I planned on announcing my second pregnancy on my 30th birthday. Instead, at our 8 week ultrasound in early July, we found out our baby had stopped developing a couple of weeks before. There was no heart beat. The tiny gray blob on the screen was so small, so still, even my inexpert eyes knew right away the pregnancy was over.
We took our doctor’s advice and decided to wait out the miscarriage, but after a few days, the waiting weighed on my heart too much. I asked the doctor for medication to help bring the pregnancy to a close, and 6 days after finding out we wouldn’t bring home a baby in February, I miscarried at home.
I went on to work and social events as usual. Life seemed to proceed normally. But nothing felt normal on the inside. I felt like I was living in some bizarro parallel universe. In the “good” universe, the one I’d lived in before, I was still going happily about my pregnancy. My baby and belly were growing. We were making plans for the nursery and whittling away at our list of baby names. In my mind, I could still see that version of our family proceeding down the expected path.
In this universe, I was bleeding and grieving. All plans abruptly ceased. There was no path. Just a waiting room.
The weirdest thing was that so few people knew what was going on. Very few knew I’d been pregnant. Very few knew I’d miscarried. Every conversation felt like I was talking through the other person and like maybe they didn’t even see me. How could they not see that I was grieving? How could they not feel the hole in the universe, when that emptiness was all I could feel?
The day after the ultrasound, I’d e-mailed someone to cancel plans related to my pregnancy, and they’d responded, “Don’t let anyone make you feel like this isn’t a real loss. It is.” I didn’t understand what she meant then, but after a couple of weeks, I did.
There’s so much silence around a miscarriage, it can seem a lot like it’s not happening at all. And when people do know, they often say things meant to help you that only end up hurting you more. Some tried to minimize the loss, as if making the miscarriage sound like a small thing would make it less painful. Rather than making me feel better, it made me feel as though they didn’t think the loss was worth mourning, and then I just felt alone.
Even when people did respond in a way that was hurtful, though, it was a relief to finally tell people outside my immediate family, “I had a miscarriage.” It felt like acknowledging the importance and the weight of something that had meant so much to me and that had caused me so much pain. It made me feel less sadness for all the love my baby had not been able to experience in this world when other people expressed their grief.
It was especially good to talk about it with people who had also had miscarriages and who understood what the loss meant to me, that it wasn’t something small that could easily be put aside and forgotten.
I wasn’t sure whether to write about it here, but in the end, it feels wrong to keep it secret. I lost my second pregnancy, and it was a significant loss, even if it was just the tiniest spark of possibility. I think of that alternative universe version of myself with her growing baby and whole heart every day, and I know I will never be the person I was the moment before that ultrasound. I will never stop missing that little bit of promise.