Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla, made an exciting announcement that they’re expecting a child. However, it’s also big news because they broke the silence surrounding miscarriage. As Mark Zuckerberg publicly shared their journey of trying to conceive and experiencing multiple miscarriages, something that is generally taboo and not spoken about, they have been able to reach others in similar situations and open a very large platform from which to speak.
Miscarriage is not something you probably worry about if you’ve never experienced such a loss. It’s strange to me how something so common can be spoken so little of.
10 to 25 percent of pregnancies will end in miscarriage, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
Perhaps if more people spoke out about how common pregnancy loss is, I wouldn’t have been so blindsided and I wouldn’t have felt so completely isolated in my pain. I think many times in life we can be naive to think these bad things won’t happen to us. Then they do, and you’re left trying to pick up the pieces of what feels like your shattered life while hiding your pain from the world around you.
So here is my truth.
I have had multiple miscarriages. Prior to losing these babies, I struggled for two years to conceive. My first pregnancy was carefree and was a “breeze,” so to speak. Every pregnancy after that was complex and painful because they ended in a way that I never expected. I have been pregnant four times and I have one living child. That is my truth.
In May of 2013, I had my first miscarriage between six and seven weeks. It was a huge blow after struggling so long to conceive. I was in complete shock that this could happen to us. I remember sitting in the doctor’s office crying uncontrollably as she told me that this happens more often than I can image and it was “just a fluke.” She assured me that she was completely positive I could go on to have a healthy, normal pregnancy. Perhaps this is true for most women who experience miscarriage, but not for me. I was sent down the street to the hospital for my RhoGam shot and that was it. Just like that, my pregnancy had ended. Just as quickly as it had begun, my baby’s life had ended.
With my doctor’s wisdom and confidence at hand, we quickly decided to try again. By autumn, we had found out we were expecting again. I had an early ultrasound because of my previous loss. Everything looked great so far; the baby appeared healthy, and we were well on our way to our “happy ending.”
At 11 weeks, our baby’s heart stopped beating. But this miscarriage was different from the first. My body didn’t know our baby had died. The ultrasound revealed that our baby most likely died from “severe chromosomal abnormalities.” The doctor said to me, “Even if your baby was still alive, this wouldn’t be good, and there is no way he or she could live outside the womb.”
I was too afraid to even look at the monitor to see what he was talking about. They recommended a D&C, but I wanted this process to be as natural as possible. I wanted to be in my home so I could mourn the loss of this baby, too. I was given one week to miscarry naturally, but my body still had trouble figuring it out. One week of waiting and knowing I was carrying my dead baby in my womb. The pain I felt was like none I had felt before. I was seeded with deep guilt that I had somehow caused this.
Every single morning that week, I would wake up early to watch the sunrise on my back porch. Every morning I would sit and weep as I tried to figure out why this was happening to my husband and me. What did we do to deserve this? What did we do wrong to cause this? What could we have done differently? Questions that I didn’t have answers for. Painful and agonizing questions that ate away at my very core. This pain I felt in my heart was none I had felt before. I was grieving two babies. Not one, but two. I was angry that my body had betrayed me, I was angry that my body wasn’t smart enough to know that my baby had died.
A week went by and I was scheduled for a D&C. My husband drove me to the hospital and I was absolutely petrified. I had never been put under before. I had a wonderful new doctor who was going to perform the procedure, and he came in to talk to us and try to put us at ease. As they wheeled me back to the operating room (OR), the nurse told my husband to kiss me goodbye “because you never know.” Those words ring so true and speak ever so loudly to me now.
Under the bright lights of the OR, tears rolled uncontrollably down my face. I was lying in the OR so they could suction my dead baby out of my womb. That is my truth. It’s my harsh reality and there is no way to sugarcoat it.
My doctor held my hand tightly and asked me distracting questions, questions that deemed positive responses. I knew he was trying to settle my nerves. He held my hand and said “everything will be all right.” Little did I know that he would be holding my hand like this again less than a year later when I would lose my son.
The next thing I knew, I was waking up in recovery and all I could do was cry uncontrollably. By the afternoon, I was home. I was heartbroken. I was forever changed.
My husband and I felt completely isolated in our grief because no one talks about miscarriage. The world thinks of this as a “lost pregnancy,” but it’s so much more than that. This is not a story of a lost pregnancy; it is the story of two babies who died in their mother’s womb. It is a story of futures lost and faces we will never know because we never got to hold these babies in our arms.
I believe miscarriage isn’t just something that happens. It isn’t some “fluke.” I believe every miscarriage is a baby gone way too soon. Someone’s much wanted and prayed for baby, and what’s left behind is a constant wonder of who they would have been or what life would have been like if they lived.
I never had the chance to truly know them, but I loved them. I still love them. I always will love them. They are forever my babies. The ones I will never truly know.
Something Mark Zuckerberg said about others he knew who experienced miscarriage was, “nearly all had healthy children after all.” Perhaps that is true, that most people go on to have a healthy pregnancy with the outcome of a healthy child. But not all of us do. Some of us go on to have unhealthy pregnancies that result in the loss of a child. Some of us go on to have more and more miscarriages. Some of us continue to struggle with infertility — and some of us will never have a biological child of our own.
So for those of you who haven’t had or won’t get that “happy ending,” you are not alone. Not everyone who struggles with pregnancy and infant loss goes on to have a healthy child. While I believe wholeheartedly that holding onto hope is important, I also know it is important to acknowledge those that have the harsh reality of not being able to have what they want most — a healthy, normal pregnancy.
Because that is our truth.
Follow this journey on Luminous Light Studio.