According to the CDC and Mayo Clinic, approximately one in four women experience pregnancy ending loss from miscarriage, ectopic, or stillborn birth. One in Four.
I once visited a newly married friend just days after she discovered the loss of her first pregnancy. It was painful. sad, and awkward. I felt awful. Helpless. I had no idea how she felt. She had no way to explain to me how she felt. Though I didn’t know at the time what this meant…she is One in Four.
Before I married my husband, I wasn’t sure I wanted to have children. And then, everyone started to get married…and buy houses…and have babies. Suddenly, new ring, new husband, new house; I wanted a baby – desperately. We quickly got pregnant with our first (a girl), just as we planned. Then our second (also a girl), nearly as easily and well planned on a teacher’s calendar. Then the third pregnancy happened… my doctor was so sure everything would be fine. The first two pregnancies were so smooth. Easy peasy! Textbook. I loved every second of them too! Being pregnant and carrying our children was such a joy to me.
We prepared for our 12-week ultrasound. We went into the office anticipating the flutter of a baby’s heartbeat and I felt uneasy. Husband casually reassured me. As the tech scanned, she asked all of the questions about my last period and the due date that had been calculated for me. None of this matched up with what she was seeing it seemed. I got a little more uneasy… too early possibly she thought aloud. She couldn’t see a heartbeat… I knew it even though she wouldn’t confirm. She went to get the doctor and I began to cry as she left the room. I knew, just knew, there was no baby to see. The doctor came in and confirmed what I already knew, I cried more. And then…I am one in four.
For me, this miscarriage was followed by an ectopic pregnancy. Luckily caught very early, it was over before I’d even registered it had begun. After this, I questioned what to do next, what was God’s will for our family? How will I know what to do? After prayer and discussion with doctors, we tried again, and again, and again. Finally, with the help of fertility medicine. Our next pregnancy began cautiously, but then turned into a delight. A boy…our first boy! We prayed, we prepared, we planned. At 37 weeks my labor began, after arriving at the hospital we learned John Karl no longer lived. The world begins to spin and blur when you hear that you’ve lost a child so unexpectedly. The processing and grief never end. Ever. I will always miss him. I will always long for him. And, as I do now nearly daily, I will always count kids in the minivan so no one is left behind, and then remind myself that though I count him, he isn’t there.
One in Four is an uncomfortable place to be. My friend, Sara Philpott, has written a lovely book of devotions – Loved Baby. This lovely book can help grieve, cherish, and remember sweet babes who left us much sooner than we’d planned.
Stories of our miscarriages, ectopics, and stillborn babies are hard to tell. They sometimes make others uncomfortable and uneasy. No one knows what to say or do. This doesn’t make those pregnancies any less real. It doesn’t make those children any less ours. They are simply made by God and known by their families. I blog and share often our experience often, if you want to learn more about our story, the experience of others, and how you can help. Support One in Four.