I had my first miscarriage at 5 weeks. If I didn’t know I was pregnant, I wouldn’t have ever known I was pregnant. It’s a weird thing to realize. I remember the cramps and the bleeding and how closely it resembled a regular monthly period. I remember going to the hospital and the ultrasound tech looking at that tiny glowing screen searching for a baby. I remember the way she told me there was no baby. It wasn’t in a heartfelt apologetic way, it was as if she was questioning me. Almost as if she didn’t believe that I had ever been pregnant. I remember laying on the examination table when the doctor looked up at me and said, “Yep, it looks like a miscarriage. I recommend a no school day tomorrow.”
I had my second miscarriage at 11 weeks. I wasn’t showing, but we had told a few people and I felt officially pregnant. I remember the cramps that were so intense I couldn’t move. I remember the bleeding and how it flowed out so heavily we began to worry that I was hemorrhaging. I remember going to the doctor and not needing an ultrasound for the doctor to know I was having a miscarriage. I remember laying on the table and having what was left from my pregnancy removed from me. I remember a nurse who was kind and sympathetic.
A year after I had my first child, I met a mother who had experienced a still birth. I remember not being able to comprehend her loss. I remember being so thankful for my early term miscarriages because I didn’t think I could be as strong as her. I remember feeling silly for being annoyed at the nurse and doctor who seemed to not care about my 5 week miscarriage. I remember feeling extremely thankful for the nurse and doctor who showed me that they valued my baby that I lost at 11 weeks.
A few months later a friend told me that she miscarried at 5 weeks. I wanted to be like the second nurse who was comforting and sincere. But instead I was the first. I sort of brushed it off and told her it would be okay and a lot of women have miscarriages. I told her that I had two before my daughter and she turned out perfectly healthy. I remember the look on her face. I remember the way she looked down at the ground and forced herself to smile. I remember the way she quickly changed the subject. I remember being angry at myself for not saying the right things. And then, I remembered what I forgot.
I forgot how that first miscarriage makes you feel. How you feel so blessed to have carried a baby and betrayed at the same time. I forgot how some people treat early term miscarriages. Almost as if, they weren’t real miscarriages because it wasn’t yet a “real” baby. I forgot how all you really want is to feel like it’s okay to be sad and not like you’re over-reacting. I forgot about the first pregnancy test after your first miscarriage and how excited and lucky you feel, yet a little terrified. I forgot about the first pregnancy test after your second miscarriage and how your first thought is, “I wonder if I’ll lose this one too.” I forgot to show compassion because I forgot that every miscarriage hurts, no matter how far along you were.
About 80% of miscarriages end in the first 12 weeks. 12 weeks isn’t a long time and it’s understandable why some people don’t consider early miscarriages a big deal. However, there’s a tribe of us who have been through it. There’s a tribe of us who know what that feels like. A tribe of women, who at the very least can remember to say what very few do, “I’m sorry for your loss.”