I knew something was wrong.
I had this uncomfortable pain in my lower abdomen while hiking one Sunday morning. It wasn’t a particularly strenuous hike, but I suddenly felt a little dizzy. And the pain, though dull and manageable, wasn’t going away.
As soon as I got home, I ran to the bathroom to confirm what I was already suspecting: I was bleeding.
I was a month pregnant and bleeding. With cramps. This wasn’t good.
I started to panic.
And when you panic, you Google.
Every website said the same thing: bleeding during the early stages of pregnancy is normal. But bleeding with cramping isn’t — and it’s often a sign of a miscarriage.
“This can’t be happening.”
It was just a few days earlier that I was sitting in this exact place — in my bathroom, on my toilet — and found out I was pregnant.
My husband and I had been trying to get pregnant since we got married a year ago. At my age — now 40 — we knew it would be more, well, challenging to get pregnant naturally, so we wanted to get an early start.
I was always a bit defeatist about the whole thing. I have friends around my age who have had difficulties getting pregnant, and we’d often commiserate about ovulation tests and the side effects of Clomid. I envied those who got pregnant so easily, sometimes on a whim, while the rest of us struggled with daily urine tests and regular visits to our OBGYN.
Here’s the thing: I’ve managed to plan every aspect of my life — the jobs I got, the degrees I’ve earned, the places where I’ve lived — and yet I couldn’t accomplish something that should be so natural to us.
I couldn’t get pregnant.
Yes, I know there are a lot of factors involved in getting pregnant. And yes, I realize my age plays a part. But it became so frustrating that this was something I couldn’t control or make happen.
And I started to feel like a failure.
So when my husband showed me the second line emerging on the small window of the at-home pregnant test, I almost didn’t believe it at first. I squinted at it. Was that really a second line? But it was so faint…
I was shocked into silence, which is rare for me. I couldn’t believe it. I was finally — finally — pregnant.
For the next few days that’s all I thought about. I wondered if it was too early to plan. (Remember, I’m a planner!) I thought about possible names. I started to eat better. I even refrained from confirming flight reservations to New Zealand in December because I’d be giving birth around then.
Life was changing — and I liked it.
That morning I thought about how this was the first of many hikes I’d do with our child. How awesome would that be, taking our little one on these adventures, surfing and hiking and playing, sharing the world with this new life. It was going to be so much fun!
And then, just like that, it was gone.
My husband drove me to the hospital that night to confirm my fear. I had what’s called a “threatened miscarriage,” which basically meant I had vaginal bleeding within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, but the doctor couldn’t verify for sure if I had truly miscarried.
That was confirmed a few days later.
It was strange to lose something I never really had. That feeling of complete and sheer happiness was suddenly replaced by a great loss, a gaping void, a depth of emptiness that I never realized I could feel. It felt like the miscarriage happened in my heart. It was devastating.
When it happened, I didn’t even consider blogging about this experience. In fact, I didn’t really want to tell anyone. I wasn’t that I felt embarrassed. I just didn’t know what to say.
“Hi there! I was pregnant, and then I had a miscarriage. How was your day?”
In my Google panic, I discovered that miscarriages are fairly common, regardless of age. About 20 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage for a variety of reasons. Between 50 to 70 percent of first-trimester miscarriages — like mine — are thought to be random events caused by chromosomal abnormalities in the fertilized egg. Older women — like me — have a greater chance of miscarrying than 20-year-olds.
Like my OBGYN told me matter-of-factly, “It happens.”
When I started sharing with a few people about my miscarriage, I was surprised to find out that more of my friends had experienced it than I had realized. Women I had known for years. Some who went on to have children, others who stayed single. And they never said anything.
In that aforementioned frantic Internet search, I came across a blog written by Jessica Zucker on the New York Times site last year about her miscarriage at 16 weeks. This struck me:
We shouldn’t feel ashamed of our traumas, nor should we hide the consequent grief. It’s not that I necessarily feel proud of having a miscarriage, but I do feel compelled to question why it seems as if we rarely talk about pregnancy loss, though the statistics are staggering. Is it resounding cultural shame? Speckles of self-blame? Steadfast stigma? The notion that talking about “unpleasant” things is a no-no? It’s a hard topic. But if every woman who has lost a pregnancy to miscarriage or stillbirth told her story, we might at least feel less alone.
So I’m sharing my story in the hopes that anyone who’s gone through a miscarriage will know there are lots of women and couples dealing with the same loss, too.
I’m luckier than most. I’ve heard stories of women losing their babies at later stages of pregnancy, the horrific loss of blood, the depression in which they drown. I had some clotting, some cramping, but that’s it.
The next day my sweet husband took the day off and spent it with me. We drove around the island, soaking up the sunshine and marveling at the beauty of our home that we often take for granted. And I realized this miscarriage, while awful and painful, wasn’t entirely bad. The embryo clearly wasn’t healthy. And I have a great life — with a family that includes a husband and three dogs who love me no matter what. That’s really all I need.
So we planted a lemon tree.
It might be cliched — lemons, lemonade — but there’s truth to the idea that while we can’t control everything in life, we can control how we embrace it.
So I’m embracing it.
And in a year or so, I’ll make lemon bars.
So sorry for your loss. I had miscarriages before I got pregnant with both my boys. I was already in the “high-risk” age wise of trying to get pregnant with both. However, I went on to have healthy boys. I was surprised to hear so many stories as well about miscarriages. I had very kind ob/gyns both times. The first time was super hard because my husband was away on a business trip and I was alone living in a new city. She said it was my body saying something wasn’t right and I wasn’t ready. I got pregnant almost immediately after the first time (within 2 months). That one is 9 years old. I’m in my mid-40s now. My other is 5 years old. Don’t stress too much and let yourself heal.
Sorry to hear. Glad you are okay and improving!
<3. i can't imagine the sadness and loss. i'm still single and still worry about not having the chance to have a child, and worry about how old i'll be if and when i'll ever find someone. stay strong and enjoy those lemons! nom.
Sending you guys love, prayers and good thoughts
Thanks for sharing such a personal part of your life. Your honesty is very remarkable. Your husband was wonderful to be so thoughtful. Aloha. /ev
Sorry for your loss Cat but thank you so much for sharing.
First, a big hug to you. I know this can be emotionally draining. It’s very hard losing your first baby on a miscarriage – no matter how much encouragement and love you get from other people, you still have to go through a time of grieving and healing. Thank you for sharing such tender moments… Take care and continue to heal. Second, I want to confirm what you already have discovered and known. You are not alone. I had miscarriage on our first baby. I cried a lot. My mom had a miscarriage on her first baby. She cried a lot too. There are many of us who knows exactly what you are feeling right now. Hugs, lots of hugs to you and your husband.
I’m sorry for your loss and am also appreciative of your post. You’re right, why don’t we talk about this? I also suffered a miscarriage about 12 weeks into a pregnancy. We didn’t talk about it much, but after I finally did feel comfortable sharing, nearly every woman I spoke to had a miscarriage as well. It is common, it doesn’t make it easier, but talking to others does.
Sorry for your loss Cat. I went through a miscarriage in December 2013. I was 13 weeks. I had been trying since March 2013 (when I got married). We didn’t tell too many family and friends just to be cautious in the first trimester. I thought I was in the clear because I was past 12 weeks. We lost him due to abnormal chromosomes. I didn’t tell many people about it, I am not sure why. I feel like people don’t know how to react when you have one. They don’t know what to say…. From the family/friends I did tell, I feel like they didn’t know what to say. It wasn’t meant to be… Maybe the timing was off… Is better that you lost it before the 2/3 trimester. Sometimes it made me feel worse so I just stopped talking about it unless I was asked. It took me over a year and a half to get pregnant a second time. I’m crossing my fingers this time! I didn’t announce it on social media but I’m 22 weeks and praying that I make it all the way through! Good luck to you and your husband!!
Sorry for your loss Cat. I too have had a miscarriage, and after a normal pregnancy. I know the heartache of the loss. Just know with time this pain will heal. Give your body time to rest and before you know it, you’ll conceive again. Sending you healing light and love. Maddy
I’m sorry for your loss, Cat. It is heartbreaking. Women close to me have experienced it, so I can understand it as much as an outsider can. Keep doing what you’re doing. Our hearts and prayers are with you.
So sorry to hear this. You are a strong smart woman and will get through this and that smile that we all love seeing will get you to the best places you can be. Say a prayer or two and ask for guidance. Then go surfing, hiking and enjoying life. If it is meant to be it will be.
Thank you for sharing. I had a similar thing happen, and I was only 27 at the time. I went on to have successful pregnancies, but I will never forget the fear, sadness, and confusion that resulted. Miscarriages and infertility are so common; I admire you for contributing to the conversation. I need to share my experiences more openly, too.
I’m sorry for you loss Cat.
Wish I could be there to hug you, my friend.
Thank you for sharing your story. I appreciate you also asking why it’s hard for people to talk about it when so many people experience. Praying for you and your husband and I hope you don’t get discouraged.
I just thought I’d share about an app (Kindara) that I came across while preparing for marriage and was looking for natural family planning reads. It helps track your fertility cycle and includes a community forum and blog section. My husband and I aren’t necessarily trying to get pregnant at the moment, but I have found it useful so far.
Sending prayers and love your way.
A big long hug for you and another for your loving husband.
My wife and daughter both had a miscarriage. Both later gave birth to beautiful children.
After my wife’s miscarriage she had a DNC to clean her womb. She became pregnant to my second child. We became worried again since tests showed some chomasome abnormalities and that my child may he born with Downs syndrone. Being Christians there was never a hesitation to continue with the pregnancy. We will love and cherish the child.
We’ll my son was born in Honolulu after being medivac’d from Hilo. He was born with an enlarged heart and we waited a few days for the wall chambers to close.
he is almost 23. Healthy as ever. Loves computer and IT work. Now if I could get him to keep his room clean he’ll be perfect. But I love my children and grand children.
And I love you and your husband. You’ll get through this but will always have memory of the one you lost.
Take care and be strong. I still regret not pulling to the side and saying hello when I spotted you near Ken’s in Hilo.
Thank you for sharing. It’s almost like a secret club you never wanted to join but now you find millions of others and we are all lifetime members. I’m also sorry for your loss. We lost a baby when we were almost 7 months pregnant and I was 39 years old. I still think about her and she would be 15 years old. Yes, she was a girl. Sadness but strength in sharing.
So sorry for your lost.
We lost our first child during the second trimester so it’s actually a fetus at that far along. It was traumatic for me and now my ex. She bled a lot so I rushed her to the emergency and there was no movement of the fetus and no heartbeat, it was a stillbirth. Labor was induced and after what seems like a whole day, she delivered a stillborn. That was so emotional , he was so tiny, we both cried and cried as both of us held him. The hospital offered a funeral for him if we wanted and ask if we wanted to we could donated his body for medical research which we did. We named him Zachery and had a funeral for him at the hospital chapel. Our next 2 was born healthy and are adults now.
Thanks for sharing your pain. I too had trouble getting pregnant and had miscarriages. Many months I failed to do this basic human act, procreate. However, just as I was about to give up, we tried Pergonal without Clomid, rather than mixing the two fertility drugs. Then came Claire. That was 23 years ago. And whatever was wrong fixed itself because the second child came almost three years later. Don’t give up faith.
Correction, it was the third trimester….
I’m sorry for your loss. I don’t know you, but it’s always sad to hear that. It takes courage to say it out loud like you did. Amazingly brave. Hang in there. Somebody told me a long time ago that everything in our life happens with a reason, and everything is exactly as it should be, even though things don’t make sense at the moment. Embrace it, lift your chin up and keep smiling.
Jolie and I couldn’t even get pregnant. Now, 19 years later, our adopted daughter makes out
I suppose I understand the emptiness, kinda. But, I also know either you will have a
natural born child or you can take a little one into your arms.
I hope you’re ok and I admire your wonderful writing about it.
So sorry to hear about your loss. Thank you for sharing your heart with your readers. You are beautiful person and you married a great man! Take care. I love the lemon tree and what it means.
Thank you for your bravery in publicly sharing your loss. Just know that you are in good company. As a nurse I had to disclose my pregnancy very early for medical/safety reasons and I miscarried at 12 weeks. Before then I only knew one person who miscarried, but then so many of my coworkers shared their stories of loss. What I don’t get is why we aren’t supposed to tell people we are pregnant until we are out of the first trimester. Wouldn’t we want to share that with our family and friends because they would be our safety net in times of need? I hope your lemon bars are a sweet reminder of your resilience and already wonderful life!
Thank you for sharing Cat. I am sorry for your loss. I love the lemon tree and your attitude. I had three miscarriages and now have three beautiful children. I had my last child at 39. Hoping and praying for healing for you and blessings in the future.
CAT: May you bear fruit in the future like your new tree.
Thank you for sharing such a personal moment in your life Cathy. I agree with an earlier comment… I hope that you will bear fruit like your new tree. I will pray on it. (((Hugs)))
((Hugs)) I’ve been there too, along with most of my friends. It’s a hard thing to share and even worse if you’ve shared your joy at being pregnant . All the best in the future!
You’ve made another angel.
Cat my cousin try for all most 10 years to get pregnant till at clinic she and her husband done it. She was at 41 year old and see her had twin sons , They are now 18 years old attending college at UH. Funny both want to researchers.
Please don’t give up hope. It’s nice to know that you have a husband who is so loving and supportive through the whole thing….Sending you well wishes…