Pregnancy is supposed to be a remarkable experience, filled with joy, anticipation, and hope. However, if you are like me and have experienced pregnancy loss, the thought of opening yourself to another heartbreak can be unbearable. After I lost my first pregnancy to miscarriage, I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to have children, but luckily God intervened and I now have a healthy girl and boy that I’m so grateful for. If you have recently experienced a miscarriage or are still dealing with the scar years later, I hope my story provides hope and healing wherever you are on your journey. One of the greatest blessings that has come from my loss is sharing it with other women to help them feel like they aren’t alone, as well as to give them some insight and guidance on how to potentially prevent future losses. I hope that you’ll find validation in my story and use it to find your own silver linings after pregnancy loss.
My Story of Pregnancy Loss
In 2016, just a few months after getting married, I found out that I was pregnant. We weren’t trying yet, but we also weren’t actively avoiding pregnancy. Initially I was so excited, but then I started to panic. I wasn’t ready. The biggest part that scared me was that I was working a job that I knew was not sustainable for motherhood or pregnancy. I worked 40 minutes from my home and I worked long hours. I was away from home from 7am-7pm. There was no way I could continue to work like that pregnant or as a mom. Truth be told, I had been wanting to leave for a while and get a different job. While there were aspects of that one that were great, I left work every day so completely drained that I couldn’t function. I was miserable and I felt like I was suffocating. My pregnancy woke me up to the fact that I needed to change jobs immediately. I started looking at my options and didn’t love any of them until I stumbled on a part-time job working with babies and toddlers in their homes and communities. I immediately called and found out that while it was a part-time position, there was potential to make it full-time. It was also an independent contractor position, which meant I was able to call most of the shots, which was so much more in line with my entrepreneurial spirit and my goals, so I started the employment process.
The Day I Started Bleeding
I was absolutely terrified to tell my current boss that I was leaving. I highly respected her as a person and as a professional and I didn’t want to burn any bridges. I also knew how much she trusted me and gave me more responsibilities than other therapists that had been there longer and were older than I. I knew she was going to be disappointed and I absolutely hated disappointing people when it came to my work. I was going to be giving her my 2 weeks notice on Monday and I was taking the end of the week off to drive down to Orlando to meet up with my parents and older sister’s family for Disney. My last day of work that week, I noticed I was bleeding when I went to the bathroom between some of my morning patients. I tried not to panic and went to see my next patient. I did my best to focus on what I was doing and try not to think about the fact that I may be losing the baby, but I knew in my gut that was what was happening. The night before I had a very vivid dream. I dreamt that I birthed a baby that was deformed and knew that the baby had neural tube defects. But in the dream I also had two healthy children, a girl and a boy that were either twins or very close in age (my daughter and son are less than 2 years apart). I woke up with a strong feeling that I was about to lose my baby, but that I would go on to have two healthy children in the future. When I started bleeding, I knew that the dream was to prepare me for the worst, but also give me hope for the future.
I can still remember exactly what patient I was working with while I was waiting in agony to go back to the bathroom and see if I was still bleeding. I was, so I went to my boss on the verge of tears and told her I had to go home. I called the OB office and they reassured me that it was common and probably nothing to worry about. I begged them to let me come into the office to get checked out anyways and they said I could as long as I was prepared to wait. And I waited for hours. My husband left work and met me on his lunch break, right before I went in for an ultrasound. The tech, who had just done my ultrasound 2 weeks prior when I got a strong and healthy heartbeat at 7.5 weeks along turned stone face very quickly. She called the doctor in and the doctor told me that the baby had died. Then they told me to get dressed and go wait in a room to talk to me. My husband had to go back to work so he left. I sat in that room and waited for over an hour for the doctor to come in. All I wanted to do was to leave, but I waited. She came in and gave me my options- have a D&C where they scraped the proof of my pregnancy out, or hope that it all passed naturally. I opted for the natural passing. I told the doctor that I was supposed to be driving down to Florida to meet my family for Disney and asked if that was still ok. She encouraged me to stay home instead but said that it was ultimately my choice.
I went home and sat on the couch weighing my options. My family still didn’t even know that I was pregnant. I was planning on telling them in person when I got to Florida. My husband wanted me to stay home but supported whatever decision I made. I knew if I stayed home that I would have to wallow in my sadness and despair and I couldn’t handle that. I wasn’t in denial but I also wasn’t ready to face it. Even now as I write this and thought I was emotionally recovered from this loss, I have a lump in my throat and tears running down my face.
Losing My Baby In “The Happiest Place On Earth”
I got my things together and started the drive down to Florida. I was starting to cramp a little but otherwise felt physically fine. On my drive, I called my friend Shelby to tell her what was going on. She was the only person I knew who had had miscarriages and the only one I knew who would understand. She consoled me and I felt a little bit better talking to someone who understood what I was going through. I got to Florida late that night and went to bed after talking to my family for a few minutes but still telling them nothing. The next morning we headed to Disney and I was starting to feel very crampy and uncomfortable. I asked my sister for some ibuprofen and told her I had a really bad period. We went about our day at Disney and it just felt like a nasty period until mid-afternoon. I was going through pads every couple of hours and my parents were growing suspicious. It got to where I had to go to the bathroom every 30-60 minutes to change my pad and I ended up leaking through my shorts. I had to buy some new ones at the shop outside of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. My mother’s face registered suspicion and concern. I finally broke down and told them that I didn’t have a bad period but that I was having a miscarriage at 9.5 weeks pregnant and I had been planning to tell them that day that I was having a baby. We kept quiet about it the rest of our day at Disney not wanting to spoil my sister’s time with my niece and nephew’s first time at Disney.
One thing I distinctly remember while I was losing my baby at Disney was the “It’s A Small World” ride. There were giant butterflies hanging throughout the ride. Butterflies didn’t mean much to me until I lost my grandma a couple years before. Butterflies became a symbol for her presence in my life. When I was on that ride and seeing those butterflies, I knew that somehow, some way, someday, I would be ok. My grandma was with me and God was with me. There would be a beautiful transformation at the end of this even though I had no idea how that was possible in that moment.
The Physical Pain of Pregnancy Loss I Was Unprepared For
On the ferry ride home, the pain started to get unbearable and I could barely stand from the pain and all of the blood loss. We finally told my sister and stopped by Walgreens on our way back to the hotel to get me some adult diapers and more pads. I went to bed on the pull out couch in my diapers, writhing in pain. My mom & I debated whether I needed to go to the ER for all of the pain I was in and the fact that I was losing so much blood and looking so pale. I decided to ride it out. The pain was excruciating. I was warned about the emotional pain, but nobody told me just how intense the physical pain of losing my baby would be. It was just like labor but on a smaller scale. I felt contractions every few minutes while my body pushed out the remnants of my pregnancy but I knew that the pain wasn’t going to be worth it in the end. It was pain for nothing. There would be no silver lining, no reward to show for my efforts. Just an empty womb and a broken heart.
The next day I decided to drive home rather than continue to be in misery in what was supposed to be “the happiest place on earth”. The worst was over physically, but emotionally I was ready to go home, so I drove back to South Carolina. I spent the weekend crying on the couch and continuing to be uncomfortable but the physical pain was no longer unbearable. Now I was dreading something else that was coming. I was supposed to tell my boss on Monday that I was leaving and getting a new job. It was supposed to be highlighted by announcing that I was pregnant and that I had to do what was best for my family. Instead, I had to tell her that I was leaving for a baby I was no longer carrying.
Silver Linings From My Miscarriage
Even though I thought absolutely nothing good would come from the miscarriage, I was wrong. I finally had the courage to leave a job that wasn’t healthy for me or sustainable for a pregnancy or family. My new job was a stepping stone to starting my own business working in the same setting with the same population. I had built connections to easily have the referrals to start my business, and actually ended up with a yearlong waitlist when I did start seeing patients for my own business. I started building a clinic in my home when we enclosed our carport. The idea came to me when I was working in a patient’s home and then I got confirmation that it was the right thing to do when I walked into her bathroom (for the first time) and saw butterflies all over the wallpaper. Later on, the main part of the logo for my business was a butterfly. During the process of building my clinic, I got pregnant almost exactly 1 year later. The baby I lost was due on June 8, 2017. The baby I was pregnant with was due on June 15, 2018.
During my waiting period between pregnancies I made some radical life changes. Besides switching jobs, I cut back on my hours and became very conscientious about how much work I could handle without it affecting my health. I decided to do yoga teacher training, which was instrumental in my healing journey. It was the first time that I really felt connected to my body and how it was trying to communicate with me.
MTHFR & Pregnancy Loss
I also dove deep into MTHFR gene mutation. For a while, I had been suspicious I had it, but finally got tested after the miscarriage and confirmed that I do have a mutation, specifically a homozygous C677T MTHFR mutation. I learned more about the biological reasons my body was so sensitive and started to learn about the need for specific nutritional support, especially with pregnancy. MTHFR is associated with pregnancy loss and I have since become somewhat of an expert. It has allowed me to help dozens of other women have healthy pregnancies after loss with the right nutritional support. Had I not experienced this loss, I probably wouldn’t have gone down that rabbit hole and helped other women both with my story and the knowledge I gained from my experience.
My Faith Grew From My Miscarriage
My pregnancy loss was the first seriously tragic thing that had happened in my life. Of course I had experienced heartbreak and challenges, but nothing like this. I was very angry, but through the process my faith actually ended up stronger. While I didn’t understand why I had to experience that heartache, I knew that I was going to be ok and that there would be a blessing in all of this somehow. I knew it would probably take years to see that blessing, but I knew that someday I would.
Navigating Pregnancy After Loss
The entire pregnancy with my daughter I felt constant panic and fear that I was going to lose her. I was terrified of attaching to her for fear that she would break my heart. I tried my best not to bring the trauma of my loss into the pregnancy, but it was impossible. Even with her birth the attachment was terrifying and wasn’t immediate. Her birth was extremely challenging and traumatic and ended in a C-section, which was devastating to me after my valiant attempts at a natural childbirth. I didn’t get that immediate connection when she was born like so many moms explain the first time they held their baby “as the clouds parted and angels sang”. I was just glad that she was out and it was over.
Attachment Challenges With My First Child
Regardless of my lack of mushy feelings toward my daughter, I was fiercely protective of her and wouldn’t let her leave my side as soon as I was finally able to keep her with me after my initial recovery period and her required hours of observation in the nursery. My attachment was not emotional, but it was very primal. To this day, we still have some unhealthy reactive attachment between us and I carry guilt for burdening her with my panic-filled pregnancy and lack of immediate emotional attachment at her birth. I know that I shouldn’t feel guilty for that, but that mom guilt is strong and hard to break.
After sharing my lack of immediate emotional connection with other moms, I’ve had some confide in me that they felt the same way and thought there was something wrong with them. Most of them also experienced a C-section. I think it’s really important for moms to know that there’s nothing wrong with them if they don’t have that immediate emotional attachment to their baby. Especially in the case of a C-section – the hormone release is different and our bodies are not biologically wired to have that same attachment if the baby doesn’t come out vaginally. That doesn’t mean your birth story isn’t important or beautiful, but there may be healing that needs to be done. A book that helped me tremendously with this was “To Have and to Hold” by Molly Millwood.
My Redemption Birth Story
My son was born via VBAC and it was VERY different from my daughter’s C-section. I felt that emotional attachment much more immediately, even though it was still colored by the trauma of my first loss and daughter’s C-section. I think it’s important for all women to know that it’s important to share and process their birth story one way or another because there’s some level of trauma no matter how beautiful or ugly your birth story is. If I ever have a third child, I hope to do a home birth so I can experience births across the entire spectrum.
The Beauty of the Waiting Period
If I hadn’t had that waiting period before my pregnancy after loss, I wouldn’t have grown exponentially like I did in that year and a half. I grew in my health, my connection to my body, my intuition, my career, and most importantly in my faith. Waiting periods suck, especially if you are as impatient as I am. But there’s so much beauty in the waiting. That’s where life really happens. We often highlight the highs of our lives, forgetting about those low and waiting periods, but that’s where the magic really happens. I’m currently reading a book about waiting from a Christian perspective and it has been extremely beneficial in helping me to have a healthy perspective while I’m in another intense waiting period. This morning while reading The Beauty of the In-Between by Matthew Nelson, the following quotes jumped out at me:
“What has actually happened produces faith, while what may or may not happen produces fear. What we need is to continue to stay rooted in what God has always done, his continued faithfulness through every step of our lives. What happens in the waiting is that there are moments that simply don’t seem like the destination will ever arrive. We begin trusting in who God is and not what He can do for us. Without waiting, without learning to persevere and trust and hold onto hope, we would never be able to navigate the inevitable setbacks and challenges of life. We would fold under the pressure or assume that we had missed God along the way.”The Beauty of the In-Between by Matthew Nelson, page 82-83.
Find Strength In Your Waiting Period
I pray that if you are experiencing your own waiting period, whether it be waiting to get pregnant, or if you are in the midst of pregnancy after loss, your health to recover, your career to take off, your business to overcome a major hurdle, your finances to prosper, to get into a home you’ve been desperately waiting for – I pray that you remember that these waiting periods are where life really happens and that you use it to grow stronger in your faith and in all other ways God is asking you to grow.