Losing an Unborn Baby, Losing Confidence

When I got pregnant the first time, I was thrilled. The pregnancy was planned, anticipated, and desired. As soon as we found out, I immediately told everyone around me. Two weeks later when I started getting “morning” sickness, everyone around me knew that, too. I planned and planned, and I followed the baby’s development in books. We had planned on having a homebirth, so I started having check ups with the midwife, but that early in the pregnancy there wasn’t much to do. I signed up for a prenatal yoga class.

Then, near the end of the first trimester, I started having weird symptoms, such as unexplained bleeding. My midwife used a hand-held Doppler to try to hear the baby’s heartbeat, but couldn’t. But at that point in the pregnancy, she said that it didn’t always work. So she put me on bed rest for a few days. There was no improvement.

Finally, I went in to get an ultrasound to see what was going on.

I saw the baby on the screen. Still not a boy or girl in my mind, we never did find out which it was. It wasn’t moving. There was no heartbeat. The baby had died around 11 weeks, they said. I was at 15 weeks.

You think that it won’t happen to you. The odds are against it happening, they say. Well, odds aren’t reassuring to me anymore. They also say that it happens all the time. This I now knew to be true. But seeing my baby on the ultrasound screen gave me a huge amount of closure. Not only was it now a real baby to me, but also one that would never fully develop or grow. That helped me accept what had happened.

Once you have a miscarriage, you find out how many other people have had them, too. Seemingly everyone who has had children has had a miscarriage, or is close to someone who has. Supportive people who have been there come out of the woodwork. For me, a fairly close family member of my generation had had one. That she went on to have a baby fairly soon after that was reassuring to me. My grandmother had had several. She also had two children. So many people that I talked to had had one.

Everyone seems to have a different reaction to having a miscarriage. Some are distraught, some completely debilitated. To me, while I was really excited about having a baby, the baby wasn’t yet a fully formed person in my mind. It hadn’t started moving yet, and had only made me feel ill and tired for a few months. But I had gone through the hardest part of the pregnancy, and now it was all for nothing.

I’ll never know what caused the miscarriage, but I’m glad not to know.

During the recovery time, I was sad and melancholic, but I didn’t feel devastated. I know that sounds weird, but that’s how it was. The biggest emotion was regarding feeling so sick to my stomach for so long, and for nothing. The biggest help at that time was my paternal grandmother, who was the one who had had some miscarriages of her own. She was fantastic. During those couple of weeks afterward, I got to know her much better, and through her got to understand my own father and grandfather better. I’ll always treasure those talks with her. She told me of one miscarriage she had while spending the summer at a summer camp (as a counselor or something). She had brought all maternity clothes with her, being pregnant when she arrived, and then after the miscarriage she still had to wear those clothes all summer. That had to have been pretty awful, to have that constant reminder of what she had lost.

When I got pregnant with my now-ten-year-old daughter, I said to myself, here we go again! I was terrified that the same thing would happen a second time. Throughout the first trimester, I tried to think positively, that everything would be okay, but for a long time there was nothing anyone could do to reassure me, since there weren’t many tests to do. This time around, though, I saw a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) at a hospital, since for my own peace of mind–vital during a pregnancy–I wanted the heartbeat checked at each check up, and an ultrasound or two at some point. Those tests did indeed help reassure me, and then when my daughter started moving, that was enough daily information to keep me mostly calm for the rest of the pregnancy.

When I got pregnant with my son, I was still a bit worried, but more confident that my body would produce and carry a baby to term, since it had already done so one time before.

I was very fortunate that I only had the one miscarriage, and that I soon went on to have my daughter, and then my son.

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Having a miscarriage doesn’t mean you should give up hope. There is always hope.

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Jenny Bristol is an Editor at GeekDad and a founding Director at GeekMom. She is a lifelong geek who spends her time learning, writing, homeschooling her two wickedly smart kids, losing herself in history, and mastering the art of traveling on a shoestring.