In early September, Scott and I found out we were pregnant for the second time.

More than a month went by as we relished the welcome surprise—brainstorming names, making bets on the gender, and dreaming of our future as a family of four.

Unlike with our first pregnancy, though, we told very few people—which turned out to be a blessing (or so I thought) when, only a couple months in, those dreams were dashed.

On the morning of October 15th, the three of us anxiously crammed into a dark hospital room to see our new baby for the first time via sonogram. At 9 weeks pregnant, I had anticipated this appointment for what felt like ages and was so ready to finally get a glimpse of the little one. But as the ultrasound technician began the familiar ice skating routine over my bare belly, my whole body stiffened; by the look on the screen, I knew instantly that something wasn't right.

There was an empty hole, plain as day, where my baby should have been. 

"Um, let's take a look at your ovaries," the tech mumbled timidly when it became clear there was nothing else to see. Despite her careful attempt to remain optimistic for my sake, tears filled my eyes before she even had the chance to confirm my fear.

A miscarriage. Obviously. But how? When?

I was still feeling a constant low-grade level of nausea, quickly losing my taste for my favorite foods, and more tired than I ever had been (most days requiring two or more naps to function). I felt pregnant. If I was miscarrying, why couldn't I tell? I wasn't bleeding. I wasn't cramping. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, compared to my last pregnancy. So what had happened?

And then an unsettling thought occurred to me: Was there ever a baby to begin with?

Once we were alone, Scott held both me and our son in his arms as I bewilderedly voiced the thoughts swirling around my head. He was just as confused as I was, maybe even more so, but the news of our loss hadn't hit him quite yet. Understandably so; to him, this pregnancy was an idea, albeit a happy one, but one that he was also just getting used to. He might have seen the positive test back in September, but he couldn't experience the signs manifesting in my changing body. 

For me, it was different. This pregnancy was my reality for almost six weeks. How was I to accept the fact that it was over before it even began?

After 20 minutes or so of sitting in near-silence, our midwife entered the room with a sober look in her eyes that matched our own. I was experiencing an "anembryonic pregnancy," she said sympathetically. A fertilized egg had implanted in my uterus, but—for whatever reason—never developed into an embryo. 

Despite the sudden halt, my body was continuing to hold onto the gestational sac, which had stopped growing two weeks before. This was why, my midwife explained, I hadn't started bleeding and was still showing all signs of pregnancy—including hormonal changes (lucky me!). I'd later read on the internet that mine was a "missed miscarriage," another term I hadn't heard before.

Even though I'd known a good handful of women over the years who'd suffered pregnancy loss, I was shocked to learn that one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. And more than half of first trimester cases are reported to be the result of a chromosomal abnormality, meaning there's nothing you can do to stop it. A fact that—if you've been in this boat, I'm sure you can relate—is both frustrating and a huge relief at the same time. While I hated not being in control of the situation, it was nice to hear that I was not the cause of this failed pregnancy. Nor were my long, arduous hikes during our trip to Vail or my hot showers or the month's worth of folate that I didn't take in the early weeks. I could breathe easy.

But it wasn't over. As much as I wanted to leave the doctor's office that morning, have a good cry, and simply move on with my life, I'd have to ride this out until the bitter end—whatever that meant. At least I had options: I could take a pill and miscarry at home, or I could have surgery to remove the tissue manually (known as a D&C).

Unfortunately, losing a pregnancy doesn't work like magic. There's no "poof!" and the evidence of creating/housing a whole other human being evaporates into thin air. Whether you're four weeks pregnant or 24 weeks pregnant when the miscarriage occurs, there's always a sort of shedding that has to take place before the body recognizes it's no longer pregnant. I was aware of this to some degree, but until that morning, I wasn't really sure of what the process entailed.

I didn't know because I'd never asked. The relatives, close friends, and coworkers who'd gone through this exact thing before me didn't talk much about this part—why would they?—and I hadn't wanted to pry. It was too touchy a subject, too personal. You don't ask anyone the details of their miscarriage.

But then it happened to me, and I wished I had. Not in a nosy or insensitive kind of way, but rather in a sincere effort to listen and learn more about one of the more personal yet common struggles that we face as women. I wish I had asked as a way to be more supportive to those I loved, and to be a better friend.

Maybe, then, when my time came, I wouldn't have felt so alone and uncertain, like I was wading through completely foreign territory. Maybe, too, I wouldn't have had to experience the shame of admitting to those closest to me that I had no idea what to expect, physically or emotionally.

I had no idea, for instance, that I'd have to choose my method of miscarriage. I had no idea how much it would hurt, or that the bleeding would last for days. I had no idea how all-consuming and sporadic the grief would show up in that first week—that the tears would start at the most random moments and stop just as quickly—or how, eventually, when the sadness became an afterthought, guilt for not feeling sadder would take its place.

If miscarriages are that common, why was all of this so alien to me?

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As a society, we don't talk about miscarriage enough. And I get it. Heck, I'm part of the problem: Since we didn't tell many folks that we were pregnant (something, like I said before, we considered a blessing), we weren't obligated to tell many people about our loss. And so we didn't. Why bother when it will only put others in an uncomfortable position?

Those who know me know that I don't often shy away from sensitive discussions (um, hi, over-sharer here!), but weaving this sort of thing into conversation is delicate. You don't want to invite pity or seem absorbed in your own problems or make someone else feel awkward. And trying to find the right balance of emotion with which to break the news to a loved one is a mental workout in and of itself: It's okay to be sad, but it's weird to cry. Best to stay composed, but don't sound too cheerful or optimistic. You just lost a baby, for goodness sake. (This was my inner monologue on several different occasions.)

It makes sense, though, as with every other "taboo" topic, that it's the not talking about it that keeps the subject of miscarriage an impossibly hard one to broach, even with your best friends. But what if it didn't have to be? Discussing any sort of loss is never anyone's idea of a party, but I'm convinced that the conversation can and should be easier.

Which is why I'm opening up about my miscarriage—and, finally, taking the time to ask:

Have you suffered a pregnancy loss? What was your experience? How did you find out? Were you shocked? Confused? Heartbroken? Relieved? Did it happen spontaneously or require medical intervention? What are you feelings now, from a distance?

I truly want to hear your stories. Whether you leave a comment or reach out to me personally, I will respond in kind. Conversation is everything, and I hope you'll feel free to join this one.

The photo that was to be our pregnancy announcement, taken October 10th by Lindsay Rapier Photography. 

SIDEBAR: Just in case this isn't clear, I firmly believe that every woman has the right to share or not share the details of her private life. There is no shame in keeping an experience like this to yourself, and in fact, silent reflection may be what's more empowering for you. Everyone's different! What's beneficial for me (in this case, talking about my miscarriage) might not be for someone else. That's up to each person to figure out. But I do wonder how many women out there have a desire to talk about their loss but are keeping quiet because they believe some abstract social rulebook says they should. It's for them that I'm writing this blog post, to say: Don't be afraid to speak up if it helps you.

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If you're wondering about my so-called "bitter end," here it is: The hardest part of my miscarriage was the weeklong wait after my appointment. I wanted to give my body the chance to figure it out by itself, but I honestly hated this time in limbo. I was pregnant, but I wasn't—and that was just too much to wrap my head around. But surgery scares me, so I went with the choice that both me and my doc agreed was probably best: the pill.

So, on a lazy Friday afternoon while Jude was with his grandparents and Scott could be by my side, I took Misoprostol (Cytotec), which causes uterine contractions in order to slough off fetal tissue and the uterine lining. 

Emotionally, I think I would have had a more challenging time committing to this option if I had seen an actual embryo forming on the ultrasound screen that day. A miscarriage is a miscarriage, each lonely and awful in its own right—but I'll admit I was fortunate in a sense not to have to ever say goodbye to my baby. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to see your child, or hear their heartbeat, before having to let them go.

Physically speaking, I think I was more worried than I needed to be. I stayed in bed most of the day, binging the 6th season of Vampire Diaries and eating a few bites of the pumpkin pie that Scotty was sweet enough to pick up for me. For two hours after the Motrin had worn off, I experienced pretty severe cramps and heavy bleeding—all a natural part of the process—but by nightfall, I was walking around and feeling alright again.

Several weeks have passed, and since then, it's basically been the equivalent of a period, with more pain on days that I'm especially active. (Which is every day, let's be real, I have a one-year-old son to run after!) But my midwife has assured me this is all to be expected, and that everything is looking like it should. Good news, I suppose.

While I definitely could've lived without this particular experience, the comfort of knowing I am surrounded by supportive women who've gone through it overshadows the heartbreak I currently feel. Not to mention, I am so incredibly lucky to have Jude; something tells me that had this been my first pregnancy, the grief would still weigh heavy on my shoulders. 

If there's any lingering sadness, though, it creeps up on me in the odd moment, every now and again, after I catch myself thinking something along the lines of "when the baby comes in May..." 

But soon, those thoughts will fade from my subconscious, and I'll heal, and life will return to normal. (As normal as life can be post-2020, anyway.) But years from now, when my kids are grown and fighting their own personal battles, I think I'll be glad I didn't feel the need to keep this personal battle a secret. I think I'll even share the story of miscarriage with my daughter—assuming I'm fortunate enough to have one—if for no other reason than to remind her that, whatever she's up against, she's not alone. And neither was I.