Healing After the Loneliness and Heartbreak of a Miscarriage
I assumed that since my first child was conceived so easily that conceiving a second time would be easy as pie. If anything, I was worried it would happen sooner than I would have wanted. So when over a year had passed of trying and still no sign of a positive pregnancy test, I started to wonder if it would ever happen.
More months passed. Then, one day, it happened! I had a positive test and I was thrilled. I quickly did the math—it would be a spring baby, which sounded perfect.
I am a Fertility Awareness-Based Method (FABM) instructor, so fertility health is always on my mind in a clinical sense. But becoming pregnant again myself, I dove headfirst into the emotions and excitement. I started thinking about how I could move furniture around to reassemble the crib and put up a changing table. How would I tell my daughter that she was going to be a big sister? She would be delighted!
Since I had moved to a new town, away from where I gave birth the first time around, I researched midwives and providers and hospitals. I even thought about names. Once you are pregnant, there’s no going back. Something about it feels like the BC/AD mark. A point in time that separates everything before and everything after.
Waiting to announce our pregnancy
We decided we wanted to keep this to ourselves for just a little bit—a moment for our family that was just ours. We later took a trip to the shore, our little family of three. Well, four. I was only a little nauseous so I was able to still enjoy myself. It felt intimate and exciting, I had this secret that no one knew but my husband and me. We came home from the trip, refreshed and ready to take on the fall.
I woke up the next morning covered in blood. I was having a miscarriage.
Since I work in maternal health, I am all too familiar with miscarriage. But experiencing it first hand was a whole new way of understanding it. It was visceral, devastating, emotionally stirring. The weird thing about a miscarriage, at least for me, was that I still had to go about my life. School drop off and pick up, afternoon park dates, grocery shopping—if you have a job or a child, you can’t just stop everything. So I would be doing school dropoff while the baby I would never get to meet was passing from my body like a heavy period.
I was lucky that I didn’t need any medical interventions. The baby passed naturally and I found a midwives’ office that was able to do bloodwork and follow up to make sure everything was OK. But the emotional process took much longer than the physical one. In many ways, I am still making peace with my fertility. Here are the things that I have found helpful in my process.
1. Do the checkups. Get the medical stuff out of the way.
I always assumed I was fine because I had regular cycles and an easy pregnancy the first time. But it’s still worth getting a fuller picture of your fertility health from a FABM-trained medical professional. Thanks to NaProTECHNOLOGY and FEMM, there are medical resources women can tap into to help treat fertility issues by identifying and addressing the root causes.
Make an appointment to see a NaPro or FEMM doctor to do a basic fertility panel. If you find out everything is fine, then you know everything is fine. If you find out something else, like an undiagnosed case of endometriosis or PCOS, then you can at least make informed decisions about healthcare and family planning going forward.
2. Focus on the good with where you’re at because it’s where you’re at.
I always wanted kids close together because it’s what I didn’t have growing up. I thought 2-3 years max spacing. That way I get it out of the way and they will be at the same school together, and so on. The list goes on.
But the truth is that there are pros and cons to every situation—having babies young, having babies older, having lots of babies, having only one baby. It has helped me to focus on the good where I’m at, because well, it’s where I’m at. May as well focus on that. I’m able to spend one-on-one time with my daughter now and that’s something to relish. I used to feel guilty that I had more time to myself than my friends with multiple kids. But now I’m accepting that it’s where I’m at, and I should just do what I can with what I have.
3. Take family planning cycle by cycle.
Each cycle is a new chance to reassess where you are. It’s okay to take a cycle off. I was so nervous about the idea of “starting over” when my first was X age. I thought, “What if it doesn’t happen until she’s in high school? I can’t be changing diapers with a high school-aged kid!” (Actually, you can.) But I’m not there yet and I’ll know how I feel when I’m there and can make that decision on that cycle. Not this cycle.
4. Relinquishing control.
I’m a modern woman. I’m a New Yorker. I’m used to getting what I want, when I want it, and delivered straight to my door to boot. But so many things in marriage and life have not been on my “schedule.” It has been humbling and difficult, to relinquish the desire to control one of the biggest changes that can happen in my life. But surrendering more to the whims of the universe has helped me grow personally. Turns out there’s a lot more of life that is out of my control, so I may as well learn to let it go!
5. Lastly, parenting myself.
I care for my daughter day in and day out, feeding her, bathing her, making sure she drinks enough water, guiding her in her decisions to make good ones, and nourishing her mind and imagination. But who parents me? I often think about how my job as a parent is to teach my child ultimately to care for herself. So caring for myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually, has become a priority just as much as caring for my family. From the basics, like drinking water and taking my vitamins, to more cerebral things like tending to my creativity and passions. We do it for our kids, we should do it for ourselves, too.
It has been a humbling but deeply spiritual journey for me to make peace with my fertility today. As a Fertility Awareness Educator, it seemed like the irony of the century to have secondary infertility. But I feel that I now understand my clients who have dealt with miscarriage and infertility on a whole new level. My journey to peace is still very much a journey. But it’s mine.