The Long-Term Impact of My Early Miscarriage
How I coped with the loss of my first baby and found the strength to move forward.
At six weeks pregnant with my first baby I experienced a miscarriage. A moment in my life that was supposed to be exciting and full of joy quickly turned to heartbreak and grief.
My husband and I were high school sweethearts. We had been married for a few years when we decided we were ready to grow our family. After trying for a few months with no success, I started feeling discouraged. Growing up, adults always made it seem like getting pregnant was so easy. Now I know that is simply not true. Fast forward a couple of months, I was still routinely testing and I took a pregnancy test, even though I wasn’t expecting my period for a few more days. The test came back negative, and I was once again distraught, to say the least.
The following day, I went to the bathroom and noticed some spotting. I initially thought: Great, my period … salt in the wound. My periods are usually pretty normal, but this one was noticeably different. Throughout the day I had little-to-no blood on any of my sanitary products, and if there was blood, it was a brownish color versus the bright red of a typical menstrual period. I thought it was off, but I dismissed it because the test result was negative.
A few days later, my period was gone without ever seeming like my normal cycle. I decided to take another test to be safe and it came back positive. I truly couldn’t believe it. I surprised my husband with the news by gifting him with a baby beanie, a pair of tiny socks, a card, and the positive pregnancy test. It was a moment I will never forget.
Over the next few days, I was still experiencing a little spotting here and there, but a friend who is also an OB-GYN mentioned it could be implantation bleeding. The blood wasn’t red and I was not cramping, so it seemed like there may not be anything to be worried about.
About a week later, I went to work one morning and the bleeding started to get heavier. I decided to go for a walk during my lunch break when I felt a rush of blood leave my body. I quickly made my way to the bathroom, only to see deep-red blood—and a lot of it.
I immediately left the office, called my husband and my mom, and headed straight for the hospital. After being admitted, they did routine bloodwork, ran some tests, and ultimately declared it a miscarriage. I say “ultimately” because I had to get blood drawn a few days later to see if my HCG levels were decreasing and until we had that knowledge and a negative pregnancy test result, the doctors couldn’t say with 100% certainty whether or not it was a miscarriage. Some of the medical staff even told me they had seen cases like this before in patients who had gone on to have perfectly healthy babies! I clearly was hoping for a miracle, and to be honest, if we had not been trying, I may not have even known I was pregnant in the first place.
In searching for information on miscarriage, I learned that I was far from alone. 10 to 20% of confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage, but it is likely the number is much higher because many miscarriages occur so early in pregnancy, the pregnant person may not even know they’re pregnant.
Coming home from the hospital was tough. I was an absolute wreck. I sat on the couch and cried for the remainder of the day. I didn’t want anyone bothering me. I didn’t want to eat. I just wanted to be by myself with my feelings, and try to process what had happened.
Internally I was really struggling and intrusive thoughts consumed my mind. How could this be my first pregnancy experience? Why am I the one to suffer when so many friends and family members are getting pregnant so easily and seemingly without complications? I was just living in an incredibly painful and confusing moment.
I think the worst part of it all was feeling like I had to go back to normal life and pretend like nothing ever happened. I felt as if I was being forced back into reality—like I wasn’t entitled to a grieving process. It was as if society was screaming, “Better luck next time. Get over it—it happens!”
I felt isolated. I had nowhere to turn and no one to talk to. At the time, I had only known one person who had experienced a miscarriage, but I couldn’t even relate to their experience because my story (and all of the emotions that came with it) was my own. I felt utterly alone, even though I had a husband, family, and friends who were all there for me at any moment, day or night.
I quickly learned that while people were indeed there to support me, they couldn’t understand my situation because they had never experienced it themselves. How can you try and relate to someone going through a loss so personal and painful if you’ve never endured the same type of loss? You can’t.
For the next few weeks, I tried to navigate “normal life” and I pushed my grief to the back of my mind. It was difficult, but eventually, I found a new normal and tried my hardest not to think about my loss. I was doing OK until I was cleaning the house and I had to take the trash out in the bathroom. I immediately broke down as I remembered that the pads I had to use while I was experiencing my miscarriage were in that bag. It sounds extreme, but I felt like I was literally throwing my baby away. It was a tangible representation of my loss that brought on another wave of tremendous grief.
I found myself spiraling back into the sadness and anger I had been trying so hard to avoid. And I realized that I had to learn to live with the pain because my pregnancy loss was part of my journey into parenthood.
I took it one day at a time, and I tried to offer myself grace along the way. My husband and I decided to put a halt on trying to conceive, and we didn’t end up trying again for over a year. That miscarriage truly rocked our world and made it extremely scary for us to build up the courage to even hope for another baby.
A little over a year had passed when we attempted to get pregnant once again. There are so many mixed emotions that come with trying for a baby after a miscarriage.
Four months later, I had my first missed period while on vacation. I felt so much anxiety over taking a pregnancy test because I didn’t want to deal with the crushing disappointment if it came back negative.
Spoiler alert: It came back positive! I was once again over the moon, but I was also extremely guarded and hesitant to tell anyone or indulge in any excitement about the pregnancy because of my previous experience. I would dread having to go to the bathroom every single day because I was so scared to see spotting again.
It wasn’t until I was about 25 weeks along that I finally started to celebrate that I was having a sweet baby boy and that everything was foreseeably going to be OK.
Our healthy rainbow baby arrived on Feb. 6, 2021, and our worlds have never been the same. We quickly got into a routine as a family of three when we decided we wanted to give him a sibling. We wanted our children to be close to each other in age, and after such an amazing experience with our son, we felt more confident in trying for baby number two. We were fortunate enough to get pregnant fairly quickly with our second child, and I delivered our baby girl a year later on Feb. 10, 2022.
Our life as a family of four is nothing short of chaotic and amazing, but I am so thankful that even after all of the heartbreak and fear that our first pregnancy brought us, we were able to have two angel babies back-to-back that are happy and thriving!
Moving Forward (With Hindsight)
Looking back, I don’t think I would change anything that I went through. As much as my miscarriage turned my world upside down and made it difficult to move forward, it also allowed me to be an outlet for others who have experienced pregnancy loss as well.
It wasn’t until I opened up about our journey on social media that many friends and acquaintances began sharing their own stories of grief and loss with me. I am so thankful that I can be a person for others to talk to and vice-versa. It’s nice to have others that I can confide in about miscarriage, knowing they completely understand where I am coming from.
Not only that but as horrible and sad as our loss was at the time, the experience helped to strengthen my marriage because it made us lean on one another and adopt a new outlook on how precious life really is. I am filled with gratitude to have a partner who grieves and talks through things with me, and who loves me unconditionally no matter what life throws our way.
My advice for anyone currently who has experienced a miscarriage, or anyone who experiences one in the future, is to take the time you need to grieve and not feel like you have to rush that process. I hope you can read my story and feel hope for a beautiful, healthy family one day.
It’s unfortunate how common miscarriage is, but know that you are certainly not alone. Try to find friends and family that you can rely on to help you through your journey. Lean on your partner as much as you can, and let your partner lean on you, too. It’s a different experience for your partner but they’re still grieving a loss. Talk through your feelings, and try not to bottle them all up. Most importantly, don’t let society make you feel like you’re over-dramatic in grieving or mourning your loss. It’s an extremely painful experience, and you deserve to express your feelings without judgment and to receive support from those who love you.