My name is Jennifer and I had a miscarriage. And guess what? Many, MANY of the women in your life did, too, whether you know it or not. Our own Kris-Ann even blogged about it in her recent post, “Moving People With Your Words.”
The first time I admitted out loud that this had happened to me, I was shocked at how many of my friends chimed in with, “Me, too.” It’s our dirty little secret but I’ve come to find that it’s so, so common. Common enough to have memes on Facebook and numerous support groups. We’re talking 600,000 women in the U.S. every year common (stat courtesy American Pregnancy Association). All of our stories are different but they all have similar threads — pain, guilt, fear. I can only speak of my own experience and feelings but I hope this prompts others to speak up.
Joyful and excited about our first pregnancy, my mister and I told people almost immediately. Not a ton of people, just our families and a couple of close friends. I learned the hard way that all the people I told? I had to un-tell.
At seven weeks, the doctors could not find a heartbeat. A few days later, still nothing. We now had the choice of letting nature take its course and “hoping” that a miscarriage would proceed on its own, or having a “procedure.” Let me just put it out there: I am adamantly pro-choice. I don’t know that I could have ever chosen to have an actual abortion but that’s up to me. Now here I was, faced with the need for basically the same procedure and I chose it without hesitation; we scheduled it for the very next day. My OB/GYN was so empathetic and understanding, I still love her even though I will forever associate her with this terrible moment in my life. I went home to cry while my mister called both sets of parents and sent a brief email to our friends. We had not been married long but I realized in that moment how strong and capable he could be. Despite being told that I didn’t want to talk to anyone, one friend called and called, not giving up. She questioned our decision and thought we should get a second opinion about the viability of the baby. This was the absolute worst thing I could have heard at that time. I was already analyzing every move I’d made and every single thing I’d eaten or drunk for the past two months, wondering what I might have done wrong (which was nothing, let me be clear). Now I had one more thing to agonize over. My amazing husband basically told her to fuck off, which was exactly right.
Ooh, did you catch it back there when I wrote, “the viability of the baby?” That’s right, baby, not fetus. To me, it was a baby already, with a due date (another Virgo like me and my mister) and a place in our little family. But that’s what makes being pro-choice personal for me — coming to your own story and language and doing what feels right for you and yours. The personal is political.
I went through with the procedure and I mourned in my own way. Nearly five years later, I have two gorgeous little boys who are the absolute loves of my life. I now look at my miscarriage in this way: If I had given birth to that baby, my firstborn would not be my precious Big. Big would not exist and another child would be in his place. That is unfathomable.
Miscarriage is such a difficult thing to go through, we need to not add isolation to the list of our already overwhelming feelings. My name is Jennifer and I had a miscarriage. Maybe you did, too. We are sisters and you are not alone.