I Never Considered Being A Mom, Until I Had A Miscarriage
Even with the idea of babies and pregnancy in conversation with my friends and family, I never considered how I would feel if I lost a baby.
October 01, 2020 at 8:51 pm
I, like many people, felt sadness and shock seeing Chrissy Teigen pour out her heart about the loss of her son, Jack. I remember scrolling over the post and rereading her honest and raw message regarding her miscarriage and feeling so much grief. That grief didn't take long to settle into a triggering moment because I'm coming up on a year since I, too, had a miscarriage.
I'm in no way likening my loss to Chrissy and John Legend because no two experiences are the same and there are several factors that clearly differentiate me from the platform she has and the microscope she lives under. It was even crazier for me to see that post on the last day of September, knowing that October is also National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I just kept thinking, wow, what a way to start this month. While October isn't when I had my miscarriage, it is the month I got pregnant and found out motherhood was a possibility for my future.
I notoriously had never been at a point yet in my life where I was ready or willing to have kids. I'd been so unsure about it I’d tell prospective partners that if they are 100% sure they want to have a family, then count me out, because I didn't want to mislead them or waste their time. It wasn’t a calling I've had in my life yet, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I would. I never inherently yearned to be a mom, and I was OK with that. I was OK with having a nephew and godson, and being the cool auntie who could spoil my friends' kids forever.
I'd say getting pregnant remained the top fear I've had since I became sexually active, and outside of a few scares, I was very happy to have never been in the position to make a choice. Baby or college, baby or my 20s, baby or traveling — you get the picture. I know plenty of rockstar moms who climb mountains every day with children, so I understand that life doesn't stop when you have a baby. But for me, I’d acknowledged it's a personal sacrifice I wasn't sure I could make. Even with the idea of babies and pregnancy in conversation with my friends and family, I never considered how I would feel if I lost a baby. It never occurred to me in the slightest.
I don't have cute antidotes about how I got pregnant or who it was, because those factors were minute in the aftermath. It was terrifying and scary, and I spent weeks riddled with stress trying to figure out what was the best option for me. I didn't know I was pregnant when I had my early miscarriage during the holiday season, but I knew my body well enough to know something was wrong. I had been unwell for weeks and chalked it up to exhaustion, which given my busy schedule, was understandable.
I remember being with family members who had a medical background when the miscarriage occurred, and refusing to believe it was happening. I was steeped in deep denial because I kept thinking if it was happening, it meant I was pregnant. And if I was pregnant, then life was about to change. I think in hindsight it was too much to wrap my mind around. I had a negative pee stick weeks earlier, had walked away from the guy I was involved with and was ready to end 2019 on a high note. This was the last thing I needed or wanted to deal with. But a few weeks later I visited the OBGYN and after a morning of being poked, prodded and seen from the inside out, it was confirmed. And just like that on December 23, my world changed.
I was so ashamed. I felt irresponsible, guilty, at fault and kept thinking about what I could have done to change it. Was this my fault? Maybe it was the traveling nonstop, bad diet or stress coming off a breakup and planning my best friend's wedding. The factors are inconsequential in hindsight, but when it was happening, I just couldn't understand what went wrong with my body.
While I was going through the fear of being pregnant, my mind had played out a thousand scenarios and possibilities of what life looked like on both sides. Would I partner a baby with a man I wasn't sure I had a future with? Would I have the baby at all? Could I be a mom now? Would I be a good mom? Do I want to be a mom? Would we make good parents? Can I spend forever tied to a man who may not be my husband? I think I spent 2.5 to 3 weeks playing Tetris with my future and was still unresolved. But losing a baby was never an option I ever considered.
Up until that point, I had only had one friend who was a mom and I don't remember us ever being scared she was going to lose the baby. Miscarriage isn't discussed like that. Not as freely as abortion or adoption or all the other options people discuss, because unless you've known someone who had a miscarriage, it's hard to factor it into your own pregnancy.
When I received the news, I didn't know how to talk about it or share it with my family. I also didn't want to add to the already fresh grief of burying my grandma a few days earlier by telling them I had a miscarriage with a guy they weren't rooting for. I didn't want to contribute to the sadness and make a spectacle of Christmas with the news. I didn't want to tell my friends because I was worried either I would be judged for not taking the proper safety measures, or having to share who the father was and explain the origins of that rekindling. Not to mention, it was the holidays and I didn't want to ruin their Christmas with my issues. It felt selfish to share this type of news and put a spotlight on myself, so I didn't.
I confined my grief to my home, my best friend, my mentor and a close guy friend who nurtured my despair over the phone. The other party responsible for the baby was unable to emotionally or mentally deal with the loss and checked out on Christmas Eve. A loss meant for two to carry and I had to shoulder it alone because he just couldn't process it. I read that men often have delayed grief and deal with it differently, but for me, it hasn’t changed that at that moment I wanted no one else to grieve with but him.
What a s**tty hand I was dealt. It was probably the most alone I'd ever felt in my life. And I just kept thinking about my baby and how this was my fault. And maybe I deserved to go through it alone as penance for my transgressions.
Almost a year later, I know better. I know there were several reasons I had an early miscarriage and none of them puts me at fault. I accept my grief and think about my baby all the time. Even though the pregnancy was only for a moment, it was mine. It was my first. And time doesn't make that go away. it makes it more bearable, but it never eliminates that I carried life and then it was gone. I'm able to acknowledge, talk about it and share what happened, if nothing else. But to be honest, for me, it was easier to pretend it was a small blip in the universe instead of the life-altering event it was, because I straddled a line of guilt and shame. But I was wrong because it's an emotional, physical and spiritual process you have to heal from.
It took awhile in 2020 for my hormones to balance and for my vaginal health to become normal again. You feel everything and you always think about the possibilities. Questions become easier to accept as time goes on, but they don't go away, even when having an early miscarriage — which means I lost a baby in the first 13 weeks, which I know is common and occurs within 10% of known pregnancies.
I went from feeling it was deserved because of my choices to undeserved because I'd been through enough at that point. I kept thinking, why me? People will come up with a million types of comforting phrases, but at the end of the day, it's a big blank question mark. I remained in denial until I broke open like a damn and flooded my family and friends with my truth. And then COVID happened and I had nothing but silence to really reflect, cry and unwind from all the emotions. I had to face it head-on because I wasn't done healing or grieving.
Miscarriages are deeply personal and private. I know I felt guilty for so long because I was a woman who never wanted kids, so who was I to be grieving over a pregnancy? But the experience had changed my perspective and outlook on motherhood. I can't say I'm completely ready to start having babies, but I do consider it more now. I think about it in light of quarantine pregnancies being announced and moving into my 30s, where the odds of my conceiving become more of a risk. Regardless I'm still dealing with a loss.
Even coming up on a year, I still feel anxiety and grief remembering it. I'm still not over it happening and not being able to share it with the person directly involved. I have to practice daily forgiveness and grace with myself, especially as I get closer to the anniversary. Creating a baby with someone leaves a lasting impression, regardless of whether you are together or not. Losing one is a shared pain that only you two know.
If I could go back in time, I would have found a support group and sought counseling sooner because the weight of carrying the miscarriage and the emotions that came with it was too much for me tackle alone. I would be more open and transparent about what I was dealing with and find healthy ways to cope.
Looking at Chrissy Teigen and John Legend, I admire their unflinching honest and unfiltered view of this truly tragic circumstance that no woman should have to endure. But I hope as we observe this month that women and their partners find peace with their loss no matter how long ago it was or how it happened. I hope they don't feel ashamed or at fault and find ways to cope, whether that's seeking outside support, releasing balloons, writing it out, crying or just whatever serves their grief.
I'm with you. I pray you find peace and comfort.