I knew something was wrong when I had flu-like symptoms at 10 weeks pregnant — it didn’t feel like morning sickness. I remember leaving the office on Friday afternoon so pale and clammy that my boss called out after me “Maly, get some sleep will you?”
I started spotting late on Sunday afternoon. I called the after-hours OBGYN line but the nurse wasn’t worried. I had a bad feeling so I texted my direct primary care doctor. He also had a bad feeling about my symptoms and sent me to the ER. Two hours, a horrific ultrasound where the tech kept asking me if I was sure about my dates, and a blunt conversation with a physician’s assistant later, I found I miscarried. My entire world changed when the physician’s assistant told me there wasn’t a heartbeat, that my flu-like symptoms were a sign of infection from a missed miscarriage, and that I needed a D&C pretty quickly.
I don’t remember much of the next couple days. I remember my husband taking me to Atomic Cowboy because I wouldn’t eat, and he coaxed me into eating my favorite biscuits and gravy. I really don’t remember the procedure other than a Catholic priest came in and gave me the Anointing of the Sick. But what I do remember changed me as a person.
I wish that this article ended the day of my miscarriage, with a linear line to becoming a mother. The impact on my personality and the ramifications to my life extended beyond a doctor’s office room.
I remember telling someone close to me that I’d had a miscarriage and they responded “That sucks. Did I tell you I got a new truck?” Then there was the day I was passed over for a promotion and told, “You have too much going on with your fertility treatment to be in leadership.”
Over time after my miscarriage, I became much more private and reticent; somewhat jaded about everything from the possibility of parenthood to my career.
I wish that becoming pregnant again had absolved my fears of loss. I white knuckled my way through my pregnancy with my daughter. I was lucky to have empathetic health care providers who gave me a peace of mind ultrasound at 10 weeks, exactly when I lost my first pregnancy. People didn’t understand why we were so private about our pregnancy and were sensitive to pregnancy announcements — that we had endured so much through loss and IVF that we braced ourselves for impact every day, which many people didn’t understand or empathize with.
But there have been silver linings and rainbows — especially my rainbow baby born about 2 years after my miscarriage. The moment I heard my daughter, my rainbow baby, cry for the first time, I could finally exhale.
I also took a remote job in New Jersey that has working mothers all the way up to senior leadership, in a company that values women and motherhood holistically. I am still guarded, but almost in a good way; I seek less external validation, and after loss, I know who my real friends are.
Rainbows — especially rainbow babies — come with precipitation and clouds. If you are reading this, and you are enduring the storms of either loss or infertility, know that there’s many people (myself included) willing to hold an umbrella for you. It is also OK to step under an awning to get out of the rain — whether that’s setting boundaries, taking a break, or making other major changes for your family.