What I Really Lost When I Miscarried – Donate a Post by Stephanie Sprenger

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April 18, 2013 by Katia

I am so excited to kick off the guest posts with one of my absolute favourite mommy bloggers, Stephanie from Mommy, for Real. Whenever I read her posts I feel like she stole the words out of my mouth, except she’d arranged them in a much better way than I ever would. I am grateful for her contribution to Donate a Post today.

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I have been pregnant five times. I am very fortunate to have two young daughters, but I have also had two miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy. Both of my miscarriages were extremely early, considered to be chemical pregnancies in which the fertilized egg never implants. When I had my ectopic pregnancy, I thought I was having another miscarriage at five weeks, and as it turns out, the undetectable egg never went away, and six weeks later, I found out that I was still technically “pregnant.” The doctors couldn’t find anything- not in my uterus and not in my fallopian tube. After having had no clue that the pregnancy hadn’t dissolved, at 11 weeks, I was given an injection of Methotrexate to help break up the pregnancy tissue. The drug would cause the tissue to shed, wherever the hell it was hiding in my bewildered reproductive system, which was unknowingly aiding and abetting an outlaw egg on the lam.

It should come as no surprise that none of these losses were pleasant experiences. I have known many women who have had miscarriages at various stages of pregnancy. Many of them even count them amongst their children, referring to them as angel babies. Most of these mothers equate their miscarriages as having lost a baby.

I do not feel that I lost any babies. Bear with me here- I am not criticizing women who feel that they lost children when they miscarried. If my pregnancies had lasted longer, maybe even just another week or two, I would probably be among them. I never felt that I was carrying a baby, a child of mine, and then lost it.

But I do feel that I lost something.  The first time I miscarried, I had only three days to process my positive test result. When I started bleeding, I was bewildered, angry, devastated, and frightened that I would not be able to have a healthy pregnancy. I felt like I had been ripped off- of course I had promptly purchased the requisite copy of What To Expect When You’re Expecting and I had the sensation that I had just been kicked out of The Baby Club.

The second time I miscarried, I had a four year old daughter, and was extremely cautious about the pregnancy. I waited a few days, had some bloodwork done that was less than optimistic, and was not surprised when I started to bleed by the end of the week.

The ectopic pregnancy followed shortly on the heels of the second loss, and it was disorienting, terrifying, and seemed to fly in the face of traditional medical insight. Nobody could tell me exactly what had happened. Being a Medical Mystery is not exactly what one aspires to become when conceiving.

With each of these losses, and perhaps more accurately with the sum of all three, I felt that I lost confidence in my body. I felt defective. I think all women would like to believe that their bodies, perfectly designed to conceive and carry babies, are fully capable of this biological task. To discover that your body didn’t get the memo on how to get or stay pregnant is beyond disheartening. It is humiliating. It is scary.

Perhaps more than other people, I have always had a complex about my body not being “adequate”. From having my gallbladder removed at age seventeen to being diagnosed with a rare swallowing disorder in my thirties, I have often worried that my body was not my friend. Pregnancy loss epitomizes the notion that you cannot trust your body- almost like when your immune system turns against you, turning the vessel that is supposed to be supporting you into an enemy.

In addition to having lost trust in my body’s ability to reproduce, I also lost my innocence in some ways. After that first miscarriage, each conception was approached somewhat gingerly rather than joyfully. Should my husband and I decide to have another child, the moment my pregnancy test turns pink, the initial flush of excitement will be immediately followed by a grim resignation to the unknown. I was never able to, nor will I ever again be able to, receive the news of a pregnancy with complete optimism and confidence. I lost my ability to have a carefree pregnancy. Of course, nobody is given any guarantees when they conceive, and miscarriage is unfortunately quite common. But until you have experienced a pregnancy loss, you cannot quite grasp the sense of dread and the attempt to prepare yourself for disappointment that is mixed in with the excitement of new pregnancy.

I had my redemptive experience when I gave birth to my second daughter. I wanted to try to make it through as much of my labor as possible without pain medication, though I was not closed off to the possibility of getting an epidural at some point should I need it. My labor was induced with my first child, I received an epidural before my first contraction started, and my primary complaint about my 12 hour labor was that I was bored and hungry. With my second delivery, I wanted to test the limits of this body that I felt I could not fully trust. I wanted to see exactly what it was capable of.

After four and a half hours of contractions without drugs, my body began to push the baby out; it did so without my conscious authority, as I was standing in the bathroom when I felt the urge to push. My body, wise and intelligent beyond my comprehension, had taken the wheel. I began to panic when the overpowering contractions and need to push came over me, and my doula repeated over and over, “Your body was made to do this. Your body was made to do this.” Fifteen minutes later my daughter came into the world, and I was flooded with emotion and euphoria as the realization hit me- my body did something right.

I am grateful that I do not count myself among the many women who have lost babies. And perhaps with time, the grief I experienced over the loss of my pregnancy innocence and the lack of trust in my body will be burned away by the memories of my healthy children and the moments in which my body did not let me down.

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Stephanie Sprenger is a music therapist, teacher, writer, blogger, and mother of two girls. Her writing has been featured on BlogHer, Mamapedia, and Power of Moms. You can find her singing at the piano while being climbed on by a toddler, drinking wine or coffee depending on what time it is,  practicing yoga often enough to make her yoga pant collection relevant,  or spewing parental angst on her personal blog, Mommy, for Real.

If you would like to contribute to the series, please email me at iamthemilkblog (at) gmail (dot) com.

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24 thoughts on “What I Really Lost When I Miscarried – Donate a Post by Stephanie Sprenger

  1. […] What I Really Lost When I Miscarried […]

  2. Thanks for such a lovely introduction, and for allowing me the honor of being the first guest poster in this fantastic series! xo

  3. I’ve never experienced a miscarriage, but I believe that if I had, I also would not feel the emotional loss of a ‘baby’ but more the potential for one. Nicely put Steph. And so glad you are a mother.

  4. I’ve never had a miscarriage, but I know lots of women who have. It’s such a personal experience for every woman, it seems. Your post gave me a new perspective on the loss that I had never thought about before. It’s really powerful how you relate miscarriage to other experiences that lots of people can relate to, ones in which they feel like they no longer trust their own bodies. Thanks for this perspective!

  5. I had a chemical pregnancy 2 months before I got pregnant with my first (Emma). I was truly devastated and remember feeling very much alone and like I had been (just as you put it) kicked out of a club I barely belonged to. But like you I too feel I never was pregnant with an actual baby, because I was barely 5 weeks and nothing visibly there to be found on a sonogram or anything. But nonetheless it still was a blow and definitely did hurt both mentally and physically at the time. But once I did get pregnant and have Emma, I realized it was meant to be, because if I would have been pregnant and it didn’t turn out to be chemical, I would not have had Emma. And seriously couldn’t picture not having her (if that makes sense). Thank you for sharing this here and I admit now it is nice to know that I wasn’t the only one to experience this type of loss.

    • Katia says:

      I don’t mean to steal the spotlight and I look forward to Stephanie’s response, but wanted to thank you, Janine, for sharing your personal story. I agree with every one of Stephanie’s words. Being kicked out of the club, is exactly what it feels like.

    • Thanks Janine- I know you and I have “talked” about this before, but it really is so helpful to connect with other people who have experienced it.

  6. Roshni says:

    This is such a wonderful post, Stephanie, and thank you, Katia for starting this series. I haven’t had a miscarriage, but Stephanie’s account fills me with a lot of empathy for those who have had to suffer such an ordeal.

  7. findingninee says:

    Stephanie. This is beautiful. I know what you mean about feeling like your body is defective. I felt like that when I miscarried and also when I was put on bed rest at 27 weeks to keep Tucker in there.
    As always, your words inspire and make me feel you.

  8. findingninee says:

    PS I ended up not telling anybody I was pg with Tucker until I was like 5 months along.

  9. canigetanotherbottleofwhine says:

    This is beautiful, Stephanie. I connected with the part where you said it’s humiliating that your body didn’t get the memo to get or stay pregnant. Not having ever conceived, before we adopted I felt that humiliation and like there was something wrong with me. Thankfully, parenting my children has pushed all of those thoughts away. I’m too darn busy to think about it now.

  10. Stephanie, I’m sharing your piece with my dear friend who miscarried twice, but finally carried to term and just delivered her little girl a week ago today! I can’t imagine the mixed emotions her third positive pregnancy test gave her; you gave me perspective to understand what she was going through–thank you!

    I, too, had a doula with my second child!! I’m beginning to see how much we have in common!!!!

  11. Dana says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, Stephanie. You speak about the lack of trust in your body – this struck a chord with me. I imagine that feeling is shared by not only other women who have miscarried, but also people who suffer from physical ailments or conditions where their bodies don’t function the way they “should.” I’m so glad that you have two beautiful children to help you ease your grief.

  12. You know, I read somewhere that when a couple gets pregnant after trying to conceive, there are two reactions: if they have never lost a pregnancy, it’s “We’re going to have a baby!”; if they have miscarried, it’s “(deep breath) We’re pregnant.”

    This is a wonderful post, Stephanie. I can relate to so much of what you write. The loss of innocence, the feelings of being betrayed by your body. I am so pleased that your body has vindicated herself.

  13. Cooks says:

    Thank you. I have just had my first ever positive pregnancy test, only to lose it just two days later. I feel so terribly sad, but also a sense of this grief being illegitimate somehow. Like you, it’s easy for me to turn on my body – I had a late puberty at age 17, now as an adult I’m right back with those painful feelings – not real woman. I loved the feeling I had for those two days where it felt possible, now it seems almost embarrassing that I allowed this dream to grow inside me so fast. My partner bought me tulips when the test turned positive, so new the tips were still green. It gives me an ache watching them grow fuller, pinker by the day. Goodbye baby.

    • Katia says:

      It breaks my heart to read your comment, at the same time I’m so happy you came across Stephanie’s post on the series here. You may also find some comfort in Audra’s post, titled Unexpected Harvests. Having gone through miscarriage myself, I started the series to allow us to heal through talking about it and through reading. Both Stephanie and I ended up, after some hardship, carrying our babies to full term I hope you and Audra can find encouragement in that. xo

  14. Rachael says:

    Thank you so much for writing this post…I’m one week post op from a very painful D&C and like you have had multiple health problems including a gallbladder surgery. I’m so angry at my body and even though I’m thankful to have a healthy 2.5 year old…my heart still hurts and know I will never look at those 2 pink lines the same ever again.

    • Katia says:

      I was there a couple of years ago in a very similar situation, with a 2.5 year old and broken hearted after a d&c. Don’t be mad at yourself, you’ve gone through enough. Anda yes, being pregnant again is never a carefree experience anymore, but there’s still a lot of hapiness in it.

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