7 Lies People Believe About Miscarriage (and Infertility)

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month! The purpose of this is to raise awareness of the prominence of pregnancy loss and infant death, and to offer support to bereaved families that have lost children during pregnancy or shortly after birth. In honor of this, I just wanted to share some information with you and debunk some common myths and misconceptions regarding this sensitive topic. So, let’s jump right in!

MYTH #1 Miscarriages are rare. 

Unfortunately, loss happens in 1 out of 4 pregnancies! This is not rare, this is actually very common. If you yourself have not had a miscarriage, I can guarantee that you know someone who has. Pregnancy loss just seems rare because no one really talks about it, which in turn makes it a very isolating and lonely experience. After I began talking about my first miscarriage, I was surprised to be opened up to a whole secret society of women who came forward and expressed that they had lost a baby, too.

MYTH #2 Pregnancy loss happens because you did/didn’t _____(insert any reason people come up with here).

Many people incorrectly believe that stress causes a miscarriage/stillbirth. Or intense exercise. Or past abortions. Heavy lifting. Not taking prenatal vitamins.  Getting in an argument. Using birth control pills for too long. You name it, I’m sure you’ve heard any number of these things!

The truth is that most miscarriages are unavoidable genetic accidents, and have nothing to do with anything the mother did or did not do. Another large portion of losses (especially stillbirths) occur because there is some other underlying medical condition, like a blood disease, reproductive tract malformation or placental abnormality. Finally, a smaller number of losses happen because of physical trauma, infection, or exposure to teratogens (things like tobacco, alcohol, and drugs) that harm the developing baby.

MYTH #3 You are not experiencing infertility if you’ve gotten pregnant before.

I was telling a close friend about my personal struggle with loss, infertility and starting a family, and she kind of laughed at my use of the word “infertility”, thinking it was a bit extreme to say that. She told me “You don’t have infertility silly, you’re just having some trouble getting pregnant right now. It’s not like you have a hostile uterus or anything. You’ve been able to get pregnant before”. Her intent was to try and remind me that hope was not completely lost, and I appreciated that. But what she said also made me realize how misinformed so many people are when it comes to this stuff.

Clinically speaking, infertility and sterility are NOT the same thing. Being sterile is a state of being physically unable to reproduce offspring. This can be caused by radiation, surgical procedures (tubes tied, vasectomy, hysterectomy, etc), menopause, genetic defects, and other things, and is usually permanent.

However, a couple is experiencing infertility when they have been having unprotected and appropriately timed sex for longer than 1 year without conceiving or carrying a child to live birth. This means that someone can have previous pregnancies, and still be experiencing infertility if none of those pregnancies resulted in a live birth. This also means that someone can even have other living children, and still be currently experiencing infertility (this is called secondary infertility).

MYTH #4 Your friend who has lost a baby or experienced trouble conceiving does not want to talk about it. 

Okay so obviously I can’t speak for everyone, but it is generally not a good idea to assume this about any one individual.

Speaking for myself, most times I do want to talk about my experiences and I wish that I had more people around me who could be a listening ear. Most [well-meaning] people just don’t understand, and that’s what makes me not want to talk about it. They get uncomfortable and change the subject, they make judgement calls on how you should feel, and they don’t know how to listen without offering advice and silver linings (“well at least…”). And you know what? It’s okay. I really don’t fault them, infertility and loss bring about a very unique type of pain that not everyone is equipped to understand.

The best thing you can do is ask your friend if they would be willing to share their experience with you. And when [if] they do share their experiences, try your best to listen intently and offer words of acknowledgement and empathy, realizing that your friend is extremely vulnerable in that moment of sharing. If you think asking your friend about how they’re doing concerning their loss will remind them of it, let me let you off the hook: they don’t need a reminder. Trust me, they have not forgotten their circumstances and you bringing it up will not remind them of their pain. If anything, it will remind them that you remember, and that you care. Again, the best thing you can do is ask someone how they want to be addressed concerning this!  You have to be sensitive and mindful, at the same time without walking on eggshells or showing pity. True empathy really is an art! Ask questions. Listen. Acknowledge.

MYTH #5 Your friend who has lost a baby or experienced trouble conceiving does not want to hear about your new pregnancy/baby. 

Again, I can’t speak for everyone here. Now, do I want to hear you constantly complain about how horrible your pregnancy is? No. Do I need a play by play on every twinge and flutter that comes from within your belly? Not really. Nor do I want you to joke about how I can have your trouble-making kids for a weekend because you’re sure I’ll change my mind about wanting my own. Save these things for your mommy friends!

However, I do want to celebrate your pregnancy with you! I do want to hear about all the  milestones your little one hits, and the silly & amazing things that they do. I do want to be invited to your baby shower (if I am up for it, I will make the choice to attend), and I do want to be included in your little one’s life. I do not want to be left out, that will only intensify negative feelings; as my circumstances already have me feeling isolated and forgotten.

Now that’s just me; but I recognize that everyone is different. As a general rule of thumb:

  • DO NOT: Surprise her by telling her in front of other people. No one likes being caught off guard.
  • DO: Tell her about your pregnancy via email, card, or even a heartfelt text message before you make the big announcement. This gives her time and space to process the news by herself.
  • DO NOT: Ignore her situation. Acknowledge that you understand how difficult this might be for her in light of her recent loss or struggles conceiving.
  • DO: Ask her how much she wants to hear about what is going on with you, don’t assume! Respect whatever she says and accept that she may need time and space to feel differently. Follow her lead.

Sure, at the end of the day it will probably be hard for her no matter how you flip it, I won’t lie to you. There’s really no easy way to go about this. But if she loves you, I can almost guarantee that she is not hurting because you are experiencing the excitement of motherhood,  she’s hurting because she is not. There’s a difference! Your joy is not her sorrow, her sorrow is her sorrow. And though it may be difficult for her to express it while she’s hurting, know that she is (likely) absolutely thrilled for you.

MYTH #6 The earlier a loss happens during the pregnancy, the better. 

Not true, not true, not true. I remember talking to someone after my first loss, and though she had not experienced loss herself, she offered great comfort by sharing with me stories of other women who had. She told me about her friend who had just lost a baby and said: “but hers wasn’t just a miscarriage, she actually had to give birth to hers”.

Just a miscarriage?

Ouch.

This is the equivalent of saying to a victim of sexual abuse *trigger warning* “Well, at least it was only molestation, it could’ve been rape”! Silly, right? There is no better or worse here, only pain. And pain cannot be quantified by anyone except the person experiencing it.

I am not taking anything away from what I’m sure is a very traumatic experience of birthing a stillborn. Both of my losses have been before the 20 week mark (which is the clinical distinction between miscarriage and stillbirth), and both of my unborn babies were removed surgically, and so I cannot comment on anything other than my experiences. However, I can say this: The mother who went into the operating room 11 weeks pregnant and woke up in recovery with an empty womb, hurts. The mother who gave birth to her baby at 28 weeks in a hospital bed, hurts.  The mother who gave birth to her tiny baby at home in the bathroom toilet at 8.5 weeks, she hurts too. Losing an unborn child can be incredibly painful and life altering, and I am sure that this is the case for most who have experienced some form of this, no matter when the loss occurred.

Which brings me to my next point.

MYTH #7 An early pregnancy is just a clump of cells.

I think this is one of the most damaging misconceptions out there. And that’s because, for the most part (according to yunno…actual medicine and science) this just isn’t true. A quick embryology lesson: at the time of conception, momma’s egg and daddy’s sperm meet to form a zygote, which is the earliest stage of human life. It is at this stage, at the very moment of conception, that the entire genetic makeup of this new life is determined…hair color, eye color, whether they will be athletic or musical, boy or girl, tall or short, the shape of their nose, the dimples in their cheeks – literally everything – all contained within this single cell.

During that first week or so, the cell divides a bunch of times and eventually forms a blastocyst, which at this point actually is just a clump of cells (albeit, a highly specialized and rapidly dividing clump of cells, but a clump of cells nonetheless). The blastocyst travels to the uterus and implants into the uterine wall, marking the official start of pregnancy, though the mother will not realize she is pregnant for another week or so.

By the time she is able to test positive on a home urine test, usually during the 4th-5th week of pregnancy, the human blastocyst has graduated to become an embryo. And guess what? By the end of the 5th week of pregnancy, that embryo has a heart, and that heart is beating as it pumps blood through the tiny human body. Granted, it doesn’t really look like a human body yet, I’ll give you that. It looks more like a tadpole at that point. But the fact is that it is human, with a beating heart and developing brain to boot. At 5 weeks gestation!! (so in awe of God right now, excuse me)!! By week 7, the face begins to develop and by week 8, the human embryo can move it’s body and limbs. At the end of the 10th week of pregnancy, the embryo has arms and legs complete with tiny fingers and tiny toes. The face is recognizable with a little nose, two ears, and a mouth; and it has tiny boy parts or girl parts (though still too small to tell the difference).

At this point you might be bored out of your mind. Please forgive me, I could go on and on about this kind of stuff. The bottom line is this – around the time that a woman discovers her pregnancy, she already has a living being with a beating heart and its own genetic makeup growing inside of her. Far from just a clump of cells; it is a tiny, developing human being. Life functions on a continuum, and as human life grows and develops, we call it different names. Embryo, fetus, infant, toddler, child, teenager, adult, elder…the difference here is a matter of time.

These are straight facts from my med school textbook, by no means is this an opinion based on my political affiliation or my belief in God as the Creator of human life. The fact is that we’ve been done a huge disservice by being told the “clump of cells” lie.  Do your research and know the truth for yourself! And remember this when someone tells you that they’ve suffered a miscarriage. They didn’t lose a clump of cells. They’ve lost a life, the life of their child, in it’s earliest form.

img_0679.jpg

I hope I was able to shed some light on some things you didn’t know, or maybe even reinforce some things you already did. Please like, comment, and share for the purpose of raising awareness!

 

Other Resources:

Pro soccer player Sydney Leroux opens up on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

Rainbow Baby Photoshoot

Breaking The Silence: I Had A Baby

 

Ectopic Pregnancy Signs and Symptoms

If you find yourself reading this blog post, it’s probably for one of the following two reasons:

  1. You’re my friend or follower and you usually read my blog (Hello again, thanks for reading!)
  2. You found me on Google or some other forum because you fear that you (or your partner) may be experiencing an ectopic pregnancy. If this is you, I first want to say that I am deeply sorry. I hope that the information I share in this blog post can provide some clarity on what is happening to you right now.

Ectopic pregnancy (called EP for short) is a potentially dangerous condition that occurs when the baby is growing outside of the womb. If the ectopic pregnancy ruptures, it is a serious, life-threatening medical emergency that must be surgically treated right away.

I think every woman who is considering becoming pregnant needs to know about the [albeit rare] possibility of having an ectopic. Only 1-2% of pregnancies are ectopic, so statistically speaking, it’s probably not something you’ll ever have to worry about! To put it in perspective, you actually have a better chance of conceiving twins than you do having an EP. The overwhelming majority (98-99%) of pregnancies are NOT ectopic. However, there is still that small subset of women who will experience an EP. And although it feels like it could never happen to you, always remember that it could happen to you. So, you should be equipped, informed, and empowered. That’s why I’m writing this blog.

Having just gone through my own ectopic pregnancy experience, I hope that the things I learned can help you.

 

 

What is an Ectopic Pregnancy?

The word ectopic is Latin for “out of place”. So in the most basic terms, an ectopic pregnancy is simply a pregnancy that does not occur in the right place. The only place that a baby can grow and survive before birth is in the mother’s womb. Normally, the egg and sperm meet in the Fallopian Tube and then the fertilized egg travels down the tube to implant in the uterus. In an EP, the fertilized egg gets “stuck” in the tube (or otherwise finds itself in a place it does not belong) and begins to grow. It’s an unbelievably unfortunate accident that almost always results the death of the baby because it can’t get all the nutritional support it needs to survive.

The vast majority of EPs happen in the Fallopian Tube, you may have heard it referred to as a ‘tubal pregnancy’. EPs can also happen in the ovary, cervix, and even in the abdomen, but this is far less common.

About 80% of EPs are discovered before the tube ruptures. Some doctors choose to do what is called ‘watchful waiting’ or ‘expectant management’, in which they just let the body do it’s thing and wait for the EP to resolve itself. Sadly, most babies will die on their own and the mother will miscarry because the embryo can’t get the nourishment it needs. Ectopics can also be treated with an injectable drug called methotrexate which terminates the pregnancy and causes her to miscarry.

Unfortunately, medical science has not yet found a way to transfer an EP safely into the mother’s womb where it belongs.

In about 20% of cases, an EP is not detected before the tube ruptures. The mother may be unaware that the pregnancy is non-viable, and the baby keeps growing until it stretches the tube to a maximal point, at which the tube begins to tear and eventually burst. This can cause massive internal bleeding, which is why ectopic pregnancies are no joke. A ruptured ectopic pregnancy can. kill. you. if you don’t get help. With the advent of medical technology and blood transfusions though, expectant mothers with a ruptured EP generally have a good prognosis after treatment.

 

 

What puts you at risk for developing an Ectopic Pregnancy?

Anyone can have an EP, but there are certain things that put you at greater risk:

  • Endometriosis
  • Fertility Treatments – taking fertility medications and/or using assisted reproductive technology like IVF or IUI
  • Advanced Maternal Age
  • Smoking
  • History of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
  • History of Abdominal/Pelvic Surgery
  • Previous Ectopic Pregnancy

I had several of these risk factors under my belt already, and now that I’ve experienced an EP my risk for another one has gone up even higher. You should know what the risk factors are and talk to your doctor about what this means for you. If you fall pregnant and have several risk factors for ectopic pregnancy, make an appointment with your doctor for an early scan and ask them for serial Hcg levels (repeated every 48 hours). You should be closely monitored until it is confirmed that the pregnancy is not an ectopic.

 

 

What are the signs of Ectopic Pregnancy?

Let me start by stating the obvious, everyone is different. Just because you have these symptoms does NOT mean that you for sure have an ectopic pregnancy. Also, you may have an EP and not experience any of the symptoms I’ve listed below. The key is knowing your body and discerning what’s normal or abnormal for you. For the most part, my EP was pretty textbook. I broke each of my symptoms down a little just to give more insight into my experience. The signs and symptoms I had before my tube ruptured were:

  1. Vaginal Bleeding – I had bleeding the whole time that I was pregnant. People kept telling me “bleeding in early pregnancy can be normal”, and I know that this is true for some. But in my case, with this pregnancy, the bleeding was not normal. It was a warning. Most days it was just spotting..mostly brown, sometimes pink, definitely controlled with a liner. For about a day or two the flow was moderate and bright red – more than spotting, but not as heavy as a normal period. Then it turned back to light spotting and eventually tapered off. Anytime you have bleeding during pregnancy it’s safe to just go get it checked out!
  2. Lower Back Cramps – This started happening about 3 or 4 days before my tube ruptured. I was using a heating pad and trying to avoid medications to protect the pregnancy, but eventually used Tylenol to help with the pain. At the time it was hard for me to tell whether this was an early pregnancy symptom or  not.
  3. Low Progesterone – Progesterone is a hormone that helps regulate your cycle and maintain pregnancy. Medical science seems to be ambiguous as far as the causal relationship between progesterone and ectopic pregnancy. Some sources say that low progesterone may be a cause of an ectopic (or otherwise non-viable) pregnancy, while other sources say that low progesterone is a sign of an ectopic pregnancy. Basically, it’s unclear as to what comes first: is your progesterone low because you have an EP? Or do you have an EP because your progesterone is low? Either way, there is a definite correlation between serum progesterone levels and ectopic pregnancy. Progesterone is not a routine prenatal lab so you’ll probably have to ask for it to be done if you suspect reason for it. I had my progesterone drawn in the ER about a week or so before finding out I had an EP and it was extremely low.
  4. Low Hcg – Okay so my Hcg levels were doubling every 48 hours initially, right on target. As time went on though, they kept going up but weren’t rising as fast as they were supposed to. This is called ‘slow-rising Hcg’. It was concerning and I really should’ve been more closely monitored by my gynecologist because of it, especially considering that my ultrasounds showed no evidence of an intrauterine pregnancy at a point where something should’ve been visible. Unfortunately, early pregnancy is tricky that way because not everyone follows the “textbook” pattern, making it difficult to diagnose when something is wrong as opposed to just a deviation from “the norm”.

 

The morning that my Fallopian Tube ruptured I experienced:

  1. Severe, Localized Abdominal Pain – It started off as a sharp pain in my right lower tummy, and over time the pain gradually spread throughout my abdomen and pelvis. It happened very suddenly; I was sitting in bed doing nothing and then BOOM, I was doubled over in pain. I would describe the pain as severe, I felt like I couldn’t move. It was quite literally the worst pain I’ve ever felt. I have ruptured several ovarian cysts, endometriosis causes me pretty bad menstrual pain, I have like 6 tattoos..but this pain was borderline unbearable. Also, it was waxing and waning, meaning that it randomly got worse and then a little better..and then worse again and then a little better. But the underlying pain was always there.
  2. Shoulder Pain – I told the paramedics that I had burning shoulder pain, and one of them told me that it was probably because of anxiety and that I should just calm down. In reality, shoulder pain can be a sign of internal bleeding caused by blood in your abdomen irritating the nerves that control your diaphragm.
  3. Syncopal or Near Syncopal Episode – Syncope means “passing out” or fainting. I’ve never passed out before so these symptoms really freaked me out. My hands were shaking and I was super dizzy. I started grabbing at everything around me because I could barely hold myself up. Then suddenly my vision was blurred, I became extremely nauseous, hot, and sweaty, and then cold and clammy. My poor husband was so scared and helpless, all he could do was hold me up and try to keep me awake while we waited for the ambulance.
  4. Symptoms of Shock – Once I arrived to the ER, things went from bad to worse. My heart rate went up to 130, my blood pressure dropped as low as 90/50, I felt really weak, sweaty, and mentally I was completely out of it. My body was going into shock from the blood loss and I knew I was extremely ill. At this point they were still running tests and stuff trying to figure out what was going on but I seriously thought I was dying. I had my husband make calls to our family to inform them of what was happening.

 

 

Why am I going through all of these lengthy details? 

Ectopic Pregnancies can be tricky to diagnose. In the weeks leading up to my hospitalization, I went to my gynecologist twice and had even made a trip to the ER because of the symptoms I was having. I had several ultrasounds and my blood work was done each time.

All three times I was sent home.

The paramedics didn’t take me seriously either, and it’s literally their job to recognize life-threatening emergencies. After I explained my symptoms to them and told them that I was 7 weeks pregnant, one of them (a woman) said to me “I had cramping and bleeding with my son. He’s 6 years old now and perfectly healthy; so there’s probably nothing wrong with you”.

I could smell the stench of arrogance from across the room. She was so condescending and I wanted so badly for her to stop talking, but she wouldn’t shut up.

“It’s just a little cramping honey, you should really just calm down. Your shoulder pain is most likely due to anxiety”.

I’m pretty sure she could see the steam coming from my head at that point.

She went on to say that the ambulance could “give me a ride” to the ER if I felt like I really needed to go, but that I shouldn’t expect immediate answers because I was so early in my pregnancy. I even told her that I was concerned about the pregnancy being ectopic and she was still completely dismissive. She literally tried to convince me that it was all in my head.

And to be honest, she almost did.

First of all I never in a million years thought that this would happen to me. Even with me having several risk factors, I just didn’t think it would happen. Not to mention, I really didn’t think I’d loose two babies in a row. That was out of the question.

Also, I think as women we tend to try and be tough when it comes to pain. Speaking for myself, I think it may stem from a fear of coming across as melodramatic. I don’t want to appear weak, I want to look strong. I want to be strong. Plus I didn’t want to feel stupid if it turned out that nothing was even wrong with me. But in that moment I had to realize this truth: it takes both strength and wisdom to admit when you might be in trouble.

So, I politely told the paramedic that I would like to be taken to the ER by ambulance because I think that something is wrong. I then went on to explain that I am in medical school and have several years of clinical experience, mostly in emergency medicine. I’m not stupid. It’s not all in my head. And I know what I’m talking about. She was a little less condescending at that point but I could tell she was still skeptical.

Right before I went into surgery my gynecologist looked me square in the eyes and told me that it was a good thing that I came to the Emergency Room when I did. Had I listened to the paramedic and ignored my body, it’s possible I wouldn’t be here to tell you about it today. My husband really looked out for me and pushed me to get help when I didn’t want it. It was his decision to take me to the ER, and his decision to call the ambulance when I wasn’t thinking straight for myself. I lost a baby and I lost a Fallopian tube, but I didn’t loose my life because we acted quickly and got the help I needed!

So, that’s my story. If it’s one thing I want you to take away from all of this, it’s that you have to speak up for yourself.

You must be your own advocate.

Ask for those extra tests. Bring your questions and concerns to someone’s attention. Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer and don’t be scared to be wrong. Most doctors are very great at what they do but they are humans too, and they can make mistakes. I can’t help but think how different this all could have been had my early concerns been investigated more thoroughly.

My incisions are healing up, the bruising on my tummy is starting to go away…but the hole in my heart is still very fresh. Part of me feels like I haven’t fully processed what has happened, it all still feels so surreal. I know that this pregnancy was never truly viable, but to us, it is a devastating loss. We will always remember our unborn child and the joy we shared for the 7 weeks that he or she was with us. And now, 12 days after surgery, the real healing process begins.

 

Breaking The Silence: I Had A Baby

It’s October and I’m excited! I just bought 5 different fall nail polish shades & put out all my fall candles at home. Most people are gearing up for Halloween, buying their pink for Breast Cancer Awareness, headed to cider mills, or appreciating the fact that all FOUR pro-sports are simultaneously being played this month.

Not to detract from any of this,  but did you know that October has also been dubbed “Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month”? Most people don’t know this fun fact, I didn’t know until I had experienced pregnancy loss myself. What blew my mind even more was that there is actually an entire day within the month devoted to bringing awareness to miscarriage, still birth, and infant loss – that day is October 15!

So, in the spirit of the month at hand, I decided to do something to commemorate and contribute to bringing awareness to such a sore subject.

Unfortunately, people just aren’t talking about miscarriage

Why is it so taboo? Why is it so misunderstood? My guess is probably because couples like myself and my husband suffer in silence. We aren’t talking about our miscarriages. And then people who have miscarriages think they are alone (because nobody talks about it), so they don’t talk about their miscarriages either. And round and round we go.

It is for this reason that I am going “public” with my blog. So far I have “anonymously” shared my blog on several pregnancy loss forums across the web and through an anonymous Instagram page. I have been able to reach over 1,000 people in 29 different countries – from the USA all the way to Sri Lanka. I am so thankful to God because I know He is using my negative as a positive for someone else – and that is what it’s all about for me! That makes my pain useful.

That makes this crap worth something.

I write about my experiences with miscarriage to be a light to someone else who may be going through the same thing.

But I’ve still been hiding.

Up until now, I haven’t shared this blog with family or friends. I don’t link it to my personal social media pages. I’ve even gone so far as to make sure I don’t add identifying photos or names to my writing; just in case someone I know out there happens to find this. You see, we didn’t tell very many people about our miscarriage, only those few who knew we were expecting were made aware of the loss. If I shared my blog on my social media, that would mean that everyone I knew would know we had miscarried our first child, and I wasn’t comfortable with that thought. It is just my husband, mother, sister, and literally three friends of mine who are aware that this blog site even exists. That’s because

my miscarriage was dark and ugly.

And I’m not just talking about the physical event of the miscarriage…I’m talking about the days and months following.

The days when I could not – or would not – get out of bed unless hubby physically picked me up. The days when I lashed out at him. The times when I lashed out at God. The nights we spent sitting on the couch crying. The times I had to force a smile because interacting with people was work. The private and painful details that only he and I will ever know.

I was (am) hurt, ashamed, and angry and I didn’t want to expose that side of me to anyone in my life. Not only that, but I’m a private person and to be frank I didn’t think my miscarriage was anybody else’s business. (*hugs*)

But then I realized – this approach only perpetuates the stigma associated with miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss…it doesn’t help bring awareness. So I decided to step out of my comfort zone and share that

1 in 4 is not just a statistic, it’s ME

Yes, unbelievable right? Generally speaking, a staggering 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage! That means we ALL know several people who have lost babies this way. They may not have told you, they may not have even knew it themselves, but you know someone who has had a miscarriage. It is way more common than you’d think, which certainly doesn’t take away from the tragedy of it all, but it does let me know that I am not alone.

img_0679

I wanted to share some other facts about pregnancy and infant loss:

  • Miscarriage is the death of a baby before 20 weeks gestation
  • Stillbirth is the death of a baby after 20 weeks gestation
  • As mentioned, it is believed that as much as 25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage (http://www.pregnancy.org)
  • The likelihood of miscarriage declines the further the mother is into the pregnancy, but rates drop off drastically after a heartbeat is detected.

“There is a unique pain that comes from preparing a place in your heart for a child that never comes”  -David Platt

There are several different types of miscarriages

  • Blighted Ovum -a type of early loss in which a fertilized egg implants but does not begin to divide into an embryo
  • Chemical Pregnancy – another very early loss when the embryo is lost shortly after implantation. It is believed that chemical pregnancies make up about 50% of all miscarriages — the mother may not know she is pregnant (though with early detection becoming increasingly accessible, she could) and the miscarriage looks like a normal or late period
  • Complete Miscarriage – the contents of the uterus (baby, placenta, and all tissue) are expelled (incomplete miscarriages happen too, where only some of the tissue is expelled)
  • Missed Miscarriage – though very rare, a missed miscarriage happens when the baby dies with the mother having barely any symptoms. Actually, mother’s still experience symptoms of pregnancy after the baby is dead because the placenta is still releasing hormones. Most go on thinking their baby is fine and life is great, and do not find out that their pregnancy is over until a routine checkup. This can happen at any stage of pregnancy and only accounts for as much as 1% of all miscarriages (http://healthresearchfunding.org). This is the type of miscarriage I had, you can read more about that here
  • Ectopic Pregnancy – the egg implants somewhere else, usually in the Fallopian tubes, and begins to grow. These types of losses are also rare and can be life threatening to the mother, the baby does not survive
  • Molar Pregnancy – this happens when fetal/placental tissue grows abnormally and a tumor grows in the uterus instead of a baby. About 1 in 1,000 pregnancies in this country is a molar pregnancy (http://www.marchofdimes.org)

 

Ultimately, miscarriage is the death of a baby – and should not be looked at any other way

You can call miscarriage the loss of a fetus, embryo, pregnancy tissue or whatever – but to me it was a baby. It was a life. It was my unborn child. And I know there are many other couples out there who have experienced this type of loss and feel the same way I do.

This October we are remembering our babies.

Those we could never meet, those born sleeping, and those who made it home and then left way too soon.

In honor of Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month, share your story in the comments…even if you just share your little one’s name. If you don’t want to share your story, just leave a comment saying “Me too”, there is comfort in community. If you don’t want to comment, share this blog; someone else may need to see it. Someone else may need to hear that they aren’t alone.

Each pregnancy loss a couple experiences is a part of their history as parents, and each life that comes into this world deserves to be acknowledged. 

If you have experienced pregnancy or infant loss, I am praying earnestly for you. I am praying that God comforts you and gives you his peace. I am praying that He surrounds you with His love. I am praying that He guides the hearts and minds of those around you; that they would be mindful of your loss and not say anything hurtful while you grieve. There is light at the end of this tunnel, I promise! If you would like special prayer, or have a prayer request for someone else you know, I have a submission form on my site.

image

Hugs to you all!

-Nikkie

 

 

 

Our Small Memorial Service For August

Well, this past weekend was my due date. August 26, 2016. And to be honest, it was just as hard as I thought it was going to be.

August 27th was the due date as calculated by the date of my LMP (last menstrual period), but August 26th was the estimated due date from our dating ultrasound. So, this past weekend there were a lot of tears. A lot of pits in my stomach and lumps in my throat.

Miscarriage is a strange loss. I can’t say we were able to think back on the good times and fun memories we made with our deceased loved one…because there weren’t any. This child died in utero before we could even see him crack a smile. The only memories I have of my baby are hearing his heart beat for the first time, and seeing his fully formed face on ultrasound the day we found out we were miscarrying. Both my husband and I heard the heartbeat, but only I saw his face. The ultrasound tech didn’t print the picture,  so the only place that memory will ever exist is in my mind.

Friday night included laying on my mothers lap for 15 minutes, bawling my eyes out. There is something about her that is so comforting to me. Her hands, her voice, all soothed me like I was her little girl again as she was trying to console me. Then I went home with my husband and we spent the night relaxing together.

Saturday wasn’t as bad, I think that was because I had a million things to do that day. I kept my mind occupied and kept moving, which helped me not get so down. I ended up going out with some of my good friends to celebrate a graduation. One of them asked me “When are y’all having kids?” Ouch. She has no idea that she is picking at an invisible scab. “Oh, soon I hope. We’ll see!” with a forced grin on my face. Then she said something that sent chills down my spine. She said “You look like a mom, and not in a bad way. You just look really motherly right now, I feel it. It’s going to happen soon”. I figured it may be awkward if I hugged her and started crying immediately and uncontrollably in the middle of the bar, so I digressed.

IMG_0478

We had our memorial service Sunday. It was just Jesus, hubby and I, we went to a nearby lake with a half dozen balloons. We found a spot off the dock; he said a small prayer, read a poem he had wrote to August (which I’ve shared at the end of this blog), and then we sat for a little bit in silence. Then together, we let the balloons go and watched them float for as high as we could see. And then we left. It was harder than I imagined to let the balloons go. For those 15 minutes…from the time it took to get from the party store to the lake, those balloons meant something. It was so hard to let go. There were no tears from me on Sunday. I got a little choked up, but my husband did cry. We spent the rest of the evening home.

I think the hardest part about it all was that this day seemed like just a normal day for the rest of the world. Nobody but our closest family even realized it was our due date, and I don’t think anyone would have cared much if I told them anyway. In our world, someone very important to us had died and today was their funeral. But, to the rest of the world…it was just another day. As a matter of fact, according to social media it was national dog day. Just another day. The bad news is that the world keeps turning and life keeps happening.

But, you see, that’s also the good news. The world keeps turning, and life keeps happening. I thank God that I am able to hold onto his promises and keep going forward in His strength. God is working, even (and especially) when I don’t understand. It’s taken a lot for me to even get to this point, and I am so thankful.

I’ve included (with his permission) a poem written by my dear husband:

From the moment your existence was learned things changed
Titles change, life changes and everything rearranges
Excitement follows
Followed by anticipation
Then in the blink of an eye everything changes
And life seems so hollow
Days go by
People come by and tears eventually go dry
But never mistake the pain is very much alive
The impact you have had on our lives is immeasurable
While everyone else seems to have forgotten
I carry the weight of your absence with me everywhere I go
But I firmly trust and believe in God that your absence is not in vain
Unfortunately you served your purpose for us before the world would know your name
Who we are today is a direct result of you
And in this life and the next know that mommy and daddy will always love you
Have you memorialized your stillborn or miscarried baby? What did you do? Did it help you cope with the loss? Comment below!
xoxo,
-N

5 Ways You Can Help Someone Who Has Had A Miscarriage

 

When someone you love tells you they’ve had a miscarriage, it can be very hard to figure out what to do for that person. I know firsthand there are things that family and friends did for me that helped me tremendously! Here are a few suggestions!

 1. Send a card 

…or a text, email, letter, smoke signal, carrier pigeon; something to let that person know that you are thinking of them regarding their loss.Acknowledge birthdays and would-be-due-dates. Have those awkward conversations. I get that sometimes it’s just plain hard to find the words to say, and the topic is understandably sensitive so you may think saying nothing is best. Some avoid talking about it because they think bringing it up to you will remind you of the pain. Let me let those people off the hook – this grieving mother or father is never going to forget losing their unborn child. It hurts more to think my baby is forgotten. For me, acknowledging the loss reminds me that my baby was alive within me, and his life counted. And those are sentiments I am desperately trying to hold on to. That’s why I believe that you don’t have to say anything lengthy or profound, but saying something to acknowledge the loss is very important!

For a few months after the miscarriage I battled depression and simply didn’t want to talk to people. My dear hubby fielded a lot of phone calls and texts when people wanted to check up on me – and I remember and treasure every last person who reached out in some form. Even though I wasn’t up for talking, I knew that they cared and that outpouring of love helped to get me through! A simple “Thinking of you during this time” or “I’m sorry for your loss. I love you!” will do just fine. I even had a friend tell me “I’m sorry I didn’t reach out sooner, I really just didn’t know what to say but I wanted you to know I’m praying for you guys”. This was a breath of fresh air and incredibly honest, I appreciated that.

There is a small caveat, there are some things you should avoid saying and I blogged before about what not to say – you can find that post here. Above all, remember that this person just lost a child…neglecting to acknowledge that loss ultimately hurts more than saying the “wrong thing”.

2. Just be there.

Because sometimes my first tip just doesn’t cut it for you. Maybe you truly can’t find the words…that’s okay! There is so much power and ministry in just being there for someone.

It’s a common thing to say “I’m here if you need me” when someone you love is going through a hard time. It’s not as common to make yourself available for someone whether they need you or not. Listen when (if, in some cases) they are talking to you about the miscarriage. Check on them today, and then check on them again tomorrow –  and then again next week. Months later when you’ve forgotten about the loss, remember that they haven’t, and then check on them again. Ask if you can drop by just to give them a hug; and if they decline today ask them again tomorrow.

I’ll be the first to say I didn’t exactly make it easy for people to “just be there” for me after our loss. That being said, when you tell them you are going to pray for them, actually pray for them! So many people toss around the platitude “Praying for you during this hard time” but never actually talk to God about anyone but themselves. I’m guilty! But I believe in the power of prayer and I know I wouldn’t have made it through without the prayers of my husband, family and friends. That’s why when I tell someone I am praying for them, it’s usually because I already have.

3. Bring them food or offer to take care of errands. 

Miscarriage is physically and emotionally draining. The last thing a grieving couple wants to think about during this time is doing the laundry, walking the dog, or cooking dinner. But, these things still need to be done – and that’s where you come in! My sisters helped dog sit on multiple occasions. Our parents sent us grocery money and they even had food delivered to our home once, which was incredibly nice! A classmate gave us a gift card to a nearby restaurant that we redeemed online so we could pick up dinner curb-side. All of these things were appreciated because for a little while after the loss I was physically unable to do the everyday things I normally did, like cook and clean. And though my husband is perfectly capable of manning the fort on his own, he was grieving too and also taking care of me. It was a huge help when our friends & family stepped in and did simple things like this for us.

img_0337-1
My cohort at school came together to get a nice gift for me; it included this journal, tea mug, and a scented candle.  So nice of them!

 

4. Make or buy them a small gift.

I’m not saying spend a fortune, but a small gift helps to show your friend that their loss is real and valid to you, too. For example, my classmates came together and bought me a journal, candle, and over-sized tea mug – all practical things that I used when I needed to relax. Also, my sister bought me a Pandora charm with my unborn child’s birth stone in it. Sometimes I look at it and smile, and other times I look at it and get a little teary eyed, but having something tangible to hold on to after the baby is gone helps! My mother in law sent me and hubby gift cards to go shopping – she said it was an early birthday gift… though both of our birthdays were literally months later. I think she was just trying to brighten up our day 🙂 My parents sent chocolates and I also received flowers. While none of these material things could ever take the pain away, it helped to put a smile on my face if even for a moment.

5. Give them time. 

Grief is an essential process after loss, let it run its course! After our miscarriage I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. So not only was I bereaved, I was also dealing with dramatically altered brain chemistry and hormonal imbalances that come with being pregnant and then suddenly, not pregnant anymore. This made it just plain hard to function as my normal self. There was a physical and mental aspect to my grief after the miscarriage that most people don’t consider.

I was mad at the world and this went on for months and months. Now that I am emerging on the other side of that phase – I have resurfaced to find that some people simply could not handle or accept the grieving process and how I expressed my pain. The Psalmist said “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning”. In the words of a friend, it may not have been this morning, and it may not be tomorrow morning either – but one day your friend or loved one will make it through the grieving process and you want to be there when the morning comes. Don’t give up on your grieving friend.

You may think after a few weeks this person should be “over” their miscarriage by now, but everyone handles things in their own way. Some people like being surrounded by others when they are grieving, others (like myself in this situation) may prefer to be left alone. Some women may sort through their loss quickly and move on, while others may be devastated long after the pregnancy is over. Either way, giving your loved one the time and freedom to feel whatever it is that they feel – for however long they feel it – is one of the best things you can do for them!

IMG_0351

Please, share in the comments things other people did for you that helped you cope with your miscarriage or infant loss! I always reply back, I look forward to connecting with you!

 

xoxo,

-N