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P is for. . . Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day (And Why Pregnancy After a Miscarriage Is Different)

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Pregnant - medium

photo credit: reiserloh via photopin cc

I’ll never forget that moment. I sat in my doctor’s exam room, eagerly awaiting a first glimpse of my baby’s heartbeat. I imagined watching it, a tiny flicker on the screen, feeling instantly connected to the life inside me. I never imagined the doctor looking at me and saying, in his most clinical voice, “I’m sorry. There’s no heartbeat.”

That moment has stayed with me, seven years and two kids later. A miscarriage is a scar that never fully fades; no matter how much time goes by, a shadow of that loss always lingers. This time of year I revisit that loss, because every October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It’s a time to come out of the shadows, to let others know they’re not alone. And it’s a time to reflect — on dreams abruptly ended, on the pain of letting go.

For me, losing a pregnancy was difficult. But what was surprisingly harder, in some ways, was being pregnant again after this loss. All around me, friends were happily announcing their pregnancies, throwing showers, dreaming of their children’s future. I wanted to feel joyful about my pregnancy. But deep down, I was terrified. Between the constant fear of things I couldn’t control — and obsessing over those factors I thought I could — I was a wreck for nine months. There are many reasons why being pregnant after a miscarriage is different. Here are just a few.

  • Fear of the unknown. When I became pregnant with my daughter, I dreaded my first prenatal visit. Relief at seeing a heartbeat quickly turned to panic at learning my progesterone levels were low. As I filled the supplement prescription, I felt myself being submerged into an all-too-familiar nightmare. After each appointment, I waited to learn my “levels” like a prisoner waiting to hear her sentence. I felt trapped in a body that didn’t work, that couldn’t hold on to what mattered most. Even when I made it past the first trimester, my hesitations continued, shrouding every moment in a layer of anxiety and fear.
  • Loneliness. With my first pregnancy, we told our families right away. It was Christmas, and we were celebrating. I never dreamed I would be un-telling everyone a month later. With my next pregnancy, I was determined not to make the same mistake. We waited a long time before telling anyone, which made me feel protected, but also alone. My pregnancy became a secret to keep, instead of happy news to share. I held everything inside — exactly when I needed my friends and family the most.
  • Guilt and self-doubt. During this time I often questioned my decisions, worried that any lapse in judgment might end my pregnancy. I was nervous to lift chairs at a work event, scared to help a family member carry luggage up the stairs. (Positions I found myself in because I was too afraid to tell anyone I was pregnant.) When you’ve had a miscarriage, it’s easy to grab hold of the idea that by doing everything “right” you have some semblance of control — and, by doing something “wrong,” you’re to blame for the loss. It’s a heavy burden to bear.
  • Morning sickness envy. Most women dread morning sickness. I found myself longing for it. I craved the physical reassurance that things were “normal” inside me. I desperately wanted to know that my baby was there, growing and developing as expected. My lack of morning sickness felt like a punishment. Every moment I didn’t feel nauseous was a reminder of how little I understood what was happening inside of me — and how little I could control it.
  • Fear of joy. For a long time, I found myself prefacing every statement about my baby with “If we make it through the pregnancy” or “If the baby is born.” I was afraid to be excited, terrified of letting in too much joy. I was uncomfortable buying furniture for the nursery, shopping for onesies, or even thinking of names. Looking back, I wish I had let myself enjoy it more. But my wounds were still fresh. I didn’t want to indulge hopes that might lead to another heartbreak.

Sometime in my ninth month I began to relax, to feel hopeful that soon I’d hold my baby in my arms. I stopped saying “if” and started saying “when.” When my daughter was born, I knew she was the baby I was meant to have. But as blessed as I am with my children, when I hear of a friend’s miscarriage, I feel a pang in my heart. I’m glad that there’s a day to shine a light on this issue — for people to acknowledge and share their sadness about such a difficult subject. It was this openness — talking with others who’d been through it — that helped me get through those nine long months. Hopefully this openness will help others to know that there’s light — and even hope — beyond the darkness.

photo credit: reiserloh via photopin cc

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54 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your experience so nakedly. It was very touching and raw, making for a very relate able post.

  2. This is very moving. I am so sorry for the pain that you feel and that is a part of you. While I did not miscarry, and can not feel that pain, I did have problems becoming pregnant. Every month I did not become pregnant I felt empty and like an awful failure. When I did become pregnant I was scared I would miscarry and I would never be pregnant again. It is good that you are able to speak of your sadness and share it. You are helping others.

    • Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sure struggles with fertility can cause many of the same anxieties as a miscarriage. There’s so much about this subject that goes unspoken…I’m hopeful that by sharing our stories, we can break the silence and help those who are going through this pain.

  3. Great post, my first pregnancy was a miscarriage too so I totally understand what you mean.

  4. I have dear friends who have taught me about this common scenario among women. I am thankful to be more aware so I can be there for them. You captured the emotions so well. Great post! I hope it helps the right ladies.

  5. I’m so sorry for your loss. I know, it sticks with you. I was afraid the whole time I was pregnant with my daughter. Although I had the miscarriage 7 years earlier, it wasn’t as fresh in my mind, but it will always be a part of me. Thank you for sharing.

    • I’m sorry for what you went through as well, and that you had to deal with all those fears during your pregnancy. It sounds like your journey with your daughter had a happy ending. Thanks so much for your comment.

  6. I am really sorry you went through this. Know that you are not alone and there are many others who have unfortunately gone through your pain too. Be grateful for what you have and remember those who have not because though a part of you may not be with you today, it will forever be in your memory <3

  7. I like this only because I love the honesty in which you write and insight that you bestowed. I have never had a miscarriage but have had friends who have with subsequent pregnancies. When they did I had no idea what they were going through, your post today would have helped me help them.

    • Thanks so much. That’s really what I wanted to accomplish with this post. When I was pregnant with my daughter, people were surprised that I waited so long to share the news, or that I seemed withdrawn. I’m hopeful that if people understand more, they can help their friends and loved ones on this difficult journey. Thanks for the comment!

  8. I loved this post. You were very open and honest and that isn’t always easy to do. I haven’t experienced a miscarriage, but I know many people have. This post, I’m sure, will help others who can relate.

  9. It’s funny how I felt like this article was just for me. I lost my first baby just like you, no heartbeat at first prenatal. I’m now 21 weeks pregnant with s baby girl. I’ve been so scared to make a move. I’ve been trying to hide my pregnancy, but my baby is growing so much she is speaking for herself. As I write this I feel her kicking/punching me. :-) From this day forward, I’m going to show off my round belly and trust God. I’m tired of worrying. I’m going to let God take care of this for me. Thank you for this blog.

    • Thank you for this comment. I think it’s great that you’re going to let go of some of the worry. I definitely feel like I missed something when I was pregnant with my daughter…if I had it all to do again, I would take your attitude and try to enjoy the experience as much as possible. Best wishes for the rest of your pregnancy, and enjoy your little girl :) Thank you again for sharing.

  10. Wow, I feel like I could have written this myself. I am currently pregnant and feel that constant fear of something going wrong. Pregnancy is forever changed after experiencing a loss. Thank you for writing this!

    • Thank you for your comment. I’m so sorry for your loss… sending you best wishes for a healthy pregnancy. I hope soon you’ll be holding your beautiful, precious baby in your arms.

  11. 29 years old, married 7 years and we have experienced 6 miscarriages. We have had every test known to man only to hear… “good news!” nothing seems to be wrong with you… Funny how those words gave no comfort. 4 babies were lost in the first trimester. The first loss was at 21 and 1/2 weeks. I had to give birth to a tiny still born little boy. Joseph. After him 4 more losses. Then came the 6th pregnancy! Everyday was a battle. Did I mention my mom lives in a psych institution? What support I had came from my husband. I love God with all my heart. I don’t know what I did to deserve this I would think. .. But 9 months later as was stated above. .. I finally started to believe it might be a reality! Might! When it was time to deliver I refused an epidural. I am so proud to say…we had our miracle! Who is at the moment jumping around to Barney!! Thank you Jesus! But as I stated she was baby #6 We sadly lost our 7th into my late second trimester. .. My daughter is now 3 yrs. Old and praying for mommy to get a baby. I’m just tired.. I want another child! Just wish I could skip pregnancy! Anyway I hope that this will help someone else who feels like quitting! I would do it all over again for the beautiful girl that has stolen every part of my heart and soul! It’s worth it. Wish more parents would value the priceless gift of life!

    • I’m so sorry you have been through so much pain and loss. I know what you mean about it being worth it for that wondrous, miracle child you do have. I hope you have the baby you’re dreaming of, and that it’s an easier journey. Sending you thoughts and prayers! Thanks so much for sharing your story.

  12. You summed it up perfectly! I’m 4 weeks 5 days with pregnancy #3, my other two both miscarried so I’m hesitant to get attached to this one.

    • Thank you for sharing this. I know how hard it is in those early weeks. I wish you the very best, and I hope this first trimester goes by as quickly and easily as possible. Thanks again for your comment!

  13. Reblogged this on Kristen's Passions and commented:
    This woman’s blog post really touches me. I didn’t know until today that yesterday was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I am sharing this post because I feel it’s important for women to know they’re not alone. Miscarriage is usually a hush-hush topic, but for those who have had them, it’s a part of who we are. No matter how short or long the pregnancy, it is an undeniable pain. I believe my angel babies are in heaven and I trust God’s plan and His timing. I believe He will bless us with a baby on earth one day, a day I dream of, but it’s in His hands not ours. I am not sharing this because I want sympathy, but because I feel it’s helpful to be open about it, so that women know they’re not alone. I’m here for anyone who wants to talk or needs support or prayers.

  14. Thank you for writing this powerful and honest post. I had three miscarriages before carrying a full pregnancy so can relate to every word written. My daughter is 14 weeks old today, healthy, happy and a true blessing.

    • Congratulations on your baby girl! I’m so happy your difficult journey has led to such a wonderful destination. It really is a miracle when you hold them and know they are real and yours. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

  15. This post really “spoke” to me too–it’s like it could have come from my own mouth! My 1st pregnancy resulted in miscarriage this past may, we are going to start trying again, but I’m nervous about coping with every single one of those five things you posted. Any suggestions on how to enjoy your pregnancy and not spend 9 months fearful and anxious? Any advice would be appreciated!

  16. This post really “spoke” to me–it’s like it could have come from my own mouth! My 1st pregnancy resulted in miscarriage this past May. We are going to start trying again at the beginning of the year, but I’m nervous about coping with every single one of those five things you posted. Any suggestions on how to enjoy your pregnancy and not spend 9 months fearful and anxious? Any advice would be appreciated!

    • Thanks for your comment. What really helped me was finding a group of women in a similar situation through a pregnancy website. Most of the big pregnancy sites (like BabyCenter) have groups you can join, including groups for women who are trying to conceive after a loss. I found a group of women who were really positive and supportive, and we helped each other through the stress of trying to conceive, dealing with pregnancy, and even raising newborns! We still keep in touch today, many years (and kids) later. I hope you find all the support you need…and try to enjoy it as much as you can. You deserve it!

  17. Thanks for writing about your miscarriage. I also had a miscarriage. I was 15 weeks 5 days. I was devastated when they told me the baby didn’t have a heartbeat. That happened March 06. In Dec. that yr I found out I was pregnant again, and like you I wouldn’t tell anyone, until I was 4 months along. So at 25 weeks the Good Lord above blessed me and my husband with a 1 lb 8 oz baby boy. I am so glad to say that he is 7 yrs old and doing wonderful!! We have been blessed!!

    • Wow, that must have been a harrowing experience, giving birth at 25 weeks! I’m thrilled to hear he’s a healthy 7-year-old boy now. It’s really such a journey, conceiving, carrying, and delivering a child — something I never understood until I went through it. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

  18. I can totally relate to this, I had a miscarriage as well. It always stays with you… great post.

  19. thank you for this article. My first four pregnancies were all miscarriages. On My fifth pregnancy I was blessed to have my sweet Gracie Jean. She came early at 23.5 weeks and lived 20 hours. I do feel a lot of pain some days because I miss my 5 babies but I know I will see them again someday. I didn’t know there was a day of remembrance. Thank you so much for sharing and I feel that the article reflects what many women in this situation feel.

    • I am so sorry for your losses, and for all you’ve been through. I hope this time of remembrance — and sharing our experiences — can provide some solace to all the women who have been through this loss. Thank you for sharing your story.

  20. Thank You for your article. My first 4 pregnancies have been miscarriages. I got used to having miscarriages and thinking things like..”well, we will see how long this one goes”. Then on my 5th pregnancy I was blessed with my little Gracie Jean. She was born at 23.5 weeks, was 11 inches long and 1 pound 8 ounces. She lived for 20 hours. It was both beautiful and heart wrenching for me. I won’t lie, if we do try again I will be a nervous basket case until I hold my baby in my arms with no tubes, needles etc… I think us moms go through so much and it is a risk on our bodies and hearts especially to bring babies in to the world. Thank you again for sharing and creating a place for all of us to be open with each other.

  21. Absolutely beautiful Meredith, and heart breaking, I’m so sorry you experienced that but so glad you had the courage to try again. Love to you and your family!

  22. Such a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing your very honest experience. It must be so hard to try again after experiencing a loss.

  23. I felt all those same feelings with every one of my pregnancies. I have three beautiful children, but each of their pregnancies was preceded by a miscarriage, my first definitely being the worst and farthest along. I don’t know what it’s like to experience a pregnacy that isn’t haunted with all the ways I’ve experienced can go wrong. But I love every one of my babies, the three in my arms and the three in my heart.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience. I can imagine what each of those pregnancies was like, and how difficult it was. I’m so sorry for your losses, and so happy to hear about your three beautiful children. Thank you again for sharing your story.

  24. My first pregnancy ended in miscarriage too, the feelings you describe in the next pregnancy described me exactly, I was a nervous wreck and now contemplating getting pregnant again I am already nervous about going through all that worry again. You have written this in a very beautiful way and I’m sorry you had to go through this loss. x

    • I am sorry for your loss as well. I hope that your next pregnancy is free from some of the worry of the last one. I did find that while I was a nervous wreck when pregnant with my daughter, I was a little calmer when subsequently pregnant with my son. The worry was still there, but I tried to remind myself to enjoy it a little, something I regretted not doing with my daughter. Hopefully you’ll be able to enjoy your next pregnancy as much as possible! Thanks for sharing your story.

  25. This was so spot on to how I’m feeling it’s crazy. I too miscarried and am now 14 weeks pregnant. I feel like I can’t celebrate this or talk about it bc if I do something bad will happen. It was nice to know someone else felt the exact same. Thank you!

    • I’m so sorry for your loss. Congratulations on your pregnancy. It’s a stressful time, but hopefully you can find moments to feel joy as well. I think, after going through a loss, the celebration when you finally hold your baby in your arms is even sweeter. Wishing you a healthy pregnancy…and thank you for sharing your experience!

  26. I lost a baby last year. As we think about a third (living, hopefully) child and fourth pregnancy, I’m scared of being pregnant again after a loss. Thank you for sharing about what you went through. I didn’t have the courage this year.

  27. Thank you for this. We miscarried twice before being pregnant with my daughter, and even then we lost her twin at 5 weeks. Even with my daughter’s pregnancy, I was high risk. I was so afraid of any abnormality and we were terrified to tell anyone. I am so glad to know that someone out there can understand that specific kind of pain and fear. So very sorry for your loss and congratulations on your beautiful children.

    • Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry for your loss as well. That must have been a scary pregnancy … and I’m glad to hear that you gave birth to a healthy daughter. Thanks again so much for sharing your experience.

  28. Pingback: Silence surrounding miscarriages, and why it is OK to share your loss

  29. Hi,

    I am writing to you because my dear sister just lost her son on Friday. It has been a difficult time for all of us. I did not know where else to go where we can get support.

    And due to the situation, We established a fund in honor of Miles that will go towards research on premature babies and the prevention of preterm birth. It is also the hope of Miles’ parents, that the memorial fund will be the foundation upon which a charity can be formed. Although his time on this earth was short, his spirit will live long to aid in these existing efforts as well as raise awareness for some lesser known issues that affected families face. This charity would raise infant loss prevention awareness in the community and ensure that healthcare professionals are educated in these unfortunate circumstances. Most importantly, it would help provide emotional, as well as, monetary support to families who suffer from the birth and loss of a premature baby. Many families believe that they cannot, or should not, hold their baby, take pictures of their baby, or even give their baby a name, especially if they are born under the “24 week mark”. Many families also do not have the financial means to have a funeral or burial service for their baby, and resort to other means. So please give. Every little bit will help. Please click on the link below to donate directly to the Miles Samfir Mirbaha Memorial Fund.

    http://www.youcaring.com/memorial-fundraiser/miles-samfir-mirbaha-memorial-fund/263521

    If there is any way we would be able to post this to get as much support as possible that would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for your time!

    Sincerely,
    Rachel

  30. Thank you so much for writing this! Its been a week since i had my miscarriage and youve nailed every single one of my feelings right on the head. Its comforting to know i am not alone in my feelings.

  31. Pingback: B is for… Blogaversary! | Mommy A to Z

  32. I saw this on Huffington Post and wanted to find it on your blog to let you know how exactly you’ve described the emotions I’m feeling right now. I had a miscarriage one year ago, and my husband and I just found out we are pregnant again. I thought I must be crazy to be praying for morning sickness, and then I read your article. Thank you for helping to affirm and put into words what I am feeling right now.

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