Category: Birth Experience

My first trimester miscarriage and what NOT to say to someone who goes through it

My first trimester miscarriage and what NOT to say to someone who goes through it

The first of September will always remain a sad day for me. Three years ago today I lost my baby at just 10 weeks. Until now, I couldn’t find the strength to write about it. Every time I go back to this day I hurt because I lost a loved one. Even as I type this, tears run down my cheeks and it still hurts, but I do it for your memory, Little One. You existed, you were here and YOU COUNT! I wanted you, Little One. Your daddy and I wanted you and loved you even before we heard your heart beat for the first time.

I was 10 weeks pregnant and on a Saturday (August 30th) I was walking with my husband and our son, just enjoying the weather. I felt something was wrong, like I was bleeding, so we went to the nearest restroom to check. Indeed, I was spotting. I was worried, but tried to stay calm and think about what I should do next. Thank God, on the way out we met a friend and asked if she could watch over our son while we go have a check at the ER. Tests followed, ultrasound… all seemed fine. Heartbeat was normal, so we were told to go home and rest a little. The bleeding continued over the weekend, but I trusted the doctor and tried not to worry. By early Monday (1st of Sept) I was having abdominal pains too, so I rushed to my OB-GYN. I will never forget that morning.

As I was sitting in the waiting room, the bleeding got stronger and stronger, and pain intensified as well. I started having contractions, painful and noticeable contractions. I told my husband to tell the nurse I need to be seen NOW. As I stood up to walk inside the doctor’s cabinet, blood gushed down my legs all the way down to my socks and shoes. I refused to believe this was it. I never miscarried before, this is not happening to me, I’d say to myself. I did everything right, I took vitamins, folic acid, I didn’t pick up heavy things…

But the ultrasound found no heartbeat. I was waiting, praying and hoping that soon, soon I’d hear it and they’d give me some magical medicine and fix it all. Something to stop the bleeding and keep my baby inside. The doctor looked at me and with the saddest eyes said she’s sorry, but there is no heartbeat. That my baby was gone. I started sobbing uncontrollably, in pure disbelief. My husband was holding me tight, crying too. At this point there was another nurse in the room, helping me to get cleaned up. There was grief in the room and everybody felt it. They were both very respectful of our feelings, and I know now how important that was for us. I don’t remember everything, but I do remember my doctor looking at me and telling me in a very stern voice: YOU DID NOTHING WRONG. Please, don’t blame yourself. I know it’s hard, but this happens sometimes and you are not to blame. Please, don’t blame yourself.

These words resonated with me in the days to follow. I think it is inevitable to look for a culprit. When you suffer, you want to know why. You ask why. You try to figure out what went wrong and who is to blame. At first, I was mad at the doctor in the ER. Why did she say all was okay, when clearly it wasn’t? Wasn’t she a good enough doctor? Did she miss something? Or is it my fault that I didn’t ask for a second opinion? Should I have gone to the ER again when I saw the bleeding didn’t stop? And then my doctor… why she made me wait in the waiting room instead of just hopping me on a table as soon as I got there? Could my baby have been saved? When all these people were found blameless in my own mind, I turn against myself. Did I pick up my son too much and was he too heavy? Did I walk up too many stairs? Did I not want this child enough that God decided I am not worthy of having him? I couldn’t remember a time when I wasn’t happy about being pregnant. It was actually a very planned and wanted pregnancy. And then I would go back to the words my doctor said to me… don’t blame yourself.

After the check, my doctor told me I had two options. I can choose between having a D&C (Dilation and Curettage) performed, or go home and wait until I miscarry naturally. I was relieved that I had the choice, since I could not make myself lay on a chair and have my baby removed from inside of me by cold, lifeless utensils. My husband and I both decided it would be better to go home and let nature take its course. I know for some mothers this would be harder, but for us it felt like the right choice. I wanted to have time to say goodbye and grieve in piece. And so we did… I remember looking at my baby and apologizing for not being able to provide him with all that he needed, for failing in keeping him safe and sound inside my womb. My husband was right next to me the entire time, holding me and loving me. We found that this experience drew us closer to one another. The raw emotions and the deep pain we both felt united us and, interestingly enough, helped our healing process.

A few days later I felt well enough to face the world. That’s when I realized people don’t know what to say or do in these situations. They are awkward and uncomfortable and it makes you feel the same too. Close friends and family were sending me messages, trying to be encouraging and understanding. Some actually were, but others, in their attempt to bring comfort, just made it worse. This leads me now to write about a few things you should never tell a woman that miscarried in her first trimester.

1. Oh, it was still small.
I am not sure what that is supposed to mean. Oh, it’s okay? Oh, don’t worry about it? Oh, you can forget it easier? What exactly do you mean by that? Because it sure doesn’t make me feel better, on the opposite. I am his mother, I am supposed to have a womb that protects that small life, that holds it in and nourishes it until it’s time to be born. And I didn’t. For some reason, I couldn’t.

2. Don’t worry, IT felt no pain when IT died.
First of all, please, please don’t call my baby IT. In doing so, you dehumanize the life I had inside of me and belittle my whole suffering. Second, even if my baby felt no pain, it doesn’t mean his death is not a loss. My loss.

3. That wasn’t even a baby yet.
I understand that we might not agree on when life begins or when a baby is a baby, but trust me: this is not the right time or place to push your agenda on me. If you can’t empathize with me, better don’t say anything at all.

4. Many women miscarry at this stage and are not even aware of it.
I don’t think you are completely aware of what you are saying. How could I not be aware of my baby when I birthed him and held him? As tiny as he was, I saw his fragile body. You say some women think it’s just a regular period and move on. Well, allow me to disagree. Emphatically.

5. Only 10 weeks? I miscarried much later than that.
This one particularly bothered me. Not only it makes me feel like my suffering is not worth mentioning, but it makes me feel that my baby has no value if it wasn’t “big enough”. Please, understand that no matter what size my baby was, it was my baby! It had a heart, it was beating, we made dreams about his or her future, we were overjoyed with a new member in our family. We dreamed, we planned, we loved.
Those feelings are in no way related to how pregnant you are. What matters is YOU ARE PREGNANT. And again, this is not the right time or place to compare experiences. Allow me to mourn my own loss before I join you in mourning yours.

Going through a miscarriage was a hard experience for us. I never want to deal with this ever again. I pray I won’t have to. But in life everything we go through teaches us something, adds to our knowledge and we never know when we will use this to help others. Everybody mourns differently, but truth is no miscarriage goes unnoticed. It leaves a scar and that’s okay. The scar means there was a life on earth that is no more. And to your memory, sweet Little One, today we light a candle. We love you and we will see you again one day!

Taking the fear out of the birth experience

Taking the fear out of the birth experience

 Every birth is different. Every birth is new. Every birth has potential to empower women or to scar them for life.  

As women, we start dreaming about having children at an early age. We think about how we will be the best moms we possibly can, how we will not make the same mistakes our parents did and how we will pretty much rock it! We see it as an achievement and we are looking forward to it! 

We then find ourselves pregnant. Either by choice or by chance. We are pregnant and that baby has to come out one way or another. We know it. We just don’t want to think about it just yet. As we approach our due date, we look forward to holding the little treasure in our arms, but still push aside the fear that did nothing but linger. All these months, the thought has been there, somewhere: “How am I going to do this?” 

We have heard about the horror stories, the pain, the cuss words, the screaming, the partner fainting, the chaos, the doctors ignoring your requests or birth wishes, the midwives lost between patients and procedures… We have also heard some good stories. Stories where the mother had the support she needed, where the people surrounding her spoke kindly and with respect, where she wasn’t yelled at to “push”, but encouraged to dig deep for her strength that lies within. But let’s be honest, those always seem like far fetched and carefully cherry picked, don’t they?  

Truth is, they exist. Unfortunately, they are rare and seldom talked about. Instead, we always seem to come across the negative ones that do nothing but deepen the fear of birth. From generation to generation, from woman to woman, this is passed on as something to fear and run from. The fear and tension can lead to unnecessary c-sections, women left traumatized, sometimes severely depressed with long term consequences and even unable to connect to their newborn child.  All because of how they birthed.  

Childbirth is painful. There is no going around it. But you can be prepared for it without fear, without emotional scars and without regrets. And this includes those special situations, those emergencies where a c-section is required, where the mom lost blood and is in need of medical intervention, where the baby’s head got suck and needed forceps to help it out. It doesn’t matter what type of birth one has, what is important is the way we prepare for it and how we experience it. What matters are the people surrounding us in those crucial moments, the respect, the encouragement, the kind touch, the understanding and the encouragement we receive.  

We often hear people saying “A healthy baby is all that matters”. But I beg to differ. That is not all that matters. The mother’s emotional well-being, her comfort, her needs being met, her confidence, her peace and her heart matters! All those things matter. They set the tone for what’s to come. Being a mother is hard. So let’s get the best start to motherhood we possibly can. 

Birth is magical. It truly is. We bring someone to life and it will change us forever. This life changing event must be given importance. Prepare yourself for it physically, emotionally and spiritually and make sure you have the best support system you can have with you.  Birth has the potential to empower you and ease your flight into motherhood for the adventure of your life!