Having a miscarriage is going to the ER and waiting for three and a half hours to be seen. There’s a flu outbreak, so they make you wear a mask.
Having a miscarriage is being violated by hands, fingers, plastic wands and dozens of doctors because you hope they can give you an answer. The ultrasound tech is silent. She asks if you’re spotting or bleeding. You tell her you aren’t sure because this is your first pregnancy. She’s quiet in return.
You head back to your husband who waits in the same emergency room with his hands folded over his lap. Minutes turn into hours. The doctor tells you it’s a UTI and hands you a prescription. When you ask him how he knows that if you never peed in a cup, he says that’s not necessary and shows you out.
Having a miscarriage is waking up at 5a.m. trying—no, hoping—for the bleeding to stop. You go back to the ER by yourself because you couldn’t tell your boss what was happening, your husband covered your shift and you’re petrified of going through this by yourself.
A miscarriage means endless tubes of blood taken to determine if “the mass” in your womb is the right size for how many weeks you say you are. “The sac” is measuring at five weeks, they say. You’re supposed to be ten weeks. Doctors use it-sounding adjectives because they know the pregnancy isn’t viable, and they think it’s the best way to describe it to you.
When you found out you were pregnant, you followed the eating right thing to the T. You exercised, but nothing with squats or lifting things overhead. You stayed away from fish and made sure to take your prenatal vitamins every morning before work. You did things by the book, yet here you were, sitting on the toilet because they want a sample of a blood clot you were passing. None of that mattered.
Having a miscarriage is crying in your car in the parking lot of the hospital because you’re embarrassed. You text your sister, your husband and your best friend—the only people who knew you were pregnant to being with—to let them know you lost the baby—it as the doctors put it—but you can’t think of anything else to say. You cry all the way to Walgreens on Route 13 in Carbondale. You cry all the way home. Your dog comforts you as you curl into a ball on the couch. The contractions prevent you from making it to your bedroom.
You feel useless; like your body failed you in the one thing you wanted since meeting your husband. For months, you lose all desire to have a baby—the thought of losing another only fueling the fire.
Having a miscarriage is being lectured by your mother-in-law because so-in-so in the family called her demanding the reason why she wasn’t told about the miscarriage. You try to understand that she means well, but she instead goes on a rant about the dangers of posting things on Facebook and that you really shouldn’t put things “like that” on an open forum.
Having a miscarriage is getting a text message from a friend saying, “I can’t believe you didn’t tell me. I thought I was your friend,” after she reads about your miscarriage four months after it happened. You shut down. The pain of the contractions flicker in your memory. That’s the moment you decide you won’t talk to her once you move from Illinois.
Having a miscarriage is receiving a bill for $8500 because you couldn’t afford Obamacare, and you weren’t insured when you lost your first child. So not only do you get violated over and over again while you’re having a miscarriage, but you also receive phone calls months later from debt collectors with flat tones asking for money or asking you to borrow money from people so you can pay them for telling you that your baby died and they didn’t know why.
When you find out you’re pregnant again, you’re miscarriage comes back to haunt you like a disease. It whispers in your ear every night you go to sleep. Everyday when your baby doesn’t move as much as the day before. Every doctors appointment when she searches for their heartbeat with the Fetal Doppler. Every second up until you hear your child’s first cry.
Now, when you watch your baby boy sleep, when you take pictures for family members near and far, you can’t help but feel overjoyed in what love created. But in the back of your mind, the voice comes back and says, “There was supposed to four.” Having a miscarriage doesn’t ever truly leave you, but rather, stays with you as a reminder that life isn’t perfect.
Life is messy, heartbreaking and savage. And without that, you’d never be able to be thankful for everything you have.