I saw a quote on Instagram that read “what other people are praying for, you are taking for granted.” And this reminded me of my fertility, or rather current lack of fertility.
I get exasperated and frustrated at how much work children are. When you are at your wits end while your toddler screams for “the lipstick for my eyelids” at Target, there is someone else within ten miles, desperately wishing they were at their wits end with a toddler of their own. (Well maybe a better behaved idealized version of one.)
Many women struggle to conceive and many have miscarried. The journey of healing through pregnancy loss is one of quiet strength. It took me some time to realize the words that comforted me the most during the darkest time in my life were quotes about being strong. I hope someone finds strength and comfort in my miscarriage story.
My miscarriage story
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During my last pregnancy, my friends all jokingly called me Fertile Myrtle. You see, it was next to impossible that I would conceive so quickly during my husband’s short visit home. He was working overseas at the time.
Though I spotted with both of my children, the pregnancies were fairly uncomplicated. I took for granted that the third would be as well.
My mind had a difficult time wrapping around the shock of this pregnancy. I took two home tests and had the pregnancy verified by two different doctors. My HcG hormones were very strong they said. I was very pregnant.
What I felt was very sick. I felt fine when I was pregnant with Pork Chop and the two or three days of nausea with Pea were nothing compared to the tempest that was Melissa. (I decided to name the baby, who was gone before we could determine sex, Melissa, because the ultrasound technician accidentally typed “Melissa” Scruggs rather than my name, Herchel Scruggs, on the ultrasound print out. I call her that in my heart.) I heaved and staggered throughout every day that she lived.
We were lulled into carelessness by our past experiences with pregnancy and our utter happiness. We shouted the news to the world. Our kids had a hand in choosing the names we were going to give to the baby, Noah or Isabel. (I wrote about how I told them I miscarried here.)
I had a close-knit team and all it took for them to figure out I was expecting was a bag of potato chips in my hand, instead of my normal steamed asparagus, as I strolled through the office. One of my former reps said, “You don’t snack on potato chips. You snack on asparagus. Are you pregnant?” I am an awful liar so it was out of the Lays bag from there.
And then life with juvenile arthritis happened. Pea woke up one night while I was asleep on the couch (I don’t know why but when I am pregnant I am able to sleep more comfortably on a couch) in pain. She didn’t feel well for the next few days and time whizzed by as I alternated the heating pad with cold packs on her knees and gave her antihistamines for the hives.
Then her pain faded a little and I noticed something felt different. I wasn’t dry heaving and my steps did not falter. I couldn’t remember when I last felt sick. Mama Bear had taken care of her hurting baby bear with single-minded efficiency but now that Pea’s flare was fading my lack of morning sickness was like the rhythmic “chirp chirp” of a dying smoke detector, insistent.
I told myself that since we had entered week 9 the morning sickness was just going away. I got ready for work, missed the exit to my job and found myself heading to my ObGyn. I called him and told him that something just felt ‘off.” Not pain, but not right either.
I watched the sonogram screen and internally railed against what I was seeing. The doctor did not need to tell me that there was no blood flowing to the fetus. Yet he did, and he did it with compassion and grace.
The world got too bright for a few minutes and I had to run from all the happy pregnant women in the waiting room. I did not want to be the blight on their happiness. The tearful face that made them worry about losing their own. I still recall seeing that stark face running out of the obstetrician’s office when I was pregnant with Pork Chop. This time, I was the one running from all the pregnant women in grief.
I felt full of death and despair and no amount of weeping could empty me of it. I wept to my husband over Facetime. The miles between us cold and lonely. I chose the D & C to end it quickly so that my children would not be affected by a long drawn out miscarriage.
“Many times, there’s a chromosomal abnormality and mother nature takes over and terminates the pregnancy. The yolk sac was very small and ill-defined from the beginning….” these were the words I would hear again and again in my head.
What other people are praying for, you are taking for granted. Is it selfish of me to want another baby when I have two beautiful, smart, and funny ones already? Maybe. But I didn’t realize how much I wanted one until I lost one.
So when I get frustrated at the mess on the living room floor, I take a deep breath and remember to be thankful for the two I have–mess and all.
Miscarriage is common but rarely spoken of, maybe because it is so painful to relive? However, it is also a very lonely time. Would it be less devastating if it was a subject spoken of more openly? Probably not. But for someone grieving, it may help to know they are not alone.
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My friend Becky of Your Modern Family is one of the authors of Blessings Through Raindrops which is a book that can help you through the darkest of times following your miscarriage.