For whatever reason, miscarriage and pregnancy loss is a taboo subject. Nobody ever wants to talk about it, which leaves those who have experienced it feeling alone, like they are the only ones, despite probably knowing someone who has had a miscarriage too. Did you know that 1 in 4 women experience pregnancy loss? Let that sink in for a minute.....if you have 10 friends, at least two of them have suffered a pregnancy loss of some sort. Some losses happen so early in the pregnancy that some women don't even realize they were pregnant. Which to me means that that statistic could actually be even higher than 1 in 4. Just because it's an early loss doesn't make it any less real. I have even heard people go as far as to say that a miscarriage doesn’t matter because “its not a baby”, which absolutely blows my mind. Miscarriage, no matter at what gestation, needs to be recognized. The person who experiences the loss deserves to have their feelings and emotions validated. A miscarriage at 6 weeks is just as real and painful as a stillbirth at 38 weeks. A parent still loses a child, a vision of the future still goes askew.
My first miscarriage happened when I was 19 years old. I was not in a great place financially to be a parent, and the father (dickhead that he is) was nowhere to be found. But as unprepared as I was, I was devastated when I miscarried around 12 weeks. I hadn’t told anybody except a few people that I was pregnant, so I just pushed the experience out of my mind. When I was 20, I became pregnant with my eldest daughter, Nevaeh. I was terrified when I saw the happy face on that cheap ass pregnancy test, but I was also ecstatic. My pregnancy was PERFECT and I don’t think I thought about miscarrying at all. Her birth when I was newly 21 was perfect, and most importantly, SHE was perfect. I was so in love with this little person that I created and nourished with my body. It wasn’t until she was about a week old that I actually thought about my previous miscarriage. It was a passing thought and just made me hug my new little squish even harder.
When Nevaeh was barely one, I started school for nursing and halfway through my first year, I became pregnant with my 2nd daughter, Angelina. I know technically, she isn’t a rainbow baby because I didn’t have a miscarriage before her conception, but she is a rainbow because she was a preemie and almost died, but that’s a story for another time. After Angelina was born via c-section in October 2009, five and a half weeks early, I had 2 miscarriages back to back. The first was in April 2010 at about 8 weeks pregnant, the 2nd was in July 2010 at about 10 weeks. After that, I got the Depo shot. I was numb and I absolutely didn’t want to go through a miscarriage again. But, Depo was an epic fail as Spirit, my now 6 year old, was conceived during that time. I spent the first 21 weeks of her pregnancy completely unaware that I was pregnant, then the last 3 weeks panicking that I was going to have her on Nevaeh’s birthday, July 20th.
Spirit was born July 19, 2011 and her birth was the most traumatic birth I have ever seen or endured in my life, but again that’s a story for another time.
After Spirit’s birth, I swore off having anymore children. I couldn’t get over the fear that I was going to lose another baby, or experience the horror I experienced with her birth, or that I was going to lose my life. I did end up getting pregnant again, and subsequently miscarrying. That loss occurred at 18 weeks, in October of 2013. That one that I never told anybody about. The entire pregnancy, I felt anxious and as soon as I began to breathe again, the baby was gone in the blink of an eye. I didn’t get pregnant again until late 2014, we were excited and I don’t recall feeling too anxious. I did worry a bit before I officially found out I was pregnant because I had a feeling. It was a really weird inkling, like my body was trying to tell me as soon as I conceived. Here’s the kicker: I was sick, really, really sick, in December 2014. I went to the doctor and discovered I had bronchitis AND pneumonia. Before I let this doctor I had never met before prescribe me medication, I asked her if the meds were safe for pregnancy. She said yes, gave me a urine test, declared it was negative, and sent me on my way. I was pregnant. I wholeheartedly believed that the meds weren’t pregnancy-safe and that they screwed up baby’s development, (I looked them up after I miscarried) which caused a miscarriage at 9 weeks on Valentine’s Day 2015. On February 13th, right before I went to bed. I used the restroom, and when I wiped I saw the faintest pink streak. I just knew then that my baby wasn’t going to make it, but I still held out some hope. I went to bed and slept the best I could. No cramping, no pain. I woke up early the next morning to a pool of blood beneath me. I went to the ER, still holding out some semblance of hope, but my HCG numbers had decreased drastically. The damn doctor had THE NERVE to tell me that I was young, I could always have another baby. I went home and spent the day in the bathroom, crying and delivering my sweet, sweet little baby. It felt like all the emotions and pain of all the previous losses just released at this point. I can honestly say I was depressed for awhile afterward.
Miraculously, even though my OBs followed my HCG down to zero, when I went into the office in mid-March complaining of unexplained nausea and abdominal pain, my blood work came back that I was pregnant. Apparently, Edyn nestled in comfortably within 2 weeks of my miscarriage. It was very nerve-wracking, not knowing if I had been pregnant with twins and only miscarried one in February, or if she was a lone wolf. Whatever it was, my baby was a fighter and she made her appearance on her own time, being the only one of my children to be born after the due date. So, this brings me to now. I got pregnant in mid to late August 2017, and lost this baby in late September. I honestly don’t even think I really got to grieve this last miscarriage as EVERYTHING was going on. We moved into our new house about 5 days later, uprooting our lives in NJ and coming to DE. So these last 3 months have been so incredibly hectic and an adjustment period for all of us. To add to my load, in November I took a pregnancy test and BAM- Prego like the sauce. Again, for fear that I’m gonna have another loss, its been our little secret. I got an ultrasound not too long ago, and found out this little lentil should grace us with his or her appearance in August 2018.
My whole point with telling my story is that every experience is different, but it still deserves to be recognized and respected. My experience may be completely different than yours, but it is still valid. If you suffered a loss you deserve to be heard. Your experience matters, your baby matters. As time goes on, don’t let anybody dictate how you grieve or how you should feel. Just know that your baby will never be forgotten. If you have a child following your loss, cherish him or her but don’t let anybody act like you just had a replacement. That’s not the way it works, and don’t let anybody try to make you act like your loss never happened. A miscarriage is a storm, as turbulent and violent as they come. What you do afterwards (whether it be counseling, having another baby, getting a Jizo, planting a memorial garden, etc) is your rainbow after the storm. Here’s to you and your rainbow, and know that you are not alone.
Jen Sivera is a devoted mother to four little divas and pediatric LPN, RN BSN student. Jen loves all things pregnancy and birth and babies and hopes to continue her path all the way to midwife. You can read more about Jen here.