The Many Faces of Miscarriage

“You were carried for only a moment, but are loved for a lifetime.”

You know in the movie “The Grinch” where he talks about his heart growing three sizes. That is exactly how I felt last week as the messages, texts, calls, and comments flooded in from real life friends both current and from many years ago, acquaintances, and also ladies from this beautiful social media community. Some messages extended were condolences, others were prayers, and then many were stories from women who had gone through losses similar or harder than my own. It’s NEVER easy to go through a miscarriage, but each story is different. Some women have the support they need to properly grieve and get through it while others aren’t able to take the time to grieve or painfully push their emotions aside while secretly suffering… many times, never really allowing themselves to fully grieve. Sharing my story was never about me, and I hope you could see and feel that as you read my raw words. Ultimately, I wanted to bring awareness to a topic that is often seen as shameful or embarrassing. Women that miscarry feel like their body failed them and sadly, that they failed that little life. This is a lie of the enemy. It is OKAY to talk about the hard stuff. I want this space to be about all of the good stuff, but I also want it to be a safe space to share and talk about the difficult things as well. As women shared with me, the idea immediately came to me that I wanted to allow other women to also have the opportunity to share their unique story. After all, it can happen to anybody. These mamas are all so brave, and I am grateful to know each of them. They don’t all think like me, look like me, or believe like me, but they are brave and beautiful women just like me that have shared an experience with me and that have a heart to help others just like me. I hope these stories continue to touch you all, and I pray that each one helps another woman in some way that is struggling through her own story. This also will be a series. I’ll be sharing the first half of the stories this week and the other half next week.

Meet Shelby

In January of 2014, we knew we were pregnant with twins for 2 short weeks. On February 3, at supper, I started having some spotting and by 2:30 am both babies had passed at just 10 weeks. Looking back, I had no idea I should go to the doctor or that I should take some kind of pain medication to help make the experience easier. We were in Australia at the time and had no idea where to go. The next day, we asked some friends where they suggested going to make sure everything was okay. We went to have blood work done to check levels and also had a sonogram to see if everything had passed. This was one of the worst sonograms of my life. I still have severe anxiety over getting a sonogram because of how painful it was (I had drank 48 ounces-per their instructions-and had to hold it for almost 2.5 hours). I felt very disconnected from the whole experience, we were getting ready to fly back to the states and also didn’t have our own house at the time.

Over the next few months I had over 35 people announce they were expecting babies. I was really hard to grieve as we weren’t living in our own home. I didn’t feel like I could be sad, be mad and then all of my friends were expecting and so excited. I was told constantly “You will have another baby.” Or “Obviously it wasn’t in Gods plan.” Or “There had to have been something wrong, it was better this way.”…NONE of these comments make it better or give me a baby. Especially as it took 5 years for us to get pregnant, and it was through embryo adoption. Every year the anniversary passed was a reminder of what we didn’t have. It took me until 2017 to really get past the pain of not having a baby. I decided that I couldn’t stop living. I did things I had been planning on doing for years but hadn’t because “we might be pregnant”. There has been so much redemption in our story to where we are now. And we can’t wait to welcome our embryo adopted baby girl in July! While there are still no answers as to why we lost our twins, we have tried to be open with our story and how we have gotten to where we are. If anything, we hope to show the significance, importance, value and delicacy to life at all stages. No matter where the loss occurs/occurred, that life matters, he or she plays a significant role in life and God has a plan for their life. I always take comfort in knowing they knew no pain, no sorrow, only happiness in Jesus and I especially love to think of family and friends who have gone on to heaven loving on my babies. Makes the bitter a little more sweet.

Meet Wendy

After my surgery for endometriosis our doctor told us that IVF was the route we needed to go if we wanted to have another baby. But, I believe God answered our prayers of healing from the endometriosis. Fast forward…after finding out we naturally conceived. My next scheduled sonogram was at 8 1/2 weeks. Ryan knew I was a nervous wreck, but he kept my hopes high. We knew if all went well at this appointment we could share the news. I hate keeping secrets & I was ready to tell the world about this baby. The night before our sonogram we discussed how we wanted to announce our miracle pregnancy & he asked if Magnolia was going to wear a “Big Sister” t-shirt. I remember feeling hesitant to talk about it, but I did anyway. We had a fun plan to share our news, but I was still quietly guarding my mama heart.

The morning of our sonogram arrived & it was storming heavily outside. Our backyard was flooded & we lost power for several hours. I took a candlelit shower & I did my makeup on the dining room floor with the cool glow of the morning light. It rained the whole way to the hospital. When we got to our doctor’s office Ryan rubbed my hand in a way that always calms me down & I sat next to him praying to God that our baby was strong & healthy. We went back & waited for what felt like forever for the doctor to come in. Before he did the sonogram he mentioned that we saw the heartbeat at the last sonogram. As soon as I saw the screen I saw the gestational sac, but I couldn’t see a gummy bear sized baby. I think time stopped in that moment. I only remember the doctor saying “I’m sorry!” & I felt Ryan’s hand on mine. I just laid there quietly. The next thing I remember was the doctor telling me to sit-up so he could talk to us. I held in the tears & the panic & the pain. The baby’s heart had stopped sometime between the previous sonogram & this morning. I managed to listen to the next steps & I held it together for a few minutes. My biggest fear, my worst nightmare was really happening right there in the same exact room that we were told IVF was the only way I would get pregnant & in the same room that we saw Magnolia’s strong heartbeat on the same screen.

This isn’t the pregnancy announcement we dreamed of sharing. I know this may make some feel uncomfortable & I know the topic of miscarriage has been taboo for years. I just know that when I found out we conceived naturally it was a miracle & that no matter what happened I had to give the Glory to God for blessing us with another baby. I don’t understand why we were blessed with this miracle only for a short time, but I do know that I cannot out dream God. Our baby found it’s way back to Heaven & my heart will always ache for this child. When the trees start to turn warm with the colors of fall, and when the cold winds start to blow in, my heart will ache for the baby that I thought would be in our arms in late October. My heart & faith are trusting in God’s plans for us & our family.

To read Wendy’s full story, click HERE or check her out HERE

Meet Lauren

There are many dates that people remember as joyful and special. Two very special dates for us are February 12th,2012 and December 4th,2017. Those are the birthdays of our two beautiful daughters here on earth, Nora and Gemma. As you can see there is a 5 1/2 year gap between our girls. Many wonder if we wanted that much of an age gap or if we planned it that way. Sadly, we did not as there are two more special but heartbreaking dates that we remember.

August 25th, 2015 was the day our first angel baby went to heaven. Around 8 weeks along, we naturally miscarried our precious 2nd child. The weeks leading up to our loss were a such a rollercoaster. Sadly, our baby had stopped growing around 6ish weeks and even though we never even saw a heartbeat, we are grateful for that baby’s life as short lived as it was and that baby was and is so loved.

Nov 1, 2016 is the 2nd heartbreaking date we remember. We found out at 10 weeks that our baby had no heartbeat. After a 2nd ultrasound to confirm we were told the baby stopped growing 2 weeks prior and I was given my options since my body didn’t recognize that the baby was no longer alive. My husband and I struggled to decide how to proceed as we are pro-life and wanted to make sure we didn’t do anything that went against our beliefs. After much prayer, we decided that the D&C procedure was our best option and that procedure was done on Nov 7th,2016.

The next few months were rough for me emotionally and spiritually. I was mad. Mad that I couldn’t seem to have a healthy pregnancy past 10 weeks. Mad that this was our journey. I didn’t want this to be our journey. I didn’t understand and felt like at that time, that I would never heal,emotionally. After I physically healed from the D&C, I was SO scared and SO nervous to get pregnant again. I’m a worrier… So I knew I would have so much anxiety with our next pregnancy. I shared with our pastor my anticipated anxiety if we were to get pregnant again. How do I not worry the entire pregnancy? I didn’t want to worry but I knew I would! Our pastor told me that instead of praying to not worry pray to have a fearless love. Wow! That hit me so hard and spoke to my heart! To have a fearless love no matter what happened.

Four months later, at the end of March 2017, we found out we were expecting! This would be our 4th pregnancy. I had my levels tested and for some reason they didn’t double like they expect them to do. I started to prepare myself for another loss and even though I went through a brief period of anger and wondered how this might happen again, I remembered my prayer to have a fearless love for this child no matter what happened. We went on to have a healthy baby girl who is now 15 months old! She is our rainbow baby and such a joy!

Even though, we were able to have a healthy pregnancy after our losses and we are so blessed and thankful to God for Nora and Gemma, it still hurts my heart knowing I wasn’t able to hold our 2 precious babies. But we will always remember not only our 2 daughters birthdays but also the also the dates our other 2 babies went to heaven. They are our angel babies and even though we never got to hold them, they are so loved. God is faithful. God is good. For every mama who has experienced a loss, my heart is with you. Please reach out if you need someone who understands… It is such a tough journey… such a cross to bear but I firmly believe in hanging on to hope and trusting that God is faithful and my prayer for you is that you will be given strength to have a fearless love as you go through this journey.

Meet another mama with a story to share

I hate starting this story because there is so much emotion, feeling, anticipation, and grief than I could ever put into words. My husband and I had been trying to get pregnant for a couple of months and I finally got my positive pregnancy test. We had just gone under contract for our first home. We had announced to our parents that they were going to be grandparents for the first time. We scheduled an appointment at our OB office with a midwife. At 9 weeks we had our first visit and left so excited, even though they forgot to put me down for an ultrasound, we scheduled it for the following week. It was the Friday before Father’s day and I was so excited to finally see our baby. The ultrasound tech started to do her thing and I don’t think I realized that there was anything wrong until the ultrasound tech abruptly said “I’m sorry, there isn’t a heartbeat” and quickly left the room saying she needed to get the doctor. Time stood still. It felt like it was a crazy amount of time before she came back. I don’t think my husband knew what was happening but I instantly broke down. We met with a physician in the office and he laid out our options which was extremely overwhelming given that I had walked into that office with zero complications. At that point I was inconsolable emotionally. I knew given my state at that moment I didn’t want to have to experience a natural miscarriage and decided to come back to the office on Monday after the dust had settled a little bit to decide if I wanted to schedule surgery.

We found out that the baby stopped growing the day after we had been in the office for our first appointment. As much as I hate to analyze this but was the timing a blessing in disguise? Would our ultrasound have showed a growing baby? Would we have had to wait until 4 weeks later to not find a heartbeat on the handheld fetal monitor at our next appointment? The following months were rough. It was hard not to be angry and I hated the things people would say to try and comfort me, especially that “this is God’s plan”. I don’t believe that God’s plan involves losing a child in any shape or form but that’s a discussion for another day. I knew miscarriages happen but I had no idea how painful it is and how it rocks you to your core in such a way that it stings even after the initial wounds heal. It’s easy to overlook the amazing support that I was given from my family and friends because of the comments that I had someone close to me make shortly after my surgery. I realize that most people reading this are probably mommas that have been through this loss or mommas that can only imagine the pain so this doesn’t need to be said, but if you know someone that is currently grieving a miscarriage, DO NOT diminish their pain.

I don’t think women talk much about what comes next after a miscarriage, especially about the emotions that come in a subsequent pregnancy. I had so much anxiety wondering if I would be able to carry a child full term. I realize now that this was a little premature to worry about but I was still fairly deep in my grief at that point and my rational thinking was off. I look back at the day I saw the positive pregnancy test for my second baby who is now a healthy 7 month old boy who I love more than I could ever comprehend. My husband heard me say “oh shit” from the bathroom and found me sobbing in the bathroom. We had started trying again but that positive test brought up so many emotions – I wondered, are we going to have to go through this pain again? Do I let myself get excited about this pregnancy, like our first, only to be completely crushed again? Our first few doctor’s appointments were tense for both me and my husband. I tried to be as calm and as go with the flow as I could but the tension was palpable. Looking back now, it makes me so sad that the beginning of my pregnancy with my son wasn’t filled with joy and excitement like it should have.

I know I would have been annoyed to read this while I was in the thick of my grief – I would have thought, yes that’s great for you but you don’t know MY story and you don’t know how my story is going to play out. But mommas, please know you are not alone. If it helps you heal, tell your story, write it down. Don’t give up hope.

Ok… pass the tissues. This mama can hardly get through any of these without shedding a tear. Each of these women have a story to tell. The only guidelines I gave them was maybe send me a paragraph or two, but as each story came in, I realized that two paragraphs just wasn’t possible to fully share what they wanted to share. So, I gave you these women in all of their messy glory laying their hearts out there. Thanks for caring enough to read whether you’ve been through something like this or not. I hope that in some way these stories will bring a new sensitivity or kindness to others around you suffering through things that you may or may not relate to. Blessings to you all. I hope you come back tomorrow for a BIG announcement and next week as I share four more amazing women and their stories.Don’t look back.

Keep looking forward.


Mama Gilmartin

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