I’ve had two miscarriages so far — one late and one early. My late loss was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to go through in my life, second only to the loss of my little sister.
My early loss was a completely different experience. I cried several times, felt betrayed by my body, and confused why I couldn’t conceive a healthy baby. But unlike my late loss, my early loss didn’t hurl me into a tidal wave of depression. I didn’t want to drown my sorrows in wine this time. I didn’t curl into a ball, close all the curtains, and stay in bed for two weeks straight this time. I didn’t stop eating or taking care of myself.
However, with this early miscarriage there is a different kind of pain I didn’t experience with my late one. Last time I knew exactly what I lost. This time I am not sure, and I’ll have to go the rest of my life not knowing, always questioning what exactly I lost and whether I’m even allowed to grieve it.
You see, with my first loss, I knew I lost a baby girl. I knew her name. I knew the chromosomal abnormality that caused her to stop growing. I knew what she looked like, because I met her. I knew how fast her heart beat, how long she was from head to rump, and what foods she made me crave.
With this loss I’ll never know if my little one reached the embryonic phase. I’ll never know his gender. I’ll never know his name. I’ll never know when he stopped developing. I’ll never know if his heart began to beat. I’ll never know what he looked like or get to see him on a sonogram. I only knew about his existence for one week, so I never got to develop a strong biological bond with him.
Even though my OB diagnosed this as a miscarriage, I’ll never feel worthy of grieving it as such. There’s a non-medical term some women use called a chemical pregnancy — is that what I experienced? I’ll never know. I’ll never know if I’m allowed to make a big deal out of it or whether people will roll their eyes and say, “Oh my God, it wasn’t even a baby — your period was just late by one week.”
I don’t know whether I can talk about this loss in my miscarriage support groups, or whether it would be a slap in the face to women who have seen ultrasounds and picked out baby clothes and found out their babies’ gender. I don’t know whether my family and friends wish I had never told them about this pregnancy, or if to them it was a non-event.
So to all the moms who have had a very early loss and are struggling to navigate how to grieve, you are not alone. Although in many ways I think my early loss was much less difficult (and certainly less traumatic) than my late one, my early loss leaves so many questions unanswered, and the not knowing is torture. The lack of closure with an early miscarriage is truly agonizing.