“Maybe I’m just a bad miscarriage mom,” I whispered to my husband lying in bed one night. We were at the end of a miscarriage and he had asked me how I was doing. My sincere response was OK. Not the OK on the outside but crumbling inside kind of OK. It was the not great but not horrible OK kind of OK.
But I felt guilty being OK because it didn’t sound like what a miscarriage mom should say.
I’ve had four miscarriages. The first was an ectopic pregnancy discovered before it threatened my health and life. Numbers two and three were early miscarriages—I saw the positive pregnancy test only to see the bleeding within a week. This last one was a missed miscarriage. With all of this experience on my resume, you’d think I’d be the perfect example of a miscarriage mom. But I’m not.
With the ectopic pregnancy, I understood it as a potentially serious health problem before I understood it was a pregnancy. I felt grief, but more relief that “the worst”—a burst fallopian tube resulting in severe damage and a potential threat to my life—had not happened. I only told the people who had to know. It was a quiet loss lined with gratitude for my own health. I didn’t celebrate the life we had lost; instead, I gave thanks for my own.
I wasn’t supposed to feel relief—maybe I’m just a bad miscarriage mom.
That miscarriage was followed by a rainbow baby, a beautiful little girl full of life and energy. And she was followed by two more angel babies. But I never thought of them as angel babies. They were lost before I really had the chance to understand they were there. A positive test one day, bleeding shortly after. No chance to hear a heartbeat, no grainy ultrasound image, no signs of morning sickness, no cravings. And again, very few people knew about them.
They were losses but I couldn’t fully bond with the tiny little babies who barely existed and were gone before I got used to them being there. And if I’m honest, I don’t remember them each year on what would have been their birthdays. I didn’t give them names or purchase mementos to recognize their place in our family.
I felt grief. It hurt. Oh, it hurt. I cried in my husband’s arms, but I didn’t feel like I fit into the miscarriage club. I didn’t feel like I was doing it right—maybe I’m just a bad miscarriage mom.
Another rainbow baby joined our family. A blue-eyed, blonde-haired boy for whom I prayed relentlessly. When he was just over a year old, I saw the familiar lines of a positive pregnancy test. As with my other rainbow babies, I tiptoed cautiously into pregnancy, waiting each day for the bleeding to begin.
Maybe I wasn’t such a bad miscarriage mom—after all, I felt the fear that follows loss. In that way, my experience matched.
Days passed, the nausea began, and things seemed normal, but at 10-weeks I found myself lying on the exam bed as the doctor strained to hear something, anything, on the Doppler. Our longing ears were met only with silence. An ultrasound confirmed what my heart already knew. Another loss. Another miscarriage.
Would I finally be a good miscarriage mom? Would this kind of loss officially admit me into the club? Would I do things right this time? Give the baby a name, frame the picture of the tiny figure printed from the ultrasound machine, celebrate his/her birthday each year, or at least remember my baby.
But I grieved that loss much like the others. Though I was forced to tell more people because we had already shared the news of our pregnancy, I mostly grieved silently. I cried in my husband’s arms and silently in the night. I confided in close friends. I mourned my loss and counted my blessings. I gave myself space to feel the grief and then pushed forward.
And if I’m honest, the grief was overshadowed by frustration and anger.
You see, that last one was a missed miscarriage. Although my baby was no longer living at 10-weeks, I continued to feel pregnant. I had no signs of miscarriage—no bleeding, no cramping, nothing except the continued nausea that had burdened me around the clock since the early days of the pregnancy. After almost three weeks of carrying my no-longer-living baby, I had a D&C. And much like my first experience with miscarriage, I felt relief. Relief that the long, horrible process was finally over.
The emotional roller coaster I had been on finally slowed to a stop, and I was grateful—maybe I’m just a bad miscarriage mom.
Each year when October rolls around, I see women sharing their stories of their babies gone too soon. And again, I give myself the title of bad miscarriage mom. I feel shame. I am ashamed that I can’t even remember the dates of my miscarriages. All these women, all these beautiful stories of remembrance, and then there is me—unsure if I even fit into the category of miscarriage mom though I’ve had so many. Not sure I qualify to celebrate pregnancy and infant loss month.
I look at my five living children and feel grateful. I know you’re never supposed to say the words “at least . . .” to a mom who’s had a miscarriage, but I feel them. At least I already have kids. At least I’m not waiting for my first, wondering if there will ever be a first. At least my losses didn’t come later in the pregnancy. At least I never had to go through the pain of stillbirth.
Those “at leasts . . .” they comfort me—maybe I’m just a bad miscarriage mom.
But you know what? There is no such thing as a bad miscarriage mom.
Our bodies may all go through the same medical process of miscarriage, but our experiences, emotions, and reactions are uniquely our own. There is no wrong way to do it. We need to free ourselves of the expectations of processing our miscarriage in the same way others have.
Because your story is YOURS. Your reaction and response to your loss is YOURS. Your grief is YOURS. Your baby is YOURS, and the way you chose to remember him or her is YOUR choice. You don’t have to fit the mold. You don’t have to compare your experience.
I’m not a bad miscarriage mom. And neither are you.