Three Letters and Four Hearts: Why a miscarriage shouldn’t be kept a secret

This is not a pretty pregnancy. This is a pregnancy I worked damn hard for. Today I spent a day at the pool and looked around and saw this beautiful pregnant woman with a perfectly round belly (like she had a basketball hiding in there) in a bikini and I all I could think about was the image I had seen in the mirror that morning as my daughter asked me about all my stretch marks. 

My body has held 7 babies – 2 of which are sleeping soundly down the hall and one in my belly that I pray daily will not meet the same fate the other 3 I have lost this year.

I also had a miscarriage between my kids at day 56. I know the exact day I lost each baby because every time I got pregnant, I counted, trying to make it past that day and then take it from there. It was like a goal and a victory or loss and a failure each time I made it past or didn’t.

I have grieved quietly with my husband 4 times. Four times I have dreamed about a gender I never found out.  Four times I have thought about decorating a room that remained empty and about a smile I would never see. This year has been particularly hard because as if losing 3 babies wasn’t hard enough, there is still the implication that we should be silent about it.

The question becomes who supports me when I am too drained to get out of bed.  Or in those moments when I just want to cry and wallow because trying to stay strong is too hard  Who can I rely on?  I remember standing at a party surrounded by hundreds of people and only my husband and I knew that under my beautiful dress was the ugliness of another loss.  

A miscarriage doesn’t just happen and it is done.

You can bleed for days or weeks and women are supposed to be strong and just go on with life like it is any other day. It is so hard to pretend. I had a D&C the day before my grandmother’s funeral.  I had to grieve my grandmother and a baby at the same time. As people approached me, it felt strange to hear their condolences for my grandmother while the loss of my baby was a secret.

My therapist told me I needed to start talking to other women about what I was going through because I was becoming a bottle ready to explode.  The outside world saw smiles and laughter, but  when I was alone in the shower the crying was constant. Despite my husband’s support, I felt so alone and like such a failure that it was stifling.

The moment I finally opened up to a few wonderful amazing women, the amount of support I got was beyond my expectations. No one judged me or criticized me. They cried with me and told me their own stories of sorrow and loss because a miscarriage is not an anomaly.

 If approximately 1 out of 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage, then there are far too many people suffering alone because of the stigma that’s still attached to pregnancy loss.

I am currently pregnant and again have had many complications. But THIS time I have chosen a close circle of friends who know what is going on and support me with love and understanding.  They call me to check up on me and they help out whenever I let them. I think as moms, we all feel the pressure to do it all but sometimes asking for help is a greater strength than a weakness. NOW I feel that even though I have lost 4 babies, their existence is not a secret and on days when I think about all I have lost I know that I am not alone.  

At the end of the day my body holds many wounds but each one has made me stronger. I may not have that picture perfect pregnant belly but it is mine and I have worked really hard for it. Each day my belly grows and every new mark is an indicator that there is something beautiful growing inside. Every day I pray that it just keeps growing. (A side note: getting pregnant has not been easy either. I have done fertility treatments, worked with osteopaths, naturopaths and acupuncturists until I felt like a pin cushion. I have eaten protein and greens and some  kind of root that is supposed to help you get pregnant – worst tasting thing I have ever eaten.)

To all those brave women and men who have loved and lost, please be open to talking about it so that others can be there for you.

You never know what stories they might have to share with you. I never wanted to discuss my failures but a miscarriage is not a failure. It is an experience that just sucks and we shouldn’t have to feel ashamed or secretive.  We need to feel love and supported because as much as I would love to say “it’s over” after the miscarriage, I feel it never is. From the moment that you see a positive test there is a love and bond that never fully goes away.

I would like to note that my husband suffered right by my side.  I will never forget sitting in the emergency room hearing, “I am sorry for your loss (again)” and watching him break down.  It was just a few nights before that he’d he said, “Maybe this one will be the next prime minister!”  With one sentence, his hopes and dreams were gone for this little one. In that moment he did not know what to say and hung his head. We held hands, regrouped and gave ourselves permission to grieve.  It was in that darkness that I saw a glimmer or light because I knew we were going to be OK together. It was the strength of our bond and the love that we share that helped get us through this. And the knowledge that tomorrow is another day filled with potential.

*Epilogue*

I wrote this blog shortly after losing one of a set of twins. During my last pregnancy I just kept bleeding and there was no explanation as the baby looked healthy.  I was going for weekly ultrasounds as the bleeding would not stop.  After two months and a different doctor we noticed a second empty sac.  I was feeling grateful for a healthy baby however it still felt like a loss.

Today I can say that Molly Faith is a beautiful healthy 7 month old baby.

Her middle name has so much significance for us as at one point I can honestly say I did lose faith but eventually I found it again. She is also named after the grandmother that I lost who was a strong determined woman – who usually got what she wanted.  I thank g-d everyday for my children and feel blessed to be able to be their mother. My journey to has not been easy but it in the end it has been worth it.

Today, I wear a necklace with three letters for my kids names and four hearts for the ones I didn’t get to meet.

I have to believe that in the end, this journey has had a purpose and because of it I have become a stronger person.  I am grateful for the gifts that are my children and I don’t take them for granted because their very existence feels like a miracle.

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