Self-doubt and endless questions.
That seemed to be the theme of my pregnancy and motherhood journey.
It all started after I got married to my amazing husband, Scott.
We knew we wanted to start a family right away.
What we didn’t know was how difficult that can sometimes be.
When it was all said and done, we spent a year and a half trying to have a successful pregnancy.
We thought you just decided you were ready to get pregnant and that’s all it would take.
We were so naive.
After a few months of trying with no success, I started feeling desperate. I’m the type of person who, when I decide to do something, I’m ready right that minute.
I’m also the type of person who researches all the things.
So I started researching how to get pregnant. And my mind was completely blown.
I was shocked to discover that I actually had no idea how my body worked.
I knew I got my period every month. I knew that getting pregnant happened sometime in between.
But I knew nothing about when ovulation happens or what that process was like. I had no idea that you could only get pregnant in a very small window each month around the days when ovulation occurs.
I ended up becoming a rookie expert on cycle charting, basal body temperature recording, and pregnancy symptoms.
Every month, I would drive myself crazy “symptom spotting.” And every month, a BFN (big fat negative).
I finally paid a visit to my midwife, and what she told me made me very skeptical.
She said we were trying too hard. We were putting too much pressure on ourselves. That we needed to just relax.
So we did.
The next month, I got my BFP (big fat positive). We were ecstatic to finally be pregnant!
My husband and I are the types of people who can’t keep good news to ourselves, so we told our close family immediately.
After I saw the heartbeat on the ultrasound at my 8-week appointment, I made the announcement at work.
I had joined a Babycenter birth board to follow a community of other women all over the world who were all due the same month.
It wasn’t long before the miscarriage stories started.
I saw them. I read a few.
I thought to myself, “Ugh, that’s so sad. I’m so sorry for her. I can’t imagine what that must be like.”
“But that’s not going to happen to me.”
And then it did.
Our first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage.
And not even a normal miscarriage where you first find out because of bleeding or cramping.
I didn’t find out until I went to my 12-week appointment.
I thought everything was fine and normal. Until they couldn’t find a heartbeat during the appointment.
The midwife said, “Sometimes this happens early on if the baby is in a weird position. But I’m going to send you over for an ultrasound just in case.”
We all thought everything was fine since I had had no miscarriage symptoms. And I was even still having pregnancy symptoms.
But there was no heartbeat on the ultrasound.
It turned out that the baby had stopped growing sometime during the eighth week.
So, basically right after I had seen a heartbeat at my 8-week appointment when everything checked out as completely normal and healthy.
For some reason, my body continued to produce pregnancy hormones that led me to believe I was still pregnant and everything was fine.
My body did not miscarry on its own.
It’s called a missed miscarriage. I had never heard the term before.
After the midwife gave me the news, the midwife and ultrasound tech left the room to give me some privacy.
I was there alone because we thought this was going to be a routine appointment.
There have been few times in my life when I have cried so hard.
I couldn’t even call my husband. At that exact moment, he was interviewing for a new job.
I got some of the worst news I’ve ever received in my life while I was alone.
I felt so betrayed by my body. I was so heartbroken. Disappointed doesn’t even begin to cover it.
I couldn’t understand why this had happened to me.
I had done everything right.
We had wanted this so badly. We had prayed so hard for this baby. We were so happy and excited.
I felt so alone, even with my husband was right by my side. My rock, as he always is.
And, even though I knew logically that it wasn’t true, I felt somehow responsible.
This was also a time when my faith was a little bit shaken.
I knew that sometimes it’s hard to see God’s path for us. I knew that He wouldn’t put anything on us that we couldn’t endure.
I just didn’t understand why I HAD to endure this. Especially after trying for so long.
It felt like a punishment.
And the fact that my body hadn’t even miscarried “normally” made it even worse, for me.
Because I knew about miscarriages. If I had started cramping or bleeding, I would have known what was going on.
I would have been incredibly sad. But I wouldn’t have been so blindsided. So completely shocked.
(This is not to discount any type of miscarriage experience. Every single one is heartbreaking and unfair. But for me, this experience was the hardest to accept,)
I felt even more betrayed by my body.
Not only did it fail me in my pregnancy, but it couldn’t even complete the miscarriage properly.
It was like my body so desperately wanted to hold on to that baby. Like it was in denial about what had happened.
So the doctor asked me how I wanted to proceed. She was incredibly warm and gentle throughout the whole experience. But I couldn’t even begin to think clearly. I told her I would talk to my husband and call her back with a decision.
My options were to use Misoprostol, pills that I would insert vaginally, or have Dilation and curettage (D&C) surgery.
We decided to try the Misoprostol first because it seemed like the easiest and least invasive choice. It had a high success rate and I could do it from the comfort of my home.
However, I ended up among the less than 10 percent of women who did not have success with this method. Instead, I spent the weekend with a fever, chills, diarrhea, and intense cramps.
But still no miscarriage.
So we scheduled the D&C.
I had to wait a week before the surgery could be scheduled.
A whole week. A week of walking around knowing there was a dead baby inside of me.
Let me tell you, that really messed with my head.
I kept telling myself that the baby was already gone. That it had been gone since week 8 and I had been carrying on as normal. That I could continue to do that for now.
I had to keep telling myself that over and over to get through the days.
During the procedure, Howard County Hospital did an amazing job. The procedure was fast and all of the staff were incredibly warm and sympathetic towards us during the experience.
Afterward, I had intense cramping (worse than period cramps, less than contractions) and bleeding for several days.
Then, it was like I had never been pregnant at all. Like that baby had never existed.
Except for the hole in my heart. The hole that felt like it was the entire center of me.
Except for the tears I shed almost nightly in my husband’s arms. The tears we shed together.
I wanted so desperately to be a mom.
I knew it was what I was put on this earth to do.
That God had made me to be a mother.
I had to be a brave mama before I was even a mama.
During this whole experience, something I had begun to suspect was cemented for me.
That women are struggling on our own through our experiences.
Because I had announced the pregnancy to my friends and family and at work, I also had to announce the loss. I even had to announce the surgery because I had to miss several days of work during and after it.
While part of me felt stupidly embarrassed to admit my vulnerability to my friends, family, and colleagues, the bigger part of my heart knew this was something I did not want to endure alone. That I needed people to understand why I was not going to be myself for a while.
That I was grieving.
And then an amazing thing happened.
When I opened up about my loss, so many people, in turn, reached out to me.
So many people had their own stories of loss.
People who I had no idea had gone through this.
People who had kept it to themselves. Who had suffered alone because miscarriage is a “taboo” topic our society just doesn’t talk about.
I was amazed by the number of people who reached out to me with their own stories.
Some of them my closest friends and family. And I had no idea.
That was the point in my life that I decided I would never keep quiet about my experiences.
God gave me a voice for a reason.
I would use that voice to spread awareness and do whatever I could to help others who were suffering and struggling alone.
Even if all I could do was share my own stories and say, “You are not alone.”
To send the message that there are others walking the same path as you.
Sometimes, that’s all you need to be brave.