7 June 2020

On a day I was set to travel early in the morning, I took a pregnancy test at 3:00 a.m. and yelled the happy news with excitement to my sleeping husband when it turned positive. We were over the moon, took tons of pictures looking tired but thrilled that we were finally going to be parents (I know I would’ve woken up very early anyway because it was the day I could finally pee on the stick and be 99% sure of the result). During my layover, I took another pregnancy test and yet another when I got to my final destination… all positive! I felt my heart expanding in just a matter of hours, with feelings and thoughts I had never experienced before. In the following days and weeks, knowing I was accompanied by a beautiful being forming inside of me, I felt complete. Being pregnant was at the forefront my mind, creating a connection in the best way I knew how. We shared the news and celebrated with our closest relatives and friends, who knew this moment was the best thing that could ever happen to us as we had been trying to conceive for a while.

We were scheduled to have our first scan at 7 weeks 6 days. Although we thought the pregnancy was healthy due to my early symptoms, two days before our scan I woke up angsty to a nightmare. I told my husband I thought something was wrong, however calmed down after he comforted me. Arriving to the scan, I had forgotten about this incident and we were both excited and with smiles ear to ear. The doctor asked all the routine questions, commenting that she thought this would be an easy pregnancy because I was healthy, had had no bleeding at all, and was experiencing normal symptoms.

At the time of the scan, she got quiet for a few minutes and let us know that she could not find a heartbeat. She explained that this type of loss is called a silent or missed miscarriage, because there are no signs that something is wrong. The doctor also said she had to get a second opinion using a higher quality machine (but warned us not to get our hopes up). The second doctor confirmed the diagnosis, tough asked us to come back in a week to track any potential growth that could indicate a viable pregnancy.

My husband and I were in shock. We had just lost our first love as parents, and I felt guilty that our baby couldn’t develop as expected despite the doctor’s reassurance that in most cases miscarriages are nature’s way to prevent a birth defect. We felt alone, with immense sadness and many broken dreams. It is hard to explain what it feels like to be in this situation and how difficult it is both emotionally and physically.

Waiting a week until our next appointment, we researched options for dealing with a non-viable pregnancy and realized that we are not really alone in this experience. Many people go through situations like this, with spontaneous or silent miscarriages like our case. Reading the stories of other people created a world of company that made this process a little better and has helped us to live / understand grief at our own pace.

I could not talk about it without bursting into tears, so I decided to take time to process the miscarriage intimately after letting our family and friends know. During our second appointment, the gestational sac had continued to grow; we had to come back in another week. That week was the hardest of all, because I could see my belly growing and feel my breasts still sore as before.

It was hard to accept the loss and not hope that this was a mistake; what I knew in my mind couldn’t match what I felt in my heart. At this point, I started to feel frustrated with my body for not having yet realized what was going on. During the third appointment, the doctor recommended I took medication (misoprostol) to manage the miscarriage. Ending this process with those pills was a whole other challenge, as they accelerated the passing of tissue that had formed during the pregnancy, which was extremely painful (to me, I’ve read this does not happen for everyone), graphic and emotional. My husband was there, available but discrete and respectful of my process. After the miscarriage was over, I felt relieved that my body was ready to start healing, hungry and then ready to sleep.

A few days after, I sought professional support and talked about all of this with people close to us. Sharing our process now that we feel ready has helped tremendously and we hope to support others who go through this. Some days hurt more than others, but almost two months later life has started to feel closer to normal (despite all of this happening in the midst of coronavirus, which is another story).

Just as we know that we would’ve celebrated the life of a physical baby held in our arms, we also celebrate the first being that passed very quickly, but left us so many lessons and memories of the “firsts” (i.e. feelings, hopes, first trimester belly, etc.) that will be in our hearts for the rest of our lives. We also know that when we do become parents, we will be stronger as a couple and more prepared for other challenges and experiences of parenthood. Experiencing a miscarriage has been the most profound experience of my life, of recognizing fears and accepting things out of my control. I never imagined that I would share something so personal, but today more than ever I feel that topics like this need more space, voice and normalization in the virtual world; nothing in miscarriages should be silenced.

 

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