Photo by: Ballet Zaida

It seemed like an eternity waiting in the doctor’s office with my fiancé for our first prenatal appointment. My doctor greeted us with so much enthusiasm and excitement for our child to be that we couldn’t help but feel just as positive. When she asked me “What do you want to do first, ask me questions or see your baby?” I said, “See my baby! I want to know that it’s in there.” I don’t know if I subconsciously suspected something was wrong or if that was a normal reaction from any expectant mother.

There are so many emotions in the moment when you and the love of your life are holding hands and staring at the screen trying to decipher what all those fuzzy shadows are. The nervousness, anticipation and excitement that had been building up for months prior were palpable. Then came the words no parent-to-be ever wants to hear… “There is no heartbeat.”

The doctor pointed to where the heart should have been beating and there was absolute stillness.

I’d never planned on getting pregnant so soon. As are so many pregnancies, it was an accident. When I started yearning for a third dog to add to our family, there was no doubt that my biological clock had been ticking. My loved ones kept telling me that what I really wanted was a baby. In the back of my mind, I knew this to be true, but didn’t want to admit it. I was the girl who looked down on women obsessed with getting pregnant. The baby showers, the mommy groups and the women who relentlessly did IVF, all made me roll my eyes.

I knew that miscarriages were common, but they were not commonly discussed.

How can you mourn the death of a barely there being that you had never even met? I insensitively thought whenever I heard about how heartbreaking miscarriages were. When I looked up the statistics, the number I kept seeing was 20 percent. 20 percent of pregnancies ended in miscarriage.

Being my normal open-book self, I told pretty much all of my close friends and family that I was pregnant before I had completed the first trimester. Every sentence of mine started with, “It’s super early and anything can happen, but…” and I would then go on to tell them I was pregnant. They all told me, “You’re so healthy and fit, there’s no reason your baby won’t be okay, so stop saying that.”

I’ve always been one of those people that waits for the other shoe to drop. It wasn’t until earlier this year that I tried to put a stop to that negative mindset. In my daily morning mediation practice I would recite the mantra, “May I be willing to experience the world wishing me peace and happiness.” During the 9 weeks that I was pregnant this mantra strengthened my resolve. Why couldn’t I be one of the lucky ones? Why didn’t I deserve great things in my life? Why wouldn’t I be one of the 80 percent?

No matter how surprised and unprepared you are when you first find out you’re pregnant, eventually you realize it is happening and you surrender.

Once I surrendered, all of my motherly instincts kicked in.

Memories of telling people when I was 8 years old that I wanted to be a mom when I grew up filled my mind. Realizing that this was in fact a dream of mine deepened my love for the unborn baby that was growing in my belly. Besides having to change my diet, my supplements, my fitness regimen (no more flipping 200 pound tires in the summer heat), the most drastic change was to my mindset. It didn’t matter how non-sentimental I wanted to be, my mind couldn’t help but plan a new bright future for our little family.

I wasn’t fantasizing about a nursery, buying cute baby clothes or joining mommy-and-me groups, rather I found myself planning a life with an entirely new meaning behind it.

Was I really living the life I wanted so that I could be a role model of happiness? Was I doing work that was truly meaningful so that my child could see that passion really matters? Will the choices that I am now making, like what I put into my body, with whom I surround myself, and how I communicate with others, be a good influence on my child? There was an extra pep in my step knowing I was living from an entirely new and fulfilling perspective. I was ready to clean-house, redirect my career and open up my schedule so that I could do things I had always wanted to do but had kept putting off thinking I didn’t have the time.

There are no words to adequately describe my feelings that fateful day I went in for the ultrasound. It felt like someone had taken a big fat needle and poked it through my over inflated heart; a heart that had expanded beyond the limits of what I had previously ever thought was possible. In that life-shattering moment when I realized that my baby had no heartbeat, I let go of my fiancé’s hand and suddenly felt completely disconnected from him.

Feeling utterly helpless and alone, I was ashamed for allowing myself to be happy before and for allowing others to be happy for me. I even felt stupid for saying my mantra every day.

We drove home in a shell-shocked disbelief. It was especially hard for me to comprehend because my body had not yet expelled the baby. I still felt pregnant in many ways. It was the biggest mind fuck. I scheduled a procedure for the week after to have my baby removed, so that I could avoid the pain and trauma of a natural passing. One of the ways I dealt with it was immediately messaging everyone that knew, “The baby died.” Already I was seeing the life that had once been within me, the life that was to be shared with mine, as no longer part of me. “My baby” became “The baby.” It was harsh and probably not the best way, but I felt I needed to burst everyone’s bubble just as quickly as mine had been deflated. I didn’t want one person having unwarranted celebratory thoughts or asking me any further questions.

One of the hardest things about having a miscarriage is finding as much meaning in your life again when it’s back to just you.

Going back to the life I had lived before seemed to pale in comparison to living for the new life I was to have brought into this world. Work had less purpose. My relationship seemed less meaningful. My joy seemed unimportant. The vibrant hues in which I had previously perceived a world filled with life dulled down to listless shades of black and white.

Recovering from such a loss is a process. Talking to others who came forward with their own stories of miscarriage helped. Writing about it and sharing it with women who may feel shame over experiencing this life-changing event is profoundly healing.
Despite what some people have told me, there is nothing I could have done to save this baby.

Being healthy and fit was completely independent of me having a full term pregnancy. For the average healthy woman, a miscarriage can be caused by chromosomal abnormalities that are beyond the control of either parent. It is nature’s way of ending a pregnancy that isn’t developing properly. In most cases, it has no bearing on the success of future pregnancies.

I’ve been told that despite going on to having a healthy full term baby after a miscarriage, one never forgets the experience of such a loss. We often only get to see and hear about the successful pregnancy stories.

Hopefully we can stop the stigma around miscarriages by bringing stories like this to light and openly discussing them.

The gift that this child gave me was to see that my life without a child deserves to have just as much meaning as one with it. Even if I wasn’t going to do it for another human being, I have every right to continue making my life the best it can be for myself. Having a miscarriage taught me some of the greatest lessons…learning to let go and finding a deeper meaning to self-love.

Anything can happen at any given moment, but it doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to celebrate joy when the chance presents itself. It also doesn’t mean you can’t feel sadness when that joy is taken away. There is no shame in any of those very human emotions.

I’m still working on finding my joy again, but I know that instead of closing myself off to it, I want to remain open so that I don’t go back to being a person in fear of the other shoe waiting to drop. Will I be a worried, nervous ball of anxiety if I ever get pregnant again? Probably. But I’ll also be a hopeful, excited mother-to-be who is living a life into which I would be proud to bring my child.