There doesn’t seem to be enough wine in my kitchen to write this post. I have had several ideas for other topics, but kept coming back to this one, as desperate as I was to avoid it. Even though I recently, and successfully, committed to a new diet, I could only end my procrastination after 3 solid glasses of wine plus the chocolate chip cookies I began making on impulse. But enough is enough.
I just became a member of a most secretive society. Not a small society, mind you. Members are everywhere—down your street, in your family, in the pew next to you at church, in the next aisle at the grocery store—everywhere around you are women who have had or will have experience with a miscarried pregnancy. The crazy part is that NO ONE talks about it. Until it happens. And when I began researching statistics, I could not even find enough reputable sources to cite.
The only two bits I can offer you in confidence are these: what my doctor told me, “1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage in her lifetime”, and what the ER doctor told me, “Approximately 1 in 3 pregnancies will result in miscarriage.” Anything else I found is convoluted, wrapped up in length of pregnancy, probability of pregnancy in the first place, or location in the world (first vs third world or nations with high poverty and low life expectancy). Even google avoids the topic in raw form.
Once I gained membership in this society, other members of this sisterhood started popping up everywhere. My mother, my aunt, my personal trainer, more than a few friends, and I am sure you are getting the picture. So why are we all so reluctant to discuss this tragic shift in our lives? We carry each other through times of grief or strain in countless other scenarios, but pregnancy loss? Only whispers and silent prayers. Approximately one-fourth of all women will miscarry, nearly every miscarriage is unavoidable, and yet, the topic is sorely underrepresented until you become part of the 25%.
Now, when it happens, there is nothing graceful about it. It’s as shocking as you can imagine it to be. I will spare you the details but suffice it to say that many women complete their miscarriages in the hospital due to the significant loss of blood. There are several traumatic things that can prompt a miscarriage, but nothing has been proven to stop one if your body has deemed the fetus unfit to carry for whatever reason. It’s a terrible upset, especially if you’ve already begun spreading the news, picking out names, imagining your family with a new addition…
But I have decided that I do not regret spreading the news. I don’t regret picking names. I don’t regret the money I spent in Motherhood buying shirts I thought would be cute in a week-by-week or month-by-month photo collage. Because I told my closest friends that I was expecting, I had an amazing support system when they found out the sorrowful news. I didn’t have to explain why I was taking time to myself, and grieving in my own time. Because we selected (amazing) baby names for a boy or girl, we’ve dreamed even bigger about adding to our family, and perhaps beyond just one more—God willing. The names we’ve picked are so handsome, and I hope we will be able to bestow them on beautiful children one day. Because I bought a few cute tops at the maternity store, I can sell or donate the ones I no longer care for in my maternity bin. It was already out and going through it will lessen my clutter.
It takes extra effort to keep the wince out of my eyes when I see a beautifully glowing pregnant woman walking by. Equally hard is seeing those other little cherubs, only weeks or months old, hanging on mother’s arms. I rationalize by saying I can now focus on that weight I was working on losing. I laugh while pouring a glass of wine or sneaking a bite of sushi because I can. But I’m sure you understand that I would trade the weight loss, the alcohol, the sushi, the comfort, the sleep—I would give it up willingly to carry a child instead. But just like every other 1-in-4, I will survive this. I will smile, even if I am forcing it right now, at new mothers and pregnant women. I will rejoice at the new life all around me, the best that I can. I will not scorn, I will not curse, I will not allow myself to think depressing thoughts. I may cry, I may drink, but I won’t give up. Once God reveals the next phase of his plan in our lives, we will look back on this memory as just another step on our journey. And I won’t shy away from discussing it when another mom needs the encouragement I will one day give based on my experience.