sharing your stories and remembering your children
By: Stephanie Gordon, EPLA board member and blog editor
I recently came across a miscarriage photo essay that is genuinely raw and real; I could feel this woman’s pain just looking at the captured moments. A decade ago, an ultrasound photo and a broken heart was the only evidence of my miscarriage. This essay portrays nearly each step of miscarriage, with photo captions that convey the complicated emotions felt during miscarriage loss. One photo caption reads, “I didn’t know how badly I wanted a baby until I was told I wasn’t having one.” Emotions came flooding back about the loss I experienced nearly a decade ago this year. I remember echoing the author’s exact sentiments. Even though a decade has passed, it still feels like yesterday.
It still feels like yesterday when I first saw signs of spotting and was in denial that anything was wrong.
It still feels like yesterday that Matt and I spent an entire Friday night in the hospital waiting for test results and meeting with multiple doctors.
It still feels like yesterday that I was wheeled down that long, sterile hallway, only to have an ultrasound prove our baby didn’t have a heartbeat.
It still feels like yesterday when the doctor said, “I’m sorry. Your pregnancy isn’t viable.”
When scrolling through the photo essay, I came across a slide that read, “How did I not know anyone who had taken this drug before? Who had to force their body to reject their dead fetus?” She’s right. Why haven’t we talked about this?
My doctor gave me three choices; have a D&C, take two misoprostol pills at home, or simply wait. Because I was working at the time, waiting wasn’t ideal and surgery felt abrasive. Since I was about 10 weeks along, I opted for misoprostol, hoping I would be more comfortable at home. The drug was foreign to me, and I knew no one else who had taken the drug. The photo essay’s author talks about not being able to process what was happening while experiencing violent bouts of nausea, vomiting, and cramping - all while trying to pass a baby. Having a miscarriage at home was the most vulnerable experience of my life, and I promised myself I would never do it again if there was a next time.
And while this photo essay brought back a flood of emotions, I am reminded of how lost and empty I felt after my miscarriage. Like this woman, my miscarriage wasn’t over after taking the two misoprostol pills. Fortunately, my pills “worked,” but I spent every Wednesday in a lab making sure my hCG levels were declining properly. Every Wednesday was another sore reminder that I was no longer having a baby.
Life didn’t stop after it was all over. I gave myself a weekend to have a miscarriage. A weekend. Miscarriage doesn’t stop in two days. It lingers, physically and emotionally, just like you see in the essay. Months later, when I stopped bleeding, I started to feel like myself again, and I finally felt like I could move on.
In the essay, the author wonders if she could mourn and be sad. I mourned and I was sad - it still makes me sad. It’s important to know that all women mourn differently. During my mourning, though, I believed I would never experience birthing and raising a child. I believed something was wrong with me or Matt. I wish I had more hope, but the loss was hard, and it was easy to dwell and lose hope.
Fast forward nearly 10 years, and it still feels like yesterday. But I now have three beautiful children: two daughters and one son. I would have never believed my life as it is right now during those dark moments a decade ago. Loss is hard. Miscarriage is hard. Grieving is hard. But what we and so many other women have experienced is real, and I promise there is hope for what’s to come.
By: Nick Carrington EPLA Editor
Miscarriage is complex and so are the problems surrounding it. Medical professionals see it so often, they sometimes fail to show enough empathy for parents who have lost a child. Because our culture doesn’t talk about miscarriage much, families who experience it struggle with how to grieve. Mothers experience physical, emotional, and spiritual trauma.
To understand a family’s experience, we need to tell our stories and to read the stories of others. We need to look at the realities of miscarriage, in all its pain and horror, and respond with empathy and love for the suffering.
Recently, The Cut published a heart-wrenching photo essay that discusses these realities through various images and reflections. Be warned, some of the pictures are difficult to see, but for those that can handle it, we encourage you to read the entire article.
Next week, one of our editors, Stephanie Gordon, will analyze the piece from her own experience.
Nick Carrington is an Editor for the EPLA and Associate Professor of Professional Writing at Cedarville University