Trigger Warning: The author of this story is a mom to a toddler daughter and experienced an early miscarriage during her second pregnancy. A photo of her with her daughter is included below in the post.
We found out we were expecting on September 15, just two days before my 37th birthday. It was the greatest gift I could ever ask for.
Our daughter Margot was born in July of 2018, and I couldn’t wait to do it all again. As hard as our first year was, it was so, so sweet. I anticipated all the little firsts that come with a new baby. I imagined Margot as a big sister and thought about how different our life would be.
Six weeks into my pregnancy, our second baby and all those dreams were gone.
I naively assumed that this pregnancy would be a lot like my first – that it would end with a healthy baby. Like most women, I am well-aware of how common a miscarriage is, but my first pregnancy happened quickly and easily. So, even at 37, I expected to have this baby. I truly believed everything would just work out.
After several positive pregnancy tests, a blood test confirmed my pregnancy but showed low levels of HCG and progesterone. A part of me knew it wasn’t going to work out, or maybe I was just preparing my heart. These numbers can fluctuate from woman to woman, and the doctor said we just needed to see that my numbers doubled 48 hours later as they should.
Doctors would call this a chemical pregnancy, but the moment that pregnancy test was positive, it was so much more than that to me. This was my baby growing inside of my body, and with it came all the dreams of this new life.
I was hopeful. I was advised to watch for cramping and bleeding and nervously went into the weekend, hoping everything would be OK. A few hours later, I noticed a little spotting but stayed calm. Spotting can be normal, after all.
On Saturday morning, my husband and I were about to take our daughter out for a few hours. A quick trip to the bathroom before running out the door, and my heart sank. I was bleeding. My husband called, asking if I was ready.
“I’m bleeding. It’s over. I don’t want to go anywhere.”
I slipped into my favorite sweatpants, climbed into bed, and called my doctor’s office. She called the lab to see if she could get my results and confirmed that I was having a miscarriage.
I felt like a statistic. Thirty percent. One in three (or four, depending on who you ask). The numbers didn’t matter because it was happening to me.
Doctors would call this a chemical pregnancy, but the moment that pregnancy test was positive, it was so much more than that to me. It was my baby growing inside of my body, and with it came all the dreams of this new life. And just like that, it was gone.
The guilt and physical pain came on quickly.
My doctor told me how sorry she was (she was so kind, and I will forever be grateful for that), and assured me that this could have happened to me in my 20s. Over one-third of her expecting patients are older than I am, and she miscarried at 37, too. She made me feel validated and less alone, but at that moment, nothing was going to take my pain away.
Before this happened, I would have thought a miscarriage this early on couldn’t be that devastating. Sad, sure, but at “only” six weeks, it couldn’t be that bad. It’s such a sad, strange, and lonely thing to go through, even though so many of us go through it. One minute you’re pregnant and dreaming of your future, and the next, you’re not. I’m learning that it’s OK to grieve this loss – the loss of what could have been.
The hope and excitement were fleeting, but it was very real. A life had come and gone in the blink of an eye.
I had already told a few close friends I was pregnant, so I sent text messages sharing the news because talking felt like too much. A few called back, and I ignored their calls because I didn’t have the words and didn’t want to have to explain how I was feeling. How am I doing? How do I feel? Awful. I just lost a baby.
I’m sharing my story because no one should have to go through a miscarriage alone. If you’ve gone through an early miscarriage or are going through it right now, your feelings are real and valid too. It’s OK to grieve, and it’s OK to feel sad.
There’s a physical emptiness that I feel inside, and the bleeding and cramping are a constant reminder of what our little family has lost. I never heard a heartbeat, saw the baby’s little profile, or felt those first kicks. But I didn’t struggle to conceive, and I have a healthy 15-month-old daughter to hold in my arms. She is such a little light and is the only person that could make me laugh and smile when I feel this way. In so many ways, I couldn’t be luckier. So many women go through much, much greater losses than this. I know that. So where does that leave me? The grieving process for moms who have yet to meet or hold their babies isn’t one we talk very much about.
Along with grief has come anxiety.
I think about the things I can’t control: Will I get pregnant again? Will I have to try for six months only to lose the baby again? I feel robbed of so much joy, and I fear how I’ll go into another pregnancy after losing this one so early. The anxiety and “what ifs” are a normal part of the process, but I know I can’t let them take over.
Right now, my heart and body feel a little broken. My life is so full, and I am so fortunate to have a baby girl who has the ability to make me smile and laugh when nothing else could, but it still hurts. I’m learning that’s OK.
The grief of a miscarriage is not always related to the length of your pregnancy, and it’s not something I ever could have truly understood without going through it. The love we have for our babies comes on quickly. No matter how early you are in your pregnancy, it’s OK to grieve that loss.
Thirty percent of pregnancies end just like this, and I’m sharing my story because no one should have to go through a miscarriage alone. If you’ve gone through an early miscarriage or are going through it right now, your feelings are real and valid too. It’s OK to grieve, and it’s OK to feel sad.
You are not alone.