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.