As a child, I never saw photos of my mother’s round, pregnant belly. I never put my hands on her stomach, listening intently as she told the story of my first nine months of life. There was no talk of morning sickness, food cravings or getting rushed to the hospital at 3 am.
It wasn’t because my mom didn’t care. It’s because these things never happened.
As an adopted child, the stories my mom told me were different. I was always in my mom’s heart, but never her belly. My mother and father gave me everything I needed and wanted, but I would be lying if I said it never felt like something was missing.
Despite the impossibility of inheriting my adoptive mother’s infertility, the thought always haunted me. I expected a long and challenging journey to pregnancy. I have always wanted to be a young mother and dreaded the months, maybe even years, of trying to conceive and failing.
So, imagine my joy when, three months after getting married and going off birth control, an “I’m probably not pregnant, but just want to make sure” pregnancy test turned positive.
I was overwhelmed with emotions — this wasn’t something my husband and I had planned. But ultimately, I was happy. So incredibly happy. God had chosen us to be parents. We had created a new life, and it was growing inside me!
That positive pregnancy test gave me a powerful sense of purpose that I had never encountered before.
The next morning, I called the OBGYN to schedule my first prenatal appointment. I emptied our fridge of wine and stocked up on daily vitamins, milk, fruits and veggies. I wanted to tell everyone. Over the next week, we shared the exciting news with our families and close friends.
The three and a half weeks from the day I found out I was pregnant until that first doctor’s appointment felt like a lifetime. Every day was an eternity. I couldn’t focus at work. I struggled to sleep at night.
I contacted the doctor’s office multiple times to confirm that I would receive an ultrasound. I counted down the days and hours until my husband and I would see our child for the first time. I cried thinking about hearing its heartbeat.
So, imagine my sadness and fear and panic when the day of our appointment finally arrived, and only an empty sac appeared on the ultrasound screen. I had spent the last month perusing every pregnancy website and message board known to woman. I was two months pregnant and knew what we were supposed to see. There should have been a yolk sac, a fetal pole, a heartbeat.
“There’s nothing there,” I whispered to my husband. That is how my five day nightmare began.
The ultrasound technician and our doctor kindly reassured us, saying that I probably just wasn’t as far along as I originally thought. I semi-convinced myself that I had nothing to worry about, but my stomach churned as I thought through my dates over and over again. If I took a positive pregnancy test on July 6, there is no way I’m only four-and-a-half weeks along. It’s impossible.
Before I left, they drew blood. The doctor wanted to measure how much hCG (a pregnancy hormone produced after implantation) was in my bloodstream. She said she would call me the next day if the results were abnormal. In the morning, my phone rang.
The following days were a blur of anxiety, tears and bad news. After what seemed like forever, we learned that my hCG levels were stagnating when they should have been doubling.
“This isn’t what we would expect to see in a normal pregnancy,” my doctor said quietly through the phone. “We should get you into the office tomorrow and schedule a D&C.”
I have never cried so hard in my life.
In that moment, I couldn’t help wondering, “Why me?” I felt like I had done everything right. I had looked to the Bible for guidance. I had prayed and asked others for their prayers. I had truly believed that God could and would do the impossible for our family. Despite knowing that God has a plan for my husband and me, this felt like a slap in the face.
But the next day, when that same empty sac stared back at us from the ultrasound screen, I knew it was over.
Sharing my story is personally cathartic, but at the end of the day, there are millions of women who have lived this same sad and isolating experience, and unfortunately, there are many more women who will in the future.
As I write this, it has only been a day since my D&C, and the pain, physical and emotional, is still very real. I keep trying to wrap my head around why this has happened and how I can move forward.
Even with support from your partner, family and friends, miscarriage feels like the loneliest experience in the world. But if being transparent and honest about my own experience helps just one woman realize that she is not alone, this miscarriage will not have been for nothing.