5 women share what it's like to have a miscarriage

PHOTO: To Kate Lemmon, white butterflies have become a hopeful symbol for her miscarriage.PlayKate Lemmon
WATCH 5 women share what it's like to have a miscarriage

If you or your partner haven't had a miscarriage, statistics indicate that you likely know someone who has.

Interested in Miscarriage?

Add Miscarriage as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Miscarriage news, video, and analysis from ABC News.
Add Interest

For women who know they're pregnant, 10 to 20% will experience a first-trimester loss, according to the Mayo Clinic. That number is likely higher, many experts said, as it's common for a woman to miscarry before she even knows she's expecting.

What's more, one recent study indicated that 43% of mothers reported having had one or more first-trimester losses.

And still, miscarriage remains a taboo topic.

"It's one of the many topics in medicine that we need to de-stigmatize and we need to bring out of the shadows," said ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jen Ashton, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist. "It's so common and so many people, unfortunately, experience it."

Five of these women, from all around the country, opened up to "Good Morning America" about their experiences.

Lauren Riggs, 24, Nashville, Tennessee

"I am actually oldest of seven and just from a very early age knew that I wanted to be a mom. My husband and I got married in 2017, and we started trying for a baby in April 2018. I found out I was pregnant at the end of July. We got to see the baby when I was seven weeks along, got to see its heart beat at the bottom of the screen. It was just so surreal knowing that we had created something so beautiful living inside of me. We were just completely over the moon.

"We passed the 12-week mark and decided to share with social media that we were pregnant. The day after, I started bleeding pretty heavily, so I called my OB-GYN and was kind of reassured that sometimes it's normal [to bleed], and not to panic. She said if it persisted over the next few weeks to call and make an appointment. So for the next week, I tried to do that -- just stay calm and trust that everything was gonna be OK.

"A week after I started bleeding, I woke up to a lot of blood and I just knew something wasn't right. I went to my OB-GYN and they scheduled an ultrasound. When the ultrasound tech came in, she pointed the screen away from me. After about five minutes of silence, I said, 'You see the baby, right? The baby's there, right? Is everything OK?' And she said, 'I see the baby. I'm taking measurements. I'll get you back to the doctor.' I didn't get to see the baby that day. I just kept telling myself everything was fine. She saw the baby. Everything's fine, because I passed my 13-week mark. Everything was supposed to be perfect at that point.

"My doctor came in and she told me that there wasn't a heartbeat. I just remember feeling like someone had thrown me into deep hole and slowly started to pour rocks on me because it was just crushing. Every second was worse than the last. It was just devastating."

"The next day my doctor called me and I told her I wanted to try to miscarry naturally. She prescribed some pills for me, so I could try to pass the baby as naturally as possible. A few hours later I started passing blood clots and cramping, and my doctor told me to go to the hospital and to make sure everything passed correctly. When we did, they did another ultrasound and found that we hadn't passed anything. My husband and I just stared at the screen; it was just so much different than what I had seen the first time, when I saw it moving around the screen. The next day we picked up the medicine and I started the process again. The medicine just didn't work.

"My husband and I made the decision to have a D&C done. We found out on Monday; this was Friday, so it was a very long, drawn-out process. I don't remember anything from the day I had my D&C, and I think it was a gift because I was so emotionally tired. I do remember telling every single person I saw, 'I really don't want this to happen. I really want you to just fix it.' I just wanted to have my baby back.

"We started trying again in April of this past year and found out we were pregnant June 28. A week later, we found out we were miscarrying again, and that process was a lot different. I was not as far along. We decided after that we were just gonna start trying again immediately. There's a part of you that just doesn't want to do it again because it's so terrifying and there's a part of you that wants to know that you have the ability to do this. I don't think I'll ever have a normal pregnancy where I'm happy all the time and never feel any fear or anxiety. I've learned that it's OK. I have to let myself heal how I have to heal."

Kate Lemmon, 28, Boston

"I'm originally from San Antonio, Texas, and I've been living in Boston for seven years now. I live with my husband; we celebrated our third wedding anniversary in April, and we've been together for six years. I'm lucky to have him; he's been a super rock through this whole thing. I don't know how I would've gotten through this without him.

"We tried starting in January, found out I was pregnant right in July, and then I miscarried about three weeks later, at about 6 1/2 weeks.

"I expected that a miscarriage was a very real possibility. In fact, I Googled the miscarriage statistics every single day that I was pregnant because it was always a fear, but no sort of awareness beforehand could've prepared me for exactly how much miscarriage threw us for a loop. We had put so many hopes and dreams into this pregnancy. Each cycle was a crushing blow on its own, so when we finally did get the positive test in July -- this was after six months of the whole fertility journey -- I was so excited that we had come to the end of the trying part and we were passing into the pregnancy part. I was just so excited to be starting our family.

"I only knew I was pregnant for three weeks, but in those three weeks our entire lives changed. In the instant that you find out that you're pregnant, you're already a mom. You instantly start to bond with your baby and everything is based around pregnancy. So when I miscarried I felt like all of that came shattering down all at once. It wasn't just the baby, which is obviously so sad to lose because I had dreamed about this for so long, but I think it was also for us the loss of first pregnancy. I know that miscarriage is hard for people no matter what, but I felt like there was something especially tricky about having a miscarriage for our first pregnancy, just because I lost the ability to have an innocent pregnancy in the future. I know now, if we are lucky enough to have another child, it would be filled with a lot of fear and anxiety at least at first.

View this post on Instagram

I was pregnant. I had a miscarriage. I’m now one in four. . We got the positive test on our last day in France, and we had to Google Translate the results because neither of us were sure what the French instructions meant. We cried happy tears and I couldn’t believe my lifelong dream of becoming a mama was finally coming true. We cautiously told our parents with the caveat that anything could happen. And then it did. . Only a week ago, we saw a healthy heartbeat at the first ultrasound, measuring right on track. We got to take home sonogram pictures that I’m unbelievably grateful to have. And just as quickly as this miracle arrived for us, it was simply…gone. I lost the baby the next day. I was only 6.5 weeks along, but it felt like losing a lifetime of dreams. And just like that we fell, broken and bruised, all the way back to square one. . I’ve been scared to share about trying, pregnancy, and miscarriage because I thought maybe my clients would think I wasn’t professional or able to do my job well anymore. But honestly, I think this whole experience has given me a whole new level of appreciation for my clients and empathy for the many different ways and winding paths that women take to become mamas. I’ve always thought babies were a miracle, but now I understand that on a whole new level. I’m still as passionate as ever about photographing families, and maybe even more so now. I will be sad sometimes as E and I work through our loss, but I am always so happy to celebrate another little life. . I wrote more words than I could fit into this Instagram caption, so I’ve put them on the blog instead (the link is in my profile). It’s been therapeutic to share everything. Thank you for reading. ❤️

A post shared by 🍋 Kate Lemmon (@katelphoto) on Aug 7, 2019 at 4:00pm PDT

"My husband and I grieved in different ways. I wish I'd known that was OK at the time, because immediately following the miscarriage, I was crying all day and couldn't get out of bed, and I think he was waiting for more official news from the doctor. He was processing it in a different way. I wish I could tell myself, 'Even though your husband is grieving in a different way, doesn't mean the loss hurts any less for him.' I wish we had worked harder in those initial days to understand each other's grief.

"I wish I had some sort of happy ending to give you but to be honest, the part after miscarriage, which we're immediately in, has been stressful for the two of us. In a way it's brought us closer together because we've had some really deep conversations and planned a lot for the future. But in other ways, there's no glamorous way to put it: We're just kind of tired. Grief is tiring and trying again is tiring. It's been a long year for us. I'm thankful that our marriage has come through this and it seems like it's stronger than ever, but it's a journey I wouldn't have chosen. I'm still trying to find things to be grateful for in the middle of it."

View this post on Instagram

To say I’m overwhelmed with gratitude at the response from last week’s post would be the understatement of the year. I cried tears of appreciation, sadness, and happiness as E and I read through your comments, text messages, cards, emails, DMs, and voicemails. Then I read them again, and again. All the pieces together felt like a beautiful patchwork comfort quilt. I read stories from mamas I’ve known for a long time and have looked up to. I read words from mamas I don’t know personally, who were kind enough to share their personal experiences so I wouldn’t feel so alone. I heard from family, friends, and clients. I really felt the love from every corner. ✨ Social media gets a bad rap a lot of times, but I can honestly say that after sharing last week, I felt more supported than I ever have in my life. Most of last week, the only thing that made me feel better was reading through those comments. In the future, I hope that I can return that favor to someone who needs it. ✨ I am planning to respond personally to everyone as soon as I can, but in the meantime — thank you from the bottom of my heart. It means more than you know. ❤️ ✨ On a practical note: I’m back to work now and trying my hardest to get caught up with the backlog of emails and edits as fast as possible. I feel so lucky to have the world’s most patient clients and I will make it up to you ASAP! So many adorable photos of littles will be returning to this feed soon ✨

A post shared by 🍋 Kate Lemmon (@katelphoto) on Aug 16, 2019 at 1:26pm PDT

Aftan Sylvester, 34, Glen Burnie, Maryland

"My husband and I found out that I was expecting at the very end of March or the beginning of April of this year. I'm obese, I'd been diagnosed with hypertension and my 35th birthday was near my due date, so I was considered a high-risk pregnancy and they were keeping a watch on me. I had my first appointment and sonogram at six weeks when it was confirmed that I was pregnant, and then I kept going every other week after that. Everything seemed to be normal. In fact, my doctors were really excited because my blood work looked so good, but I did have a little bleeding. It looked like old blood.

"I went in for my 10-week checkup, and when I was checking in, I told the nurse about the brown blood. Because of that, after the doctor did his exam he asked if I had time to do an ultrasound. I did.

"I'd been seeing the sonogram tech every other week, so I'd was getting to know her. I knew immediately something wasn't right; her demeanor changed. She got really somber. She switched over so she could see the heartbeat and all you saw were lines. She said that she needed to talk to the doctor and I probably sat in that room alone for about 10 or 15 minutes. I just knew that my baby was gone and I could not stop crying.

"Finally, the doctor came in and he said, 'I'm very sorry to have to tell you this, but it's evident that your baby doesn't have a heartbeat.' I could not believe that this had happened.

"I drove to my husband's job to tell him face to face, and on the way, I started feeling anxiety. I was like, 'How am I going to tell him this? And why do I have to tell him this? Why is this happening to us?' When I got there, I couldn't even look at his face, but I could hear in his voice that it was cracking. He took the rest of the day off of work.

"The doctor had been pushing for me to go ahead to have a D&C but I didn't feel comfortable in making that decision right away. Once I was home, I researched it versus letting it happen naturally, and decided that for me, it was better to just get it over with. I felt like the D&C was a way for me to just be able to move on.

"When I checked in for the surgery, my husband went with me and I remember feeling like a failure. I wasn't prepared for the amount of grief that I felt. It's crazy to have that much grief for a child that you never met. When you find out that you're pregnant you have all these hopes and you start planning for the future. What if it's a girl? What if it's a boy? You think about nursery colors and your baby shower. When you find out the baby didn't make it, all of that stops abruptly. If you've never gone through this you will never be able to understand how much it really hurts.

"We started trying again after my post-op appointment, two weeks after my D&C. I found out the day after Father's Day that I was pregnant again. It happened very quickly and we were happy, but cautiously so. I felt like I could not allow myself to get attached to the baby in the beginning. I knew I was pregnant but I kind of put it in the back of my mind because, it was like, what's gonna happen this time? Will it happen again? I felt like I needed a sonogram every week just to make sure the child was alive. And then, at 12 weeks, I passed a blood clot. I was freaking out, but it was fine. I have no idea what happened and the doctor doesn't either, but he said it's not uncommon to bleed at that time. It's nerve-wracking even still, though, and I'm 18 weeks now. My husband said he's going to worry until the baby comes out."

Chelsea Caris, 28, Oakdale, California

View this post on Instagram

You know I heard something the other day, which struck me as kind of funny but completely and totally accurate. Going through infertility, is lonely, heartbreaking, nerve wracking and very emotional and no one wishes upon anyone. However when you do, you kind of join this “club”. When your a part of this club, it’s kind of awesome because you meet people who will give you the support you need, they won’t belittle whatever you’re feeling, they pray for you, etc. it’s an unbelievably strong and welcoming community. I thought to myself, wow... how incredibly true! I hate that I had to face infertility because of the heartbreak and strain it put on myself and my husband. But, I’m also so grateful for the amount of women I’ve met and worked with over the past year who are now super close friends of mine, and who I wouldn’t trade for the world! If you’re in the club, I’m sorry you’re here but we are ALL here for you. We truly are 100 percent! And if you’re new here, welcome, and we have your back and a listening ear If you need to talk, vent, scream, cry, or announce good or bad news. We. Are. Here. ♥️___________________________________________________ #blaw #ttcsisters #ttcsupport #ttccommunity #infertilitywarrior #embryotransfer #pregnancyansinfantloss #ivfstrongertogether #ivfsuccess #ivfwarrior #ivfcommunity #ivfsisters #rainbowbaby #ivfpregnancy #ivfsupport #infertilityawareness #infantloss #ttcafterloss #ivfjourney #ivfwarrior #ivf #miscarriage #endometriosis #1in4 #infertilitysucks #infertilitysupport #miscarriagesupport #stillbornstillloved #infantlossawareness

A post shared by Chelsea Caris (@chelscaris) on Oct 9, 2019 at 9:28am PDT

"I've had four losses total. My husband and I recently went through infertility treatments that didn't work. Twice we were able to to conceive and would be pregnant for three or four weeks and then I would miscarry. Those were very early on. The miscarriage that I usually talk about are the twins. I was almost 20 weeks along when I lost them.

"My husband and I conceived naturally the first time. Twins don't run in either of our families; it was one of those luck of the draw things. At the time, we didn't want to do extra testing because we felt it was unnecessary. What ended up happening threw us: At about 19 1/2 weeks, I started feeling really heavy cramping. I didn't have any bleeding, but it was just a really odd feeling -- almost an intuition kind of thing. We went to the doctor and found out that I was having a molar pregnancy, which essentially means that [the fetuses] had benign tumors growing on their bodies at a very fast and abnormal rate.

"Sadly, if you have a single fetus, the molar pregnancy can take over and you will miscarry. Most women who have it don't even know they have it because they'll miscarry on their own. Because we had twins, the molar pregnancy started on one fetus and the other kept the pregnancy going, which is why my pregnancy lasted as long as it did. I had to deliver them. One delivered and the other had to be removed surgically. It was surreal -- we got all the information and then I was in surgery two days later. There was no real moment to accept it. I knew there were high-risk pregnancies but you never think it'll be you, especially if you're healthy and never had issues before.

"Once we lost our twins, we tried again for two whole years, and we got nothing. We didn't understand what happened. My doctor told us that my uterus healed just fine and there shouldn't be any reason why we couldn't conceive again. It was so confusing. When I started my Instagram, I looked up how many people were going through infertility who'd had miscarriages and there were so many. I remember telling my husband, 'I can't believe how common this is.'

"Infertility doesn't just cause issues with your fertility. It causes issues everywhere else too: your social life, your sex life, your relationships, your financial situation. It literally affects everything else. It causes problems with your husband, your friends who have kids, the money you have to save for procedures and medications -- even your self-worth. You ask, 'Why is my body broken and hers isn't?' You think people who are battling infertility are only having one problem, but no, they're having a very loaded problem.

"I felt like nothing would ever be OK again, ever, but my husband and I are pregnant now after undergoing IVF. We just got past our first trimester. My stepson, Silas, is really, really excited. He'll kiss my belly and he'll talk to it and say, 'You need to come out this time. I need a brother this time.'

"I still have my moments where I panic. We've done extensive testing on this baby and everything looks fine, but there are moments where I'll break down and need my husband to reassure me that it's gonna be OK, no matter what happens. That's what I need -- the faith part. Because when you lose a child, your faith just goes out the window. One of the best things that I ever heard was, 'Losing a child like that is like losing an arm or some other limb: You can survive it, but it'll never be the same. You just adapt to the missing part.' There's no silver lining there. You heal but it's just not the same anymore. You just adapt."

Heather Hodnicki, 30, Hamilton, New Jersey

"My son, Cole, just turned 1 in August. Probably when he was about 10 months old, I got my first cycle back. At that time my husband and I made the decision to start trying and we actually got pregnant on the first try. I did have some light bleeding for three days before we got a positive pregnancy test, but they say you can have implantation bleeding. Two weeks later, at about six weeks [gestation], I had a blood test where they tested my HGC and progesterone levels and that came back very reassuring. We weren't going to have an ultrasound until eight weeks, two days, and then we were going to leave for a family vacation the next day. We were planning to have the ultrasound and then tell our families the good news.

"At the appointment, they did a transvaginal ultrasound and everything looked different from the first [with Cole]. The ultrasound tech asked if I'd had any bleeding, and I had had intermittent bleeding but it was brown blood which they say isn't worrisome. My friend had bleeding her entire first trimester and her pregnancy was fine. The ultrasound tech said, 'There's a hematoma, a little hemorrhage, around the baby,' but at that point the baby had a great heart rate. The techs can't tell you much more than that. We followed up with the doctor and he told us what we already knew: The subchorionic hematoma could reabsorb or the pregnancy could go on to be normal. I said, 'I know you can't give me an answer, but if you could, what are the chances that this will be a full-term pregnancy?' He said, 'Let's say 50/50.' I cried because you start to love that potential baby as soon as you pee on the stick and see two lines. The heartbeat made it more real.

"That Wednesday I started feeling crampy. I went to the bathroom and saw a little bit of red blood. I put a pad on and kept it to myself. I tried to tell myself, 'It's just the hematoma coming out. The baby's going to be fine.' But the bleeding kept getting heavier and the cramps were still there.

"I made my husband break the news to his family. He said, 'Hey, we're pregnant, but before you get excited, I think we're miscarrying. Heather's going through this right now.' That night, I kept running back and forth to the bathroom wondering, 'When is it gonna stop?' Finally a large clot of tissue came out and I knew that was it. My husband tried to walk into the bathroom and I pushed the door closed and locked him out because I was scared. I didn't want it to be true.

View this post on Instagram

To make a long story short at just about 9 weeks gestation… we lost our baby. The Bright red bleeding started, along with the tears & fear. I knew what was happening, and the worst part was knowing it was 100% out of my control. I was losing the tiny heart that was beating inside me...that we saw beating just last week. We were losing a future with this little life...all of the dreams we had for this little soul inside me. We called the doctor & the soonest appointment was the next day. The Hope and Faith inside me wanted to believe so badly that “maybe it was just the “Bleed” (SCH) that was coming out & the baby was going to be okay. The Ultrasound confirmed & the grief had completely taken over. It comes in waves. I feel...numb ...empty ...sad ...guilty ...confused. I feel like a big part of me is in denial as I pee on sticks and watch the line fade even though I know it’s over. I feel Embarrassed and anxious. And like I just want to go to sleep. And then I look at Cole & through this experience, I have Thanked God more than you know for how blessed we were to have a healthy pregnancy & a thriving little boy to hold tightly in our arms. But that aside… you just don't know how it feels, unless you are a part of this absolutely dreadful, worst club in the world. The biggest thing that is helping me through this is reading other women's stories. I can’t even find the words to correctly say how I feel, but reading how others feel, agreeing & trying to tell myself that I’m not crazy & sharing this here right now…This is me trying to cope. And Thank you to everyone for being my support system. I Apologize to some friends who I haven’t told personally, but repeating myself & digging down to find the words and then get them out is draining me so this seemed like an easy out. . . As I laid this #letterboard down Cole couldn’t help but crawl over as fast as he could to try and steal the rocks Joe & I painted. His little hand in this photo brings happy tears to my eyes... . . . . #miscarriageAwareness #breakTheSilence #angelBaby #miscarriage #pregnancyLoss #iam1in4 #iHadAMiscarriage #lossandHope #baby #pregnancy #pregnant #8weekMiscarriage #9weekMiscarriage

A post shared by Gingy Pants 🤰🏼 YouTube 😁 (@thegingypants) on Aug 25, 2019 at 3:59pm PDT

"The next day we had an ultrasound at an radiologist affiliate place and they wouldn't let my husband into the room. You'd think at that point you'd want the female to have her partner with her but I guess they had their reasoning. Once they put the probe in you could obviously see what's going on. As a nurse, I knew right away. I said, 'I can't see anything.' The ultrasound techs aren't supposed to give you medical information -- it's supposed to come from a doctor -- but she was actually able to exchange her miscarriage story with me while she was finishing her measurements and I was just crying. It was comforting talking to her. It's weird, because you're not happy that someone else went through it but it's nice to know that you're not the only one in this position.

"I have a negative blood type, so within 72 hours, I had to get a RhoGAM shot to protect myself from antibodies that could attack my next pregnancy. That process drove on til Friday. On Sunday we went home, and that's when I started to process things more. Earlier I had to sweep it under the rug -- be a mom, and be happy on vacation. I was supposed to go to work on Monday but I wasn't ready. I felt fine physically, but emotionally I was a mess. I was on YouTube searching for how people felt: am I supposed to feel this way? Am I supposed to be over this by now? What am I expected to feel like? It's hard to find answers.

"Miscarriage humbles you. It makes me so sad to think that some people have miscarried so many times in a row and I'm sitting here and it's like, 'Why should I feel so sad? I have my son and some people don't have any kids, and some people can't have kids. Do I even have a right to feel sad when I was lucky enough to have the child I have?' It's crazy the places that your mind goes.

"But I felt empty, physically and emotionally. There are so many things to be thankful for, but no matter how beautiful everything is, you still feel like something's missing. And it's OK to feel that way because something is.

"This past Monday I made a doctor's appointment because I wanted someone to to tell me I'm OK. My gynecologist was very comforting, and one of the questions I asked was when I could try for the next baby. We want to try to conceive again as soon as possible. Let's say I do get pregnant in October or November: that baby wouldn't have existed if I hadn't had the miscarriage. I can't wait to give my son a brother or sister."