn’t stay. Make this your status if you or someone you know has suffered the loss of a baby. Break the silence. In memory of all lost angels ❤”

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