Invisible Loss - My Pain is Valid
Updated: Nov 10, 2020
For some couples, conception is easy. They give it a cycle or two of trying the old fashioned way and quickly become pregnant. For others, it’s a journey. One filled with excitement, anticipation, disappointment and heartbreak.
I’m not here, today, to write about the length of time it took us to conceive each child and why. Today I want to talk about something that most women don’t talk about, something that hurting couples don’t know how to share with the world. I’m in the throws of it today and I’m going to try to share my experience.
Hubs and I have been trying to conceive our third and final child for 5 months. Every morning I take my basal body temperature and chart it in my app. I take prenatal vitamins, Vitex supplements and Maca Root. At around cycle day 8, I start daily ovulation tests. We time intercourse just right. After ovulation comes the “two week wait.” (Which is actually less for me.) Anticipation builds and builds during this time.
I’m really tired today. Am I pregnant?! I have heartburn… maybe I’m pregnant. Google. What are the earliest signs of pregnancy?
Sometimes I start testing for pregnancy before my period is even due. I was running low on tests this month and didn’t want to waste them so I vowed to wait and only test if my period didn’t come on cycle day 22 when it was due.
If you think my cycle sounds short, you’re right. I have something called a Luteal Phase Defect which means that the phase of my cycle following ovulation is less than ten days. This is due to improper production of progesterone resulting in a poorly developed uterine lining and making implantation unlikely.
So on cycle day 23 I tested with my first morning urine. Is that a faint positive? It is! Just to be sure that I didn’t have line eyes (eyes that look so hard for a line that they see one that isn’t there) I took a picture of the test and inverted the colors to make sure it was still visible. It was!
The next 8 hours, as I went about my day, I thought about how to tell Hubs. I wondered if I could wait the 14 days until Christmas to surprise him. I thought about boy names and girl names and how to explain a new baby to Quartersquat.
I had 8 hours of hopes and dreams for this baby before I started to bleed. It was fairly light at first and my first thought was, This is probably implantation bleeding. To be certain, I brought my question to Dr Google. “What does implantation bleeding look like?” I spent more time than I should have obsessing over the various web pages and info-graphics and I still wasn’t sure if I was experiencing implantation bleeding or something worse.
By 10 hours post pregnancy test, it was clear that I was losing the baby. I was bleeding heavily and bright red with clots - all indicators that this was not related to implantation. Had I not tested that morning, I might have thought this was a period and just one more month of unsuccessful attempts to conceive but I had 10 hours of bonding with my future baby and now I have 10 hours worth of hopes and dreams to mourn. I had a chemical pregnancy.
Chemical pregnancy. I hate that term. It makes it sound so clinical and as if the pregnancy was never real. But it WAS real. And this loss is real. And it hurts.
According to healthline.com, “A chemical pregnancy is an early pregnancy loss that occurs shortly after implantation. Chemical pregnancies may account for 50 to 75 percent of all miscarriages.”
Miscarriage. The forbidden word that no one wants to hear or say. No one knows the right way to respond to the mama who is mourning a hope and a dream.
Things you might hear from well-meaning friends, family, or even your spouse include:
“Well at least it happened early.”
Well, yes, I suppose it would be even worse to mourn weeks worth of hopes and dreams but my pain is still valid.
“Just be grateful for the kids you DO have.”
Of course I am grateful for my two healthy children! Gratefulness does not negate my feelings of loss and sadness - my pain is still valid!
“Just be glad that your baby is with Jesus now”
Believe me when I say, I am so relieved to know that when my baby left my body, he or she went into the arms of my savior but gladness is not a feeling I can feel right now. I am hurting and my pain is still valid.”
“You can try again/have another.”
Yes and we will try again but right now, I don’t want another baby. I want this baby - the one I began to love the moment I saw that plus sign. I don’t get the opportunity to know this baby and I am grieving. My pain is still valid.
Here I am wondering if I did something wrong, ate something wrong, forgot my supplements or prenatals, whether my much needed ADHD meds could have contributed… Maybe stress from organizing the church Christmas concert or the fact that I don’t get nearly enough exercise or enough sleep. The guilt is real, friends. But, deep down, I know it’s not my fault. I’ve been here before (twice) and I’ve read the literature. Those shame-monsters though… they creep in.
Not today, devil!
I am hurting. I am disappointed. I am grieving but my God is with me and he says it is safe for me to grieve with him and I will come out better for it.
I will not sit in my sorrow and and allow shame and blame and anger to consume me. I do not and cannot understand why God allows this to happen and he doesn’t ask me to understand it.
One thing I do know is that my God is faithful and he knows the desires of my heart. He has a plan for me. So I am praying but not asking ‘Why.’ I am grieving in the arms of my Father while I await his hope and healing.
Now, I can’t take credit for digging up all this biblical wisdom on my own in a time of despair. Hubs, although not 100% comforting in his comments, reminded me to go to God with my pain. That God is with us and that he is good. All the time. This is really the only advice that matters.
I'm hoping maybe my vulnerability here can help someone else navigate the dark waters of chemical pregnancy/miscarriage. If I can't help someone through my story, I'm not sure I can make any sense out of this tragedy at all.
You’re not alone. Your pain is valid. And I know a merciful, unchanging and unfailing God who will love you through it.