Everything that could have been…

Posted by on August 25, 2006

PLEASE NOTE: If you’re pregnant, you should probably skip this post.

I read something today that brought back a sad memory. In the abstract, it doesn’t really hurt anymore and that is where I keep it. It is the place where I keep all painful memories; that vague place where thoughts and feelings have been forcibly separated. I believe it’s what they call a ‘coping mechanism’.

I can talk about my miscarriage rather clinically and dispassionately now, as if it happened to someone else but sometimes, something — a word, a phrase, a similar story will crack open that door and the memories start furtively darting out, refusing to comply and go back where they belong.

For the second time in two days I have been reminded of the baby that is no more. The one I wanted so badly. My husband was less enthusiastic about the prospect of being a father. He admitted that he was scared but had conceded at my insistence.

We were at a wedding when I started cramping and spotting. I had noticed, in the days previous that I had been feeling less…pregnant. But I was 11 weeks and nearing that first trimester finish line. I assumed that was the reason for my feeling better.

Later that night my doctor met my husband and I at the hospital as my cramps were getting stronger. The doctor couldn’t find a heartbeat. I was told to come to the office the next morning for an ultrasound as there was no technician available.

I went alone, hoping against hope that the doctor was simply mistaken and the baby was fine.

There was still no heartbeat. The fetus only measured 8 weeks. Inside me was our tiny baby and it was no longer alive. I wanted to yell and scream and curse God but I didn’t. I just cried quietly. Nobody comforted me; just a few pats on the back from the nurses and a date for an outpatient D&C the following Friday.

In the days that followed, I cried and mourned and sometimes denied that this was happening. Why hadn’t anyone told me that as many as 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage? Why didn’t anyone tell me not to become attached?

Sometimes I swore I could feel my baby move inside me, not wanting to accept that it had probably died weeks before. Not understanding how God could foist death upon me yet again and force me to carry it around inside me.


Was it me? Did I do something to make this happen?

Bad karma? Bad luck?


The night before my D&C, I started having contractions. One way or another, it would finally be out of me. But as painful as the contractions were, the baby was not delivered. It was like some cruel joke.

I finally accepted the inevitable when I was on the table in the OR, counting backwards; my sadness drifting away with my psyche on a cloud of general anesthesia. The baby would soon be gone; cut out with a sharp surgical instrument, destined to become medical waste. Everything that could have been would soon be gone. It about ripped my heart out.

My husband was racked with guilt because he hadn’t been more excited about the baby. I simply mourned her (she was a girl in my mind). I still think about her on rare occasions. I’ll do the math, figure out how old she would be now. I still have the EPT somewhere and for a brief moment, when I see it, I’m reminded of how happy I was when those two pink lines appeared.

I was told a thousand times by well-meaning friends and family… “Sometimes there is no reason. It just happens. You can try again.”

While their words seemed awkward and cold at the time, they were right and I did go on to have two more children, both healthy and perfect in every way.

It’s been almost 8 years and until now, I’ve never discussed my feelings about this at length. Nobody that knows you wants to hear about this kind of stuff. They just want you to move on and be normal. So to spare everyone else the discomfort of rubbing elbows with the unpleasantness, I’ve never allowed myself the luxury of talking or writing about it, which always felt vaguely disrespectful. It feels good to acknowledge, out loud (so to speak), that she existed.

And please don’t worry. I’m really okay. This has just been hovering around in the back of my brain, sort of quietly nagging at me to give it a voice, to give it credence. So I finally did.

And if you’ve made it this far, thanks for listening.


  • Kvetch says:

    Izzy, sometimes I think that the worst pains help us make way for our greatest joys. I don’t diminish your loss, but do imagine that perhaps you appreciate the children you’re raising a little teeny tiny itsy bit more than you would have otherwise. That is the gift given to you by the baby that wasn’t born. You learned a bit about love and loss well before you should have. It was a beautiful, honest and heart breaking post. Thanks for sharing it, no matter the reason.

  • stefanierj says:

    Crap, how am I supposed to follow that heartwrenching post OR kvetch’s totally perfect comment? All I can say is thanks for sharing that with us, and for telling it so beautifully.

  • Allysun says:

    Izzy, I’m so sorry.

  • I lost one too. I’ve never been through anything more heartbreaking. You can’t describe to anyone else what it is like to see a hearbeat – and then it is gone.

    I’m sorry.

  • Anne says:

    Oh I am so sorry. Miscarriage is so sad. You have shared her story, so now, everyone who reads this knows her too.

  • Y says:

    That was incredibly powerful and heartbreaking to read.

    I’m sorry you had to experience such pain.

  • Steph. says:

    This brought tears to my eyes. And, I think your stats are right. I have known SO MANY friends who have had miscarriages that I feel so lucky to have not had to experience that. This was beautifully written and I know a lot of women will be touched by it.

  • mamaholler says:

    I wish that I was able to just write a sigh. I am so completely saddened and touched by this. I know that the cold statistic is that one in every four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. People tend to just want you to move on, when in reality that loss is the loss of a child. You are very beautiful- it really penetrates your writing. I’m so sorry you had to suffer through this.

  • Suebob says:

    Between my second and third sister, my parents had a son that died shortly after birth. My mom has talked about the pain of that, especially of being on a maternity floor surrounded by babies, and then coming home and having everyone ask her about her new baby, not knowing…awful.

    Even though I was born long after that, I feel like I should say my family had 6 kids, not five, but then I would have to explain and make people feel bad. So I have the choice of either denying my brother’s existence or explaining the whole tragic event. It still seems strange to me, though I never met him.

  • Pattie says:

    I am so sorry. The pain of losing a child must be immeasurable.

  • ghandi rules says:

    Funny this post of yours, so similiar to one I wrote about a week ago. How strange for us to be thinking of our little dead ones around the same time..

  • Posts like this is why I love blogging. Where are you going to read about this – and be able to share your pain with someone else.

    Thank you for sharing this. It helps.

  • I can only imagine the pain and sadness you felt then and still feel now, reflecting on that time.

  • Erin says:

    Although I can’t begin to know what you went through, I can only say that I am sorry that you had to go through that. Its good to talk about it, maybe some day you will find some closure with it.

  • Amy says:

    Oh Izzy. I had two miscarriages before Isaac, so I know just what you’re speaking of–although both of mine were before 11 weeks. I’m sorry. I’m glad you shared this.

  • metro mama says:

    I’m so sorry. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

  • shpprgrl says:

    I’m sorry. I know it was hard to share.

  • Mary says:

    Having had a miscarriage I am always amazed at the feelings that I have in common with others who have had one and at how unique our experiences still are. My miscarriage was so early… I took a home pregnancy test one day, confirmed it the next at the doctor’s and started bleeding and cramping the third day. Of course my husband was out of town, that is what happens when you marry a travelin’ man. It was a blighted ovum so physically my experience was nothing compared to most. But I did suffer the emotional pangs that we all do when something like this happens. I had not thought about having a baby or when to get pregnant before the miscarriage, but after, oh, I was on a quest. My husband wanted to wait and felt strongly enough about it that I felt I needed to respect it. A little over two years later, though, our son was born and for me, it erased the pain of the miscarriage. I can remember that it was painful but it is like the pain of childbirth for me, remembered but not felt. Every once in awhile, something like this reminds me and I think about the fact that I could have an almost 16 year old. But then I wonder, would I have my 14 year old? Or my six year old? What would my life be like? I think about it for awhile and then drift back to my “real” life and move on, content with my two wild things and the thoughts of what might have been put back on the shelf with other memories of what is real and the other “what might have beens” of my life.

  • Oh, Izzy.

    I’m so glad that you gave this a voice. I really am. There’s something I need to give voice to, and this has given me a little push. Soon.

    Thank you.

  • Oh, The Joys says:

    “everyone wants you to be normal” – I think your post and expression of grief about the experience is the best kind of normal. It’s real and honest. Thanks for posting it.

  • TB says:

    This has happened to so many people it seems. Knowing that doesn’t make you feel any better or less alone though. I lost mine before I was even sure I was pregnant. It just didn’t take. But it still hurt because we wanted it so much. Weren’t you just terrified when you got pregnant with TQ? How long did it take until you were able to breathe easier?

  • Kristin says:

    I am sorry, Izzy. Miscarriage is not a small thing, in any way. I’m glad you wrote about it, and hope maybe it helped you a little, too.

  • Chantal says:

    When I talk about my miscarriages I am always shocked at how many women have suffered. It seems that so many barriers have been broken, but it’s still something a lot of women hold close to their hearts. I had two that were very early and one at 13 weeks. Quite often I find myself remembering that baby 6 years ago.

    That you shared this now will be extremely comforting to women for whom it may still be fresh. Your courage is amazing.

  • Chase says:

    You’re amazing. Great post, Izzy. I have a friend who went through a similar thing…I am sending her your way. *kisses and hugs*

  • QueenieCarly says:

    Your post gave me goosebumps. I think you that you were very brave to post such a heartfelt and personal experience. I’ve been fortunate enough to have never experienced a miscarriage, but I thank you for the insight you’ve given me into how to support those who are close to me and have.

  • Mrs. Chicky says:

    Izzy, thank you for posting this. I have a friend who went through a miscarriage that was very, very similar to your’s and I never knew how to talk to her about it. You’ve given me some insight into what she was feeling. I hope it’s not too late to let her know if she ever wants to talk about it with me, she can. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts on this.

  • Oh, Izzy. I can’t imagine the pain you must have felt losing your first baby when you were that far into the first trimester. That is every mother’s worst nightmare.

    I think that writing about her is a wonderful tribute to her life. Thank you for sharing this.

  • chelle says:

    I was going to skip this, being pregnant, however I read through and totally relate. Hugs it is not as easy to live though a miscarriage as some like to make us believe.

  • Mom101 says:

    I can’t imagine having been in that situation, let alone having to be alone when it all came to a head. You’re so strong, it’s amazing. And if people “you know” don’t want to know this side of you, then forgive me, but you’re knowing the wrong people. Anyone can be there for the good stuff, the pasties, the happy Izzy. It’s a real friend who’s there when you’re not at your best.

  • Dawn says:

    I think my miscarriage was 8 years ago too. It was November 2, 1998. Thanks for sharing this. I don’t think I will ever truly be “over” it but I have dealt with it and can accept what happened now.

  • Crystal says:

    I am sure there is some comfort for you to write your feelings about your experience in your blog-you believe your blogging friends will understand. You always do a great job of writing your true feelings in your blog. It is hard to image – and it was – going on and trying again. These experiences will never leave you, only make you stronger and help your realize the family you have now is truly a blessing.

  • Krisco says:

    Acknowledging her here lets us know her too. I am so sorry for your loss. Time may let you live with it better now, but I am still sorry for it, then and now.

  • I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Every tragedy that happens in our life teaches us a lesson, but sometimes all you need to do to help someone out during a rough time is listen….friend or family who are well intentioned often say too much when we are trying to cope.

    I know that I used my blog this week to get out some emotions, and to just have people support and not offer advice was really wonderful.

  • mrs mogul says:

    Yes unfortunately it is very common, but now you have two healthy children. This is why I was a wreck til 12 weeks.

  • Fresh Mommy says:

    I had a very similar experience. I had a D&C two days before my brother’s wedding. I was devastated, but tried hard to put on a happy face. It was such a sad time in my life. I knew people miscarried all the time, but I didn’t really know anyone personally who had miscarried (although I’m sure I did know people, they just weren’t talking about it) and it made me feel so alone.

    Now I have my daughter whom I adore and sometimes I think to myself that maybe some things just are “meant to be”.

  • Amie says:

    There’s never really the right words to say to these kinds of things, are there? You obviously made it through with flying colors and, if nothing else, gained strength from it. I guess I just want to say thanks for being brave enough to share that with us.

  • lildb says:

    oh, doll. not worried, just sad. sad that life can be so cruel, sometimes.


  • Thank you for sharing that. The several year process that was my husband’s and my effort to get pregnant convinced me that the more people talk about these things, the less others will feel alone when they face these very normal, very difficult experiences.

  • mamatulip says:

    Izzy…somehow thanking you for sharing this doesn’t seem right to me, but I’m glad you wrote of this. It hits very close to home for me. Very close.

  • Lisa B says:

    That same thing happened to me. I was pregnant and one day after a nap I felt better. And I assumed it was that I was nearing the end of the trimester. I didn’t even know I miscarried until I went in for the ultrasound. The baby had died a few days earlier. My thyroid meds were so screwed up at the time. I think my body wasn’t getting enough of the meds and at that point couldn’t sustain the pregnancy. It also didn’t have the energy to cramp to let me know… I had a D&C too.

    At the time my hubby admitted that since the baby didn’t seem real to him, he didn’t feel the loss as much as I did. The doctor assured us we’d have plenty more babies. I wondered and cried.

    That’s been five years ago. My son was born on the one year anniversary of the D&C. How wierd.

    I always thought it would have been a girl too.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • wordgirl says:

    This happened to me, too. Even though it was 18 years ago, the memory is fresh. I wonder who that baby was, but I also wonder if he/she would have changed the way our other children arrived. If so…I don’t want to know.

  • Lady M says:

    I’m so sorry. Thanks for sharing this story and all the others.

  • roo says:

    I’m sorry, Izzy.

    I’m glad you found your voice.

  • Kim says:

    My third pregnancy ended in miscarriage at 10 weeks. I had two beautiful boys and still the sense of loss was overwhelming.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Oh sweetie. Thank you for sharing this story. I’m so sorry it happened.

  • julia says:

    I’m sorry you went thru that. I lost a baby when I was 13 weeks along and the loss really is devastating. Your comment that everyone just wants you to be normal is so true. People don’t know how to react to a miscarriage and I think that only serves to isolate women who’ve had them and make them feel very self-concious about discussisng their loss. Thank you for putting this out there.

  • Binkytown says:

    I lost a baby at 10 weeks and it’s so important to acknowledge this when it’s weighing on your mind or your subconcious. Thank you for sharing this, I don’t think anyone understands this better than moms who have been through something similar. I think you are brave to do the calculations in your head of how old she would be. I have to shut my brain off when it tries to do that. It’s just too hard still.

  • Jules says:

    I am so sorry to hear your story but glad it is a distant memory for you. I have had 2 Mc’s. firts one never got past 6 wks (blighted ovum as they called it)…2nd one I thought I was 12 wks but it (it was a she) had died at 8 wks. I thought I was fine but at 12 wks I started bleeding…they found no heartbeat again…even though we had heard it 2 wks earlier. T was scheduled for a D&C 2 days later but one day laterin the middle of the night “OP” and lots of bleeding and CONTRACTIONS!!!! I went to the hospital and had an emergency D&C> It was AWFUL…so I know where you are coming from. I finally (about 2 yrs from my first MC) had a daughter prematurely at 29.5 wks…she was so small and was in the NICU for 8.5 wks but she is 2 yrs old and is great now. Keep the faith…I am glad you are hanging in there. HUGGS

  • Kristen says:

    This made me sad – not only for your loss, but because I do think so many women who go through miscarriages get brushed aside by a society that simply doesn’t know how to deal with the emotion and pain of this experience. I’m glad you wrote about it.

  • At the end of reading this I was thinking to myself that Miscarriages Suck Ass. Then I saw the category you posted this under and I chuckled. I’m glad you shared this. I agree that no one wants to talk about miscarriages. After mine everyone around me just kind of looked the other way trying not to talk to me.

  • Thanks for sharing this. I’ve had two miscarriages as well, and you’re right, it’s a process to mourn someone you never got a chance to know. To morn love’s potential.

  • Devra says:

    It’s called “expecting”, but uexpected things can happen too. And when they do, it really is important to talk about it.

  • I’m glad you did give it a voice and did acknowledge this experience. It should register, it happened to you. I was glad (you know, not glad that it happened but…glad to share in it. I’m sorry for what you went through) you wrote what you felt. That’s a kind of therapy, so good for you.

  • tracey says:

    I experienced something similar. So many women do. And I too can talk about it very clinically. None the less, there was a baby growing within us. OUR baby that we never got the pleasure of holding. And that is and always will be heartbreaking.

    This was a really touching post Izzy. I feel like it was an ode to all of those babies that drifted quietly out of our lives. Thank you for it.

  • Dawn says:

    saying it out loud makes it real. Makes it public. And we can share your grief.

    Love you Izzy

  • mamadaisy says:

    i’m a little late, but thank you for sharing such a beautiful and thoughtful post. i am always surprised by how many other women have gone through this and still grieve for the babies they didn’t have.

  • Arabella says:

    I’m so, so sorry that you had to go through this.

    Always one to peek between my fingers during scary movie scenes, I’m pregnant, but read anyway. I found your post to be incredibly honest.

    I’m 9 weeks today, and the idea of “something happening” looms large in my mind every day. It’s actually quite comforting to read your story, and also Mama Tulip’s, because you are women who have gone on to have healthy, happy children, yet haven’t forgotten about your previous pregnancies and what might have been. I think women often aren’t really encouraged to talk about their miscarriage feelings, and society tends to assume that, once you have other children, you forget all about the previous miscarriage. It’s helpful for other women to know that you can get through these times, and go on to have the families you dream about, without ever having to forget the other pregnancy.

  • kittenpie says:

    Oh, honey, I am so sorry. It’s amazing how many women do have to go through this, and I can only imagine how terribly painful it must be, how painful and frightening and unjust it must feel. I think the best thing I read about miscarriages is that women should e allowed to mourn it properly, as if they’ve lost a child, because in many ways they have.

    Hugs to you, honey.

  • Nancy says:

    Izzy, I know that time does help the wounds seem less fresh, but I am still sorry for your loss. I know it’s something that you will always keep with you. I am grateful that you felt you could share your story with your blogging friends — I bet it will help others who may have suffered from the same experience to know they are not alone.

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