I was 18. I had just started my first year of college.
Most kids were excited about freedom, partying or pledging with the rowdiest Greeks on campus but I was preparing to balance life as a young college mom-to-be.
Funny thing is, I wasn’t scared about being pregnant. The more my pregnancy progressed, the more my boyfriend and I looked forward to meeting our little Jasmine. Chatting with my new college friends about my baby felt normal and welcoming.
Jasmine already had a ton of baby clothes, a crib, and enough love and anticipation between our families to move mountains.
But being a mom at that time of my life simply was not in my cards.
On a Saturday night back in 2001, what started out as mild abdominal pains, turned into shooting agony. I went to the bathroom, took Midol, tried changing sleeping positions. Nothing.
The pain got so bad I could barely walk. I had read plenty of “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” type books to know that this feeling wasn’t normal.
I started to pray that God wouldn’t take my baby. I knew I was young, not too bright, and still had plenty of growing to do but that didn't mean I wouldn’t be a good mom! However, the realist in me knew I was having a miscarriage.
My mom and her boyfriend at the time rushed me to the hospital and carried me inside. After getting me in my hospital gown, I felt this rush of what I thought was urine coming.
It turned out my water was breaking, at only 20 weeks. I remember the nurse looking down at the pool of water between my legs with immediate concern. I could tell he was trying to hide his sorrow for me as well.
Roughly 2 hours later, surrounded by nurses and my mom, I was holding my 20-week-old premature baby in my arms. My perfect, one-pound, lifeless Jasmine Atlantis Leftwich.
I had to stare at her for a long time. I had to touch her tiny, tiny hands and feet. I had to inspect her body to make sure the ordeal did not harm her. Unfortunately, her tiny body had a tear in her shoulder from the miscarriage.
Even as a mother for only 20 weeks, I still wanted to make sure my baby did not die suffering too much.
Afterward, I burst into tears. Why would God punish me so? He knew the hurt would be like a thousand stab wounds. Why would he do such a thing?
My baby would never have a chance to open her eyes, laugh, cry, or even see the world at least once. I would never have the chance to put her in all of her new baby clothes or watch her sleep in their crib.
As I type these very words, 14 years later, I still cry, reliving the vivid images over and over.
One of the worst parts was having to tell all my college friends. I still remember the numbness of explaining how I suffered a miscarriage and how surprised and saddened they were.
Yes, I returned back to school only a few days of losing my precious daughter.
If not, I would have gone crazy trying to figure out God’s decisions, staying at home, growing more sad and depressed, blaming myself for something that simply was not meant to be.
I remember trying to concentrate on a Statistics quiz I had the following Tuesday. I couldn’t. The numbers just all looked blurred. I barely remember writing my name on the test.
I walked out mid-way through. I didn't respond to emails from my professor. Of course I bombed the quiz, but I was simply too heartbroken to think about S-curves and probabilities.
Everything I saw around campus reminded me of the things I had planned to do with my daughter when she arrived. We were going to walk around the college campus together. We were going to play on the small grassy pastures near my school together.
Instead, I was walking around campus, hurt beyond belief, trying to keep my boobs from drenching my shirts with all my now-useless breast milk.
Then one day, we had a project in my public speaking class that was coming due. I had no topic selected because my mind was clearly on other things. But I knew I could not just keep bombing assignments for much longer. So, I decided to do my project on my terrible experience. I decided the best way to deal with the hurt is to simply talk about it.
When it was my time and day to present, I went over the basics of a miscarriage; what it feels like and what to expect. I made sure to make it factual, but I also personalized it, since that’s a huge part of public speaking: a presentation focused on an individual to inform the audience.
I shared hospital photos of my daughter who even at 1 pound still had plenty of distinct features. I shared other prenatal sonogram photos throughout my pregnancy. I even played a recording of Jasmine’s heartbeat.
The class was very involved with my presentation, almost stunned because no one, including my professor, knew I had been pregnant. I remember everyone in my class being wide-eyed and very interested in my presentation, more so than the other presentations. I mean, it’s not everyday someone so willingly shares photos of their deceased child.
My classmates gave me hugs and offered well wishes to me and my boyfriend, who accompanied me for support. My professor was very proud of my bravery, stating she wished students would be more willing to share such personal stories.
Even though I quickly excused myself to the bathroom to cry hysterically, it was during that presentation that I realized my miscarriage would eventually turn out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me.
See, that college presentation was a pivotal moment in my career. When I eventually graduated with a communications degree, I knew I wanted to be a writer.
And I’ve found over the years that writing true stories makes for some of the best material.
People like to read articles that they can relate to. They like to know they’re not alone in their suffering. They like to know they have at least one person they can relate to in a world of judgement and assumptions.
Even though I took the plunge into freelance writing only a few years ago, I knew it was my calling even in college. Speaking so openly about my miscarriage showed me that I could not only share my story with 15 other young women in a classroom, but that I could do the same thing for millions more.
And as a mom of two little girls, you have no idea the joy I get from watching them create their own little books and comic strips.
I get even more satisfaction when I hear back from readers telling me how much my story really moved them and improved their own situations. It’s such a massively rewarding feeling when strangers from all points of the globe are grateful for my personal testimonies.
The loss of a child is a true heartbreak I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. But I’m grateful for the experience. It allowed me to experience very real physical changes and raw emotions many young women may not be equipped to handle, discuss or write about in vivid detail.
My miscarriage, though tragic, gave me an experience to share with women all over the world.