A good friend of mine just went through a miscarriage last week. My heart broke for her, not only because she is a good friend who I hate to see going through this, but because I personally knew and understood what she was dealing with.
A lot of people don’t know that about 15 years ago, between the birth of The Girl and the Drama Queen, I was pregnant and subsequently miscarried a child. I’ve since come to realize that this actually happens quite often. However at the time I went through it, I did not know this because it is not something we women tend to share or talk about. It is too painful and too personal. And when we do mention it, it is many times brushed off as being nothing, especially those of us who miscarried earlier on in our pregnancies before it was widely known that we were pregnant.
However, one thing I’ve realized with this blog regarding my anxiety and perfectionist issues is that opening up and sharing actually helps. It does not fix the issue, but just knowing that you are not alone sometimes can go a long way to help you heal. I can see no reason why this struggle would be any different. So I’ve decided to post about my experience in case it helps anyone else.
My miscarriage was a very long time ago and I’ve probably healed about as much as I’m going to (or at least that is what I think). It is still sad for me to think of that baby I never was able to hold in my arms, but over time the pain has lessened and it is more bittersweet than painful. However, every time I have a friend go through this, it brings back those memories and those feelings.
So here is my story and what I did to help me heal. And the blessings that came after for me.
The Girl was not quite 3 years old when we found out we were going to be having our second child. I was very excited and wanted to have a boy since we already had a girl. We told our family and close friends and everyone was quite excited. Then one day I started spotting and cramping, so I called the doctor and they scheduled for me to come in the next day. I was about 10 weeks along at this time.
When my husband and I went in the next morning they did an ultrasound. They were able to see the baby, however could find no heartbeat. The doctor informed us she was very sorry, but the baby was no longer viable and I was going to miscarry.
At that time I was given two options. They could schedule me for a D&C or I could wait and let my body take care of things naturally. I chose to bypass having the D&C. At the time I was still in shock and I explained to my husband that I was afraid that if they put me under and did the D&C, I would wake up and not really accept what had happened. If I let nature take is course, it would be easier for me to accept.
For the next day or so, things stayed the same. Just some minor cramping and spotting. We were young still (in our late 20’s) and I had no idea what to expect. So we decided to go away for the weekend (it was Labor Day weekend) and see my husband’s grandparents. One word of advice I have for anyone going through this – stay close to home. We were at a wildlife park when things really started happening. I was mortified and could barely walk myself out to the car. Then I spent the entire rest of the day holed up in my husband’s grandparents bathroom with my almost 3 year old daughter trying to get in and asking me what was wrong. My poor husband was a mess because I was in a lot of pain and he had no way to make things better for me. So he spent the time trying to distract the Girl. The whole time I was just wishing I was at home in my own bathroom.
My friend who recently went through this was offered a prescription that she could take which would basically induce the miscarriage – in this way you are not having to wait for your body to do things – you have a bit more control over when it happens. I believe it is basically the morning after pill. This was not something I was offered because I don’t believe it was even available back then.
My friend shared with me her struggle in taking this prescription and as she did I realized this was another reason why I made the choice I did 15 years ago. She said that although she knew her baby was dead a part of her felt like taking this pill would be like giving up on this life or even actually killing it herself. I realized I had struggled with that same fear – I was just not able to put it into words like she did. A part of me did not want to do the D&C because a small part of me hoped the doctors were wrong and regardless of the fact that the baby was already gone, a part of me felt like that would be the same as having an abortion and killing my own child.
When my friend shared this with me my heart broke for her. We talked for some time about what she could expect when her body went through the process of miscarrying and what she could to to try to make herself as comfortable as possible. And we talked about how she felt about taking this prescription. We talked through it and she did a lot of research online and talked to her doctor some more. In the end she was able to accept that her baby was already gone and taking this pill would not be ending the baby’s life. Rather it would be protecting herself by making sure her body did what was needed so that she could be ready to try again soon.
I was so glad that due to my experience I was able to be there for her and really understand what she was going through and her concerns. And as I helped her through this time, I realized I actually healed just a bit more myself.
For me, I decided to name my baby. Since it was too early to know what the sex of the child was, I chose a boy and a girl name. Scrapbooking was big at this time and so I made a page with the name and the important dates. In this way I was able to grieve and heal and feel like this child I had lost would never be forgotten.
The name I chose was Zachary Gabriele. In the Bible, the names given to a child held deep and great meaning and often were a reflection of what was going on at the time. Especially in the cases where the women were desperate to have children. Read the story of Rachel and Leah – their children’s name were a reflection of what they were going through and how they were feeling. So I wanted to make sure my baby’s name had a deep and personal meaning. Zachary means “Remembered by the Lord” and Gabriele means “God is my strength”. So this baby’s name meant “Remembered by the Lord who is my strength” which summed up exactly where I was at mentally and spiritually at this time in my life.
At the end of every storm there is a rainbow. Rainbows symbolize hope. Because of this babies who are born following a miscarriage, stillborn or neonatal death are often described as Rainbow babies. I lost Zachary Gabriele over Labor Day weekend in 2003. In mid September 2004, I held my rainbow baby in my arms – the Drama Queen. Ever since he was a baby he’s had the biggest smile and the biggest dimple and you can’t help but smile back at him. Even to this day, he makes me want to scream and pull out my hair at times, but when we smiles at me and gives me a hug, I can’t help but melt.
My friend has made it through the worst of this miscarriage, but it is not all behind her yet. And the reality is, it will never be totally behind her. It is now a part of who she is and that baby she lost was a part of her and will forever be a part of her life. But I pray that the Lord will bless her with her own Rainbow Baby that we can all hold in our arms soon. And I pray that she will know that she is never alone. There are others who know what she is dealing with and we are here for her whenever she needs to talk, a shoulder to cry on or just someone to sit quietly with her until the storm passes.