My husband called me the Baby Whisperer. Not because I could talk to babies, but because whenever my friends found out that they were pregnant, they called to tell me before they even told their husbands. It was a strange phenomenon that happened in my early thirties. I’d tell my husband sometimes, and we’d marvel over this amazing news out there in the universe that no one knew but us.
I followed many friends on their fertility journeys, helping them track ovulation, boost fertility, and then decipher pregnancy tests. It happened so often, I got my nickname. The reasoning behind this was not that I was some sort of top-secret confidant or fertility expert, though. It was that I’d had a very public 12-week miscarriage, followed by a chemical pregnancy.
I took the mystery out of the experience—I was the person who’d experienced the horror and come out the other side.
Our first miscarriage completely blindsided us. It was our first pregnancy, and we were overjoyed at the thought of becoming new parents. We found out a friend was due the same month as us, and she’d announced her pregnancy. Though we were semi-cautious about telling people, all our friends found out. We had a wedding I was standing up in at 10-weeks pregnant, and the bridal party had cold cut sandwiches for lunch while we were getting our hair done. I had to skip those because they were on the list of foods I couldn’t eat. Then everyone was drinking, and I wasn’t a good faker. Even if I could fake sipping wine, I couldn’t fake being tipsy. Then came the coffee after dinner, and my husband loudly double-checked to make sure mine was decaf. The secret was out with our friends.
We didn’t see our families that often, so when we all got together when I was 11-weeks pregnant, we announced it. We figured we were right there and all our friends knew anyway. We had an ultrasound at eight weeks and saw the heartbeat. I’d suffered morning sickness, and all signs were pointing to our little peanut growing healthy and on schedule.
But when we went to the 12-week ultrasound, the tech got very quiet. We were so oblivious we didn’t even realize it was happening. She said she couldn’t find a heartbeat and would be right back and left the room. My husband and I held hands and looked at each other in confusion. What did that even mean? Was she not experienced enough to find a heartbeat? Was she getting someone who could? But upon her return with another doctor, they confirmed there was no heartbeat and the baby had stopped growing at nine weeks.
It was surreal. We walked into the ultrasound as two parents-to-be, and we left devastated. I had to have a D&C, which was a procedure I’d never even heard of before then. I had to send an email to friends and family announcing we’d lost the baby. And then life continued. I went to work and then started bleeding so much I ended up in the ER in the middle of the night. The trauma was so painful, we weren’t sure if we’d get past it.
No one asked about it; we just silently trudged through our misery. There was no baby to grieve but we felt broken.
It took about two months and our doctor said we could try again. We did, and I wound up pregnant immediately. I saw the positive pregnancy test and was cautiously optimistic. We’d suffered so much with the first one, but I felt this hope that lifted me high. I had to travel for work back then and when I got to my hotel room a week after I’d found out, I started spotting. I ran to a local pharmacy and bought pregnancy tests. All positive. I was still pregnant. I tried to relax, I sent my husband pictures of the word “PREGNANT” on the tests. We breathed sighs of relief. But on my trip home, the bleeding picked up in the airport bathroom, and I just knew it wasn’t sticking. I cried all the way from San Diego to Chicago. The entire flight.
And then the period of my life began where we couldn’t conceive again. Our doctor sent us to a specialist. They ran tests. Everything was fine. Just bad luck, they said. Keep trying. We waited, we tried. I tested. I felt hopeless. Meanwhile, other pregnancies were announced, babies were born, and I felt baby crazy. I wanted a baby so badly, I felt like I would do anything. I Googled adoption. I felt desperate.
I turned to friends for comfort. I read articles about how common miscarriage is. My husband and I gave up alcohol, and I got fertility massages. I tracked my cycles.
And finally, it happened. I got pregnant and nine months later gave birth to a healthy baby girl.
After she was born, we started trying for number two and had a little boy one year later. “Wow, Irish twins!” people would say. And I didn’t shy away from the topic. I told them we’d had two miscarriages and that was why we didn’t wait to start trying. We were afraid we’d have problems again, but we didn’t.
And this is when I became the Baby Whisperer. I became the safe person people could confide in. Someone who understood the panic and fear that goes into trying to conceive and failing. Or becoming pregnant and losing your baby. My husband got a whispered call one night from a friend whose wife lost their baby at eight weeks, and he didn’t know what to do. My husband told him to be strong and support her. That the grief she was feeling after growing the baby inside her was something impossible to imagine, even for the father.
We counseled our friends through their losses, and we celebrated the babies born. It happened over and over; our thirties were filled with friends and losses. We were honored to be there with them, holding their hands through the bad times as people had held ours. It’s something no one sees coming, or if they do, they don’t know how to prepare emotionally. There is no correct way to handle it, but knowing you aren’t alone makes the road a little easier to travel.
And it happened to us again. We got pregnant with our third child. My fifth pregnancy. I was anxious about it just as I’d been before, knowing how quickly things could change. My doctor was sympathetic, and I had two early ultrasounds. But on Christmas Eve, at 10-weeks pregnant, I started bleeding and lost another baby.
This one was devastating in ways I didn’t know were possible. I had two healthy children so I would have thought it wouldn’t have hurt as much as it did. But the pain was excruciating. The physical loss was a nightmare I hadn’t experienced before. I’d had a D&C and a chemical pregnancy but never a 10-week loss where I bled for months. And I wasn’t able to grieve properly because of the timing. It happened on Christmas Eve. We had two young children who were over the moon. I had to put on a happy face and pretend things mattered when all I wanted to do was curl up and cry.
We went on to get pregnant and have our third child eventually, but the pain of those losses has made me who I am today. It defines what a healthy pregnancy means and what a miracle it really is. It makes each child even more precious.
I will hold anyone’s hand that needs holding. And when you’re losing a baby, whether the first, second, third or more, you need support more than ever. Understanding that miscarriage is more than a lost pregnancy—it’s a lost baby. It’s the end of a dream you have for a child and yourself. With one in four pregnancies ending in loss, we need to acknowledge this pain and not make it a silent struggle someone must face alone.
You may also like: