The Miscarriage

Last spring, at 10 weeks, 5 days along, I learned that our first baby had either never had or had lost its heartbeat. It was in a 10w 5d size sack, but was only 8 weeks 5 days big. Josh was in Kiev, and wouldn’t be home for two more weeks. I didn’t want a D&C, because I thought it was best to let things happen naturally, and I was afraid of damage to my cervix. I smile somewhat wryly at that now, since my cervix naturally seems to have a problem anyway. So I waited it out. When I finally started bleeding a week later, it was horrible. I woke up in the middle of the night to wrenching pain and dragged myself to the bathroom. For two days I suffered through periodic cramping, and then finally it stopped and I just bled. I hoped that I wouldn’t end up needing the D&C anyway, that the process had taken care of itself. A subsequent ultrasound showed my uterus was empty (that’s a sad situation – looking at an ultrasound and hoping to see nothing.) My period came about five weeks later, my beta hcg may never have gone below 5, and I became pregnant right away again with Natan.

Part of the reason I was so shocked by the support we got after Natan’s death was that people were anything but after my miscarriage. There were great exceptions, like my mother-in-law, in particular, who flew up to be with me. Granted, some of the same people who were not supportive after the miscarriage have still been fairly awful so it’s not entirely about the dates. One friend, my oldest friend, has a talent for calling when I clearly won’t answer the phone and then leaving long messages about “trying” to reach me. She still does that. She heard about the miscarriage from her mother first, and then called a few times after 11pm. Finally I got a hold of her and she talked for twenty minutes about everything that was happening in her life. I thought, OMG, maybe her mom didn’t tell her. So I asked if she knew what happened. She said yes, and then continued to talk about a problem she was having with her passport. One thing I clearly remember her saying was that her mom told her, “This is why you shouldn’t tell people you’re pregnant before 14 weeks.” That was the last I heard from her for weeks. After a certain amount of time, and when my hurt finally got too big to ignore, I called her again and tried to tell her about my feelings. She half-apologized, but offered excuses about her busy life. Honestly, I’ve hardly forgiven her, and the fact that she only calls now during her half hour drive home from work does not make me overly eager to answer the phone. Her husband, with whom I’ve always had a tense relationship, asked to see Natan’s picture, and teared up while holding it. I almost feel more comfortable with him now.

Other than that, we faced the normal stupid comments. So really, if I’m feeling reticent about this pregnancy, it’s more to protect myself from having to tell people I no longer trust if it ends too soon. And because I’m afraid I’ll have to face some true pity and condescension and I can’t stand anymore of that from stupid, inconsiderate people.

I do believe being open about having a miscarriage, though, helps you cope. Twenty-four days after learning we’d lost the baby, I had to go on a month-long research trip to another city. When I arrived, the only other person staying there was an obviously pregnant woman. Fortunately she left after two days. Two other women arrived then, though. It happened that they were both pregnant, one with the same due date I had had, one due a week later. They were just entering their second trimester when we arrived, so they were happy, excited. It was just the three of us, plus one of their husbands, in the house (except for two weekends my husband came to visit). T., whose husband D. had come with her, had a flare up of a chronic disease immediately after arriving. During a conversation with him about her, I confessed that I had just had a miscarriage, and that we would have had the same due date. He told his wife about it, and the next time I saw her, she was so sympathetic and cried about it. She told me about how this pregnancy was perhaps her only opportunity to be pregnant – she needs to be on misoprostol, also known as RU-486, for her disease and her doctors had only given her a year to be off of it. She only became pregnant after 3 months of trying – thus giving her only until her due date to be off the medication. During another conversation, the second woman mentioned that she had had to use IVF to become pregnant. Thinking about how easily I had become pregnant, and how easy it would be for me to get pregnant again, I actually honestly felt, well, if one of us had to miscarry, I was glad it was me. Except for a couple more episodes, that was the end of my jealousy. Of course, I didn’t have much of a chance since I was pregnant again by the end of my next cycle.

“This is why you shouldn’t tell people you’re pregnant before 14 weeks.” That comment made me feel almost ashamed. The smugness of it seems to suggest I deserved it. Reasonably, I know I didn’t bring the miscarriage on myself simply by telling people I was pregnant. I suppose part of it is that then you don’t have to tell people when it ends, which is difficult to do. But I didn’t tell anyone I thought wouldn’t be supportive. I know differently now.


14 responses to “The Miscarriage

  1. It sounds like your friend was so into herself that she was trying to blame you for making her feel bad by telling you that you should not announce your pregnancy before 14 weeks. It is your choice to tell when, where, and who about your pregnancy. Besides most people would like to know and are not thinking about the negative.

    I am so glad to know you have such a caring mother-in-law. She is truly a special person.

  2. I always have a tough time telling which people are going to be supportive and which ones are going to be dorks. Some of them have changed over the years, because of their own life experiences, or because of knowing what I’ve been through, and they have become nicer people. But many of them, I have simply had to cut out of my life completely.

    Because in the end, they really weren’t very good friends to begin with, and it took a tragedy for me to see that.

  3. I agree with Aurelia in that it would be hard to know what people will do or how they will react. Many folks simply don’t know what to do or say even though they feel bad and/or sorry for your loss. I am not sure how I would judge a friendship based on their reaction during a crisis except to say that the very least they could do is acknowledge what happened. To not even acknowledge it indicates a possible lack of empathy, denial for them to cope with perhaps a similar incident in their past, or whatever.

    I do think most people would like to know what is going on with you and how you are doing, especially if they know you are pregnant. I am glad you are willing to share your journey with us toward parenthood.

  4. Sara- Sadly, I think I may be one of those people who have changed because of my own life experiences (as aurelia mentioned). I would like to think I would never have been as insensitive as your friend has been, in fact I know I haven’t been. I have always, even prior to Molly and Joseph, been very sad for my friends and loved ones who have experienced a miscarriage. What I feel badly about, is how I really thought about it though. I don’t think I really understood how devastating it can be. I think I also naively thought that it was just “nature’s way”and that somehow that was of comfort. I know, stupid.

    This past fall, when my cousin in law became pregnant and then miscarried, I reached out to her in a way I never would have done before. She was so grateful to have someone not minimize her loss, and to allow her to continue to feel sad about it for months after the miscarriage occurred. And the thing is, I was grateful I was able to be that support to her. In the end, it really does feel better to be the kind of friend you know you should be. I hope your friend learns that one day.

  5. When you decide to tell people is nobody’s business besides yours and Josh’s. I remember when my stepbrother’s wife got pregnant and my mom told me that we couldn’t talk about it with him (I can’t remember for how long — this was ages ago) because it would bring on “the evil eye.” There was actually this idea that simply talking about a pregnancy could cause a miscarriage — there is so much superstition out there! That idea is obviously crap and, while there are some genuinely unsupportive people out there (your friend’s reaction to hearing about your miscarriage reminds me of one of my friends’ reactions to hearing about my anorexia), if you don’t tell anyone, then you are going through it (whether “it” is a normal healthy pregnancy or not) all alone.

  6. “This is why you shouldn’t tell people you’re pregnant before 14 weeks.”

    What a horrible thing to say. But it sounds like this is kind of par for the course for your oldest friend. But I think many people mimize first trimester losses, as if somehow they don’t really “count.”

    And, in some ways, learning that you can’t trust the people who you were relying on can be almost as painful as the loss itself.

  7. Dearest Sara,

    I agree, that it is nobody’s business but your and your husbands. You do what you feels right, always do what YOU feel is right.

    I too have a good friend from childhood…well I thought she was until our loss on March 3rd.
    My father had asked her to come home to the east, from the west coast where she is living. She had booked a flight as far as I knew, and then called the night of her apartent flight eastbound. Her flight got “overbooked” she told me, and she talked with me on the phone (this was not even a week since Birdie was stillborn). I needed to see her so badly, as she was my oldest and “best” friend, well she has not called me since that night…and its hard to know what to do now, I am still not wanting to call many people…they have to call me. So anyways, I understand your feeling about people you can no longer trust. We all find out who our real friends are unfortunately in these awful situations.

    xo- Erin (Birdie’s Mama)

  8. You know of all the people that I told about the pregnancy and then the miscarriage, my in-laws were the least sensitive of all. Next time, I become pregnant, I will continue to tell all my friends but the in-laws are definitely out. They’ll find out we were pregnant when I get one of those take home babies.

  9. I agree with Gwynne. Your friend was telling you she wished she hadn’t had to hear about your loss at all–if you hadn’t told her about the pregnancy, then she wouldn’t need to know about the miscarriage, then she wouldn’t have to be the one offering attention and sympathy. (From your description it sounds like she would rather be the one receiving sympathy for her busy life.)

  10. I suppose part of it is that then you don’t have to tell people when it ends, which is difficult to do.

    I think it would be even harder to grieve without anyone knowing.

  11. I honestly can’t believe your friend. Has she ever been there for you in tough situations before?
    This has been a really tough year for you. I am sorry.

  12. Sara,
    I just wanted to say thank you for thinking of me. I’ve been thinking about you a lot, too.

    I have wondered what I will do when the day comes that I am pregnant again–who will I tell, when…?

    Most likely the issue will sort itself out on its own, since I was showing well before the end of the first trimester with William (and they say that you show even sooner with each pregnancy).

    I agree that it is often best to be open about things. I also know that now that I have experienced the stupid comments (fortunately not very many) I will be much more likely to speak out when/if they do occur.

  13. Wow, Erin, that’s terrible what you’re friend did. At least mine showed up for Natan’s funeral.

    Julia, well, see that’s a complicated question, has she ever been there for me before. She used to be, before she met her now husband. When that relationship began, it suddenly seemed she was very resentful of me and other friends. I’ve tried and tried and tried talking to her, but it goes nowhere. I don’t know what goes on in her head since she’s about the least communicative person I’ve ever known, but I gather she thinks she was “there for” her friends more than they were for her, which is not fair.

    So our relationship has been in decline for about 4 years now. I preserved it because our families are close and we’ve known each other our whole lives. Even still, I never imagined she could be so cold when I’m really hurting.

  14. For some annoying reason, I just feel so incredibly grateful to anyone who does the bare minimum of acknowledging anything related to sympathy. But why does it seem that the people that should be the closest to you have to be the least sympathetic, while people previously marginal are suddenly the people you can talk to most freely? I should say there are definite exceptions – which Sara mentioned here in her post – but in general, I too have a lot of anger when I think about it too much, which is more and more frequent.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s