Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

I first want to start off by saying, this is a vulnerable post. In fact, as I am typing, I cannot believe I am typing this. If you are struggling in this area in your life right now, and this could potentially be a trigger for you, please do not continue reading. To attempt to talk about something that we all know is far too common in women, and to allow myself to continue to grieve this process, I felt compelled to write.

Fact: 1 in 4 women will lose a baby during pregnancy, delivery, or infancy. ONE in FOUR. That’s crazy to think about. 

Unfortunately, I fall into that percentage. As a healthcare provider, I know the risk of loss isn’t shy. I thought I was doing all the “right” things to protect myself…not trying to get overly excited when I first found out, trying to keep my “secret” for the first trimester, etc. I was so nervous with my first pregnancy, and it went well, so I thought, “I’m sure this is going to be fine right?”. We had begun talking to my toddler about having a baby sister or brother coming. We went on a family trip and shared our news with them very early on. Again, I was still feeling a little uneasy about celebrating something that I wasn’t 100% sure of. I think as a female, we know there is always the risk that something isn’t right, but for some reason, deep down, we really don’t believe it will happen to us.

I had all the pregnancy symptoms, more so than with my first. I already had food aversions, wavering nausea, constipation, and bloating. My breasts were tender. I had no concerning symptoms and I DEFINITELY felt pregnant, so I continued to allow myself to believe that everything was normal.

The day of our initial ultrasound, which was delayed due to that family trip, I was so nervous. Like throw-up kind of nervous, and I don’t know why. It was almost as deep down something was telling me that everything wasn’t okay. Or that I was making myself feel guilty because I had shared my news very early and let myself do all the things I didn’t do with my first. 

I was sweating when she started the ultrasound and then, I knew…. there was no heartbeat. She was scanning profusely. The room was increasingly quiet, and I could feel it. Everything was not okay. She left the room and while waiting for the doctor, my husband said, “What does this mean?”.

I had a miscarriage. A miscarriage. You know, the thing that you know can happen, but don’t think will happen to you.

 The worst part through all of this, when I was asked how I was feeling…I felt embarrassed. Embarrassed that I let myself believe everything was normal without confirmation. Embarrassed that I told family and now would have to tell them that I had a miscarriage. Most of all, embarrassed that I let myself believe deep down that the world would somehow spare me from this type of heartbreak.

Everyone that found out, kept telling me that I shouldn’t feel that way, however it didn’t change it or make it better. 

On top of the heartbreak from miscarriage, I was then forced to make decisions about my body and next steps. This was even harder as I kept treating myself as a patient—I weighed all the pros and cons of each option for treatment. I looked at all the risks and I continued to obsess whether I was making the right decision. My doctor continued to say “It’s your choice Kendra, you have to be the one to decide”. Does anyone ever know what the right decision is?  I wish nature would have made the decision for me, but I didn’t get that choice. I thought that at least if that was the case, I couldn’t blame myself for making the wrong decision. Then my embarrassment quickly turned to guilt. Why did I have to make this decision? Why did I have to put my body through this?  

Guilt is something I am still working through, slowly.  You never know what decision is best and you either choose to guide yourself by knowledge or by heart. I inially chose to let knowledge guide me however, when I wasn’t getting anywhere, I ultimately let emotions choose for me. When suffering from what has been my most difficult heartbreak in life so far, how am I supposed to ask those same emotions to make a very delicate decision?

Fast forward to the grieving process. Nobody really knows what to say. I didn’t know what to say to others in similar situations in my past. The cliche “Focus on the positives in life”, “It could always be worse”, “Look at everything else you have to be thankful for”.  What I learned, is despite any of those things I tell myself, of anyone else tells me, it does not heal my sadness. It does not dismiss what happened. It doesn’t make me any less anxious for future pregnancies. It doesn’t make me blame myself any less for why this could have happened.  This is a process, a grief process, and I must be the one to work through this in a way that works for me. Hopefully with the help from others. 

So, if you have been through loss, or are going through loss currently…I see you. I hear you. You are not alone. You have permission to feel whatever you may be feeling and feel ALL of it. 

We must believe that we will get through life’s biggest heartbreaks, even if we fully don’t understand the why behind them.