It’s October 15th in a few days. October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Rememberance Day. This is a day that’s close to my heart, as I had a devastating miscarriage in 2011. Prior to that point, miscarriage wasn’t something that had crossed my mind, but I soon learned that it’s very common, very emotional, and very taboo.
I originally wrote ‘Break the Silence‘ in October 2012, and I re-post it annually. I pour my heart out around this time of year; the purpose being to try to lessen the stigma of miscarriage and the awfulness that surrounds it. And every year, I have women email me to share their stories of grief and loss. Sometimes these women are complete strangers who found me through my blog. Sometimes these women are patients who haven’t told me about their experiences. Sometimes these women are friends, sometimes good friends….. and most times I have no idea they’ve been through this pain until I receive their email. This tells me that there is still stigma, there is still silence, there is still suffering, and there is still work to do.
This is my story:
(*originally published on October 9th, 2012)
I struggled to write this post. Really struggled. Not just with the emotion of it all, but with the feelings of vulnerability and complete exposure that this topic brings out in me. But that’s why it needs to be written…..to break the silence, prevent the stigma, and end the taboo surrounding miscarriage.
I had a miscarriage last year. We lost our baby on April 6th, 2011, at 11 weeks and 6 days gestation. One day shy of the magic ’12-weeks-pregnant’ mark where the stats on miscarriage decrease dramatically. I was wrapped up with the excitement of another baby, and we were already envisioning life as a family-of-four. In a cruel twist of irony, we had signed the papers for our bigger-with-an-extra-bedroom-house the weekend prior. I had told friends and family of my pregnancy, even casually mentioned it to acquaintances, and sorted through bins of my maternity clothes. And then it all ended. My miscarriage was very sudden, very graphic, and very traumatic. There was no doubt what was happening to our baby as we rushed to the ER, and as I laid on a triage bed next to my heartbroken husband, the loss overwhelmed me.
Those next few weeks are a haze of tears and despair. My mom flew out to support us, and helped me get through the physical and emotional struggle of the first few days. I ended up with a D&C surgery two weeks later, as I was deemed to have experienced an ‘incomplete miscarriage’. The day following my surgery, I flew to New York City to spend the weekend with my two best friends. And as I reflect on that difficult time in my life, I can see that’s where my heart began to heal. Sister-like friends have that power.
That baby would’ve been due on October 27th, 2011. I was dreading that day on the calendar, which had already been circled in a big red heart when we initially found out I was pregnant. But as October 27th approached, I found myself blessed with another pregnancy; my beloved Casey was born on March 2nd, 2012, only 11 months after the miscarriage. My gratitude for her is exponentially greater after feeling the hopelessness of loss.
There are three things that helped me get through this:
1. A memorial. We carved a cross on a big tree in our favorite walking trails in remembrance of our lost baby. That tree is a source of comfort for me, and a place we visit as a family several times a year. My 3.5-year-old calls it our ‘special tree’. I like to think of it as our ‘healing tree’.
2. Time. While the grief and pain from this experience is not gone, it has lessened. Time heals. And my heart has healed a lot in 18 months.
3. Talking about it. When this happened, I told the details to all of my family and friends. I told my parents and my in-laws. I told my sister-in-laws. I told my girlfriends. Talking about it helped me to process things, but it also helped to break down the stigma. Miscarriage is still a taboo topic, and people don’t know what to say when it happens to someone they know. It will happen to someone you know. Up to 25% of known pregnancies result in miscarriage, 80% of those occurring in the first trimester. Don’t say nothing. Acknowledge the loss. Because saying nothing only perpetuates the silence.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month. On October 15th at 7pm, I will be joining many other people around the world in lighting a candle to remember the babies we’ve lost. And I will be hugging the babies I have, thankful beyond measure.