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Why Can't We Talk About Miscarriage?

11/12/2013 02:20 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

Two days before my 38th birthday, a doctor confirmed I was pregnant. I burst into tears, hugged a surprised and stoic nurse and immediately called my husband. There were times in the last few years when I was afraid that pregnancy just wasn't in the cards for me. We married in our 30s, delayed trying to conceive a little longer than originally planned, and when we were finally ready to have a baby, the process wasn't quick or easy. Nevertheless, at the "advanced maternal age" of nearly 38, I was pregnant!

I followed the advice of books, pregnancy websites and other women by only telling a handful of friends and family members that I was pregnant. The common line of thinking is that in the first trimester you should "only tell people you are willing to also tell about a miscarriage." The problem with this piece of advice is that it also leaves us with the impression that we're not SUPPOSED to talk about miscarriage. It reinforces the isolation and shame that couples, especially women, feel after losing a pregnancy.

For exactly four weeks, I was excited about being pregnant. We experienced the joy of telling our parents that after a long, long wait they would finally be grandparents. I glanced at the clothing in maternity departments and thought, "Oh, this stuff is pretty cute." I cut way, way back on caffeine, took extra naps, had heartburn at 3 a.m... all the stuff that makes it start to feel like a real pregnancy. By eight weeks, it was all over.

An ultrasound technician with a poor bedside manner dropped the bomb on us, "OK, there's the heartbeat! ...Oh, I don't see it now. It's like it's going in and out. Oh, this is weird, I've never seen this before. This is really weird. OK -- do you see the heartbeat? Because I don't."

Why are you asking me? How the hell do I know what to look for?

The ultrasound tech continued, "Well, there it is again, but it's like it's going in and out. Also the heartbeat is really low. It's 93 beats per minute." She said some other stuff about the size of the fetus and the yolk sack, but at that point, my head was swimming.

"Do you want me to print a picture of the baby?" she asked.

"No, I don't think so," I said glancing over at my husband, who looked just as shell-shocked as I felt. I didn't see the point of keeping a picture if we were losing the pregnancy.

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