I wanted to do a post about my miscarriages a long time ago but I kept getting sidetracked with other more happy article topics. But since it’s getting closer and closer to the holidays, I’d like to get this out of the way before we all want to surround ourselves with thoughts of nutcrackers and sugar plums. Due to the length, this is a two-parter.
If you or someone you know is going through a miscarriage, or has gone through one recently, I encourage you to share this post. Before I conceived Baby I suffered quietly, partially because I didn’t want our family to know we were actively trying, but also because I didn’t think that anyone I knew had had issues conceiving. Once I announced our pregnancy with Baby, I openly disclosed the challenges I faced along the way, and a surprisingly many women came forward with similar stories. Had I known several months prior that those other women had experienced miscarriages, I could have gone to them for support when I needed it most. Sure there are entire forums dedicated to pregnancy loss, but those are usually very anonymous and there’s something comforting about having a face behind the story. I’ve since gone out of my way to tell friends about my second miscarriage, especially those who are trying for a baby. I hope that they never experience a miscarriage but if they do I want them to know at least one person who they can confide in. I’ve decided to publish my experience publicly now for the rest of the Angies suffering in silence right now. I am not anonymous. I’m not hiding behind a screen name and stock photo avatar. I am a real person with real struggles. While you may deal with your struggles differently than I did, I hope that by reading this you know you aren’t alone.
On my path to parenthood, I experienced two different miscarriage with two somewhat different experiences. (This is the first time many of you will be hearing about my first miscarriage, as I didn’t see the point in sharing it for a long time.) Fortunately for me, they both happened early on in the process so I didn’t have to look at a finished nursery or pack away baby items that would no longer be imminently needed. I feel that mid and late term miscarriages are much worse and my heart goes out to all those women who have had to face those situations. That said, early losses are still losses and can cause just as much pain. I wasn’t pregnant for very long those first two times, but I still felt the need to grieve and work through my feelings of loss.
My First Miscarriage – October 2013
Ever since I was a teenager I wanted a child born in June or July so she could be a Cancer, astrologically speaking. I’m not a big believer in astrology, I just wanted to carry on an unintentional tradition. I was a Cancer. My mom was a Cancer. My grandma was a Cancer. And my great-grandma was a Cancer. Being the micromanager that I am, two weeks after the Christmas announcement of my sister-in-law’s pregnancy, I sat down with the husband and planned out exactly when we would start trying. In order to have a Cancer baby (sounds wierd, I know) we’d have to try in September or October. We both felt that trying that year was too early since there were so many things we wanted to do before we became parents. So we decided to hold off until the following year. As go-time approached, I made the necessary preparations. I had my IUD removed. I started tracking my cycles. I had everything down to a science. Since I was young with no health problems I foresaw no issue conceiving. It made complete sense then, in my head at least, to start planning how and when I would announce the big news. Getting pregnant in September or October meant that I’d be entering the second trimester right at Christmas making that holiday perfect for a baby announcement. As I’d mentioned before I’d been thinking about the timing of my child’s birth for over a decade so it’s no surprise that I’d planned a perfect holiday announcement too; I’d even hinted throughout the years to family that if I seemed overly excited to open presents then they’d know something big was on the way. (Okay okay, I know I have a problem, but I can quit any time I want.) The husband was very supportive of my crazy planning and helped me to formulate a pretense in order to get my mom and his family to spend Christmas together so we could announce to both sides of the family at the same time. (Vacation home in a snowy wonderland, anyone?) The only issue was that things book up quickly for the holidays so I’d have to commit to a plan before we’d even started trying in order to ensure that we’d have a place to stay and flights to get there. I mention all this so that you can see how much was riding on a positive pregnancy test. Everything had to go as planned or I would have wasted a lot of time and money just to announce that we survived another revolution around the sun.
So the husband and I went on our last hoorah trip to St. Lucia to celebrate our last vacation before we became parents. When we came back home, it was time to get down to business. I was very aware of my cycle thanks to Ovulation Predictor Kits and daily temperature readings (don’t worry, I took the readings orally) so as soon as I reached six days after ovulation (that’s 6 dpo in TTC-speak) I started peeing on pregnancy tests. I had three different brands with varying sensitivities so I could know as soon as humanly possible that I was pregnant. Obviously, that first day was a negative since it takes a fertilized egg at least 7 days to reach the uterus, in most cases. The next day I tested again. Still negative.
On the 8th day, I saw something. Contrary to some beliefs, a pregnancy test is not an all or nothing test. It operates on a gradient, so if you are very early on if your pregnancy and only have a small amount of Hcg in your system, the line on the test will be very light. But a light line is still a line and thus a positive. I took a sigh of relief and patted myself on the back for getting pregnant on the first try. Then I called the doctor to make my first appointment, a blood test to verify the pregnancy. I didn’t have to wait that long to get the test, but I had to wait for several long days to receive the results. Unfortunately, I had an inkling of what the results would be since I’d been continuing to take the pregnancy tests each morning to see the line get darker. Instead of a darker line, though, the line disappeared. When I got the results from the blood test, they confirmed that I was no longer pregnant. I had just experienced a chemical pregnancy, a pregnancy whose positive pregnancy test is the only proof of its existence.
My first reaction was simple frustration. I’d now have to wait another month to try again and my child would likely not be a Cancer. But, I still had two more opportunities to get a positive test in time for my long, long awaited pregnancy announcement so there was hope.
When the November and December tests came back negative, I was devastated. I kept thinking about that October test and wondered why it couldn’t have stayed positive? Why did that pregnancy fail? I had put so much time and energy into getting family together for one big celebration of what should have been a top ten happiest day of Angie’s life. Instead I had to fake a smile on the outside, while on the inside I couldn’t help but wonder what was wrong with me. Most couples get pregnant within three months and here it had been three months and I was childless. I felt like a failure. I blamed myself. I blamed my husband. To add insult to injury, the stresses of cramming seven adults and one baby into one house led to everyone wishing that they’d just stayed home for the holiday. To be fair, they had no clue about the ulterior motive, but nonetheless it was like getting stabbed ten more times in an already broken heart.
That emotional roller coaster was enough to make me push pause on the whole trying for a baby thing; I even stopped tracking ovulation and avoided all the pregnancy forums. I just needed time to heal. Instead, I used the time to focus on my work, my friends, and my husband.