I was pregnant. I had a miscarriage. I’m now one in four.
We got the positive test on our last day in France, and we had to Google Translate the results because neither of us were sure what the French instructions meant. We cried happy tears and I couldn’t believe my lifelong dream of becoming a mama was finally coming true. We cautiously told our parents with the caveat that anything could happen. And then it did.
Only a week ago, we saw a healthy heartbeat at the first ultrasound, measuring right on track. We got to take home sonogram pictures that I’m unbelievably grateful to have. And just as quickly as this miracle arrived for us, it was simply…gone. I lost the baby the next day. No amount of obsessively Googling miscarriage statistics (my chance was supposedly down to 9.4% that day) could have kept it from happening.
I was only 6.5 weeks along, but it felt like losing a lifetime of dreams. And just like that we fell, broken and bruised, all the way back to square one.
I went back and forth about whether to share about our miscarriage, but ultimately E and I decided we didn’t want to just gloss over such a huge part of our story and pretend that it didn’t happen. I used to imagine this post would be a celebratory first pregnancy announcement, but that’s not our story. However, this baby still existed, even if for a short amount of time, and I want to celebrate it.
My short experience with pregnancy was: Craving all the cheese and pickles (stereotypical pregnant lady!) and making late-night runs to the grocery store with E. Struggling to keep my eyes open on the T. Wanting so badly to share our happy news, while simultaneously feeling vulnerable and protective of our secret. Hyper-analyzing every twinge and pull, and taking a cheapie home pregnancy test every day just to double-check that I was still pregnant (my first OB appointment wasn’t going to be until 9 weeks). Googling more things than I ever have in my life. Resisting the urge to buy all the baby clothes but ending up with one lemon-print outfit *just in case*. Crying for absolutely no reason at all, and then for real when I started spotting and I tried my very hardest to believe it was normal despite the fear.
The three weeks I knew I was pregnant were simultaneously the most beautiful and scary weeks of my life. I have SO MUCH RESPECT for mamas for making it through nine months of that. I have a lot to learn from you!!
So many times throughout the weeks I knew I was pregnant, when I was feeling sick, hormonal, exhausted, and isolated, I read through other women’s posts about their experiences and found them so comforting.
And now that I’ve miscarried, I’m still reading the posts – just a different kind. Throughout this journey, the words of other women have been an extreme source of comfort, They showed me I wasn’t alone, and I’m incredibly grateful for the women who broke the silence. In turn, I want to add my own story so that my experience might help someone else through their own. I also think it’s important to share my whole story — not just if/when I have a happy ending, but also when I’m in the tough middle.
It’s a huge relief to finally be able to talk about this part of my brain that has been working overtime this year. I’ve been scared to share about prenatal vitamins, OB visits, and two-week-waits because I was afraid to jinx something that wasn’t even real yet. It feels like I’ve been holding on to a big secret ever since January when we started preparing to try for a baby. I’m so glad that I’m not holding on to that big weight by myself anymore.
I was also scared to share about trying, pregnancy, and miscarriage because I thought maybe my clients would think I wasn’t professional or able to do my job well anymore. But honestly, I think this whole experience has given me a whole new level of appreciation for my clients and empathy for the many different ways and winding paths that women take to become mamas. I’ve always thought babies were a miracle, but now I understand that on a whole new level. I’m still as passionate as ever about photographing families, and maybe even more so now. I will be sad sometimes as E and I work through our loss, but I am always so happy to celebrate another little life. (And getting back into a work routine this week has been comforting!)
If you see me, please don’t feel like you have to tiptoe around me. Maybe don’t say “everything happens for a reason” or “at least it was early.” But other than that, anything is fair game. 😉 And I will gladly take all the hugs I can get!
The start of our journey to parenthood has been the most anxiety-filled, emotional six months of my life. When you try to have a baby, you willingly let go of a life of comfort and routine and predictability. You open yourself up to so many possibilities, both good and bad. It’s scary to intentionally leave the seemingly safe bubble of marriage pre-baby. It feels like you’re letting go of something that’s already great in the pursuit of something invisible that you know will be insanely challenging. Babies have their own agendas, and this week was a reminder that we have to be willing to let go of our own plan and be open to whatever happens in the future.
Our baby was so tiny but taught me so much. First and foremost, I’ve learned that E’s and my relationship doesn’t crumble under grief — instead, it brings us closer together. He is my rock and I’ve never been more grateful for his steady presence. I’ve also been reminded that every day, no matter how routine or difficult, is a gift. And that even if I’m scared things might change tomorrow, it’s still better to embrace the feeling of hope today rather than living in fear of loss.
As for trying again…of course we will. I’m terrified that this could happen a second time, and I know that it’s going to be so hard to trust my body and manage my fear after losing my first pregnancy. But we are still hopeful and excited for parenthood in our future.
A couple of days before we lost the baby (the day that my pregnancy symptoms started to fade), I was walking down the sidewalk and a beautiful white butterfly flew in front of me. A thought immediately popped into my head: “There goes my baby.” Then I realized what I just said, and I felt confused because I was still pregnant. Later I learned that in Chinese symbology, white butterflies represent the soul of a departed loved one. I told myself it was just a coincidence, but then another white butterfly crossed my path right before I actually miscarried. Whether or not it means anything, I will forever smile every time I see a white butterfly. It reminds me that even in grief, you can find beauty.