'An empty womb and a dream lost': How I'm preparing for motherhood after 2 miscarriages
Instagram star Jenna Kutcher gets real about motherhood and loss.
Jenna, who splits her time between Minnesota and Hawaii, has been pregnant twice before. She opens up about her journey through motherhood and how she hopes her story can help other women.
The month of October is SIDS, pregnancy and infant-loss awareness month.
I see them glance at my belly and brace myself for a question I am sure is coming, "Is this your first?" A little piece of my heart rides up into my throat as I decide which road I will go with my response, it's like a "choose your own adventure" tale.
I choose from my multiple-choice array of answers:
A. "Yes, it's our first."
B. "This is my third time being pregnant, but the first baby we will meet."
C. The smile-and-nod while a lump sits in my throat.
I'm sitting on our lanai in Hawaii with my swollen feet propped up on a chair and a 34-week-pregnant belly that doesn't quite fit into anything well, reflecting on the bumpy journey that led us to where we are today. As my baby jabs me in the ribs and I half laugh/half cry, I'm reminded of the two other times we were here in Hawaii when we learned we were pregnant and of the babies who I never got to meet.
This is my third time being pregnant but the first baby we will meet.
Let's rewind to almost three years ago, shall we?
We were on Maui for the first time, a bucket-list vacation, when I discovered I was pregnant. Before you go thinking it was a glamorous event, I took a pregnancy test in a public bathroom before a luau because my best friend had a hunch that I might be expecting and I needed to know with certainty before I drank a mai tai -- or three. I remember the first words out of my mouth after, "Oh my gosh, I'm pregnant" were, "If we lose this baby, we're going to share about it."
I know that's not a common thing to say when you find out good news, and I'd like to think I'm not a girl who looks at any glass as half empty, but I just had this feeling. I remember laying in bed and hitting the Google search bar for miscarriage statistics daily and praying that we wouldn't become 1 in 4.
When we got home from our vacation, we made our first appointment, and I remember having the camera out, ready to document that heartbeat that we would never get to hear at our 8-week ultrasound. After follow-up blood tests and an additional ultrasound, we learned that we had had a "missed miscarriage" and had lost the baby, even though my body was still holding on to the pregnancy. That fact felt like my heart wasn't ready to let go to what should have been.
At 10 weeks, I was wheeled into the operating room and woke up with an empty womb and a dream lost. That night I wrote my first post about what it felt like to become a statistic and talked about the baby I'd already fallen in love with.
I hate the term 'trying again?' It insinuates that we failed the first time.
We waited a full year before we started "trying again" -- and can I just say, I hate the term "trying again"? It insinuates that we failed the first time. Again, I looked at the stats and the chances of losing two babies in a row were low, really low. The odds were in our favor. We found out that we were pregnant once again, on the island, our redemption trip. This was our time. We had done the hard work, shared our loss with my platform, processed our grief publicly to help remove the stigma, and now we would get to meet our baby -- except that wasn't how it unfolded. As we went into our first ultrasound, I was cautiously optimistic -- miscarriage does that to someone, it removes that unabashed joy and drops in the fact that not all stories have happy endings.
We heard the heartbeat of our baby and exhaled the breaths we didn't realize we were holding. This was it. One week later, we went in for a follow-up ultrasound only to hear the words, "I'm sorry" again. I got dressed and left the clinic at lightning speed after my surgery was scheduled.
I wanted to scream. This was not supposed to be our story. This wasn't supposed to happen again. We had lost another baby. This time I wasn't just sad -- I was angry.
If I’ve learned anything on our three-year journey, it's that grief is an ocean.
Why did we have to walk this road? What was wrong with me?How could this be the plan for us? Would we ever become parents?
Miscarriage is a hard topic, taboo even. As I started to share my anger and grief once again over the loss of another baby, I was reminded that women aren't invited to talk about their pregnancies the way we expect women to talk about their children. As I opened up our wounds while they slowly became scars, I invited others to do the same, to come as they were, to know that they weren't alone in their pain.
There have been thousands of messages, comments, and conversations where another woman will whisper, "Me too."
I'll be honest, I didn't understand it until I went through it. The moment you see the word "pregnant" on a pregnancy test is the moment you become a mom, and the moment you go through a miscarriage is the moment you will grieve a life that you never got to know. When your dreams are shattered -- not once, but twice -- you kind of stop dreaming.
Dates will creep up on you: the date you lost your baby, what should have been your due date, whenever you meet kids that would have been your baby's age.
If I've learned anything on our three-year journey, it's that grief is an ocean.
Some days you can sit on the shore and appreciate the depth, the current, the power and accept it -- some days you are sucked in and pulled under by the waves. As I look at the ocean today, I can see our story and how it all aligned to get me here today, weeks away from meeting our little miracle baby. I never thought that the loss could make sense but somehow, there's a peace within my heart.
I think of the babies we lost every single day, I think about who they would have become, how our lives would look different, what it would have been like to meet them.
Loss has been my greatest teacher, and I pray our story that we've walked through with the world has been a story that can show others that work that was done within us while we waited for this baby was just as important as what we had been waiting for.
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