This is a guest post from Ava user Jill Miller. Jill’s rainbow baby was born in April 2018.
I have to confess: I always harbored a secret fear that I would either not be able to get pregnant or miscarry.
So when my husband and I started trying to have a baby, and we were unsuccessful, I was so afraid that fear was coming true. Nothing was going according to the “plan,” and as a Type A personality, I do love me a plan.
As we continued to try and try and try, without success, I often comforted my not-pregnant self with the thought that though we couldn’t get pregnant, at least we hadn’t suffered a miscarriage as well.
When I (finally!) got a positive pregnancy test in April of 2016, we were ecstatic. After over two years of trying, we were pregnant. I kept thinking to myself in disbelief, I’m pregnant!
Then, one Thursday morning, I began to spot. Spotting turned to bleeding. Bleeding was shortly accompanied by horrific cramping, and before we knew it, we were sitting in a doctor’s office, being told we had miscarried our so-hoped-for pregnancy.
Suddenly, both of my secret fears had been realized: not only had we struggled to get pregnant, but now we had lost that precious baby in a miscarriage. To say I was crushed doesn’t really express how low the experience took me.
It took over a year of grief and struggle and difficulty to finally get to a place where I could make sense of my miscarriage. And now, almost two years after losing that baby, I have come to realize that I can’t imagine my life without my miscarriage. I wouldn’t want to experience it again, but I wouldn’t wish it away either.
Let me tell you why.
Having a miscarriage changed me, fundamentally, and I like who I am better on this side of it. You see, anxiety has always plagued me. It followed me around, often robbing me of my joy and spontaneity and wonder when things didn’t go according to my plan. Even as I think back to that secret fear of infertility or miscarriage, I am amazed at the way that fear impacted my life. I remember, shortly after the miscarriage, feeling so afraid that if we were to get pregnant again, all I would do was worry and be afraid for nine months.
But losing my first baby to a miscarriage forced me to face myself and decide how I was going to go forward. I could let the loss rob me of my joy and happiness and satisfaction, dooming me to wallow in my anxiety; or I could try to figure out how to make peace with it and be less afraid. It wasn’t a choice I wanted to make or work I wanted to do, but I also knew I didn’t want to be as miserable as I was any longer.
Let me say this: that process was hard. By far, the most difficult challenge I have ever faced was suffering that miscarriage and the misery and the recovery that followed.
Now on this side of it, I can see that the miscarriage strengthened my faith, my character, and even my relationship with my husband. I learned to face my anxiety head-on and develop more coping skills so that it no longer robbed me of my joy or spontaneity. It taught me about letting go of my notions of control and allowing my life to be filled with things other than what I had planned for.
Recovering from that miscarriage even resulted in finding peace in the idea of a life without children. Even though it wasn’t the life that my husband and I had imagined for ourselves, we began to think and dream about what we might do if children weren’t a possibility.
What freedom and joy and spontaneity I found in that place, and I found it because I suffered the loss I had so greatly feared.
And, of course, the moment that my husband and I got comfortable with our new life “plan,” we were thrown a curveball in August of 2017: two little purple lines on a cheap Walmart pregnancy test. Suddenly, our newly laid plans for a carefree, childless existence were no more. Stunned, we had the news we thought we’d never get: Baby Miller would arrive in April.
I was shocked. This, like my miscarriage, was not part of the plan. And I think the pre-miscarriage me would have struggled against this news, given that it didn’t align with what I expected. But the post-miscarriage me was ready to face the bend in the road. And the post-miscarriage me found that pregnancy wasn’t as terrifying as I had once feared it might be.
And those lessons, though hard won through a miscarriage, are absolutely worth it.