Posted by: Karen (Betty Bear) | December 1, 2011

miscarriages, part 1

I’m stealing borrowing from Julie today. “Everything happens for a reason or Everything is perfect are beliefs born from a decision to see life as a school room.  When we choose to become students of life who learn and grow from our experiences, everything does, in fact, happen for a reason.  In this way, we make our most difficult moments mean something by using them to our spiritual advantage.”

This quote made me think of my miscarriages. I knew from very early on that I wanted kids and I had never doubted that I would. Why would I? I was young(ish), healthy, never had any “female” problems or any other medical issues that might preclude having children. It literally never crossed my mind that I might not be able to conceive and carry a child to term. So when I got pregnant, I announced it to the world. I was happy! Yeah, I was a little nauseated, but fine, whatever. I was pregnant! First appointment went just fine, everything looked liked it should, the baby’s heart was pitter-pattering away. I was having a baby!! A couple of week later, my brother and sister-in-law announced their pregnancy. We lived fairly close by so we all thought that it was so cool we would have kids almost the exact same age. We compared pregnancy notes. We promised we wouldn’t name ours what they wanted to name theirs.

Then, I started spotting. Panic ensued. The doctor assured me it was fairly normal, nothing to worry about. So I mostly stopped worrying. At my next appointment, the midwife couldn’t find the heartbeat. I didn’t panic. I simply froze inside. The midwife tried to be reassuring while sending me over two rooms to have an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed that the fetus had, in medical terms, ceased to be viable. I remember calling my husband who came right over from work but I don’t really remember how I got home, how my car got home, what all the discussing in the doctor’s office was. But it did become clear that I needed a D&E, which I did have a couple of days later, clutching my husband’s hand the entire time. We were told there was no reason we couldn’t try again and no reason it should happen again. So we did. And it did. At 14 weeks this time.

The first miscarriage made me sad, and it made me more fearful for my second pregnancy, but I wasn’t beaten. I still had a good bit of hope that the second time would be different. That hope increased as I got beyond the first trimester into what should have been, and usually is, a much safer period of time. But then that hope was trampled on as well. At this point no one had any idea why I was miscarrying. They did genetic testing on that second fetus to see if there was any genetic reason for it. I didn’t realize I would get that report in the mail, but I did. I opened it and found that I was to have had a boy. Oddly, in some weird way, this made me feel a little better. Having a miscarriage is a very strange sort of grief. It isn’t like having a person die exactly, it is the hope and dream of a person. It is the death of a future with no past. Knowing that that child who no longer was, was a boy gave me a substance for my grief. It validated it. It made my grief more real and by making it more real it made it easier for me to grieve for that lost child and the lost child before this one.

The very hardest thing that happened was my nephew’s christening. We, too, should have been holding our baby, but our arms were empty. They were empty twice over. I wanted so much to be happy for my brother and my sister-in-law, and I was, but I was just so damn sad.

We went on. We were told that it was most likely an immune response from my body that could be treated although it wasn’t always successful. My third pregnancy ended in the girl child. My fourth was another miscarriage that was God’s or nature’s or the universe’s mercy on what would have been a very short and painful life. My fifth resulted in the boy child and with that I was done. I would have been fine with just the girl child, although I truly cannot imagine not having the boy child now. I would have been fine with adopting if that was what was needed for me to have children.

Writing this has been more cathartic than I thought. I haven’t really thought this much about those experiences for quite a while and I didn’t really mean to write as much as I did about them. I intended to write about how the pain of those experiences changed me. But I think that I will wait until tomorrow to do that. This is enough for today.

Today’s gratitude: that I have been given the children that I have and I ask that I remember to appreciate them for all that they are.

Today’s challenge is tangentially related: Make someone smile today by doing a small act of kindness, such as holding open a door. I texted girl child who had had a horrible morning, and asked her to go to the movies this weekend. I got this text back:  Oh! YES!!!! 😀



  1. It is amazing how much miscarriages can effect us … {{{hugs}}}

  2. I had two before my boys as well. They both happened at 8 weeks. The first was spontaneous and happened at work on a Friday afternoon. I’ll tell you the story sometime – it’s both funny and sad. I imagine the pain is even greater once you are beyond 12 weeks. Not that you want the baby more than someone who miscarries earlier, just that there is that feeling of relief that it’s going to work this time and then that’s taken away. Big hugs to you, hon.

    • It surprised me how many people had had them that I didn’t know about until I had one. It’s a hidden sorrow that so many walk around with. And I’d love to hear your story if you’d like to tell it.

  3. We grieve our losses, no matter the time frame, they burn holes in our hearts and leave scars on our souls. We learn and grow (hopefully) and then we are better equipped to experience the joy that we KNOW must still be yet to arrive. At least, that’s the goal in this hard-work classroom!

    Beautifully done, thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    (Shouldn’t we be seeing extra damn brownie points for all this gratitude, oh wait… that’s not really the point is it. 😉 )

    I am grateful for my own babies and that they have grown into such amazing adults.

    I printed off some bonus coupons for Empress, so I’m covered.

    • Thank you! Brownie points would be good. Actually brownies would be good too. Hmmm. 😉

  4. (Please put that “t” in there where it belongs and take out the extra “it” -thank you! My OCD really thanks you.)

    • Got the t. What extra it? I’ve read your comment like 10 times and I can’t find an extra it. Help!

  5. 14 weeks! OMG, my heart aches for you. The mind recoils at the very thought. I am also benefiting greatly from your parenting experience. Your ‘do what you can do, it’ll be fine’ comments on my blog are sometimes all that get me through the day. I have major mommy guilt that can hit over just any old thing. Your attitude toward parenting is good for me. Thanks for sharing this post, painful though it must have been to write.

    • OMG the mommy guilt. I keep stomping on it with my hiking boots and it just keeps coming back. I’m really, really happy that my comments have made a difference. Sometimes I read what I write in comments and think “Karen, you idiot, they know that!” I want to recommend the best parenting book I have ever read: The Blessing of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel. It was so down to earth and realistic and incredibly helpful for me. I checked and it does come on a CD or audible. Put it on your Christmas list or see if your library has it.

  6. My heart goes out to you Bear for having to go through it so many times. My mom had three as well and I remember one of them when her friend had to take her to the hospital, I was horrified. I lost my second kid at 40 weeks, I was suppose to deliver the next day. And I understand the “this is enough for today.” Most times I have to make myself think of something different otherwise the guilt is just too much. It was just today that I was thinking about all those pages I wrote about it years ago and wondered what I should do with them. I don’t want to delete them but I certainly don’t want my daughter or other family member to find them on my computer when I die because I just might from whatever this aching left arm disease is that I have like Nan, but I digress.

    • While comparing pain is a fairly useless exercise, I can’t/don’t even want to try to imagine losing a child at 40 weeks. My heart goes out to you. I don’t even know what to say except for ((((hugs)))). Not knowing what you went through or what you wrote about it, I can’t really comment on what you should do with what you wrote, except that some day, in the far future, it might let your daughter know you a little better. And please just go get that arm thing checked out. It’s probably carpel tunnel or something, but, seriously, go.

  7. It really is amazing how often things don’t go right, and how little our society provides space to mourn those losses. I wish catharsis and healing for all of us, and send you my love.

    • Thank you for your lovely comment. I think part of not having the societal space to mourn is that mostly people don’t announce their pregnancy that early and so it would be weird to announce a miscarriage. Also, based on the astonishingly hurtful remarks I heard after it happened, many people really, really don’t get it unless it happened to them.

  8. Oh, Karen, I never had a miscarriage but I had several friends who did, and I remember them talking about that same feeling– the grief that goes unacknowledged. I’m so glad you were able to persevere and have your two beautiful children. I have experienced the catharsis of writing about long ago pains, though. Thanks for sharing with us.

    • Thank you Barb. This has been rather more cathartic than I was expecting and the comments from everyone have been heartwarming.

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