By Jerome Scelza
The fertility journey for my wife Sabrina and I has not been an easy one. Our #TTC challenges started three years ago as we began trying for our second child. Also known as “secondary infertility”, we regret not starting sooner, like many of us do. Yet the hardest part of this experience has come from an ancillary TTC issue - a painful miscarriage.
This was ultimately one of the most difficult moments of our life.
When my co-founder and OOVA’s CEO Amy first asked me to share my story, I was hesitant. I’m not generally open to sharing things about my personal life. But knowing how important it is to talk about these things, I started thinking a bit about what it was like for us and I realized I could offer some guidance that I wish others had extended to me during that time.
We felt all the the obvious affects a miscarriage a couple can have, as described here in What To Expect; “a range of emotions: sad and disheartened over the loss, angry and resentful it happened to you, possibly withdrawn from friends and family (especially those who are pregnant or just had babies). You may have trouble eating and sleeping at first and accepting the finality of it all.” Even as we experienced all of that, for me, the most frustrating part about it had very little to do with what was actually happening. It was the idea that we were not prepared in the slightest. Up until this point, we thought things were going quite well. We experienced the excitement from the first sonography pregnancy confirmation. Deep in our world of dealing with infertility, this was a happy moment. One that was lost very quickly and we felt the whole thing pulled out from under us. For anyone trying to conceive over a period of time, add an unexpected miscarriage and it certainly feels like you’re on a roller coaster.
After the dust settled the most debilitating feeling wasn’t “Why did this happen?” It sucked for sure, but we know that these things can happen. Instead it was “Why didn’t we realize this could happen?”
Honestly, the first thoughts my wife and I finally shared were just another wave of seclusion and helplessness. These feelings were no different than when we realized having our second child was not going to be easy. And then we learned we were not alone.
As we gained the courage to talk about our miscarriage, it was was upsetting on many levels to learn that many of our friends and family had gone through the same thing. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, about 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. But the actual number is likely higher because many miscarriages occur so early in pregnancy that a woman doesn't realize she's pregnant.
Our friends never shared with us because they felt too beaten. We understood! It’s definitely easier to box it up and stow it away. But we wished they had shared for two reasons: One, so we could have been there for them and two so we could have done a better job preparing for it for ourselves. In the end, the most important learning for us was that there were people who came out the other side of this. That gave us hope.
We need to start sharing our stories of miscarriage more.
When I talk about miscarriage now, I try to peel back all of the layers that might mask the truth of what is needed to be shared. In our TTC journeys of intense focus and excitement around cycle tracking, temperature tracking, hormone monitoring, we don’t seem to talk much about it because a miscarriage is far from our worries.
Here’s what I like to share with those who ask me about my miscarriage in hopes that others can be more prepared should they ever have to experience this:
- Have a conversation about it today with either your significant other or a trusted loved one and ask if they know anyone who went through it.
- Know your risks. Do some reading around age and hereditary associated risk of miscarriage and if necessary, always consult a doctor.
- Identify how you would handle a miscarriage and prepare a support system. Have people in mind that you would be comfortable talking about it with, possibly someone who understands and has gone through it.