Trigger Warning: miscarriage, loss, grief. The content and images below may elicit strong emotional responses.
At least 1 in 5 known pregnancies end in miscarriage (the loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week), but no one ever really talks about it. At least, not until you share your sad news. Only then will you start hearing stories from sisters, mothers, aunts, friends…
So I want to share my story to open up the dialogue, to break the taboo surrounding miscarriage, to share real information on the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of the process, and to connect with those who have gone through or are going through this right now.
This. is. real. fucking. life. Let’s talk about it.
Friday December 2nd. That’s when it started – at a friend’s house. I was 12 weeks in.
We found out I was pregnant just before week 5. Into week 6, I started spotting, which we later learned was when the baby stopped growing. By week 8, I was diagnosed with a missed miscarriage, and was given options for a natural miscarriage, medical induction, or surgical management.
I knew the best option for me was to wait for my body to miscarry naturally, but I honestly had no idea what to expect. I opened up to my closest family and friends, but no one had ever been in my situation. No one could tell me about the agonizing wait, the shocking blood loss, what to do after passing my baby in tact, or how to process it all.
So I turned to the internet. Here are some resources I used to help me navigate this extremely difficult process:
Below is a raw and deeply personal collection of written word, photography, and artwork documenting and honoring my pregnancy, my miscarriage, my grief, and my body-mind-soul throughout.
Hold on. Let go.
I’m sad I’m losing you. You’re already gone, but I have to let go. But it’s difficult. And complicated. And I can’t seem wrap my head around what you meant, what you represented, what you were, what you are now: a dead embryo with no heartbeat.
I’m not even sure you ever had one. I don’t even know if your little heart was formed enough to pump blood, for our hearts to beat side by side. I won’t ever know. Because you died. And I didn’t even know.
Was it in that moment of nervous excitement when the doctor confirmed I was pregnant? Or was it later that afternoon when we were telling our family? Or was it after all the excitement of the day, as we were settling down into the night? Was it then that your body gave up?
My body knew. My body cramped and spotted that night. It knew something was wrong. It knew there was nothing it could do to save you. But my mind struggled. I couldn’t understand what was happening, or how I should internalize it all.
Was I supposed to just accept what my body was trying to tell me? Should I just let go of the excitement and nervousness that had built up in the 2 weeks since I found out about you?
Was it really only 2 weeks?? It felt like an eternity as I took test after test at home. Every day a new line appearing darker and more pronounced than the day before. By test number 4, there was no doubt I was pregnant. We were terrified.
We weren’t necessarily trying. For a while, we thought about not having kids. We even started thinking maybe we just couldn’t have kids – we’d already been together 14 years. We were simply opening up to the possibility.
But once we knew, there was no getting swept away by the fairy tale of parenthood. Between our family and friends, we had already seen the physical and emotional rollercoaster of parenthood. And we had just gotten in line for the ride. It was all so surreal. And confusing.
“…But shouldn’t we get confirmation before we tell anyone?”
“Yeah, that sounds like the best thing to do.”
Or should I hold onto the hope that maybe, just maybe, somehow you survived whatever happened that night, and we could say it was just another bump in the road?
So I held on.
Heading into the doctor the next day, I already knew. My body had already told me what the ultrasound had confirmed – you were not ok. You were nowhere in sight. The doctor struggled to find you. We caught a glimpse, but you were just a smudge in the depths of my womb. A ghost in a black and white glossy picture.
But the doctor offered hope that maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t as far along as the calculations said. And if that’s the case, we wouldn’t be able to see you very well anyway. And the blood tests said, and my tender, heavy breasts said, and my woozy stomach, and my bloated belly, and, and, and…
And I held on tighter to the hope that maybe, just maybe…
I waited for what seemed like an eternity for the next doctor’s visit. Each day was a week, each minute an hour. And I cried, and I researched, and I spoke with family and friends, and I held onto hope. I shared my news with close friends. “But I can’t be sure” I appended, so as to not get their hopes up. But really, that was for me.
The day came, and I went into the doctor’s office with nervous optimism. I had finally convinced myself that you could still be alive, and we could grow together, and we would learn how to navigate life together. But it happened again – you were hiding in the depths of my womb. It took a lot of effort to find you, but there you were, just a smudge, lying in the corner of your oddly shaped gestational sac.
Your sac had grown, but you hadn’t. Not since that day my body bled. And so there you were, a 6-week embryo in an 8-week sac. A tiny spec in a vast ocean. “This is not a normal pregnancy,” the doctor said. “Missed abortion…[something, something, something]”. I tried to hold back my tears.
She said there was no rush to do anything, meaning we didn’t need to figure out a way to quickly remove you from my womb. No, that was never an option for me anyway. I needed to be sure. I needed to be sure that you were ready, and that I was ready. That we were in unison. And that we decided together when to let go of each other.
But I was still in shock, and denial. And I was still holding on to the maybe, just maybe… And I was still trying to wrap my head around what could have been. And I was still angry and bitter, then guilty, then sad. And still avoiding the deep sadness that was lurking underneath the first set of tears – those ready tears that sit on the surface waiting to be shed at a moment’s notice.
And when the first blood came, I wasn’t ready. I was rushed into a state of panic. It felt like I hadn’t said all the things I needed to say. I hadn’t yet confronted the sadness, the hurt. I knew I needed to dig deep and bring to light those things that I had been hiding from.
I don’t want to talk about it. If I talk about it, then it’s real. If it’s real, then I’ll feel the pain.
My baby is dead, but maybe it’s still alive. Maybe it’s just really small.
I’m upset at you for dying! You gave up too soon. Why weren’t you stronger?
Why do other women get to have a baby, and I can’t?
I did this. I ate raw oysters, and had a few cocktails before I even knew.
It’s my fault. I’m not healthy. I’m in the worst shape that I’ve been in for years.
My breasts are still heavy and my nipples are sore. Maybe I’m still pregnant.
Why does my body still think you’re alive?? Stop producing hormones, stupid fucking placenta!
I don’t want another baby, I want this baby…
Please don’t leave me.
I’m so scared. I don’t know what to expect. What if I lose too much blood?
How do I tell everyone my baby died?