You'll Never Know Dear, How Much I Love You
My husband and I were young when we decided to have children. Young in age, but not in our relationship, and definitely not in our accomplishments. We had been together for 7 years and married for 2. We owned a house, a dog, and had careers that kept us financially secure. Moreover, we both wanted children - we were as ready as anyone ever could be to take on the role of parents. We had space in our home and in our hearts that would no doubt be the perfect place for a child. So, we decided to try and, as if it were meant to be, I tested that very first month and two beautiful lines appeared. My hands trembled and my mind raced with questions, fear, and an overwhelming sense of joy.
At just 7 weeks along, we had our first ultrasound. It was pure happiness. There is no better sound than the sound of your unborn child’s heartbeat. The baby was measuring perfectly, the heartbeat was exactly where it needed to be, and my own health was ideal. There was no reason for concern; no indication that we needed to worry. And so we didn’t. Like many first time parents, we started to imagine what our lives would be like. We guessed the gender, predicted personality traits, joked about what characteristics we hoped they got from each of us. We planned a nursery, talked about names, and already had grandiose hopes and extravagant dreams for the baby growing inside of me. We were already in love.
We decided to wait until we were out of the first trimester to tell our family and friends the good news. My parents, however, were in Calgary for an end of summer visit when we were just shy of the 11-week mark, so we thought it would be special to surprise them with the news in person. With a pair of special-made mugs - reading #1 Grandpa and #1 Grandma - we wordlessly served after-dinner coffee and tea. My mom read the message and realized right away, while my dad, in typical fashion, happily sipped his coffee unaware of the special news until my mom pointed it out. My parents were thrilled and my mom joked that she was too young to be a grandma.
And, as if those mugs were filled with bad energy, the next day I started to bleed.
It was light; minimal. I tried not to work myself up over it. Immediately, I turned to the internet where I read tons of stories about people who bled during the first trimester and still carried to term. But my instinct and intuition told me something wasn’t right and I needed validation that the baby was okay, so we booked a same day emergency ultrasound. We sat outside of the room trying to keep each other calm, making jokes, as we attempted to push our fears and anxiety to the back of our minds.
I was called into the ultrasound room and examined. As soon as the image flashed up on the screen, we saw the baby, but there was no heartbeat. The ultrasound tech excused himself to summon a doctor, never once hinting at the terrible news we already knew. Everything shifted for me. The room became a blur of motion and the sound of people talking was just background noise. The doctor entered the room, but his words fell on deaf ears as I tried to process everything. We had lost our baby. Grief washed over me and I let myself cry as Daniel held me and tried to do for me what he couldn’t even do for himself at that moment. We were scared - of what the next steps would be and that maybe we would never experience the joy of having a biological baby of our own.
We were given 3 options: (1) do nothing, and hope that the baby passes on its own; (2) take a cervix softening pill to induce contractions and, for lack of better phrasing, “birth the baby”; or (3) have a dilation and curettage procedure (D&C) which is the surgical removal of the baby. Me being me, I wanted to do what would be the safest and least damaging for future pregnancies, but I also wanted it over sooner rather than later. This lead us to choose the cervix softener to start contractions. We did this in the “comfort” of our own home, but nothing about the process was comfortable physically or emotionally. Once the process was underway I started feeling what can only be described as early labour pains. It began slowly but gradually built as the hours ticked away. I was cramping and doubled over our couch in pain. Six hours of cramps and discomfort, however, was nothing compared to the agonizing knowledge that we had lost our child. To make the experience that much worse, we had to see the baby pass and bring it in for examination (a story for another day).
One positive from this experience was the reaffirmation that parenthood was exactly what we wanted. But being our first conception, our fears were magnified thinking that we would have trouble in the future, carrying another pregnancy to full term. Would it ever stick? Medical professionals reassured us that this was likely a fluke; that we were just part of the unfortunate 25% of pregnancies that end in miscarriage. We grieved, we cried, and we endured. I leaned on Daniel for support and he was my strength during that period of time when I had nothing left to offer.
This was our story of loss, but why has it taken me over five years to tell? My heart was always pulled apart when I contemplated speaking about my miscarriage. Half of my heart says, “Who am I to tell my story of miscarriage? A miscarriage that lead me to exactly where I am now. Why should I speak about loss when I have been blessed with two beautiful, healthy children? Why should I talk about grief and heartache when there are women (and men) who are still suffering, who have gone through numerous losses, who have tried without success to get pregnant for months, years, or even decades?” And then, the other half of my heart says “who am I not to?”
When I miscarried, I felt alone. I felt ashamed, responsible, and as if I were not made to do exactly what women are supposed to be able to do. We didn’t tell anyone except for our parents, who we likely would not have told if we hadn’t coincidentally announced the news to the night prior. I didn’t want anyone to know, and I didn’t want to talk about what I was feeling. Over the years, I have told some family and some friends. I have gained perspective and closure as I now have everything I could ever wish for. But, staying silent means other women are doing the same. Others are suffering quietly as they hold the weight of loss alone. A burden much too heavy to carry without support.
So, to anyone else going through what we did, I’m here to say that you are not alone. It is not your fault. I can say with certainty that what is meant to be will be. For, if I had not lost that child, I would not have the kids I do today. My life would look very different. Only now, after the fact, I am comfortable saying this, and you will only be able to do the same when your path finds its way back on track.
My miscarriage taught me more about life than it did about loss. I gained a newfound perspective, and it was the first time I fully understood the depths of my partnership with my husband. He cared for me in ways I didn’t even know I needed. I loved him more because of how the miscarriage brought us together. It taught me to appreciate every moment because nothing is guaranteed. The experience showed me the importance of letting go and not holding onto what you can’t change. I learned to never lose hope, and that hope is what would carry me through to the life I have now. I learned what I really wanted and I made sure to fight for just that. Most importantly, I learned that this world can be a lonely place, far too lonely to not share your experiences, to not support others who are fighting similar battles, and that is exactly why I am telling this story now. You are strong but together we are stronger.