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P is for… Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day


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Every October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, a day to provide support, education, and awareness for those suffering from a miscarriage, a still birth, or the loss of an infant. In honor of this day, here is a look back at my post “5 Ways Pregnancy After a Miscarriage Is Different,” published last year at this time. My thoughts are with anyone who has suffered a loss. Hopefully today you will feel a little less alone.

5 Ways Pregnancy After a Miscarriage Is Different

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.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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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  1. Thank you for posting this again.

  2. It gives you a special empathy doesn’t it? I loved this line: I stopped saying “if” and started saying “when.”

  3. This is a beautifully written post. I agree miscarriage is a scar that never goes away. I think my faith is what got me through but a piece of my heart will always be broken.

  4. Coincidentally, I shared on kind of the same subject today! i had noooo idea a miscarriage would be so traumatizing. it was shocking really. Good post! And all 5 points are true!

  5. This is all too real and while I wish I couldn’t relate, in happy you’ve touched on this topic. After three miscarriages I now have two kids under the age of two at home with me. With my oldest son, we told our families right away because I just knew this time was different. But then I found out j had a hemmorhage in my uterus and that I might miscarry again. I didn’t, that time was different, but when I got pregnant with my second son a year later, we hadn’t told anyone aside from our parents until we found out the gender. I never told anybody this, but up until the time my second son was born, I was convinced I wouldn’t be coming home with a baby. Thinking that way, I didn’t allow myself to enjoy that pregnancy as much as I wish I would have and now he may have been my last. Sorry to go off on a tangent about myself. My point is, yes. Yes to this whole post. Yes, there is hope beyond the darkness.

  6. I just miscarried last week. It was my first pregnancy and I was 8 weeks along but I think the baby died sooner :( No one tells you how painful it is, how empty it makes you feel and though we’ll be trying again I can say that I already relate to everything you wrote under the 5 points. I’m terrified I’ll lose another baby and I’ve already decided not to tell anyone until it’s obvious. I also don’t know that I would be able to handle another miscarriage emotionally…this one hit me pretty hard and I’m so deeply sad. Thank you for sharing your story and for highlighting an experience that seems to happen all too often yet no one talks about it.

    • I am so sorry to hear about your loss. I was around 8 weeks as well when I had that awful appointment where the doctor didn’t find a heartbeat. Know that you are not alone, and that while you never forget, it is possible to go on to have a beautiful family and find happiness. I’m sending thoughts and prayers and wishing the best as you continue on your pregnancy journey.

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