As I began to brainstorm in my head how I would write this second blog post, I slowly realized that like most bad memories, I subconsciously repressed some of the details of this experience.
My memory is usually very strong when it comes to remembering exact dates, but I could not remember the exact dates of when I experienced my first miscarriage.
I knew it was in January of this year, but I had to look back to text messages to close friends to remember the exact date.
Saturday, January 7th, 2017
As I pulled the screenshots of the conversation above, I could not contain my tears.
Reliving those moments and what I felt, both physically and emotionally, are details of this memory that I did not suppress.
When I was first checked in to the emergency room, I was asked if anyone was with me. The only person I wanted with me in that moment was my husband, who was my fiance at the time. For those of you that know my story, you know that he would be there if he could, but we are currently waiting for his immigration case to be processed so he can be here legally because he lives in Dominican Republic (that’s a story for another post).
My Fear of Miscarriage
At that time, I was about 6-7 weeks into my pregnancy. Although some of my close friends knew about my pregnancy, I chose not to tell my family for two reasons.
One was an almost irrational fear I had developed earlier in life. When I was younger, I had an extremely irregular menstrual cycle, which did not regulate until I decided to take birth control between the ages of 19-22.
When I stopped taking birth control, my cycle continued to be regular, but I still had this fear in my head that having an irregular menstrual cycle earlier in life would one day affect my body’s ability to carry a child to full term.
I remember asking a doctor during a routine check-up if this would affect any future pregnancies for me and he gave me a very uncertain answer — “we won’t truly know until you try and get to that place in life one day.”
Because of this fear, I did not want to share the news of pregnancy with my family, more specifically with my mother, so early on. I did not want to excite them, her mainly, with the thought of her first grandchild, having this internal fear.
I had read countless articles online that suggested that you should wait until after 12 weeks to tell people about your pregnancy due to the risk of miscarriage.
When I first started spotting, which had started as light spotting 3 days before but progressively became more of a light period, I could not help but feel like I just knew what was happening.
My internal fear of my body having issues with carrying a child and reading how common miscarriages actually are within the first 12 weeks, made me jump straight to the conclusion that I was, in fact, experiencing a miscarriage, or a spontaneous abortion as it is medically referred to.
The emergency room doctor could not find the gestational sac during a vaginal ultrasound so this had rationally confirmed the loss to me, but blood was also drawn to measure pregnancy hormone levels (hCG) and results would come back two days later. If levels decreased over time, this would be the ultimate confirmation of the loss.
Expecting and basically knowing at this point that I was having a miscarriage did not make the experience any easier over the next few days.
The next morning was the most difficult for me. Mentally being aware of what was happening was already bad enough, but the physical pain that followed combined with this amplified the amount of pain I felt both emotionally and physically. I woke up to strong pains, that felt like strong menstrual cramps x20.
I dreaded going to the bathroom because it seemed the bleeding would become heavier and the pain would worsen each time.
I would cry each time because when I saw the blood, I felt I was watching my unborn child die right before my eyes and there was absolutely nothing I could do to save him or her.
An Unexpected Bonding Experience with My Mother
As my pain intensified and I became more and more emotionally and mentally drained, I no longer wanted to be alone through this. There was only one person I wanted around me at this point and that was my mother.
I called her in tears and her and my father drove two hours to see me that day.
As my mother hugged me, I felt her thoughts without her saying not one word to me. In that moment, I realized what it was like to be her first-hand. I realized how empathetic mothers are with their children more than ever – their pain becomes your pain and their joy becomes your joy.
Mental Agony & Grief
The next day, my physical pain subdued, but then, all I could focus on were my thoughts.
Although the doctor and what I read online all said miscarriages this early not preventable and were a lot more common that we are led to believe, I could not help but blame myself. This led me to go on an mission to look up everything I could online regarding miscarriage.
Miscarriage Risk Rates, Causes & Misconceptions
Below are some of the statistics I found concerning miscarriage risk:
When doing your own research, one thing to be mindful of is how a lot of websites misleadingly use the term “causes of miscarriage.” Be mindful of the distinction between things that can increase your chance of having a miscarriage, such as the use of drugs or alcohol or being overweight prior to pregnancy versus true causes of miscarriage, which are only a couple that have been medically concluded to be true causes.
My Internal Locus of Control
Generally speaking, I lean more toward having an internal locus of control rather than an external locus of control. According to the Psychcentral.com, “a person with an internal locus of control believes that he or she can influence events and their outcomes, while someone with an external locus of control blames outside forces for everything.”
Because of this, I sometimes struggle with accepting that there are some things that can be out of my control due to factors outside of myself or my own decisions.
Experiencing a miscarriage forced me to reflect on these beliefs and also led me to do a lot research on medical facts in order to grieve in a healthy way.
Stigmas Associated with Pregnancy Loss
Before I did extensive research on the causes of miscarriage and realized how common it was to experience miscarriage overall, I believed it was not as common as it truly is.
I believe this is because women simply do not speak up about this because their is a societal stigma tied to miscarriage in the same way that there is a stigma regarding speaking about menstrual cycles, which is one of the most natural things women experience during their lifetime.
This past weekend, I saw a campaign on social media with #breakthesilence that urged women to speak more about pregnancy loss, miscarriage and death of young children. October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
I was already planning on writing about this stigmatized topic and sharing my personal experience, but this prompted me to dedicate a day to writing this post.
I want women to realize they are not alone in experiencing miscarriage, feel comfortable speaking up about their experience, realize there are resources to help them grieve and to get away from the notion of blaming themselves.
If you have experienced miscarriage, I encourage you to #breakthesilence – speak to a loved one, a close friend, express yourself on social media or feel free to contact me directly if you are looking for some support.
Miscarriage Online Resources
Below are a few online resources I found that provide support for miscarriage and pregnancy loss as well as information regarding the topic.