TRIGGER WARNING: Article includes graphic descriptions of pregnancy loss. Please do be careful of your mental health while reading this, I do share my experience quite unfiltered and in detail. Also this is my personal experience and hope not to be judged on the emotions I felt.
I have been wanting to write this article since the end of July 2020. It’s taken me a while to type my thoughts out, and every time I come back to edit it, I feel differently and the rewrite the tone of the article. Today I read Meghan Markle’s op-ed about her miscarriage in July. I have an odd connection with The Duchess of Sussex and pregnancies. I remember being quite excited that, Meghan and I were both pregnant with our firstborn children about the same time. I delivered my daughter I think 2 weeks before Archie arrived. Now I realize we both went through our miscarriages in July 2020.
I suffered an early miscarriage around the 2nd month of my pregnancy. It was difficult to go through, but it didn’t come as a shock. Something never felt right from the start. This was my second pregnancy and it felt nothing like my first. It started with abdominal pain and progressed to mild spotting and cramps, which then progressed to heavy bleeding, which is when I miscarried.
I had what is termed a blighted ovum. The gestational sac had formed, but the fetus did not. There was no baby. What followed is what I would call, the best-case scenario miscarriage. I felt from the start something was wrong with the pregnancy, so although I was heartbroken from the miscarriage, I was not shocked when it happened. My body had naturally started to bleed and miscarry, so I did not require any additional medical procedure and I did not go through much pain during the entire duration.
Mentally, I was not prepared for what came after. I very naively thought this would be a couple days of bleeding like a heavy period. I was so angry that no one warned me that I would bleed for roughly two weeks. I did not realize that I would struggle to lose the 12 lbs. I gained in roughly 8 weeks of pregnancy. I wasn’t prepared to have a miscarriage, while I was the healthiest I have ever been in my life.
I did not expect that a month later, that the grief would hit me like a ton of bricks when I returned to regular exercise. I sobbed uncontrollably for an hour the first day back. I try to be as empathetic as I can when other go through a tough phase in life, especially a loss. So after going through a miscarriage, I felt like an absolutely horrid friend for not understanding the pain my girlfriends had gone through during their miscarriages. I felt I should have known better, and I should have been a better friend.
Through my business, I tend to be quite active on social media and tend to share my life. About a month after my miscarriage, I felt ready to talk about it. You can see my post here. While I was prepared to receive sympathy and encouragement, I was taken aback by the number of women who messaged me about their miscarriages and the shared their stories in such depth. For many who Dm-ed me, this was our first conversation.
These are some of the stories I was told. One woman went through their miscarriage over a decade ago and still carried trauma from their experience. She was blamed by her family for ludicrous reasons for causing the miscarriage. One woman went through a miscarriage a little earlier than me, and spoke to me about it. I was the first person she felt comfortable to speak about it, after 5 weeks of losing her pregnancy. Another woman spoke about how she lost her baby a year ago. She didn’t know how to handle the miscarriage, so she waited for her body to naturally miscarry. She had to carry her baby for a month longer, fully aware her baby was not alive. Now she was too traumatized to try to get pregnant again. One woman in her mid-20s said she would like to share my story with her mother, who still grieves the loss of her baby every year. I assume her mother would have lost her baby about 20 + years ago and still struggles with it.
What I learned from sharing my experience is that we cannot put a timeline on the grief one feels after a miscarriage. Some of the strongest women I know still found it hard to talk about their miscarriage because of either trauma, shame or felt the stigma of not talking about infertility issues. Pregnancy loss is unfortunately an issue woman need other women for support. I truly have a compassionate and caring spouse, but I needed my girlfriends to vent out about pregnancy weight gain, the pain I felt when I passed out the placenta and had to flush it down the toilet, the frustration I felt from being weak after the continuous blood loss.
And that it why it is important we share our stories. As Meghan Markle wrote, when we share our story it gives another woman the license to share theirs as well. She writes about asking ‘Are you ok?’ and how that in itself is powerful in the healing process. I had a woman tell me she could write a book on the types of comments she received after her multiple miscarriages. I didn’t appreciate some of the comments I received as well, but I remember feeling grateful when a friend just listened quietly to my story and gave me space to vent out all emotions.
We all have our own unique experiences of pregnancy loss and thus, our method of coping is then very different from each other. It requires a horrible and painful situation to go through to be part of this community of women who have suffered a pregnancy loss, but I was extremely grateful to have the support of this community as I went through mine.
PS: The photo I posted in this article is the only family photo I took during my second pregnancy.