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What My Early Miscarriage Taught Me

Rachel O'Reilly

cherishmisscarriage

By Courtney Ward

For a long time, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to share the story of my miscarriage with anyone, let alone the unknown public of the internet. Writing about staycations and rainy day activities is fun, but is that really why people visit our site? As hard as it is to get into the nitty gritty stuff, when I put on my Cherish hat, I try to be authentic and remember why I am doing this. Suffice it to say, this isn’t easy for me to talk about, but ultimately, I want to help people feel connected and supported, and to make the transition into parenthood easier.

It started when I was a few days late, and I took an at home pregnancy test. I was pretty sure it would be negative, but three long minutes later, there was a plus sign. A very faint positive, but according to Google, that’s pregnant.

“Oh, shit!”

A wave of emotions came over me, slight fear and excitement chasing each other to see who was going to win. Excitement did, and I calculated that I was almost five weeks along. I even looked up the potential due date.

A couple of days later, I had some unsettling cramping, and then started bleeding. I panicked. I called the doctor and she sent me to the lab for blood tests spaced two days apart. She said she would call me in a week to determine if my HCG levels were doubling (as they should early in pregnancy). She told me to go about with my days as usual, “and not to worry.”  

Easier said than done. There was a holiday thrown in there, and I ended up waiting ten days to hear confirmation of what I had already assumed: I had an early miscarriage. It feels weird to even write those words, because I only knew about the pregnancy for a few days, but that’s what it is. And a few days is plenty long enough to get excited about pregnancy, about possibility. I took it harder than I would have expected, especially since it was so early. I was bummed and exhausted from a roller coaster of emotions. I kept thinking back to that first pregnancy test I took at home, and how it was kind of a curse -- because if I hadn’t taken it, would I ever have even known?

For a few days, I started questioning myself, like something I’d done had caused it. Another part of me was embarrassed. I thought I could find comfort in researching online and for once, I actually did. Statistically, this is really common. Around 10-20% of known pregnancies end in a miscarriage and, depending on who you talk to, it can go up to even 50% depending on the age group. Think about that. If you yourself haven’t experienced it, you probably know at least one woman who has had at least one miscarriage.

But if it happens so often, why doesn’t anyone talk about it? While it’s not necessarily a casual dinner topic, I think the taboo results more from that mix of feelings I initially felt. Embarrassment or shame, all wrapped up with feelings of loss. While I can only imagine those feelings are magnified the later in pregnancy a miscarriage happens, there is also the feeling in early-term miscarriages that you shouldn’t be sad about it -- it was so early or I only knew about it for a few days, after all. And while any and all feelings you experience in the wake of a miscarriage are okay, and normal, the fact that people don’t feel comfortable talking about them only reinforces that cycle.

The silver lining, for me, is that I was able to get pregnant. And while many women who have miscarriages will also go on to have healthy pregnancies, not all women will -- which is no reflection of their value as a woman or capabilities as a mother. I have heard of so many worse stories than mine, and my heart truly goes out to people who struggle, even a little, with fertility. What I’ve come to recognize is that there are many ways to build a family. It isn’t always picture perfect, and it’s definitely never easy. My hope is that if we more openly share our stories with each other (even-- no, especially the hard ones), we can find solace in the connection with other women and in knowing that we’re never truly alone in our experiences.

Do you have an experience you’d like to share in the comments? We’re all ears.