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I Lost My First Baby to Miscarriage, and I Almost Lost Myself

October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. This year, by the grace of God, my baby boy turned 10 months on that day, and my daughter decided she wanted to have a camping party for her upcoming third birthday. I have two beautiful children that I cherish with my whole being. But there was a time not very long ago when I wondered if I would ever be a mother.

miscarriage-1I lost my first baby to miscarriage.

My first wedding anniversary was spent in my darkened living room, weeping on the floor, writhing in pain, and saying goodbye to the baby I never held. That’s a terrible experience to go through. Those are terrible words to tell someone, and they are terrible words to hear. I knew how awful and painful they were, and so I kept those words to myself. I didn’t tell my friends. To my family members who did know, I refused to completely open up.

Talking about the huge hole in my heart, the way my life felt like it was ripped to shreds, saying all of that out loud would make me be the cause of sadness in others, and a source of grief to the people I loved.  I didn’t want to spread my pain to them, or make their hearts hurt the way mine did.

I thought I was doing everyone a favor by suffering alone.

I watched women all around me, with shiny hair and cheeks, soft clothes stretched over swollen stomachs, smiling with anticipation of the new life inside of them. My flat stomach was a curse, empty and broken.

miscarriage-3

The loss of a baby is a tragedy. For many people, the sadness goes beyond just the loss of a pregnancy. In my experience, I felt grief over the loss of my baby, the loss of the future that I had expected, and the loss of the way I saw myself.

Loss of the baby

That particular baby, that unique individual, cannot ever be replaced. She might have already had a name. He already had an expected birthday. She had genes, and body parts, and a heartbeat that for some unknown horrible reason, stopped.

Loss of the future

Her parents’ thoughts were already swirling with plans for the nursery, clothing, blankets, and burp cloths. They might have already rearranged their home, and surely their hearts, preparing for the new family member’s arrival. Their plans for their family, child spacing, jobs, and daycare arrangements are now futile. The future can be a very scary, sad, empty place for a parent who has just lost a baby.

Loss of self

With no evidence that my body could carry a baby to term, I feared that I would never be a mother. I had wanted to be a mommy since before I could walk or talk, nurturing my ratty babydolls with an almost ridiculous affection. Who was I, if not a mother? My body had failed, and I felt that I had failed as a woman.

miscarriage-2

All of these losses weighed on me. Not talking about them nearly killed me. The problem with grief like this, the loss of a person who never was, is that it’s all too easy to just pretend it never happened. When your grandmother dies, or a friend or relative, that is a loss that’s obvious. Photos tell the story of those lives, memories and experiences and artifacts strewn all over the hearts and homes of the people who knew and loved them. The loss of a living person is announced in obituaries and phone calls, flowers, funerals, missed work, and homemade lasagnas. The loss of a person who never got a chance to live is much quieter than that. It’s often a secret, unless you choose for it not to be.

I will never forget the way I felt when I attended a baby shower of a relative shortly after my miscarriage. I was doing a great job pretending to be happy and optimistic and supportive. I was thrilled that no one was drawing attention to my loss or making me talk about it. Until one of the guests, an older relative of mine, gave me a hug and whispered in my ear:

“I’m so sorry about your baby. My heart just breaks for you. It’s a terrible thing to lose your baby. I’m so sorry.”

It was the last thing I wanted to hear. I didn’t want to talk about it, or cry, especially in front of people. But her words to me were SO HEALING. She spoke about my baby out loud. She called it my baby. She said it, and she offered comfort to me, and that meant my baby was real.

My baby was real, and my loss was real, and my pain was real. I am so grateful for her words to me that day.

PAILI share all of these things with you today, because I’m choosing to not keep my miscarriage a secret anymore. It’s heavy. It’s sad. It’s scary and uncomfortable. But it’s so very common. Studies show that between 10% – 25% of all clinically-recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage. It’s happening to women everywhere, and if you are one of those women, I’m sharing my story for you, so that you might not feel quite so alone. I’m sharing my story for anyone who knows a woman who has had or will suffer from a miscarriage, still birth, or infant loss. Your baby was real. Your baby was loved. And it’s a terrible tragedy that you were unable to hold that baby and watch that baby grow into a child, a teenager, an adult.

If you have lost a baby, please find someone to share your story with. You just might find that speaking your loss out loud will bring healing to both you and the person who hears. Thank you for listening to my story.


 

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7 Responses to I Lost My First Baby to Miscarriage, and I Almost Lost Myself

  1. Krip October 21, 2013 at 7:33 am #

    I was in your shoes almost exactly a year ago and it was so comforting to me, the number of women who came out and said “I had a miscarriage too.” So thank you for sharing. 🙂

    • LiaPow
      LiaPow October 22, 2013 at 6:20 am #

      That’s so true! It is both astounding and comforting how many women have gone through this.

  2. Erica October 21, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Thanks for sharing Lianna. My first pregnancy also ended in a miscarriage. I found out at my 12 week appointment that the baby stopped growing around 8 weeks. It was so heartbreaking. Everything you said said is so true. Once you see that positive pregnancy test, you start thinking about your future with your baby. I found out about my miscarriage right before Mother’s Day. During the church service all the moms were getting a carnation. A sweet lady from my church, came and gave me a flower knowing what had happened, and said that I was still a mom. Of course this just made me cry even more, but it was still nice to hear. It was nice to get support from others who had experienced the same loss-so many that I would have never known about. My mom had gone full term with her first baby and lost her because she had gotten wrapped up in the umbilical cord. I couldn’t imagine having to plan a funeral for your first baby like she had to do. I now have two healthy children and one more due in just a couple weeks, so I have been very blessed and consider myself very lucky that I didn’t have any problems getting pregnant or staying pregnant after that, but I’ll never forget the sadness I felt over the loss of my baby that was barely the size of a quarter.

    • LiaPow
      LiaPow October 22, 2013 at 6:24 am #

      Wow, Erica, how sad for you and your mom! Yes, Mother’s Day is a hard one when you’ve experienced this. Your experience sounds very similar to mine…I found out at 11.5 weeks that baby stopped growing around 7 weeks. 11 weeks doesn’t sound like that long of a time, but it sure does feel like it when you’ve been thinking about the little baby inside you practically every second of that time! I’m sorry you’ve gone through this, but I’m so glad you’ve got such beautiful kids to cherish now. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Lana October 21, 2013 at 6:08 pm #

    I found out I was pregnant the first time at about the same time that THREE coworkers found out they were as well. I had a missed miscarriage (found out at 11 weeks that baby stopped growing a few weeks before that) and then got to see the three pregnant ladies each day. Fortunately I was pregnant with Jessa by the time those three babies were born!

    • LiaPow
      LiaPow October 22, 2013 at 6:27 am #

      Ugh, Lana! It’s so hard to see pregnant women, because you’re still TOTALLY happy for them, but it doesn’t take away the fact that it reminds you how you are not pregnant anymore. Mine was a missed miscarriage too. Thanks for sharing your story. Smooch that Jessa for me (and Julian!) 🙂

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