Like Meghan Markle, I Was Already a Mom When I Had a Miscarriage But That Didn’t Make It Hurt Any Less
"At least you have one healthy child," doesn't make a loss—or secondary infertility—any easier. I know from experience, so trust me when I say that now's the time to check in with your friends and not just assume they're OK.
Meghan Markle just revealed that she suffered a miscarriage back in July in an opinion piece for the New York Times. I'm heartbroken to hear about her "almost unbearable grief," but I was most struck by this truth: "I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second."
Why? Because the same thing happened to me.
It wasn't my first miscarriage so I knew pretty quickly what was happening. I was at the park with my 1-year-old just days after finding out I was pregnant when I felt a cramp and what I knew was blood. It was so early in the pregnancy that my husband and I had just gotten past the point of shock and were cautiously excited about becoming parents of "two under 2." No one else knew.
The crazy thing is that I had a feeling it would happen. The lines on my positive pregnancy tests (what can I say, I'm a chronic tester) suddenly started fading and the digital test that originally read "Pregnant" now showed up with the addition of the word "Not." As someone who's experienced miscarriage before, I'm used to looking for the signs. Do you know how draining it is to check the toilet paper for blood every time you make a trip to the bathroom?
I had to tell close family and friends I had been pregnant by telling them I no longer was. Meaning well, I'd hear, "At least you know you can get pregnant," or "At least it was early," or "At least you have one healthy kid." And it's not that any of those things aren't necessarily true, but they don't help. I initially drowned out the grief I felt because, yes, it was so early and, yes, I was lucky to already have one kid.
It didn't really hit me that I wasn't OK until a few months later. My husband and I were trying to conceive again and it just wasn't happening. And then once the pandemic hit and pregnancy announcements started popping up more and more, it all felt unavoidable. I was happy for all those other parents-to-be, but I felt like my dream of having two children wasn't going to happen. But I felt like I had to hide those feelings, as if I was being selfish for wanting more.
Even now, as I sit here nearly 18 weeks pregnant with my 2-year-old coloring at the table, Markle's words resonate. All that pain and uncertainty comes rushing back. Her advice to get on the path toward healing? To ask others, "Are you OK?"
"This year has brought so many of us to our breaking points," Markle wrote. "Loss and pain have plagued every one of us in 2020, in moments both fraught and debilitating. We’ve heard all the stories: A woman starts her day, as normal as any other, but then receives a call that she’s lost her elderly mother to Covid-19. A man wakes feeling fine, maybe a little sluggish, but nothing out of the ordinary. He tests positive for the coronavirus and within weeks, he—like hundreds of thousands of others—has died."
Now's the time to check in on the people you love. On that friend who's trying to conceive, on the friend suffering a loss, on the exhausted mom burned out by the pandemic and distance learning, on the family hunkering down to avoid the coronavirus. Check in on those you know need it, but don't forget about your happy friends—don't just assume they're OK.
"We are adjusting to a new normal where faces are concealed by masks, but it’s forcing us to look into one another’s eyes — sometimes filled with warmth, other times with tears," Markle continued. "For the first time, in a long time, as human beings, we are really seeing one another. Are we OK? We will be."