sharing your stories and remembering your children
Father’s Day, like Mother’s Day, can be difficult for parents who have lost a child. Today, we’re featuring a conversation with Early Pregnancy Loss Association board member Maria Servold’s husband, Ryan. The Servolds lost a baby in the fall of 2012. It was their first pregnancy.
How did you feel when you found out Maria was pregnant for the first time?
I was excited and hopeful. I always wanted kids, so it felt like we were finally on that path.
What about when the miscarriage began?
At first I felt like I was in a haze and that it wasn’t real. I couldn't believe that that could even happen. It wasn’t something that had crossed my mind as a possibility. I was sad, especially seeing what Maria was going through.
What do you remember about the experience?
I remember sleeping on the floor next to the couch, where Maria was laying afterward. I was trying to think of ways to comfort her and help her feel better.
What can a husband or father do during this time?
As a husband, it can feel like there aren’t many ways to help your wife as she is experiencing a miscarriage. It can feel completely out of your control. But just providing emotional support and being there with her to make her feel loved are very important.
Now that you are a father to three healthy girls, what would you like to say to other dads experiencing miscarriage?
I’m so grateful to now have our three girls, but I won’t ever forget about that first pregnancy. I would encourage other men experiencing loss to have hope for the future, as you don’t know what blessings may be down the road.
By Brittni Faircloth Guest Writer
I was an only child growing up. I never babysat or had any real experience with babies. That is not ideal when wanting to start your own family! I always told myself growing up that I would never have kids. I never saw myself as being the motherly type.
I met my husband in 2011 and we got married in 2016. In August 2019, we decided to start trying to have a baby. I see all over social media the seemingly high rates of infertility, so when I found I was pregnant just a few months later, I was shocked!
I found a doctor, and she was highly recommended from what I saw online. We were so excited about our little baby that we told all of our close friends and family almost immediately. I called the doctor to set up my first appointment, but they didn’t want me to come in until I was 8 weeks along. This way, they could see the baby better on the ultrasound. I didn’t think twice about this, but I wish I would’ve. We anxiously waited for Nov. 6, 2019, to come so that we could see our little jelly bean for the first time! We had the whole day planned. We both took the day off from work, our appointment was around 11 a.m., and we planned a photoshoot around 3 p.m. After our photoshoot, we were going to announce it to the rest of our family, friends, and the whole world if we could.
Nov. 6 came, and it will be a day I will never forget. We did the whole routine checkup, answering tons of questions, etc. It was finally time to do the ultrasound. I laid on the table with my husband sitting in a chair by my side. The nurse inserted the ultrasound wand, and there it was! Our little jelly bean. My husband grabbed my arm and shook it excitedly. As soon as I saw the screen I immediately knew something wasn’t right. I couldn’t even form words before the nurse numbly said, “The baby is measuring small, and there isn’t a heartbeat. I will go get the doctor so she can talk to you about your options.” She pulled the ultrasound wand out and walked out.
Just like that. Like it was no big deal. I just laid on the table unable to do anything or say anything. My husband put his head in his hands sitting in the chair next to me and it was just silence for what felt like hours. We finally got it together and I got up and got dressed. The doctor came in and said that she was sorry and discussed our options. First, we could wait for the baby to naturally come out. Second, they could give me medication to force the baby out. Third, I could have a D&C procedure to surgically remove the baby. She said for us to think it over and to let them know what we wanted to do. Then they sent us on our way.
My head was spinning. I couldn’t even process what she was saying to us or what I was feeling or thinking. I was shocked at how nonchalant they acted. It felt like we were just another number to them. This tragedy might be something they see multiple times a day, but we were completely blindsided. I had no complications, no pains, and no warning signs that this would be the outcome for us. Maybe I was too naïve about it. Miscarriages happen but I never once even thought that it could happen to us. No one in my direct family has had this happen, so miscarriage wasn’t something we even talked about.
One of the worst things we had to do was call everyone that knew and tell them the bad news. It was awful. We repeatedly had to say over and over again that we lost the baby. My mom came over that afternoon to be there for us. She talked to us about getting a second opinion. I didn’t even think about this at the time because my head was flooded with emotions and questions that I couldn’t even comprehend. Maybe we got the dates wrong. Maybe the baby was only X amount of weeks instead of X like we thought. We didn’t want to decide to have surgery or force the baby about via medication if there was still the slightest chance of a positive outcome. I didn’t get my hopes up, but we decided to give it a try.
We called the doctor that a previous OBGYN I had used suggested. Looking back at it, I wish we would’ve gone to them first. They were able to see us the very next day. Going to their office was a complete 180 from going to the first office. They were so compassionate and sympathetic and made us feel comfortable even though we were going through something traumatic. They did the ultrasound and confirmed what the first doctor told us. The baby had stopped progressing, and there wasn’t a chance of a miracle. They even gave us ultrasound pictures; something the first doctor neglected to do.
We asked my mom to go with us to this appointment because she is a question asker, and I felt like I needed her there in case our heads were too in the clouds to comprehend anything.
This doctor strongly recommended having the surgery. He said he encourages patients who have miscarriages around the 9 week mark to have the surgery, due to how dangerous a natural passing can be for the mother -- mainly because of excessive bleeding, cramping, and the possibility of hemorrhaging. The first doctor never told us this! I was terrified to do the surgery. Once I noticed my husband asking more and more questions about the surgery, I knew he would rather me to do it since it was the safer option.
My surgery was scheduled the very next day. My husband, mom, stepdad, and grandparents were there. The nurses did my work up, and everyone gave me a kiss and left the room. I had a few moments by myself, and I remember putting my hand on my belly and telling the baby that I was so sorry that this was happening. Before I knew it, I was being wheeled back to the operating room. Honestly, the work up and waking up from anesthesia took longer than the actual surgery did. My nurses were so awesome and kind. They helped me from check in to helping me get in the car to go home. I was told to be prepared for a lengthy time of heavy bleeding and cramping and was prescribed a few medications for pain. Luckily, the side effects weren’t too terrible for me.
Three days. That was the time span from being super excited for our first appointment, finding out we lost the baby, getting a second opinion, and having surgery. It all happened so fast. We got so many texts and calls from family and friends checking on us. People even sent us food. I think I was on an adrenaline rush from everything because I was actually OK for the first little bit. Yes, I cried a bunch, but I was OK. I think my survival mode kicked in because I didn’t really have any other choice but to be OK. I felt like I just survived something extremely tragic and if I could handle that, I could take on anything the world threw at me.
The sadness really didn’t start to set in until a few weeks later. I found myself getting very emotional; I would cry all the time. I was feeling extremely anxious, and I would get overwhelmed very easily. Women get post-partum depression after giving birth but what about women that experience a miscarriage? I am not sure if there is any depression named after experiencing a miscarriage. If there isn’t, there should be, because it is just as serious and I definitely had it. I had so many emotions at one time that it was frightening. Going from extremely sad to even embarrassed when people talked about my miscarriage. Why embarrassment? I have no idea, but I felt it. I felt like I failed and that I was already a bad mother because I couldn’t protect my baby.
The only person that I could really talk to about it was my husband. He was the only one that really knew what I was feeling. I couldn’t talk to any women in my direct family because no one had experienced this and they couldn’t really relate to what I was feeling. Even my husband told me that he couldn’t really understand what I was going through because it was different for me. He lost a baby too, but I was dealing with it emotionally and physically while he was just dealing with it emotionally. He was right: it hit me a lot harder than it hit him. The emotions had a longer impact on me than it did him.
Everyone says to not blame yourself, but how can you not? How can you not blame yourself when you were the one carrying the baby? One of the hardest things for me is the “not knowing" aspect of it. We will never know what really happened and why we lost the baby. We will never know if it was a boy or a girl. We will never know what his or her personality would’ve been like.
One thing that haunts me is how silent everyone is about miscarriages. It is like no one wants to talk about it or bring it up. Through this experience I have learned that many of my friends have had this happen to them, but they never said anything. It’s like there’s a stigma around it. I felt like everyone was walking on eggshells around me. This needs to end!
Women everywhere shouldn’t feel isolated or alone through this difficult time. It just makes it worse. We need more support groups and more people that will openly share their stories to help others. We need more awareness so women aren’t blindsided like I was.
After my surgery, my period cycles were not regular, so it was hard to tell ovulation dates, fertile windows, etc. It was so frustrating when I would get my period. I was so frustrated that we were having to start the process all over. I spent two months feeling sick and dealing with pregnancy symptoms and had to start all over.
It took a little bit of time, but I am now four months pregnant with my rainbow baby! So far everything is perfectly fine, and the baby is healthy.
As soon as I found out I was pregnant I called my doctor. I am sticking with my “second opinion” doctor’s office, the one that performed my surgery, because we love them so much. They had me come in the very next day to confirm the pregnancy and do blood work. If the first doctor would’ve done this during my first pregnancy, it possibly could’ve prevented my miscarriage because we discovered that my progesterone level was too low. They prescribed me medication, and I started taking it immediately.
After further research I found out that low progesterone levels cancan lead to miscarriage. This could’ve been the reason for my miscarriage last year. Unfortunately, by the time the first doctor decided to see me, it was too late. Obviously, we will never know for sure if this is the reason for the miscarriage, but it makes sense in my head.
In February 2020, I decided to start seeing a therapist to help me cope with all of these emotions. She has helped me get through it step by step, and I am in a lot better place mentally and emotionally. I will say that I have learned so much from this experience. I had no idea how common miscarriages are. According to my doctor, every 1 in 4 women will experience this. It is also common to experience a miscarriage on your first pregnancy and then have a completely healthy pregnancy after a miscarriage. If you are currently experiencing this now, just know it will get better. Only time and support can heal a pain like this. Keep your chin up, momma!