I chose to be brave and share my story today. Writing everything down during this time has been comforting for me. I hope it brings comfort to others, lets them know they’re not alone, and opens the door for other women looking for support.
This past year has been very challenging. I don’t want to say it was a “terrible” year because I am grateful for what I have. There were blessings in 2019, and I certainly cannot discount them. However, I think it’s fair to say the dark days outnumbered the sunny days—by far.
I thought 2019 started off perfectly when I received a positive result on my pregnancy test. My baby was conceived on New Year’s Day. How much better of a start can you get? I even had a vivid dream: it was my baby shower. I was in our community clubhouse wearing pink, and I was telling people about my due date of 9/25. Ironically, that was actually going to be my due date.
However, my joy was short lived. My levels were not rising the way they should have, but I still remained hopeful. The day I received the heartbreaking phone call from my nurse, I confided in a coworker. She asked, “Can we pray?” I answered yes, and she took my hands. I cried the entire time.
On 2/10/2019, I naturally miscarried at 4:30 a.m. When I went for my morning scan right after, I started sobbing when the doctor told me my uterus was empty. I knew, but hearing the words hurt. Over the next few days, I cried and I slept. Mother Nature blessed us all with a snow storm shortly after, so I had some extra time off to recover physically, mentally, and emotionally. I remained disconnected from social media. Not that I didn’t care about anyone, I just needed to protect and heal my heart. When you’re hurting, struggling and feeling down, you have to take care of yourself. Without doing so, how can you start to recover?
During that snow storm, I decided to take a proactive approach. I read books and researched what I could do to prevent the likelihood of future miscarriages; what foods to eat, what supplements to take to improve my egg quality, and what products to avoid. I totally revamped my personal care and household cleaning regimen and opted for natural products that were free of phthalates and parabens, along with any other harmful chemicals.
Fast forward a little bit to mid-April–right after my birthday. After seeing a vivid rainbow, receiving encouragement from a dear friend, and believing it was a sign, I took a pregnancy test and received a bright positive on 4/16/2019. My due date was right before Christmas–the perfect gift anyone could ask for. My heart was filled with a joy that I have never experienced before.
This time things were different. I felt the symptoms: fatigue, nausea, and food aversions. My levels skyrocketed with my first hcg coming in at 11,000. Eventually, we saw a beautiful heartbeat on several occasions. There was life! Things looked promising, and things SOUNDED promising based on my doctors’ words during each appointment, blood draw, and ultrasound. Then I had another vivid dream. My aunt who is in heaven told me, “It’s a baby girl.”
On June 4th, almost at the end of my first trimester, my world was shattered when things took a very sudden, quick turn. I miscarried again. I’ll never forget walking into the doctor’s office holding a bag that held a container holding my baby. Just as in February, when it was confirmed that my uterus was empty, I sobbed uncontrollably. This time, though, much harder. Although I already knew it, hearing those words were too much for me. I didn’t want to accept that this was it. My pregnancy was over. It’s a day I will never forget as long as I live. I never knew such pain, heartache, and devastation. We would never know what life would be like with our baby. We would never meet our baby. I was writing a story, and I didn’t get to finish it. The pen was stolen from me. The darkest and saddest days soon followed…
I didn’t go to work for over a week. I couldn’t face anyone. I couldn’t speak to people. I didn’t have the strength to respond to texts. I didn’t want to not answer, so I just sent heartache and crying emojis. There were friends that I had not yet called to tell I was pregnant, and afterwards, I didn’t really feel like calling them to fill them in. That was no indication of my love for them; it was just too painful. This was my second loss in less than four months. I was crushed. I cried every single day. With 85% of subsequent pregnancies resulting in a live birth after a miscarriage, and with a 98% chance of a successful pregnancy after hearing and seeing a heartbeat, I thought the odds were in our favor. It just seemed so unfair.
On 6/8/2019 after having pain, I ended up in the ER. Turns out there was excess tissue in my uterus from the miscarriage. I was in excruciating pain, heartbroken, and honestly downright frightened. After an exhausting night for my husband and I, we were finally cleared to go home.
When I finally mustered the strength and courage to return to work, I cried to my colleagues and my principal. I was afraid I’d break down in front of my students, but somehow, I did not. At the end of the school year, they were the ones who cried. They knew something was wrong. I wiped their tears and consoled them, but I felt so guilty for not shedding my own.
After coming back from vacation in early July, I was informed that my results were in from the testing of our baby. It felt like the wounds were torn open again. There weren’t any chromosomal issues. It was a baby girl.
So many questions lingered. What happened to our baby? Was it my fibroids? If it wasn’t chromosomal, what went wrong with our little girl? Did my body fail me with a healthy embryo? Multiple vials of blood were taken from me a few days later to hopefully get some sort of answer. I also became angry; angry at my previous doctors for seeing fibroids on my scans over the years and not recommending anything be done about them or not thinking they would interfere with pregnancy.
I again, took a break from the online world. Seeing other people’s joy made me happy for them, but it was also painful for me. My days consisted of waking up to knots in my stomach every day. I’d emerge from my sleep and reality would hit. I spent a lot of time by myself, since school was out and my husband was working. I spent time visiting mom and dad, exercising, and taking long walks. I researched clean eating recipes. I sought out an acupuncturist and began sessions. I would go to the beach by my house, but seeing everyone with their children made me sad. Tears would form in my eyes behind my sunglasses.
I created a memorial for our baby in one of our spare bedrooms. I included greeting cards I received during my pregnancy, my ‘Baby Lee’ journal, a stuffed bunny from mom, a candle, and a photo frame with her ultrasound. I would sometimes talk to her picture. I would hold it to my heart, rock her, and cry. I’d say, “I miss you so much, baby girl. I’d do anything for you to be here. I wish you didn’t have to be taken away.” I also made a garden in honor of her memory. I just wanted my baby girl to know we will never ever forget her. We loved her every second of her life, and we will love her for every second of ours.
One thing I did learn during this time is that I have such an amazing support network. Friends knew how scared I was since I miscarrying in February. Just a simple, “Good luck at the doctor today”, “Do you need anything?”, or “How are you feeling?” went a long way. One of my childhood friends was amazingly able to answer my calls or texts no matter what time of day I reached out to her, no matter what concerns or questions I had, as there were always a ton.
While it can be a challenge having many friends around me who are currently pregnant, I am nothing but happy for them. They are bringing life into this world. It’s a beautiful journey, but it also can be a scary one. YES, you can be happy for someone and sad and worried for yourself at the same time. I worry AND I know it’s OK to feel that sense of isolation. But what would be not OK is for me to not be happy for my friends or not support them because of my own circumstances. Besides, most of my friends had their own challenges and heartaches, and their journeys weren’t easy either.
I won’t say where I am in my journey right now, because it is so fluid. If there’s one thing I’ve learned through all of this, it’s that anything can change at any time–in a heartbeat. Nothing in life is guaranteed–not even tomorrow. We all take that for granted sometimes. However, I choose to remain optimistic, although it’s not always easy. I don’t know when our time will come, but I believe my husband and I, someday in the future, will have a child that we will love and cherish forever.
The more I talk about my heartaches, the more stories people share with me and the more people I believe I crossed paths with for a reason. We comfort each other with our own stories and words of support. They say 1 in 4 women experience a miscarriage at some point in their lives. There certainly are too many of us. We are a sisterhood–a sisterhood we didn’t ask to be a part of.
Losing a baby changes you. It changes you forever. I’ll never be the same.
Please don’t tell us, “Oh, you can try again.” We can lose again and experience heartbreak again, too.
Please don’t ask women when they’re having babies. Some choose not to, some WANT to, but don’t know when they will or if they ever can.
Please don’t say, “Well, at least you CAN get pregnant.” My end goal is a live birth–to bring a baby into this world. Getting pregnant is only the beginning. No one’s goal ends at merely getting pregnant.
Please don’t say, “This happens to a lot of people” or “This is common.” Common won’t take any pain away. Losing a baby that you’ve grown attached to should never be regarded as “common.” It doesn’t make things okay.
And PLEASE don’t say, “What’s wrong with you? Why haven’t you had a baby yet?”
But what CAN you say to someone is…
“I don’t know what to say, but I love you and I’m here for you.”
“Please don’t give up.”
“You’re not alone.”
“I am going to help you get through this. Whatever that looks like, whatever that sounds like, I’m going to help you.”
“Don’t worry, your story will have a happy ending. It WILL happen.”
And from a friend who is pregnant, “I can’t wait for you to be here because one day, you will be.”
If you’re struggling, please know you’re not alone. Take care of yourself. Don’t compare your journey to others. Eat well, get good sleep, and minimize stress as much as you can. As hard as it may be sometimes, please stay hopeful and be strong. I know personally that the struggles with infertility and pregnancy loss can leave you feeling really isolated.
I will always feel the pain of my losses, especially my last. However, I can’t forget how fortunate I am. I’m incredibly grateful to be a wife, to have a rock of a husband, my parents who are always there to help support me, and friends who are so genuinely concerned for my well being. But no matter what, I have faith and I believe—that one day, some way, somehow, we will be a family of three.
Gina lives with her husband, Michael, in West Milford, NJ. Gina and Michael have been married since November 2017. They enjoy hiking, kayaking, cooking, and taking road trips together. Gina has been an elementary school teacher for 19 years. Aa a “mom” to many students, she and her husband yearn to have a child of their own. Gina suffered two miscarriages — in February and June of 2019. In a world where resources seem difficult to find, and where a grieving mother may not know where to turn for support, Gina hopes to help others by sharing her story so other women can know they have resources, have support, and should never have to suffer alone.
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