My pregnancy in 2017 was an absolute miracle. After 5 years of waiting, it came as quite a shock as I had done every treatment except IVF at that point. From oral medications to injections, from timed intercourse to IUIs, from temping and charting to natural remedies. I came to grips with the fact that PCOS had won and our dreams of growing our family were over.
When I found out I was pregnant, I was completely shocked, to say the least. I remember standing on the bathroom tile shaking… not because I was cold, but because I couldn’t believe that there were two pink lines. We celebrated – we rejoiced – and we were so thrilled when all lab results were perfect. Everything looked like we were actually going to grow our family.
It was a short-lived celebration.
When I found out I was going to miscarry, I was 7.5 weeks pregnant and had already seen the heartbeat twice. The baby was looking strong, and even after experiencing a subchorionic hemorrhage that led to an ER visit, everything looked how it should. When it went from “how it should” to “how it shouldn’t” during my post-ER follow-up, I was devastated. While the baby did lose its heartbeat at 7.5 weeks, my body waited until 10.5 weeks to miscarry, and it was the most agonizing 3-week wait of my entire life. It was worse than years of “two-week-waits.”
My best friend explained to me some of the physical things to expect while I waited to miscarry, and I did plenty of online research but knowing that everyone’s body handles miscarriage differently meant there were so many unknowns. My friend was the most truthful when it came to what to expect, but multiple other people told me “It’ll just be a heavy period – you’re too early.”
My miscarriage was not “just a heavy period.”
This was a baby I lost, not just the lining of my uterus. This was a baby– a living being who had a heartbeat on two different ultrasounds before it came up low on a third, and eventually, give out by the forth. I had everything planned around this baby’s life. I had names picked out. I had bedroom plans. I felt like a relationship was being built as I watched my daughter gush over finally getting to be a big sister. This baby was family.
Nothing about the actual miscarriage was the same as a period, and I’ve had my fair share of clotty, heavy, ‘fill a Diva cup within hours’ periods. I was told to expect ‘heavy cramping,’ but instead, I had contractions. I could physically feel the baby’s sac pressing against my cervix, which wasn’t dilating fast enough. When the contractions got to be 2 minutes apart and lasting 30 seconds, I knew it was getting close to time. Before I knew it, the contractions were not stopping and it felt like one long contraction. Eventually, I was pushing. Every birth instinct kicked in. After the sac passed, the contractions slowed, and the placenta soon followed. I wept until I couldn’t breathe. My baby was gone.
Everyone’s miscarriage experience is different. The earlier you lose the baby, the more like a ‘heavy period’ it may be in physical form, and I completely understand that. But if we tell a miscarrying mother that it’s ‘just a heavy period,’ no matter how early she is, we dehumanize what has happened to her. Even if she never saw the heartbeat, it’s a loss of life for her. And there is no funeral. This was a child she hoped for, prayed for, wished upon a star for.
My miscarriage was not just a heavy period for me. It was a birth and a loss of life. And while I have so much peace and closure now that I’m almost a year out from this life-changing moment, I’m still learning how to navigate life while missing the baby that almost was.