Warning – This post is about my miscarriage experience and it may be triggering.
Recently, I was interviewed for a documentary that covers all aspects of the black motherhood experience. After I finished taping, I realized that I have never shared my miscarriage experience with anyone outside of my immediate family and close friends. I thought to myself, why is that? So, I decided to share it here as well. My prayer is that my story will help encourage, inspire or support another woman.
I was 26, newly married, and thought I was following a plan for my life. Naturally, the next step after marriage was to have a baby. We were young and healthy, and I imagined that everything would be beautifully perfect. No one warned me that just the simple fact of getting pregnant, and subsequently staying pregnant, would be so monumental. Almost immediately, we told EVERYONE we were pregnant. We had baby names floating around, godparent applications in our inboxes, and people offering all types of advice. My girlfriends were all “Aunties” and plans for final girl trips and a “babymoon” were already in the making.
It was unsuspecting as I went to sleep one night and woke up to a shocking revelation: cramping and way too much blood. My baby was in trouble. Even now, thinking about that day, I remember clearly what I wore to the hospital. I remember saying to myself over and over again, “This can’t be happening. This just can’t be happening.”
At the hospital is where I got a rude introduction to the “world of lost babies”. The terminology that was floating around – Hcg levels, expectant management, and D&C – was overwhelming. However, I had wonderful patient care. The nurses were great about explaining things and what the next steps were. I understood that I was losing my baby, but the one question that no one could answer was why.
While in the recovery room, the immense sense of grief would come. It turns out it wouldn’t leave me for months. Loneliness was always in the room. Even when I wasn’t by myself, knowing that there was no baby inside just made the silence louder. Furthermore, it was hard to manage my grief and be a support for my husband as well. As a woman, we have the chance to start bonding as soon as conception occurs. Unfortunately, men don’t get that opportunity but still have the same loss. In hindsight, I really believe going to therapy would have been helpful, but I didn’t even think to consider it then.
After losing the baby, who was nicknamed “Dottie”, I learned that unfortunately having a miscarriage is very common. My internet research told me that 1 in 5 pregnancies would end this way. That was so surprising to me, and I almost didn’t believe it until several women would approach me saying they experienced it as well. It felt like I was now a part of an unspoken, hidden tribe of women. It is a club I didn’t want a membership to, but it is part of my journey to motherhood.
Since this happens often and is considered “common”, why don’t we hear more about it? Why aren’t women (and men) talking about it? Clearly there is some unwritten stigma about not discussing it. I was filled with shame, guilt, felt like a failure, and wondered if I had done something wrong. This is quite possibly some of the same things that my husband felt as well, yet we didn’t have an outlet to comfortably discuss it. There was no support group and no place to go, just a silent internal struggle with a whole lot of prayer.
When I got pregnant the following year with Miss Double Digits, I was very cautious about sharing any details about my pregnancy because the mental and emotional damage from losing Dottie was still there. Even in a healthy pregnancy, the fear is still there, and the questions were still unanswered from the year before. Every day, I prayed for my baby, and I talked to her, “Please stay in there. Thank you for staying in there.” She took me seriously; she even waited until the day AFTER her due date to make her grand entrance into the world.
A rainbow baby is the child you give birth to after a loss. Miss Double Digits is my rainbow baby. (Guess who really loves rainbows!) When I mentioned it to her, she was surprised but also showed a level of pride. She has a clearer understanding of how special she is. But she also said it was kind of weird to think that she would have been a middle child. (Geez, teenagers. SMH.)
Spiritually speaking, a rainbow represents God’s promise to us. And after a loss of any kind, it might be tough to remember that, but His promise is still good. Every time I see a rainbow, I am immediately trying to take a picture of it. It is just a quick and beautiful reminder that after the rain, the sun comes out again. Fifteen years ago, I experienced a trauma that I thought might define my life in a negative way. Thankfully, I was wrong. The rainbow eventually came, and she was worth the wait.
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