“This can’t be happening. Not again.”
Disbelief clouds my morning, introducing the old adversary of unspeakable grief. I wipe tears from my tired eyes as I attempt to make a fraction of sense as my world spirals out of control. Again. This time, I’m in a different bathroom, but the confusion and pain still reverberate all around me.
Twenty-four hours earlier, I sat in this same spot in the master bathroom, a carbon copy of minutes I had already lived. That same brand of disbelief made itself right at home in my mind then, too, but this greeted me in a different way—two blue lines formed within a three-minute span. Sobbing, my brain commenced with its all-too-familiar what-if scenarios.
I couldn’t believe I was pregnant. In my journal entry highlighting this recent life development, I wrote, “I was just pregnant eight months ago!!”
I didn’t expect to see a positive pregnancy test, although I knew deep in my heart that I was having early pregnancy symptoms. After having a child, you begin to notice even the most minute nuances when your body is off-kilter. This pregnancy was a result of a birth control failure, which made it all the more perplexing and shocking.
Ultimately, and in a short amount of time, I began coming to terms with this unplanned pregnancy. I started to brainstorm about how we could convert my office to the second baby’s nursery. I thought about all of our son’s clothes we could save, all of the boy items, and then the gender-neutral things if the baby happened to be a girl. I began to envision the first time I would lay eyes on our second child: the overwhelming feelings of eternal, unconditional love as I held him/her in my arms for the first time. Seeing my son hold his little sibling. Witnessing both of them grow up into who they were meant to be. Being a proud mother as I detailed their lives, feeling blessed to know them — let alone be their mother. This baby would have been born in December, a surprise Christmas gift we never knew would happen but loved all the same.
Those daydreams ended, and now, we will never know.
I began bleeding the evening of April 19 and lost the baby at 7:30 a.m. on April 20. I woke up to intense contraction-like cramping and bleeding, and as I tossed and turned in bed, I felt the inevitable weight of what was happening. My journal entry, raw and authentic, illustrates the emotions: “The love I will always feel circumvents any fears that I felt about having another baby. I wanted this baby. There’s no doubt in my mind, despite the initial shock of an unplanned pregnancy. … I walked into the living room and told Jared [about the bleeding]. He immediately embraced me, and having him here this time helped. I have experienced this before, and the PTSD flooded back into my consciousness. This heartache is bad enough to go through once. But twice? It’s unfathomable. Deep inside my heart and gut, I knew what happened. The baby was gone.”
Instead of welcoming another baby into the world, ultrasound paperwork explicitly states “infant demise.” My body went through all of the motions of a miscarriage, an unfortunately familiar road I went down less than two years ago. I had to tell my husband that we lost another child as grief washed over the both of us. I forced myself to smile during virtual meetings “that I couldn’t get out of” so I could maintain a sense of normalcy, carrying on when I wanted to let myself fall apart. I kept hugging my son, and he was confused when I bawled my eyes out. I floated through the days like a ghost of my former self. Exhaustion plagued me.
The only visual proof I have of this pregnancy is the relentless needle marks from constant bloodwork, and the pregnancy tests tucked into a box. I also have the video I made of our son as I talked to him about how he was going to be a big brother, as well as the words I wrote in my journal and iPhone chronicling my experiences throughout the process.
Coupled with such a devastating loss was the prospect of an ectopic pregnancy. Due to not being able to see anything on the ultrasound and the slow and unpredictable fluctuation of the hCG hormone in my body, my doctor couldn’t definitively tell me which type of miscarriage I was experiencing. Ectopic or tubal pregnancies can have dire consequences, from the loss of a Fallopian tube to internal bleeding that leads to death. Not only was I going through the grief of losing another child to a miscarriage, but I worried for my life. I have anxious tendencies, but the fears and threats were incredibly real and increasingly valid. I didn’t know if I would have to have surgery. I didn’t know if I just wouldn’t wake up one day because of complications. I lived in a world of unknowns for two weeks.
Now that I am out of the woods and my body is naturally handling the miscarriage, high levels of introspection hijack my mind throughout the day. I experienced my first miscarriage on June 4, 2019, and it happened to be my first-ever pregnancy. It nearly destroyed me and broke my entire heart. I worked myself to the bone and sat on the couch playing “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim,” barely moving from either perch until I absolutely had to. My husband and I leaned on each other for support, and we wanted a child so badly. I thought it was my fault, and I wrestled with the feeling that I did something to cause the miscarriage. Perhaps I drank an ounce more coffee than I should have, or stress caused a genetic malfunction. It took me months upon months of therapy to get through this period of my life.
In early January 2020, I discovered I was pregnant again, and we didn’t tell anyone until after the 12th week. We wanted to ensure that we heard his heartbeat and that Our son was born in the midst of the pandemic in August 2020, a rainbow in the darkness.
An estimated one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, and most miscarriages occur in the first trimester (12 weeks) of pregnancy. If a woman has a live birth, the miscarriage risk is typically lower, approximately one in 25 pregnancies. I am part of that statistic. Even if you haven’t personally experienced a miscarriage, you will likely know a woman — or several — who have suffered this type of loss.
While this miscarriage broke a new piece of my heart, I am beyond blessed to have my son. I cherish the recordings of his heartbeat in utero, the ultrasound pictures, and the journey that allowed him to be here with us. So many people don’t have that blessing in their fertility struggles, and I hold him closer to me than ever before. He is and will forever be my miracle rainbow baby. My heart aches for each person who wants a child so much but is struggling or has the hard line in the sand telling them they can’t have a child. So many people experience pregnancy loss (or can’t get pregnant at all), and I was meant to shed light on these struggles. This is a real issue, so many women and their partners go through, and we don’t have to suffer in silence. If you have had a miscarriage or multiple losses, I am here for you. I see and hear you. And I feel your everlasting love for your babies. You aren’t alone, and you don’t have to struggle with this loss alone.
So many others are sharing their miscarriages, from Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, singer Christina Perri, Beyoncé, and countless others in the public eye. I want to add to the fabric of stories that change our lives. Just like with my first miscarriage, I aim to keep my children’s legacies alive by telling their stories and destigmatizing miscarriage. This purpose was further intensified by a second miscarriage, the loss of another child. My life has forever been altered by these experiences, and I cannot go back to the person I used to be. Miscarriages change you.
Despite my grief, I know my two angel babies saved my life. I have never spoken about this publicly and even privately, and I won’t detail every moment here. In time, this story will fill the pages of personal and professional tomes. However, now is not that time, but I do want to provide some insight into how these babies saved me. In 2013, I was at the lowest point in my life. I felt trapped by an abusive relationship, isolated from my loved ones, and felt disparagingly alone every single day. My life slowly etched itself into a fleeting shadow of what I wanted it to be. I looked in the mirror and couldn’t recognize myself anymore, a gargoyle in a room of beautiful colored glass. Depressed and in great need of mental health support, I began spiraling out of control. Suddenly, I heard the voices of two children, a boy, and a girl, call me Mommy. They told me life would get better, that I would get what I deserved. I would find my soulmate and be a mother.
I get chills when I remember this moment.
I know without a shadow of a doubt that God and these two babies were with me. I hadn’t met my husband yet or even fathomed becoming a mother, but this glimpse into my future allowed me to snap out of my darkest hour. This gives me solace and promise. I am a mother of three, one on Earth and two in heaven. One summer child and two winter children. I find comfort in knowing that I will hold these children someday. I am thankful for the blessing of knowing them before they grew inside me and before I carried their legacies with me every minute of every day.
Miscarriages never get easier. Losing a child, let alone two or more, is something I will never get over. I won’t snap out of grief. I won’t forget them. I will love my children until my dying breath and then throughout eternity.
After my C-section with my son, I remember looking at the sterile white walls and ceiling tiles of the operating room and thinking, “My life is complete.” My family was meant to be a family of three with two in heaven.
My musings have ultimately led me to this realization: it’s OK to not have the nuclear family everyone else expects. Many of you reading this will already know this and wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment. I had to experience all of it for myself, on my own yellow brick road journey. I don’t care about others’ judgments or declarations of, “But, Luke will be an only child” and “I wish you would have more children.” Ultimately, we learn the most profound lessons and have the most groundbreaking experiences when we figure things out on our own during periods of loss and pain.
Since I was a little girl, “Over the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz” has been an illustrious piece of music that shaped my entire life. The lyrics have so many meanings for me, but now, I know my two babies are waiting for me in the “land that I heard of once in a lullaby.” I have my rainbow (Luke), and my angel children are my “dreams that [I] dare to dream.”
I have walked through the fires of grief and have made it on the other side before. I know I will do it all over again. I didn’t expect to even be pregnant or have to grieve over the loss of another child, but my resilience and faith will pull me through oblivion. And when I make it to the other side, I will continue to treasure all three of my children.