As we approach our four year anniversary I can say our marriage has never been stronger or filled with more love for one another despite going through the hardest time we have ever been through as husband and wife but not for the reasons I could have ever predicted.
This week we found out we lost our third pregnancy and I feel like the time has come to open up about it. It has been a year of trying to grow our family and a year of enduring the heartbreaking pain of getting that dream ripped away from us time after time after time.
The feeling of miscarriage is a heart wrenching combination of sadness, fear, anger, guilt and possibly the worst of all, shame. Mark Zuckerberg put it pretty perfectly…
You feel so hopeful when you learn you’re going to have a child. You start imagining who they’ll become and dreaming of hopes for their future. You start making plans, and then they’re gone. It’s a lonely experience.
As a woman I have felt that my body has betrayed me, as a wife I have felt that I failed my husband and as a daughter and daughter in law I have felt like I have continually disappointed my family who have eagerly awaited the arrival of their first grandchild three times only to have that dream disappear almost as quickly as it appeared. In reality, my husband and family couldn’t be more supportive and have helped me to realize that the only thing that would be disappointing to them would be me feeling like I let them down.
Miscarriage is a secret club of shame that nobody wants to admit they are part of mostly because of the social pressure to keep sharing this type of loss a secret.
Well I certainly wouldn’t call myself a proud member of the M Club but I am happy to become an ambassador for it so that other women feel like they can open up about being part of it as well. In reality, 1 in 6 couples struggle with fertility but until you really open up about a loss it certainly doesn’t feel like it is as common as it actually is. How weird when you think about how open we are about everything else in our lives, especially on social media. At first I felt so much pressure to keep quiet about our losses. It was consuming me. I recently came across the quote “Don’t Let Your Struggle Become Your Identity.” Infertility and not being able to talk about it was killing me and in a way that was changing who I was. For me, those first months of suffering in silence were almost as painful as the losses themselves. As I gradually opened up to my family, then friends and eventually some of my coworkers I was shocked at how many others are currently part of, or have been part of, “The Club.” Suddenly the loneliness of suffering in silence started to fade and the stories of others going through the same struggle became a huge comfort.
My husband, who has shared with a handful of his friends and coworkers has found that sharing our story is therapeutic as well and was surprised at how even his “manliest” friends have been an incredible support for him. Aside from being comforted by others sharing stories, we began getting great advice on doctors and other resources to help us through our journey from those who have walked the path before us. All things we would have missed out on had we accepted the social stigma our keeping our losses to ourselves.
Sharing has helped so much but it doesn’t take the the physical and mental exhaustion away. And while the trips to the the hospital most mornings before work for fertility treatment to have blood tests and countless ultrasounds sometimes make me feel more like a lab rat than a human, I can say the best thing that has come out of this is what my husband says to me every morning as we go to our appointments. He says, there is no you, there is no me, there is only we and we will get through this as a couple. I can’t tell you how much this simple saying has done for our marriage through this insanely challenging time and I can only hope that other women who go through this have the same support he and our families have given me.
Joe and I are committed to doing anything we can do be blessed with the gift of parenthood. I look forward to the day when I can share our happy news that we are expecting but until then I am an open book who will share her experience only hoping to give the strength to other women and couples who are suffering in silence.