By Melissa Wallace
The first time I got pregnant I was 38 years old. With what was once called a “geriatric pregnancy” (thank goodness they’ve moved away from that terminology), I sort of expected I would miscarry. And I did, twice. The first time I had made it to 11.5 weeks and two days earlier started sharing the news with close family and friends.
As terrible as it was, and I believe I am still processing it seven years later, I always assumed it could happen and therefore I would keep trying until it “worked”. I did have a second miscarriage, but it was very early on this time and I was aware of the statistics around miscarriages: 1% of women experience 3 or more, and only 5% experience more than one.
Even though I felt ready for this occurrence, there were definitely things I learned along the way. I can only imagine it would be helpful to share and remind those embarking on a pregnancy journey.
1. Yes, it could happen to any of us.
Of all pregnancies, 15-20% end in miscarriage and 75% of those are within 12 weeks. 12 weeks can feel like a long time especially when experiencing the lovely symptoms of the first trimester, but it is also only 12 weeks. For me, it was still hard to believe I was in the clear after then. But I shifted my fear to more positive activity - like taking extra care in how I treated my body - and created a healthier space for the growth of my baby. Whatever you do, find the positive side of things as it is better for you and the baby. Want more stats? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322634.php#pregnancy-loss-rates-by-week
NOTE: Stress does not cause miscarriage. There are no studies linking the two, but stress does affect your physical well being and your own happiness!
2. If you miscarry, you may want to wait before trying again.
What I didn’t know was that after a miscarriage, you should wait before trying again. For me, I was told three months/cycles. I didn’t think getting pregnant would be a long-term process. I mean, we’re taught in school how easy it is to get pregnant! But there’s lots of different information out there about this waiting period, so talk to your doctor about what is right for you. https://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk/information/worried-about-pregnancy-loss/trying-again/
3. Identify your support team
Let’s face it - it is SO hard to hide the fact that you are pregnant. From how you feel to skipping your usual cocktail at the girls weekly happy hour. For me, I decided to share with my close friends early on after my second pregnancy. This allowed me the opportunity to talk to them when I did miscarry at 5 weeks. If you have friends, particularly those who have had children, that you can confide in - do it.
4. If you miscarry, give yourself a moment to grieve.
I did not do this with my first miscarriage. While I spent many days crying, I was not identifying what had happened. Mix in all the things I was dealing with daily life, and six months later I was seeing a therapist to ween me off of Xanax. As I healed physically, I spent time meditating each day to understand what I was going through and facing it straight on. I learned that I didn’t have to rush to think about the next pregnancy. I took the time I needed.
Two years later, at 40 years old, we conceived and carried to term our first baby. And by the time he was two, we had delivered our second. In the end, if I were to go back in time I would tell myself not to think “am I going to miscarry” every day of my pregnancy. Because for the most part, it was not in my control. And while every TTC woman should know the facts, it’s most important to be positive, even when it feels impossible.