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Challenge: Pregnancy and Infant Loss

I am 1 in 4: Looking on the Bright Side of My Miscarriage (Yes, There Can Be One!)

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It's five years after my miscarriage- the traumatizing life event that I usually keep to myself. But today, on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, I thought I’d share an article I wrote back in 2016 and never published.

I'm sharing my miscarriage story because I want other women to know that pregnancy loss is so common, but kept so secret. We should not be ashamed of our bodies or blame ourselves. We need to rally around each other, and tell our "me too" miscarriage story.

Like every storm that has poured down on me, I searched for the sunshine in my miscarriage…and even got my rainbow baby, which I'll tell you about in a little update at the end of my miscarriage story.

Here it is:

Looking on the Bright Side of My Miscarriage (Yes, There Can Be One!)

While sitting in an exam room waiting for my OBGYN, I thought about the last time I was there. It was two weeks prior. I was getting an ultrasound to see if my fetus had grown since my first prenatal appointment. It hadn’t. And this time, there was no heartbeat on the screen. I miscarried.

I remember the tears in my doctor’s eyes as she said that was not what she wanted to see. This was the moment I had been dreading for the past month--confirmation that I lost the baby. I already loved him or her. I imagined my 15-month-old daughter, Genevieve, helping me feed her new brother or sister. My husband and I already began arguing over our favorite names. We took weekly bump pictures to document my growing belly from the day I found out I was pregnant. But from that point on, the photo shoots would stop. The life growing inside me had passed away. And a part of me was relieved.

It’s agony to go through a pregnancy when your instincts tell you something isn’t right. I couldn’t stand being in limbo. I needed to know whether or not I was going to end this pregnancy with a healthy baby in arms. Once my doctor confirmed my fears, I would be able to encourage myself to heal and move on from this awful, mind-numbing experience.

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My miscarriage happened a week before Christmas. I should have been nine weeks along, but my fetus stopped growing at about six weeks. It took about a month from the time I started showing warning signs--light spotting, the coming and going of symptoms, the fetus not measuring correctly--to the moment my doctor confirmed that I had officially lost the baby.

I’m an optimist, but I’m also a realist. Some days I tried to brush my negative thoughts aside and listen to friends who told me that this was my “easy” pregnancy because I didn’t have hard-hitting symptoms like I did with my daughter, and pointed out that every pregnancy is different. Plus, two early blood tests showed hopeful results of my pregnancy levels increasing. Other days, I freaked out because I had cramping and that is something I didn’t experience my first time around. Another huge concern looming over me was the fact that I would most likely need surgery after the miscarriage was final, and of course that happened.

I made it through the dilation and curettage (D&C) procedure, though I cried my eyes out the hours leading up to surgery in fear that something would happen to me while under anesthesia and I would never see my daughter again. And here I was, at my follow-up exam, listening to my doctor tell me that my healing process was right on track. My miscarriage was most likely the result of a bad egg, which is very common. My doctor informed me that I would be able to start trying again right after my first regular period. Though the fear of another miscarriage will always loom in the back of my mind, I want to try again as soon as possible.

I had a miscarriage. It broke my heart. I will forever get sad when I see the original ultrasound picture of the baby I lost and think back to seeing its heartbeat. I’m saving the pregnancy countdown calendar I printed out and checked off daily. I dreamed of a second child and I ended up reporting a loss to the pregnancy app on my phone. I’ll never get over it, but I have to move on and find something positive from this life-changing event.

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So I began to think about what I learned from my miscarriage and second pregnancy experience.

For one thing, I got a short glimpse into what it would be like to be pregnant, working full-time and raising a toddler. Kudos to every woman who has ever done this because it is draining! I’m now grateful for a little extra time before I go through that for nine months.

I also discovered that there were some things I actually wasn’t prepared to deal with that I can now work on before I am blessed with baby number two.

For one thing, my daughter is not sleep trained. We co-sleep and still wake up a few times a night for bottles. My pediatrician told me to stop night-time feedings many months ago, but as a working mom with chronic fatigue syndrome, I gave in and let my baby have a bottle when she woke up because it put her right back to bed and I was in dire need of sleep.

This miscarriage inspired me to take steps to improve our nights, so I have been cutting out those feedings now and sometimes spend an hour awake with Genevieve beginning at 1 a.m. I would never be able to handle that if I was dealing with pregnancy exhaustion. My goal is to have everyone get a better night’s rest, bottle-free, by the time I get pregnant and decide to bring an infant into the mix.

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Another reason I’ve come to peace with my miscarriage is that my daughter still demands my attention 24/7. She misses me during the day and clings to me when I come home from work. She’s still a baby and needs her mommy. But, as she gets older, she is starting play more with her daddy. Now we have a little longer to work on their bonding moments. That will surely make life easier once we have a second child.

I also feel fortunate that my pregnancy ended before I became even more attached. Some women miscarry when they are much further along. Take General Hospital star Kimberly McCullough, who just suffered the devastating loss of her baby at 22 weeks. She knew she was having a daughter, felt her baby move inside her and had all that time to bond and fall in love. Then it was ripped away from her. I’m fortunate that my pregnancy ended before I got to that point. But, it doesn’t make it any less significant.

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Some may argue that these are not legitimate reasons to say I’m “OK” with the fact that I had a miscarriage. I’m scared for life, but I have to find somewhat of a bright side in order to stop dwelling on what happened. I plan everything. I like to be in control. Yet, there was nothing I could do about something that was taking place inside my own body. I had to go about my life and try to block out the fact that I might not even be pregnant anymore.

I believe that everything happens for a reason, yet I can’t find the meaning behind this. So I’ll settle for the small things and tell everyone that I’m doing well, because I am.

I’m always going to wonder if the baby was a boy or a girl. But the suspense of whether or not I was having a healthy pregnancy is over. I can go about my days without fear that I’ll start bleeding while I’m at the office. And instead of being depressed about impending loss, I can mourn, accept what happened and focus on the future.

When my exam concluded, my doctor gave me a hug and said “I’ll see you soon,” as she walked out of the door, showing her reassurance that she will once again deliver a healthy baby for me.

“I hope so,” I replied.

UPDATE SINCE THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN:

During the pregnancy that I miscarried, I said if the baby was a girl I wanted to name her Jocelyn. That Christmas, my brother sent my daughter a Cabbage Patch doll in the mail that he ordered online. You know how they come with a name but you don't see the name until you open the envelope in the box? The doll was—get ready for this—named Jocelyn! I take that as a sign, my closure.

Today as I type this update and prepare to post this article, I’m sitting outside on the deck of our new house and my TWO kids keep interrupting me to show me a ladybug they found. When my Genevieve was nearing three years old, I had a baby boy! My rainbow baby, Luca, which means bringer of light. Quite a fitting name, which is a good thing because it’s the only boy name my husband wanted.

Here’s another WOW moment for you— The day I had my miscarriage confirmed, my husband had an appointment for a massage with a psychic. When he got there, she asked him, “Did you have the miscarriage yet?” WHAT?! YES! He never even spoke to her to tell her I was pregnant.

Then, she said, there’s a baby boy coming. That gave me so much hope!

If all of this isn’t proof enough that the universe has a plan for us, I don’t know what is.

My point is, stay strong, trust God, have faith and know that your life will work out exactly as it’s meant to be. We go through hard times to strengthen us, give us confidence boosts to show how much we can overcome, to inspire us to help others on their journeys, and to give us immense gratitude for all of our blessings. By telling our miscarriage stories, we are helping someone out there who just got news her dreams of motherhood, this time around, have been crushed. And together, we are helping that stranger out there on the Internet pick up the pieces of her heart and fit them back together, little by little.

Much love to everyone who has gone through pregnancy or infant loss. My heart is with you.

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