For this Mother’s Day, one of our writers reflects on her previous miscarriages, and just how lucky she is to be a mom.
When I was pregnant for the first time, at 22 years old, I miscarried.
I had cramps, saw drops of blood, and waited. The next day, on the toilet, I felt something drop out of me. I flushed before I could look.
I had a D&C. My husband comforted me and I called my mother. I didn’t tell anyone else.
A month later, I found a lump in my breast. I had to wait four weeks to see if it was the result of an inflamed milk duct from the pregnancy.
A month after I found the lump, I went to a large room filled with many, many women older than myself and had a mammogram. I was alone because I didn’t want to worry my mother, and my husband, low man on the corporate totem pole, had to go to the office.
I was admitted to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital and waited in a room full of people who thought they had cancer.
Thank God, the tumor was benign. I was left with a scar which got worse–but for a good reason. My breast started to stretch from the pregnancy I achieved immediately following the surgery.
But I started to bleed. In those days, if you had miscarried and in a subsequent pregnancy you saw blood, the doctor would confine you to bed for a couple of weeks. It was summer so I was between semesters of graduate school and I read, watched TV, and did needlepoint. The bloodspotting terrified and terrorized me until it stopped by the ninth week. I was the happiest woman in the world when my daughter was born seven months later. I was a mother–something I always knew I would love to be. And I do love it.
I had two more children (spotting at the beginning of those pregnancies, too) and wanted a fourth. Unlike the other times, this time it took a few months to get pregnant and from the beginning, I had a bad feeling about the pregnancy. I remember saying to my sister that I didn’t think I would be able to hold on. I didn’t. I bled and I bled and I bled.
Again, I was on the toilet and felt something drop out of me. Again, I flushed before I could look. I had to have two D&C’s because of complications and was not allowed to try for another baby for over six months. I didn’t tell anyone except my mother and sister.
I really wanted that fourth child. I knew he or she was waiting to be brought into the world, my world. My mother thought I was crazy. Why play Russian roulette when you had three healthy kids, she asked. I became very depressed and remember sitting on the floor one day and when I looked up at the clock, four hours had passed. I called the only peer-counseling group I could find (with the National Council of Jewish Women) which partnered me with a woman who had a similar experience and went on to have her fourth child. Her anonymous encouragement by telephone helped me.
The thing is, back then, we didn’t talk about miscarriages and breast surgeries with our friends and family. We carried those burdens with very little help. My husband wanted to be there for me and is a very caring, compassionate man, but, maybe because he is a man, I felt very, very alone. If my friends read this, they will be hearing about these things for the first time. I hope they aren’t hurt that they didn’t know and couldn’t help. I am sad for the things I didn’t know about them and couldn’t help.
Happily, as soon as I was allowed to attempt a pregnancy, I got pregnant. Again, I bled. But this time, 10 years after the first miscarriage, the doctor did not tell me to stay in bed but rather told me to go about my business. I remember putting on a sanitary pad and taking my three children to Sesame Street Live. Funny what you remember.
My youngest child entered the world healthy and strong seven months later. I could not stop crying in joy and relief. I made my husband count his fingers and toes a few times. The nurse did not understand why I was sobbing so uncontrollably. I didn’t explain it.
My son came into my world to complete our family and give me all the joy he has given me. He is 25 years old and married, but he is still, and I suspect will always be, my “baby.” His being was a special gift.
I still remember the due dates of the lost pregnancies though it has been decades since their ends and I remember the feelings of loss. I don’t retain the sharp pangs of grief, or even sadness, though. That was a surprise. I thought it would hurt forever.
Although I sometimes think the worst times in your life are your most alone and lonely, I wish I could have told my friends and somehow, maybe, have found comfort that way. But we just didn’t do that in those days.
I’m happy for you young moms that you have Kveller… and each other.