If you’re like me the first 12 weeks of my pregnancies were so terrifying and exciting. You always hear about miscarriages and you always hope you aren’t going to become a statistic. However, after talking about IVF and PUPPS I realized miscarriages are another one of those issues that no one wants to talk about. People feel like it’s taboo when it shouldn’t be.
Dorky Mom Doodles creator Erika hails from South Carolina and is a SAHM to two kids. When she isn’t busy with the typical mom stuff (soccer, changing diapers, and refereeing shouting matches), she enjoys Netflix binges, reading, and creating bad doodles for her blog. I wanted to interview her because she went through a miscarriage with her first and third pregnancies.
This is another one of those issues we as women (and spouses) go through and feel completely alone. It’s a subject we need to open up to and discuss to help others going through this. These parents deserve to grieve and talk about what they’re going through without feeling like no one wants to hear about it. So here we are today, talking about what it’s like to go through a miscarriage.
Can you tell me about your process of getting pregnant?
The first pregnancy was a complete surprise. In the four months prior to getting pregnant, I graduated college, got married, bought a house, and started teaching. We didn’t plan to try to get pregnant until I was in my late 20s (I was 22 then). My husband and I were on a trip to Disney World when I realized I was late. We bought a pregnancy test and just like that, everything changed. (And we came home with a Mickey Mouse onesie as a souvenir.)
How far along were you when you miscarried?
I was about 18 weeks along.
How did you find out?
My husband and I went to an appointment to have an ultrasound to find out the gender of the baby. I had been to the OB a couple times before and had heard the heartbeat. Between that and being past the first trimester, we had no reason to think that anything was wrong. When the ultrasound tech started looking for the baby, she couldn’t find the heartbeat, but since I’m hard of hearing I didn’t hear her say that (nor did I know what to look for on the ultrasound), so when she left to get the doctor, my husband was breaking down and had to tell me what was happening.
What was your reaction?
I broke down in tears. After we left, I made my husband take me to Walmart to buy a fetal heart monitor, as I was convinced that the doctor was wrong and didn’t want to take the medicine I was prescribed that would make me go into labor. Reality set in quickly after that.
What was your spouse’s reaction?
He was extremely upset, too. The fact that he had to break the news to me, added to how difficult it was for him.
Did your family and friends already know you were pregnant? If so was it hard to tell them about the miscarriage?
Pretty much everyone knew. We told all of our friends and family as soon as we got home from Disney World. Even though my grandmother had told me of having miscarriages, I never thought it would happen to us and didn’t play by that “Wait until the second trimester to tell anyone” rule. Not that it would have mattered in our situation, though.
I ended up delivering the baby — a boy that we named Noah — three days after finding out about the miscarriage.
How did it affect your mental state?
Things were rough. Anxiety and depression were through the roof. I drank quite a lot in the days that followed delivering the baby, which certainly didn’t help matters.
How did it affect your relationship with your spouse?
After we got past the first couple of months, it made us grow closer together. We felt like if we could get through that, then we could get through anything.
Did you have another child after this ordeal?
We did as soon as the doctor cleared us. Having a child relatively young was never part of the plan, but after losing the baby we both realized how badly we wanted to be parents and didn’t want to wait a few years to try again. So, approximately four months after the miscarriage, we were on a trip celebrating our wedding anniversary and found out that we were expecting.
Were you worried about trying to have another baby?
Definitely. Even though I knew that things were statistically in our favor, especially since the baby had Down Syndrome and there was nothing physically wrong with us, I felt like I was holding my breath and waiting for the worst to happen throughout the entire pregnancy.
How old is your child/children?
My oldest child is 9. Less than a year after he was born, we got pregnant again but miscarried her at around the 10-week mark because of another chromosomal abnormality. Six years later, we had our little girl, who is 3 now.
Why do you think this subject is taboo? Was it taboo for you?
People associate pregnancy with new life, joy, hope for the future. They don’t want to acknowledge the possibility that pregnancy could end in any other way, so miscarriage is treated like the elephant in the room. That’s my take, anyway.
While people knew that I had a miscarriage, most family, and friends kind of checked out during that period, so it wasn’t something that I talked about.
What advice would you give to anyone going through this?
For starters, don’t let anyone else minimize your experience. A lot of people will say, “Well, it wasn’t a real baby” or “You can get pregnant again” — shut them out. I don’t care how well-intentioned they are, that is the last thing you need to hear. Consider having a memorial service for the baby when you’re ready. It might help to say “goodbye” in the traditional way. I have pictures of my baby, a ring with his birthstone, ornaments, and other mementos. In a society where people don’t want to acknowledge the existence of an unborn baby, it’s helpful to have those things reminding me that he and my experience were real. Oh, and also talk to a therapist if you can. I completely shut down the idea of therapy after the miscarriage, but now that I have actually seen a good therapist, I know it could’ve been very helpful.
What advice would you give a spouse, family member, or friend who’s partner, family, or friend is going through this?
The best thing you can do is make yourself available to her and listen. Her world has been turned upside down; let her vent. Don’t try to be her doctor or therapist and try to explain things away, or say anything dismissive or hurtful like what I mentioned in the previous answer — just listen. It would also help to offer to do specific chores or errands for her. (If you say, “Let me know if I can help,” she’s less likely to take you up on that than if you say, “Can I cook a meal or go grocery shopping for you?)