My personal history with miscarriage needs a little background info. I started on birth control pills very early in my life because of a drug called Accutane. I took these pills because I had horrible acne and was very hard on myself because of it. I just wanted to look normal. On the back of every blister pack were dozens of pregnant silhouettes with big no symbols on them. No pregnancy while taking these drugs! Your baby will be born with more defects than you can count! I was about 15 when I took these pills. I wasn’t even having sex yet, and didn’t until much later in my life, but I stayed on birth control pills until I was in my 30s.
However, that doesn’t mean that I was always on top of taking my birth control. After so long, I had become a complacent. In my early 20s I got pregnant. I was in the middle of a divorce and had just started dating my boyfriend. We’ve been together about 7 years now, but at that point I knew the timing was wrong. I wasn’t ready to be a mom. He was going to college and was the only one in his family to move away from his small southern town. He came from a world of teen pregnancies and ruined life plans. I knew he would be a good father and work to support his child, but it wasn’t what he wanted at that point and I didn’t want to ruin his plans with an unplanned pregnancy. Of course I told him about it, and he said it was my choice how to proceed. I had an abortion at about 7 weeks.
Fast forward about six years, he has graduated, he has a great job, I’ve been in a stable job for years, and we’re both ready to start trying for babies. Two months later I get the positive test! We were both so excited, but naturally cautious. Although it’s not often discussed, I knew enough women who had miscarried that I decided to hold the news close. Only a couple of close friends knew we were expecting. A few weeks later, it was all over. I miscarried as my best friend was giving birth to her second child. I was devastated. I felt totally alone in my grief.
Now don’t get me wrong, my boyfriend is incredibly supportive, but he’s very logical and he knew the miscarriage stats. He understood my grief but he knew that we could try again soon and that it miscarriages are normal. He wasn’t attached and admitted he couldn’t understand my attachment, but he tried and was supportive of my sadness. What I didn’t share with him was my fear and self blaming.
Wasn’t all of this my fault? I mean, I had been on birth control for so long, of course I had ruined my womb for carrying babies or something. Maybe it was the Accutane, it had caused some sort of issue? Or maybe it was the abortion? Did something happen in the procedure that had damaged me physically? Was that baby my only chance to have a child? Even though I’m not religious I found myself wondering if I was being punished. Each period that passed felt like a reminder of my failure. Each time my family asked when I was going have kids like my brother, I wanted to scream.
I thought I was being stupid. I wasn’t sure who to talk to about my feelings. My doctor and friends who did know about the miscarriage were encouraging me to look on the bright side. “At least you know you’re both fertile!” I was told. It wasn’t until a few months later, after I talked to a friend of a friend who had recently miscarried, that I started to feel better. We had a lot of the same fears and anger. We both secretly resented family members who we felt had it easier than they should have when it came to conception. After we talked I knew that I wasn’t being stupid, just dealing with the loss in my own way. My feelings weren’t right or wrong, they were mine and they were helpful. My body is my own and if the choices I made were going to keep me from being able to conceive I could still be proud that I had made my own choices.
Four months later, I got that positive test again. I was really happy that it happened so soon, but terrified. I didn’t tell anyone (other than the boyfriend) until after I passed the previous miscarriage date. Then I told a couple of people, then more, then finally my family. I also told them about the miscarriage and I can’t tell you how liberating that was. If I could do it again, I would have told more people earlier because the more I think about it, the more it would have been helpful to have that support if something went wrong again.
Currently, I’m in my third trimester. It hasn’t been an easy pregnancy. I have gestational diabetes, my back and side hurt so bad, I often have to give up on most daily activities and lay down, and I’m completely terrified of what my life will become after baby is born. I’m also determined, excited and so ready to be a mom. I find support in my boyfriend, friends, and family as well as online forums like reddit (r/babybumps has some of the most supportive and honest users).
So here is what I’ve learned: pregnancy isn’t easy. It’s a journey that is complicated and influenced by your sexual history and other life experiences. Miscarriage is complicated and your feelings will help you cope. Find support, someone out there has been through the same thing you have.
Most importantly, I’ve learned this is something that is normal. We need to talk more openly and honestly about miscarriage so women know it’s not their fault. Take the time to share your story and thanks for reading mine.