Thank you so much to Jennifer for sharing her story of going through three difficult miscarriages. She explains so well how it felt, and more so, what others can do to support their mom friends going through these tough times.
Personally, I have had friends go through miscarriages and even as a counselor, I still struggle with what to say, when to reach out, how long to keep bringing it up, etc. Jennifer's answers to my questions help me feel like I know what is needed if I need to reach out to a friend in the future.
Thank you, Jennifer. You are so inspiring and strong.
1. When did you experience a miscarriage? How far along were you?
I have experienced 3 miscarriages. One in the fall of 2011, one in spring of 2012 and one in December 2012. I was 12 weeks along with the first (a blighted ovum that I didn't know about until my NT scan) and 8-9 weeks with the last 2. I saw a heartbeat with each of the last 2, and a week later, it was gone.
2. What do you remember physically about the process? What was the most difficult part physically?
I didn't feel a lot of pain - the first two were removed via D&C, and the last was via misoprostol. All three had to be helped along - I didn't physically "miscarry" so they were all classified as missed miscarriages.
Physically I didn't understand why my body was holding on. It would have been better for me emotionally, I thought at the time, if I had just started to miscarry. I was mad at my body for holding on, especially with the first one - I had NO IDEA there was no baby and I guess this is emotional too, but I was mad that my body didn't give me a clue.
3. What do you remember emotionally about this process? What was most difficult emotionally to consider? All of the above, plus the thought that after three miscarriages, I may never be a mom. My body just wasn't liking having another grow inside me (yet wasn't letting go very easily), and there was nothing wrong with me physically.
Everything checked out with me and my husband. I had a hard time with that - there's nothing wrong with you, I don't know why you can't keep these babies. I had wanted a baby my whole life - I had always seen being a mom as my purpose in life - and I waited longer than I had wanted, just because of life circumstances - and I wondered if I had waited too long and lost my chance.
4. What feeling words would you use to describe this experience?
Heartbreaking, confusing, frustrating, discouraging, shattering.
5. What were some of the thoughts you had in your mind that maybe at the time didn't make a whole lot of sense, but still you were thinking them all the same?
I remember thinking a lot that if the doctors could just find something wrong with me, they could fix it and I'd be able to have a baby. I didn't want it to be something big of course, just something small, like a thyroid problem. I even asked the doctor after my first miscarriage if maybe I had cancer and that's why this happened.
6. What medically happened for you? Did you have any procedures? What helped you through this process medically - medicines, baths, sleep, etc.? I didn't have a sonogram with the 1st until 12 weeks. That's when I found out that there was no baby, that it was a blighted ovum. (That one remains the most crushing.) I had misoprostol inserted for that one, and I thought it worked - but 6 weeks later, my beta numbers were still too high for one of my docs' liking, and a sonogram showed that the sac had gotten larger and the miso didn't work. So I had a D&C at 20 weeks.
With the second, I had a D&C immediately. Waiting it out was horrible, and I was going away a week later, so I needed to get it over with.
With the third, I tried miso again and it worked, but I needed two doses. My body just didn't seem to want to let go.
Lots of pain meds helped me get through it without ever feeling much pain!
7. What helped you emotionally through this process? Do you remember things someone said to you that helped you feel better?
I just remember wanting people to call me to check in on me. I heard a lot of people say, "call me if you need ANYTHING." I am not the type of person to call someone just so I can cry to them. I wanted people to call me.
Knowing that it happened to a lot of people helped me a little, too.
8. What are some of the worst things you heard from people about this time? I didn't tell many people what was going on, so I have to say, I didn't hear a lot of bad things.
9. What is your advice to a mom who has gone through a miscarriage? What do you hope they remember? I want them to give themselves time. It takes a LONG time to get through - I won't say over because I do not think you get over it.
I have three children I will never meet in this lifetime. I think about them on their due dates and wonder if they would have been girls or boys, blondes or redheads, etc. It gets better.
Also - ask all the questions you want of your doctors. Nothing is stupid. I remember being very concerned with what happened to the remains after my D&Cs. I couldn't imagine them being thrown out as medical waste - the thought still brings tears to my eyes. So I asked, and I was told that at Wentworth Douglass, there is a garden for the unborn and - I am fuzzy on the details - but I think the remains are buried? Or somehow put there. That made me feel a ton better. One day I hope to visit it.
10. What is your advice to a friend of a mom who has gone through a miscarriage? What do you want to encourage them to do or not do to be supportive? Call her often, bring her things (magazines, food, etc) and ask her how she is feeling.
Ask her pointed questions if she's the type to respond well. No one asked me specific questions about WHAT I was feeling and I think that if someone had, I might have gotten a little therapy from it.
Tell her partner to be as supportive as possible - men do not get it, as far as I can see, and if my husband had a friend guiding him, I think I would have felt more support.
11. Why do you think moms don't talk about miscarriages? Why do you think they SHOULD talk about their experience?
For some reason there is some shame involved. There is a fear that somehow you are to blame, and that people will look down on you because you can't have children. I do not know why - I wish I did - but if people talked about it more, maybe it would go away.
12. Do you do anything to honor the baby you lost, the due date, or another part of this experience?
I got a tattoo after my first 2 miscarriages. It is a dove. Doves are a symbol of hope.
13. How has this experience made you a stronger mother?
I'm not sure yet. I do feel like I appreciate my son immensely now that I have him, because of what I went through before he appeared - but I hope I would appreciate him just as much had I not had any miscarriages.
14. Is there a happy ending to your story? Yes. I have a one year old son named Wyatt, born in June 2014. It was a textbook pregnancy and amazingly, no intervention or help was needed (until I had to push - ha!).