To start, thank you so much for all your kind words, emails, comments, DMs, and texts yesterday in regard to our second baby on the way! We are so grateful for all the support and so excited for what the future holds for our family. Thank you so much.
In all honesty, I still have a hard time believing I’m in a position to write this post. I wrote this lengthy lengthy text as a stream of consciousness type thing shortly after my second miscarriage during the summer of 2021 as a word document. I did it as a way to help me express myself, collect my feelings on paper, and heal. I journaled and wrote after my first miscarriage and I found that it helped me a lot. So, I thought I would do it again as a step in my recovery process. I grappled with whether or not I’d share it as a blog post (as I clearly am now, I tried my best to tidy it up for a post so it isn’t quite so stream of consciousness and random).
After my first miscarriage, I knew when I got pregnant again and shared my pregnancy news, that I would share my miscarriage as well.
I felt a strong conviction to do so because of how difficult it can be to see seemingly easy pregnancies everywhere nowadays with social media etc. and I didn’t want to paint an inaccurate depiction of my pregnancy experience by only sharing the positive side of it. I respect that many women choose to keep their struggles more private and personal. When it comes to fertility, pregnancy, birth, and motherhood, every single woman needs to put themselves first and do what is right for them and their families. Sharing is just what happens to feel right for me, which brings me to this post.
The amount of messages and emails I received immediately following me opening up about my first miscarriage astounded me.
I still get frequent messages from women who newly related to what I went through and decided to revisit my words, from women whose friends sent them my post after they sadly miscarried, from women who stumbled upon my post when searching the internet for some support, and from women who are now happily pregnant again after miscarrying and want to share that my words offered them some light in the darkness. In fact, I have had more women than I can count tell me that reading my words gave them hope on their darkest days and carried them through their toughest seasons in life. I have also had so many women extend thank yous after reading my post as it helped them support a loved one who had miscarried.
I pour over miscarriage and infertility stories when I see women open up about them on Instagram or write about them on their blogs. So, I understand because I have been on that receiving end too where other women’s stories have helped me so much. This reaction is what made me decide to share again and share my second miscarriage.
After trauma and loss, it is human nature to think “why me?”.
Perhaps this is why multiple miscarriages have been part of my story. I really feel like, with both of my miscarriages, I was able to love the two babies I lost so completely and I will carry them in my heart forever as part of me and my family. Perhaps that is why – I had and continue to have the love to give my lost babies. I feel like women who have lost babies during pregnancy know what I mean and have that love for their babies as well. At the same time that I was able to give and feel so much love, I was able to handle the losses. Perhaps I was able to shoulder the pain so that I could reach out and be there for other women as they shouldered their pain too? This goes for the reverse as well because I have been eternally grateful to a few women in my life who have survived miscarriage and helped me shoulder my pain. I don’t know but I do believe that everything happens for a reason and I’m hard pressed to not believe that the outreach and thank yous I’ve received haven’t been part of that reason. Would I ever choose to miscarry again? Absolutely not in my wildest dreams. Do I feel fortunate that I have been able to find positives in my miscarriages to help other women in their times of need? Absolutely yes with my whole heart. There are so many sides to the emotions I feel from my miscarriages. This is one perfect example of that.
So, I felt compelled to share again for anyone out there experiencing their first miscarriage or a repeat miscarriage. You aren’t alone. We may not know each other personally, but am I reaching out to you with love, respect, support, encouragement, hugs, and a tremendous sense of awe at how strong you are. May we all be there for each other and support each other.
There is no doubt that it is difficult to see people walk through life and pregnancies without knowing the weight of losing a pregnancy. It can feel very heavy and very unfair. The truth is that it and life are unfair but, during both my miscarriages, I’ve felt that God knew I could handle the miscarriages for one reason or another and knew I’d love my lost babies so much even though I never got to hold them. I prayed for me, for Edwin, for Rowan, and for our lost babies and that really did help. I remained steadfast after my second miscarriage too that I was glad it was me because I didn’t want someone I loved to feel what I was feeling.
So, here goes, my second miscarriage story, my struggles surrounding miscarriage and grief, my experience miscarrying before and after having a child, and my thoughts on moving forward from miscarriage…
My Second Miscarriage
I lost a second baby on Saturday, July 3rd, 2021 (Edwin’s and my 11th anniversary of being together of all days). Our baby was to be due in February 2022 and had already brought us quite a bit of excitement. I really struggled with feeling any sort of excitement or joy during the first trimester of my pregnancy with Rowan. After miscarrying before getting pregnant again with Rowan, I felt like I had the joy taken away from me and I couldn’t find it and hold onto it during my pregnancy with Rowan until I was multiple weeks into my second trimester.
With my third pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage in July, I felt a lot of joy (pre-miscarriage)! I think I naïvely thought that my pregnancy hardship had happened to me and I was in the clear. I was clearly very wrong and, after I miscarried, I felt so foolish, naïve, and plain dumbfounded that I, after having known the trauma of a miscarriage already, could have felt like I had paid my toll. Just so naïve.
When I started miscarrying my third pregnancy and losing my second baby, Edwin was on a plane to Peru for a two week long work shoot. I immediately knew what was happening to my body because I had lived it before. However, this time I was really alone… I couldn’t talk to Edwin since he was in the air for hours, my parents weren’t in Charleston, and so many of my friends were away for the Fourth of July long weekend. Living through the loss of a second baby while my husband was on another continent was an extreme challenge. The shoot could not go on without Edwin and there was nothing he could do to stop the miscarriage if he came home so we made the decision for him to stay in Peru. It was painfully lonely and isolating without him.
The night I started miscarrying, Rowan had his first ever stomach bug. I put him down to bed like normal but an hour later he was up crying in his crib. It was very unlike him so I went up to his nursery and there was throw up everywhere. I was up for hours into the night bathing him, soothing him, doing the laundry and vomit clean-up etc. My mom said that perhaps Rowan knew something was wrong and that’s why he got sick because he was totally fine leading up to his bug and fine the next morning. She said, perhaps he knew I needed him and that was a way for him to be in my arms for hours that night. I don’t know but, although the whole thing was exhausting and an added challenge when I was physically and emotionally struggling alone so much, I was so happy to have him safe, warm, and snuggly in my arms.
By the grace of God, my parents were able to get on the first flight to Charleston the following morning and were with me by the evening of July 4th. I can’t tell you how much it helped to not be alone. My mom stayed over at my house and went to my OBGYN appt with me on Tuesday (the first day my doctor’s office was open due to the July 4th holiday) as Edwin was out of the country. Both my parents helped take care of me and Rowan, listened to me, talked with me, kept my spirits up, and offered solace. It is hard to imagine getting through those days without them. At the end of the first week, we went on a planned family trip to Nantucket, which did wonders to heal my heart. We were on Nantucket for two weeks and Edwin finally flew from Peru to Nantucket to meet me the second week of the trip, two weeks after I miscarried.
When I woke up on July 4th, the morning after I started miscarrying, I already had tears rolling down my cheeks before I even opened my eyes to start the day.
On July 3rd and July 4th, I had cramps that were so painful they made me dry heave (I honestly couldn’t really eat those first few days so I think that stopped me from all out throwing up from the pain). I kept thinking that I couldn’t wait for the bleeding to stop but then I’d think that once I stopped bleeding, my baby would be gone. I really grappled with this tug back and forth.
I’ve talked with close friends who have also miscarried and they have shared the exact same sentiments with me… the want to move forward is so extreme but the pull to hold onto the baby and honor the baby is just as extreme. I had some feelings of guilt for wanting to move forward because I didn’t want to say goodbye to my baby.
After my first miscarriage, I felt like I really lost myself for a couple months. I felt determined not to let this happen again. I was more successful than last time but not entirely so. For me, it is impossible not to feel sad, lonely, isolated, confused, anxious, nervous, helpless, and out of control. I know I wasn’t sleeping well and I felt like I ate less healthy. I took it day by day. Honestly, I think my time on Nantucket saved me. I was in a beautiful place that I loved, spent the majority of every day outside in the sunshine with Rowan, was surrounded by family and friends, and got a break from regular life. The trip had been planned for a year but couldn’t have come at a better time.
It definitely helped me keep my head above water.
We didn’t know it at the time, but the trip brought Edwin and I the gift of our fourth pregnancy, my current pregnancy. After Nantucket, Rowan and I flew home and Edwin flew straight to another shoot. He was then away on back-to-back shoots for weeks. From July 24th to September 3rd, Edwin and I were together for a total of 5 nights. It was no way to live but each shoot was necessary and too good of an opportunity to not take. I was personally very challenged during this time as I was still healing emotionally from the miscarriage, in the early weeks of another pregnancy and all the fear and doubt I felt surrounding that, was apart from my husband, and was taking care of our 11-month-old Rowan.
Overall though, I felt a deep deep sense of gratitude because I couldn’t believe our good fortune that we got pregnant again immediately after miscarrying. It took us a handful of months to get pregnant with Rowan after my first miscarriage. I know firsthand that each month of trying and not being pregnant after a miscarriage brings everything back up to the surface, make the miscarriage pain feel all too raw again, and increases anxiety (at least it did for me). It is not lost on me that we were and are so incredibly blessed. My heart goes out to every woman who is trying to conceive after the loss of a miscarriage. It is such a trying and exhausting time that requires so much emotional strength. I am in your corner!
My Struggles Surrounding Miscarriage And Grief
Talking To People Who Haven’t Experienced Miscarriage About My Miscarriages
I find it really difficult to talk about my miscarriages with people who haven’t been through one of their own. Because there just aren’t big enough words to describe the loss and shock. I have found that people don’t realize how all-consuming it is and people don’t realize that the loss (plus the emotions surrounding the loss) don’t just go away. I had people say to me, “you look so great in photos!” This left me really puzzled… do you think I’m going to be posting photos of me crying and struggling in the weeks after a miscarriage? No, I’m going to put a smile on my face when I walk out the door because sometimes a forced smile can actually make me feel better.
Also, most of my smiles in the weeks after my miscarriage were genuine. I have so much to be thankful for and Rowan really is the light of my life. He makes every day big and bright. I think I healed from my second miscarriage because of Rowan and our closeness.
Some people think of a miscarriage very medically which, I of course understand and do as well, but I know I feel like I’ve lost a child with each miscarriage and a part of myself as well.
The feelings of grief, sadness, and confusion are all so vast that it’s hard to explain. I know for me that I feel in my bones that I’ve lost two babies and that will always stay with me. Rowan makes everything better but the child I hold in my arms doesn’t change the fact that I’ve also lost babies too. Even when I’m pregnant again with healthy pregnancies, I think about my miscarriages. I see pregnancies or babies who would be the same birth age as mine and I think about my miscarriages.
For example, I know I’ll see babies due this February and a part of me will think “I’m supposed to have a baby this February.” This fades for me but it’s a very real feeling for the first year-ish. I can feel that way even though I am now due in April and I know that this baby I am currently carrying is SO my baby that was meant to be. Rainbow babies like Rowan are SO meant to be, which is something I reminded myself of time and time again last summer after my second miscarriage.
I know I kind of shut down when talking about my miscarriages – I can feel myself doing it – and I know it’s not fair to loved ones when they are trying to be in my corner.
This makes me really sad. Sometimes it’s just so difficult to tap into how I’m feeling because I often times just can’t or don’t want to if I’m not in the right frame of mind. It’s something I feel really whole body, mind, and soul and I struggle with finding the words with anyone who doesn’t inherently know what I’m feeling. I hate it because I know there will inevitably be situations with beloved friends and family in my life where I won’t be able to understand something they are going through.
I’ll be at a loss with how to be there for them and we never want to be at a loss with the people we love. I would say to anyone reading this that has grappled with what to say to a loved one who has miscarried, know that even if the person struggles to talk about what she is going through, she feels your support and love whole heartedly. I know she appreciates it with her heart of hearts and understand that you’re there for her without question. That is the best feeling!
I think a lot of people try to make you feel better and in an attempt to do so, they end up sugar coating things and/or offering a solution to feeling so sad.
When in fact, oftentimes what I found myself needing was someone to just acknowledge how awful a miscarriage is and to tell me that I don’t need to be okay. It’s more than okay to let someone not be on solid ground and to acknowledge that rather than to put someone who is hurting into a position where they feel like they have to make you more comfortable by saying that they are okay. Does this make sense?
I think this is why, after both of my miscarriages, I’ve really struggled with feeling distant from and misunderstood by people in my life who couldn’t understand what I was going through. At no fault of their own. The grief is too immense and it can be too damaging for me to hear people try to make it okay or try to relate to it (more on that here in the ‘what to say, or not say, to a friend going through a miscarriage’ section). It’s something I was able to talk about more openly after my second miscarriage though, so there’s progress I suppose.
Being Around Pregnant Woman After A Miscarriage
In an attempt to self-preserve and stay afloat, after miscarriages, I struggle some to be around other woman who are pregnant. I will say that this was much harder for me after my first miscarriage than it was after my second miscarriage. I think this was due to the fact that, after my second miscarriage, I knew what to expect more so moving forward and I had the successful pregnancy that brought me Rowan under my belt. After a miscarriage, I think it is completely natural for women to pull away from friends or family members who are pregnant and that’s okay. The fact of the matter is that it’s not personal toward the pregnant women and it is a temporary need in the healing process. You’re also incredibly happy for your pregnant friends/family. I can speak to feeling that way.
I was so so happy for my friends and wouldn’t for the world want their pregnancies to change but putting a little protective distance up for a bit sometimes is just necessary. It STINKS but I think it can be human nature. It is just a really sensitive time. What helped me was the passage of time, personal emotional healing, and more exposure to pregnant people. There is no doubt that getting pregnant again each time helped me a lot in this area too.
The same goes for social media and seeing pregnancy announcements on Instagram etc.
It can be really challenging. This is especially true because it usually catches you off guard. If you are scrolling through Instagram, you don’t expect to see a pregnancy announcement and be shocked with surprise and grief but it does happen. Again, I‘m always so happy for the people and their happy family news but that doesn’t take away my struggle. After my first miscarriage, I ended Thanksgiving of that year (2019) in a puddle of tears. I saw more “we’re extra thankful this year to be growing our family” pregnancy announcements on Instagram than I could count.
I had miscarried, was not pregnant again yet, was deeply struggling, and saw that most of the announcements were for people due around when I should have been (aka the timing was right for people to have hit 13 weeks and feel safe to announce). It was a perfect example of how hard social media can be on people. I can tell you that you’ll never see me announce a pregnancy on a holiday like thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Mother’s Day, or Father’s Day because I know the pain it can cause people. And I also understand that when you’re pregnant, you’re so excited and holidays are exciting days to announce. I get both sides of the coin. In the end, it just goes back to some struggles I have felt post-miscarriage around or being exposed to people who are pregnant when I am not and want to be.
Remaining Hopeful Versus Getting My Hopes Up
Immediately following a miscarriage, I struggle with the balance between remaining hopeful and getting my hopes up. Positivity is power and I truly try to hold onto hope for the future of my family. At the same time, I want to be realistic and protect myself by not getting my hopes up too much for fear of being let down by not getting pregnant again quickly or being crushed by miscarrying again. For me, after each miscarriage, it has been a daily struggle. I am an inherently happy person so I try my best to remain hopeful. Trusting in a greater plan for me and my relationship with God has helped me a lot with this.
Losing Rowan’s Sibling
After my second miscarriage, I felt a lot of sadness over loosing Rowan’s sibling. I had so many thoughts about Rowan being a big brother and feeling so sad knowing we lost his first younger sibling. I felt a huge amount of disbelief and all-consuming grief that his sibling wasn’t growing inside of me. It might sound corny, but I thought a lot about a line Meghan Markle wrote in her open letter to the New York Times after her miscarriage, “I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second.” During my second miscarriage, it felt really difficult to loose Rowan’s sibling and the idea I had for our family.
I feel a lot of joy now thinking about Rowan as a big brother once again as I am due now in April with a sibling for him. I pray this comes true for anyone who is in similar shoes as I was with losing a sibling to their firstborn.
The Grief Is So Vast
I don’t have much to elaborate on here. The grief is so vast that it can be hard to wade through and tap into. I have experienced a lot of healing from accepting and working through my grief though instead of pushing it down.
Miscarrying Before And After Having A Child
Having Rowan made my second miscarriage easier to handle and understand than my first miscarriage. When my first ever pregnancy ended in miscarriage, I was filled to the brim with doubt and fear about if it was just the beginning of a whole long fertility battle. After having a beautiful, healthy baby, I knew that I could carry a baby to term, which is a blessing I absolutely did not take for granted. I realize not every women can do this and I will never stop short of appreciating this gift and blessing in my life.
Knowing I can carry a healthy baby to term gave me a lot of calmness after my second miscarriage that I just didn’t have after my first. There were moments of doubt and panicked thoughts when I wondered “what if Rowan was the fluke, instead of these miscarriages, and the miscarriages are my norm?”. It’s only human nature. In these moments, I cuddled Rowan up in my arms, or learned on my family, or said a prayer.
Rowan also helped because he is busy and kept me busy all day. I didn’t have time to wallow and that kept me moving forward. Rowan helped even further by loving me. Holding Rowan in my arms while I miscarried his sibling, gave me a strength I didn’t know I had. His presence, his sweet soul, his pure heart, and his genuine perfect love gave me more than I ever could have asked for in the time when I needed support the most. He is mine and I am his.
Moving Forward After Miscarriage
I have in the past and will continue to move forward, find happiness and peace, and completely progress in my life in full happiness but my miscarriages will always be part of me because they really changed me as a person. I’ve talked to other women who are years and years passed their miscarriages about this when I’ve felt like I was crazy for not being able to let go. They have all echoed the same sentiments and feelings. You move forward but the lost babies are imprinted on your heart and soul because they were part of you and your family. This doesn’t mean I am sad, it just means I’m changed like anyone would be changed from a major like experience.
A girlfriend of mine who has also experienced miscarriage sent me an except (below in italics) from a website for Jewish women that a friend had sent her. It is written from one miscarriage survivor to another. Neither my friend or I are Jewish but the words touched me in such a way that I thought I would share…
“From a spiritual point of view, I learned the most beautiful teaching from my rabbi, Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh. He told me that every soul that comes into this world comes here with a very specific mission. When that mission is completed, the soul can leave. The holiest of souls need so little time here in this world that some never even make it outside the womb, others only need their heart to beat once, others not even that. We cannot understand God’s ways, but when we believe that everything happens for a reason and that nothing is random, hopefully that will help the grieving process. Clearly, we want healthy children and easy pregnancies. But for whatever reason, certain souls do not need to come into this world, and both you and I, for whatever reason, carried such souls.”
This resonated with me so much because I know in my heart that my four babies have come to me for a reason. I feel that I have experienced my miscarriages to be this way – not random. As the excerpt says, it has helped me with the grieving process. I also know that if I hadn’t miscarried my first pregnancy, then I wouldn’t have Rowan and Rowan is SO my baby. I can’t imagine a world without him in it. For some reason, I had to miscarry to get him. I know all of this to be true and I tried to keep it at the center of my thoughts after my second miscarriage.
I just knew and believed I would get pregnant for a fourth time and meet a baby of mine that I wouldn’t have met if I hadn’t miscarried my third pregnancy. Even while knowing this, it was very difficult to see through the woods at times and to imagine getting to the other end.
For me, my miscarriages have been truly tragic losses that have derailed my plans (you know the old proverb, “We plan, God laughs”?), filled me with grief, left me feeling lost and alone, and been physically traumatizing. But I also think my miscarriages have helped me grow as a person, have given me tools to cope and heal in other areas of my life, have deepened my relationship with Edwin, have helped me grow closer to God, and have led me to appreciate how much has to go right to have a healthy baby. My miscarriages are part of my story and I have chosen to learn and grow from them.
If you have made it to the end of this post, then wow, you must have been up for reading!
It was so long because I have felt so many feelings about miscarriages. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I wrote this for me to help me heal. I’m now putting it out there into the universe in case there is even just one person who finds this post helpful and makes them feel less alone. I have an unending amount of admiration for women who have experienced struggles with getting pregnant, with staying pregnant, with miscarriages, with fertility/infertility, with IUI, with IVF, with surrogates, with childbirth, with stillborns, and so on.
I can relate to those of you who have miscarriage as part of your story but would never pretend to relate to a women who has had other fertility/pregnancy/birth struggles. Every pregnancy is unique and every fertility or infertility story is unique but we can support one another no matter what. I have found that sharing my story is a way I can support women. I am here for you with a smile and a big hug from the other end of this blog post for any woman who needs it. If you feel compelled to reach out, then please do! I love to hear from you guys! If you want, I will put you in my prayers as well. Thank you for reading and for the outpouring of support and happiness for our news yesterday! xx Jillian