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Sharing Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infertility Stories to Help and Heal after Pregnancy Loss

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Miscarriage and Stillbirth Stories - Grief, Hope, and Healing

After my first miscarriage, I scoured the internet to find miscarriage stories. I needed to know my pain was valid, my grief was warranted, and that I wasn’t alone. I often say that I devoured stories like medication in those early days—somehow they helped heal me as I absorbed them into my broken heart and assimilated my own experiences in light of the larger human story.

In the years since (and through two more miscarriages), I’ve learned how common miscarriage is. Depending on which research you go with, professionals estimate anywhere from 15-25% of pregnancies end in loss. (Many say the number hikes to 50% or higher if you count pregnancies lost before a woman takes her first pregnancy test.) Now that I’m on the wrong end of those statistics, those stats no longer shock me. My own loss has exposed me to the huge, hidden grief that women (and men) share all over the world.

The problem with the ‘hush’ around miscarriage stories

Issues of fertility and reproduction are intensely private for most of us. They are also mysterious and confusing unless we are informed and feel permission to speak openly about our experiences. The paradox is not lost on me.

The problem with keeping the pain of miscarriage hushed is that it breeds shame around a type of pain and a grief so common to the human experience, and shame has the ability to cripple us from the inside out. (This applies to other forms of pregnancy loss and infertility, too.) The stigma we’re used to hearing whispers in a hurting mother’s ears: You couldn’t do it—you couldn’t stay pregnant. What kind of a woman can’t do what she was ‘meant’ to do? Your loss is insignificant. Your grief response is silly. Your body is broken. 

Thankfully the internet age has given rise to honest and vulnerable talk about many issues women face that have previously been considered taboo. For countless women miscarriage sits near the top of the list. Normalizing this aspect of womanhood (and parenthood) is liberating because it affirms we need not be ashamed of that which is beyond our control.

Sharing our miscarriage and stillbirth stories helps and heals

While preparing to write my book, Grace Like Scarlett: Grieving with Hope after Miscarriage and Loss, I surveyed more than 750 women and men about their pregnancy loss experiences. As they shared their miscarriage stories with me, I became convinced all over again that sharing our stories to break the silence around miscarriage and loss both helps and heals us, personally and collectively.

The following are a sampling of those stories, but they are only a slice of a much bigger conversation. In response to this need, we are launching Our Scarlett Stories—a community dedicated to giving platform to stories of grief and hope and the grace holding us together after miscarriage and other forms of pregnancy loss. Please join us there.

Miscarriage stories

Lauren’s miscarriage story of joy intermixed with grief

“It usually hits me in the middle of the night when the house is quiet and everyone else is sleeping. It burns in my throat, and my chest gets tight so I can’t breathe. The tears roll back into my hair. I put my arm over open my mouth and try not to sob. And then I start to get a headache, and I tell myself I can’t do this—can’t get a migraine from the grief. On August 23rd, 2013 we cried because there was no heartbeat on the monitor. On August 24th we cried as we said goodbye to our boy whom I had carried in my womb for 18 weeks. In September I cried because my belly should have been big and round. But it was empty and flat. As flat as it has been after having three babies. I couldn’t help but imagine it an empty black cave. In November, I cried on my oldest’s birthday. Because a dear friend had her baby that day too. And I was fine. I was happy. So happy for them. But I couldn’t stop crying as I stood in the shower thinking about bringing them a meal, wanting to hold this brand new baby girl. Is it appropriate to ask for a private moment with the baby so you don’t have to bawl with an audience? “I just need a second with your 5-day old infant.” Probably not. Why do we insist on saying we’re fine when we’re not?” —Lauren DeVries (read more of Lauren’s miscarriage story here.)

Sarah’s early miscarriage story and shock

“I missed a period a few months ago, took more pregnancy tests than I could count for several weeks till, finally, I ended up with a positive test. This was our fourth pregnancy, and it was a shock. Not what we were expecting, to put it mildly. But, a few days later, I started to bleed, and a few doctor’s visits and some blood work confirmed that we had miscarried, most likely in the first month. This, too, was a shock…and what do you tell people? How do you explain that there was life, and now it’s gone? I got home from one doctor’s appointment, lay on my bed, bleeding, and wondered at the irony of it—the body that had conceived, grown, birthed, and nursed three babies was now erasing all evidence of a fourth. It was so early into the pregnancy, we didn’t even get to find out the gender.” —Sarah Guerrero (Read more of Sarah’s miscarriage story.)

Chantelle’s infertility story and reoccurring grief

“I always wonder if my loss counts, like somehow it’s less devastating than having a miscarriage or a stillbirth. And how would I know? Maybe it is. But it’s my loss and has been the greatest grief of my life. No one talks about this stuff when you’re on the other side of it. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I’d get married, grow my career to the place I felt I could quit to have babies, and then have those babies never come. My loss happens over and over again every month. It’s the loss of a dream and an expectation and even my ability to feel like I fit in with all the rest of the women around me. It’s also been a loss within my marriage, while at the same time has brought us closer together. Being infertile has been the heaviest disappointment of my life. And yet even in all of that I’ve learned that there is life beyond the womb. I’m still learning that, but my future is hopeful… even if different to what I once thought.” —Chantelle Thomas

Kathryn’s miscarriage story of letting go of control

“Weeks 7-9 are my trigger time. I rushed out of the conference room with the image of a mother sitting by her baby in the plastic NICU bassinet. Down the hallway I saw my supervisor’s open office door. He talked slowly, helping me find my breath in order to slow the panic from taking over. This was my fifth pregnancy. I dared not hope she could be the third born. How desperately we look for answers, for a way to know why it happened or what will happen. It was first a miscarriage at seven weeks, then a live and perfect birth, then a miscarriage at nine weeks, then a live and perfect birth and now…now what? We made it through week 7, then week 9, then to the second trimester. During my third trimester, my friend learned her baby, at 37 weeks was stillborn. Will the peace never come? We want to hold on and have control, to explain and predict, but it is out of our hands. Even when they are born, as was my alive and perfect daughter from that fifth pregnancy, they are never fully in our hands. We have to let go, do the best we can, and keep our courage to try again.” —Kathryn Anne Casey (Read more of Kathryn’s miscarriage story.)

Maria’s story of infant loss at 36 weeks after 90 sweet minutes

“True confession? Sometimes I go into #infantloss on Instagram just to make myself cry. I cry for the pain of every single Momma that posts in there.  I cry for the pain of this world, that for as long as we are here Mothers will lose their babies.  But I also cry to feel him close again. My tears bring him back.  For only a moment, with those hot tears on my face, I remember what it felt like to hold him. To kiss his cheeks and to play with his toes. I miss him so much.  Every. Single. Day. Yet there is this thing that happens when we have hope. This thing that happens when we believe in a God who is all powerful and all knowing and we can still trust Him even in our loss and our suffering.  This thing creates in us something beautiful.” —Maria Furlough (Read more of Maria’s baby loss story.)

Sky’s recurrent miscarriage story

“September’s friendliness welcomes in the new. The trees wave more often than in summer, the geese call out their pleasantries on their way out, unripened colors crop up. This is the month that Lulu was due, the early beginnings of a fresh season. Instead we lost her in February, “I cant find a heartbeat,” the cold settling in all around. We laid her in a fresh bed of soil, planted a Wisteria that blooms purple in its time. The kids play all around and in her soil, plastic construction trucks and plucked buds find their home in her pot. Butterflies flit around her curly vines; the curly hair I imagine her to have had. A few months later we are surprised to be pregnant again, another chance to hold a new life. I wait and watch and finally hear the strong whir of a healthy heart. This baby waves and bounces. But September finds us having to say goodbye, again. Our baby boy has gone to play in bluer skies with the ones who wait for him. I deliver him wholly, second-trimester; his tiny body, a perfect plum plucked too soon. We haven’t picked a tree for Will yet, the fourth in our backyard garden, his ashes sit on the mantel my husband built for him, it faces the window where hummingbirds hover, their wings a holy heartbeat that let me know how close God is in our love and loss.” —Sky Sanchez-Fischer

Cynthia’s stories of varied grief responses after miscarriage

“I lost two different babies in the same week, four years apart. The first loss broadsided my joy like an eighteen-wheeler on black ice. The second time, grief wore clothes of disbelief. A repeat miscarriage hurt just as much as a first. My medical chart now contained the foul words, history of loss. The second time my body let go when it should have held fast, I was less surprised but still aching. Bracing ourselves for the impact of pain never really lessens the blow, does it? Grief clothed in anger and self-preservation is a real thing. It’s tempting to rely on our own ability to cope quickly; we’re frustrated when we can’t take any side streets to being okay again. But the process of pain is one that cannot be rushed. In the crushing realization that it truly still hurts— that is where we find Him. Deep in the pain that is far from fading, is the beautiful mystery that He is doing something new. I now know that it takes how ever long it takes. One day the wait will be over. We will see with our eyes what we felt in our souls all along. We will agree with C.S. Lewis and say, “Things are far better ahead than anything we leave behind.” So here we wait for that day. We press on holding both the joy and the pain. The grief and the hope of what will be.” —Cynthia M. Stuckey (read more of Cynthia’s miscarriage story here.)

Summer’s ectopic pregnancy story:

“I had never even heard the term ‘ectopic pregnancy’ when the doctor pulled me aside into his office after my ultrasound. I remember feeling like I was outside of myself or like it was a nightmare. He said I had to have surgery to remove the pregnancy or else my life would be in danger but all I could think was is he asking me to have an abortion? Ultimately I did have the surgery, but I still sometimes wonder if there was another way. Mostly I know the truth, but I still have my days. In the beginning I struggled with so much guilt as well as anger toward God. But then I began to connect with the pregnancy loss community and realize there are thousands of women going through the same thing as I am. Knowing I wasn’t the only one was so reassuring. Being connected to others while I grieved has helped me not only learn how to process my grief, but has helped me grow in my soul and in hope for the future. I couldn’t have shouldered this grief in secret.” —Summer Adams

A story of infertility

“I wake up feeling gross and groggy. I head off to work and am greeted by my good friend and colleague who’s coming up to eighteen weeks of pregnancy and she’s holding the cake she made for morning tea for her big reveal of the gender. As morning tea comes around I brace myself with a big smile to go in for the big reveal. The middle is blue and it’s a boy. I stand around smiling, sharing my congrats, looking at the latest scan, and ohhhhh-ing and ahhhh-ing. I look at my watch and think I’ve done my fair share of joining in and slip out to the restroom to find that yep… another month and one more chance gone for becoming pregnant. I feel myself beginning to get angry… There’s been so many moments over the last few years that have been a challenge. It’s hard because you don’t want to stand on a roof and yell, “look at me—poor me—I want kids but for some unknown reason God hasn’t given them to me!” … Sometimes I think being around Christians is harder because they’ve got these expectations that you’re meant to have kids. So many assume that we’re newlyweds because we haven’t got them. Some have the nerve to ask,” do you want kids?” It hurts so much because who doesn’t want kids?” —Anonymous (read more of her infertility story here.)

Elli’s story of acknowledging her pain of miscarriage years later

“Eleven years (and three healthy children) on, I struggle to admit that my miscarriage was any kind of big deal. I know women and families (heroes) who have suffered so, so much more, and those who are still battling. I feel embarrassed to mention it. To make a ‘thing’ of it. But excuses are not necessary. No—more than that—excuses are dangerous and limiting. They separate us from each other. They diminish our experiences and compel us to keep our true selves hidden. Excusing our pain away, placing it out of sight to make ourselves and others feel comfortable, is stopping us really living. While we tell ourselves: my suffering isn’t bad enough to justify acknowledgment, or everybody else seems to be fine with it, so I shouldn’t make a fuss, or, I have so many other good things in my life, I cannot possibly complain.… no one else can every really know us. And we cannot know anyone else. I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: trying to be perfect will only separate us, keep us from each other. Because you cannot touch anybody else’s pain, when you refuse to acknowledge your own.” —Elli Johnson (read more of Elli’s miscarriage story here.)

Moving forward

Do you have a story of heartache and hope to share? Please tell us your miscarriage or pregnancy or infant loss story in the comments below and then find us on instagram at @OurScarlettStories.

Need more resources? Please visit my Miscarriage, Grief, & Loss resource page.

Need community support after your miscarriage? Please join our community.

 

For further reading

Update—May 2018: I recently released an entire book on this subject and I hope it will serve many women and families in their grief—Grace Like Scarlett: Grieving with Hope after Miscarriage and Loss. It’s been a labor of love written through the aftermath of my second and third miscarriages as well as the pregnancy and newborn days of our youngest child. Writing it wasn’t easy, but it was a deep privilege. I am filled with belief that it will help others know that we aren’t alone and that it’s possible to grieve with hope.

Grace Like Scarlett: Grieving with Hope after Miscarriage and Loss by Adriel Booker

Featured photo by: Kseniya Petukhova

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  • Reply Katie Marson 1 November 2017 at 5:10 pm

    Im writting this for misscarrage and infant loss awareness month. I want to tell my story of the experiences I went through as a first time mom and I want to help out others if I can. I’ll start by a little history of my husband and I. We became friends in 2005 in high school and started to date 2006 the summer before senior year. Being high school sweet hearts we had a lot of growing up to do together with statistics stacked against us. We got married in 2009 and a year later my husband joined the United States Navy. Our lives were going just the way we wanted and full of love. While my husband was in gunnery school I went to visit, he then informed me he wanted to start our very own lil family. I thought he was crazy and I thought I was even crazier for agreeing. One month later at 22 years old I found out I was pregnant and we couldn’t have been more happier. At 4 months we surprised all of our family that we were pregnant! We had so much support and love from everyone. The pregnancy was so easy I only had two symptoms which was extreme tiredness which I mean my body is making a human so that’s understandable and my nose could smell 100 miles away. Thought to myself this baby making is pretty dang easy. Then I hit 30 weeks and I started swelling everywhere and had horrible headaches. I knew deep down something was wrong. I went to the hospital to check my blood pressure. The nurses used two different blood pressure machines because they thought the first one was broken. My blood pressure was extremely high, so high that the nurses had never seen it that high before. I had preeclampsia. About 10 minutes later they were wrapping my bed with cushion because they believed I could start having seziers any moment now. My husband and I knew at that moment our evening just changed and we needed to contact the family. They ended up giving me a shot for my blood pressure and a shot to jump start the development of our baby girls lungs. I then started to throw up due to not eatting and the medicine. Our OBGYN finally made it to the hospital and after 10 mins of her chasing the babies heartbeat around on my tummy she said it’s time to go into surgery and get your baby girl out. The nurses in the hospital said she can’t deliver since the ambulance wasn’t on its way yet to transport our baby to the children’s hospital. My doctor looked at them and said very firmly “you should have requested it as soon as you got her blood pressure. This mother is my number 1 priority and her little baby girl is hers. We are going to surgery now!” I then signed the papers of liability on my own life which was very scary. Iv never been scared of doctors, needles, or anything to do with my body however not knowing how my life is going to be once I wake up was the scariest. My doctor rushed me in for emergency c-section and it was just like the movies. Laying there with super bright lights in my eyes and the doctors having me count down, it seemed like a dream. When I woke up I vaguely remember my grandma talking to me next to my bed. My husband comes in and says our baby girl is fine and they are getting her ready for transport. He got to see her and take a few pictures. He got the cuttest picture of her staring right at him even though there was 5 other people around her. The nurses then start unplugging everything on my bed and rushing me down the hallway. They said they are taking me to see her before they transport her. Everything was such a blur from just coming out of surgery and my blood pressure still extremely high. As soon as my bed is in the same room with my daughter I hear the nurses call out our baby girls time of death. Knowing what that means I was in complete SHOCK and confusment. Next thing I hear is my husband so distraught and angry. Then my bed is wisked away. It wasn’t till I saw all our family standing in the hallway that I just lost it. I couldn’t breath and my whole life just changed in a matter of 6 hours. The next few days were such a blur. Our baby girl was brought to us a little later. I didn’t want to let her go, she was the cuttest little thing I had ever seen. Family came to support us and see our baby girl. After some time a pastor came and prayed for all of us and shortly after we had to say goodbye to our precious baby girl. Couldn’t believe only after 30 weeks of pregnancy and such a short life, how could she have impacked our lives forever. My body knew I no longer was carrying our baby so I started to produce milk. The disappointment, anger, sadness and most of all emptiness hit hard. Here I was trying to recover physically and emotionally drained I was producing milk for no baby. Was definitly the hardest thing ever. Four days later I was able to go home with blood pressure medicine however I didn’t want to go home. We lived 5 minutes away and it was the longest drive of my life. So much going through my mind. I was so angry that I was going home so empty. My blood pressure took 2 weeks be in the normal range again. My husband was so supportive and as much sadness he was going through he stuck strong for me, we stuck strong together. Family and friends also were there for us in such a hard time in our life. Which was amazing.
           A year later we got pregnant again with our hopes and dreams high. Our second was diagnosed with down syndrome. With the 1st pregnancy and now this we were told it wasn’t going to be a easy pregnancy ] lots of problems may happen. We lost the second baby. Doctors told us both pregnancies were not related to eachother. If anyone has gone through this you know you ask yourself why? Why me? What did I do to deserve this? Did I do something wrong? Was there something I could have done? Then you start the accusing yourself and thinking it’s all your fault. Such a horrible feeling. Let me say this, everyone mourns differently. There is no explanation on why you and no it’s not your fault. Life can be so confussing, cruel and heartbreaking. With all the heartache there is also joy, happiness and love. I started reading others stories and as much as it hurts not wanting other to go through the same pain as I, I realized I wasn’t allone. Before I had gone through all of this I had no idea so many women have lost so many babies, no matter what the circumstances were. I was so surprised I never heard about it until after it happened to me. So this is me speaking out and wanting to let all those mothers and fathers of precious baby angels know YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I want my story to be heard and if anyone needs to talk, vent or just cry I am here for you! The sad, depressing, loneliness and emptiness will slowly fade away. The best advice I can give to those parents out there is to stick together. You both are going through different emotions however its the same emptiness. If my husband and I didn’t stay strong for eachother we would have lost our beautiful love story. As parents losing a baby is going to be one of the hardest life experiances if not the hardest you will go through. Stay strong and go through the heartache together. My husband and I both know we will be parents one day and we are so beyond excited for that. As of right now we are living our love story every day at a time to the fullest. Thanks for reading and I will be there for anyone that needs me to be!
    Sincerely Katherine Marie
    RIP Baby Ella Marie our precious Angel!

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