Miscarriage comes with deep anguish and grief. I know, because I have just suffered my fourth. Those of us who have experienced a miscarriage, or recurrent miscarriage, largely grieve in the shadows or behind closed doors. We live in a culture that tells us we have not lost a child, but a blob of tissue.
The inconvenient fact is that a mother knows better. We can cover it up. We can veil the truth in secrecy, but ask any mother or father who has lost a child to miscarriage, and they will tell you they lost a child.
On our wedding day we cannot foresee the profound suffering any of us will experience in our married lives. It doesn’t occur to most men and women that they may lose a child, or many children. There is little talk of infertility, hormone issues, or genetic incompatibilities. When a family decides to begin having children, few immediately anticipate that any children conceived could die.
My first miscarriage happened four months after I married. My husband and I went in for our first ultrasound to check our child’s heartbeat. There was a heartbeat, a strong one, but next to our daughter was another sac where her twin had died.
Vanishing Twin Syndrome, or the early miscarriage of a twin, is rather common. Our doctor informed us that transvaginal ultrasounds detect the loss of a twin in early pregnancy with greater frequency now. I was stunned. My great joy became intermingled with sorrow.
When Pregnancy Symptoms Disappear Overnight
I delivered my daughter by unplanned cesarean section due to her stubborn desire to remain transverse—lying across my belly, instead of in the proper birth position with her head down. I did not need hormone therapies. I did not need any medical help sustaining her pregnancy. The only thing out of the ordinary was that I had lost her twin. It never occurred to me that my daughter would be the only full-term baby I would have to date.
A few months after I had my daughter, I became pregnant. We were excited and nervous since we had just had a child six months prior. I scheduled my first appointment with my OB/GYN. The day before that appointment, I woke up and did not feel pregnant anymore. All symptoms had vanished, and I knew immediately that something was terribly wrong. A few hours later the bleeding started, and the grief descended once again. The next day the doctor confirmed that I was miscarrying, and I entered a period of great sorrow.
I wasn’t ever ready to jump right in and try again after my miscarriages. I needed time to grieve, and so did my husband. When we did feel ready, it never took long for me to get pregnant. You see, I have no problem conceiving children. My body seems to be unable to sustain a pregnancy.
I became pregnant 10 months after my last miscarriage. The pregnancy was marred by severe vomiting followed by periods of postpartum depression. It was a horrendous roller coaster. Then came our first ultrasound. There was no fetal pole, a technical term meaning the sac is empty and the baby is gone. The doctor said we had had a blighted ovum, which means the baby died shortly after conception, but my body didn’t know it.
I attempted to miscarry naturally, but instead I hemorrhaged. My husband had to rush me to the hospital for an emergency D&C—dilation and curettage—because of severe blood loss. It was my only life-threatening miscarriage. The treatment in such cases is automatically a D&C, or D&E (dilation and evacuation)—the very same procedures used in abortions.
While this is medically necessary because the baby has died, the experience comes with its own trauma for women who pray or work in front of abortion clinics, as I do. The only difference is that women who are miscarrying are put under anesthesia by an anesthesiologist, while women who go through the trauma of abortion are not. For a moment, while I lay cruciform on the table, I was able to see what women who make the terrible mistake of choosing abortion go through. It broke my heart even more. I lost a child against my will, while millions choose to destroy their own children of their free will.
Miscarriage Visits Us Yet Again
My last three miscarriages happened three to five years ago, so the memories are a bit hazy, but now I am going through my fourth miscarriage and I can share with you what it does to a woman. This loss seems crueler. I went through batteries of tests after my third miscarriage, which showed I have low estrogen and progesterone. My Natural Procreative Technologies (NaPro) doctor thought it was treatable and that we could try to conceive again when we were ready.
It took more than a year for my body to physically recover from my third miscarriage, and I had to be treated for postpartum depression before we could consider trying again. We waited three and a half years, and then decided to be open to another child. We are Roman Catholic, so we practiced natural family planning with the Creighton method during that time.
We were overjoyed to be pregnant, but anxious. My NaPro doctor ordered early ultrasounds to detect the heartbeat. My progesterone was low, and she began me on a series of inter-muscular progesterone injections, which my husband gave me, and Human Chorionic Gonadotropin shots in the abdomen. The first ultrasound came at seven weeks, and there was our beautiful baby and his strong heartbeat. We were so happy. My doctor ordered a second ultrasound because my levels were still low, and there again was the heartbeat and our bouncing little baby.
Then a few days later, the spotting began. I tried to remain calm and optimistic for the baby’s sake. It was only brown spotting, which is common in early pregnancy. Then the brown gave way to bright red streaks, and I knew something was wrong. My husband took me to the emergency room. It was quickly confirmed that the baby had died shortly after our last ultrasound.
We were devastated. The risk of miscarriage is supposed to go down precipitously once there is a heartbeat, but we are in that small percentage. I can say with immense gratitude that during this miscarriage all of the medical staff I have worked with have been tremendously compassionate. It really is the little things that help the grieving and acknowledging our loss and grief means so much.
What Miscarriage Does to a Woman
My grief quickly turned into intense suffering. I cried for hours and screamed at God out of my voracious sorrow. All I could ask was “Why,” over and over again. I knew the coming days would give way to uncontrollable sobbing and pain. Nothing goes against the nature of motherhood more than miscarriage, other than abortion. Miscarriage demands that a mother bleed out her child against her will.
For women who have early miscarriages, it is very difficult to find the body for burial. Instead we are forced to flush our tiny but beautiful child down the toilet. I cannot express in words the agony this causes. My husband had to help me out of the bathroom because I was sobbing so hard I could barely breathe. We are “embodied spirits,” and that means the body matters. We have no control over this situation, but mothers know their child’s body matters. There is some consolation in the soul’s departure, but the body of that child is worthy of great dignity.
My pain, sorrow, grief, and anguish are not over a blob of tissue. I do not cry because my body is expelling blood and clots. I grieve the loss of my child. I am sorrowful over the loss of four unique, incredible, and deeply loved children. My soul and body were united to each of my children from conception. Seeing the heartbeat on the screen of my most recent child filled me with the greatest love, gratitude, and amazement. There was a human child capable of greatness and tremendous love present from the very beginning.
It is a lie that my grief is unwarranted. The world’s greatest deception today is the dehumanization of the unborn. Of course they are human. That is scientific fact, but even beyond the science, mothers and fathers know they have lost a child when there is a miscarriage. The grief is just as powerful and intense as the loss of any child born full-term.
Miscarriage has been largely shut out of public discussion, because our experiences betray the lies of the abortion lobby. We know the loss of a child or children. No level of cognitive dissonance can take away the truth. Mothers who have bled out their own child know better.
We need to stop grieving silently. We need to stop letting people tell us that we did not lose a child. We did lose a child, and our grief is real. No rational human being would grieve over tissue, but a mother who was united in love to her child knows the great loss that has been suffered.
I miss my four children—Victoria, Caleb, Marie-Therese, and Andrew—tremendously. I must now live through the profound agony of another loss, but at the same time celebrate the great gift that every life truly is, no matter how small.