I never imagined that this would be something that I would write about. I never thought that I would hear different doctors say a variation of the same statistics in the span of four days. I have heard of so many other women going through similar situations and yet I never thought it would be me. Mine was 1 of the 4 pregnancies that will end in miscarriage.
When my boyfriend and I first started talking about kids, I was so worried that it would be hard to have a baby. There are so many stories of women who struggle with infertility. When I became pregnant rather quickly, I was happily surprised.
I remember walking around work the morning after I saw the positive test feeling so happy. I remember joking around with my boyfriend about this future kid of ours. I also remember being panicked when it hit me that this was actually happening. We are having a baby. How much babies change everything. But how ultimately excited I was to go into this next chapter.
Then within the span of a week of finding out, it was over.
Statistically, the first twelve weeks hold the highest risk in pregnancy.
As I sat in my doctor’s office waiting to hear the next steps to take when I realized I was probably having a miscarriage, my doctor explained “women don’t usually share their pregnancies during the first trimester as one third of those pregnancies will end in a miscarriage”.
She said this in a way that almost seemed comforting as if this is at least routine or a norm. That I didn’t do anything wrong, that oftentimes a pregnancy will end that early due to chromosomal abnormalities. Furthermore, most women will go on to have a healthy pregnancy afterwards.
In going through this experience, there’s a few points about pregnancy that I take issue with. I feel like women are doing a great job at highlighting the realities of labour, delivery, and postpartum. I also feel like women are being very brave for opening up about infertility struggles on social media platforms. But we need to do a better job at discussing pregnancy loss.
Yes, when you start talking to women about pregnancy and babies you often hear of women saying they had x number of miscarriages or stillbirths. But rarely do we hear about the aftermath unless we know someone going through it.
This starts my list of 5 things somebody forgot to mention about having a baby.
1) There isn’t Really Any Sure Way to Tell if a Woman in Early Pregnancy is Miscarrying.
When I first started spotting bright red blood, I texted a friend who had two kids to ask for advice. For her and many other women, spotting is a normal early pregnancy symptom. I waited it out for an hour before I decided to go to the ER because it did not feel normal to me.
As I waited in Emerg, a nurse did my blood work which she said would be used to test my hCG levels (pregnancy hormone). She explained that because this was my first pregnancy and so early on, they would probably test my hCG levels again later on to see if it was rising or not.
When the hormone levels don’t continue to rise at this stage or drop significantly, it’s considered an indicator for a likely miscarriage.
The nurse also said that because every pregnancy and woman is different it would be hard to say if the spotting was normal or not because “women’s bodies are mysterious”. I would later be sent home from the ER and told to just come back if the spotting turned into a lot of blood.
That night I cried every time I went to the bathroom and saw more bright red spotting. I had a gut feeling it was already ending. But the next morning the spotting had seemed to subside and I headed to work.
I ended up leaving work shortly after getting there when I discovered that I was bleeding a lot. My doctor ordered blood work to check my HCG levels again and I went home to rest.
2) Tell Whoever you Want About your Pregnancy - Regardless of How Early it is
The idea that women shouldn’t share their pregnancy with the world early on because it may not become a baby is ridiculous. When I was resting at home in bed that Monday,losing our would be baby, I was SO THANKFUL I had people I could talk to about it.
I felt so lucky that my boss and a few coworkers knew because then at least I didn’t have to hide how I was feeling when I went back to work or make up an excuse for being absent for two days. My boyfriend was an amazing support but it felt so awesome to have a close friend text me every day that week asking how I was doing.
Regardless of answers I gave, the people I told kept asking how I was doing. This helped me to not feel alone in the process. There’s a huge comfort in knowing that you have people in your court that allow you to be authentic with your emotions and thoughts. They were also able to remind me that it was OK to be upset about this.
Although you don’t need permission for your feelings, it’s comforting to hear someone else acknowledge that this is allowed to be a big deal.
I am also so thankful for the friends who thought to ask how my boyfriend was doing with all of this. I feel like this is often overlooked.
3) The Physical Aftermath of a Miscarriage is a Lot More than Just Blood
I can only speak from my perspective with an early miscarriage and every loss is different, but going through the physical side effects this week gives me a whole new appreciation for women who have later miscarriages and stillbirths. Those women deserve medals or their own superhero title.
For most of this week, I just dealt with low energy and a lot of blood. Then Thursday came and I felt like I had a case of food poisoning out of nowhere. Thankfully, a friend reminded me that all the hormones in my body were probably doing crazy things to my system.
By Friday morning, I thought I was finally at the end of the aftermath-the blood was gone and I woke up feeling good. Then mid morning, my heart started racing and I felt incredibly shaky. I was almost ready to go home from work early and call my doctor and ask why was this happening.
The shakiness eventually died down and I felt like the symptoms were finally gone.
Friday night, I laid on the couch with a heat bag on my stomach. Surely these cramps would be the last final reminder of what my body had gone through this week.
When I woke up Saturday, I felt like I was waiting for another symptom to hit me but nothing came. Finally, I felt physically back to normal.
4) There Will Always be at Least One Ignorant Comment About your Miscarriage
While the majority of the people I shared my news with were amazing supports, I was baffled by two comments.
I was shocked when someone’s only question for me was “how many people did you tell (that you were pregnant)?” This comment came off to me as if I shouldn’t have gotten other people excited that I was pregnant so early on.
The worst comment was from a co-worker I’m not close to.
She directly asked me if I was pregnant, and when I explained to her what happened she quickly told me matter-of-factly that I shouldn’t have been running while pregnant. This comment rattled me. I was active before I got pregnant and I had specifically checked with my doctor before continuing my workout routine.
Although both the doctor in the ER and my family doctor had given me the OK to continue running and working out, I had initially blamed myself for working out as a cause for miscarrying. So to later have a co-worker tell me that I shouldn’t have worked out was unacceptable in my books. I had just processed that I didn’t do anything wrong, and now I had to try to calmly justify my choices to this person.
5) We Need to Stop Assuming that Women “Should” have Babies.
I’ve always had little patience for people who ask a newly married woman, or a woman of a certain age bracket when she’s having a baby.
But now, I’m quickly growing to have even less patience for this type of question. Not only is it a assumption, that every woman wants a baby but it could also be a heart-breaking question for some women to respond.
After my experience this week, I wonder how many other women are fighting off questions from family and misguided acquaintances about babies, knowing that they’ve already dealt with a pregnancy loss but feeling the need to respond in a polite way to a very inappropriate question.
Coincidentally, earlier this week, Pink released her new album and touched upon the story behind her song “Happy”
The lyrics discuss her feelings about her personal experience with miscarriage. I found this song so comforting this week and also appreciated someone talking so openly about an often hidden topic.
I hope as we continue to move forward, that pregnancy loss becomes a more open discussion piece and that as this happens, maybe people will finally stop asking others the question of “when are you going to have a baby”.