“Miscarriage…also known as pregnancy loss is the natural death of an embryo or fetus before it is able to survive independently.”

Why is it that no one you know has ever had a miscarriage until AFTER you have one and then everyone comes out of the woodwork with their stories of having one?  Why is everyone so quiet about the pain and anguish of being told that you just lost your baby?

Did you know that miscarriage is the most common complication of early pregnancy?  Among women who know they are pregnant, the miscarriage rate is roughly 10% to 20% while rates among all conceptions are around 30% to 50%?  Oh my goodness…with any other complication you’d hear it all over the news. http://www.marchofdimes.org/complications/miscarriage.aspx

First Time:  I know personally why no one talks about having a miscarriage until after someone has one…it’s because we want to protect our privacy and our grief.  I wanted to protect my heart once again because when I had my first miscarriage I was 26 years old and so wanted to have a baby…I was healthy (at least the Air Force believed I was!) and I was married to a sweet man who I knew really wanted to be a dad.  I had been given a blessing earlier in my life which stated that I would have the opportunity of rearing children…I had always thought that meant I would have them…birth them…but when I lost the first baby I had ever conceived, at 9 weeks, I started to question my ability to be a birth mom.

Well-meaning friends gave me hugs and gently reminded me that I was young and that I could have another baby…just try, try again.  My body was sore and my heart was bruised but I put on the smile and nodded my head…yes, I could try again, but not just yet.  Lou was so sad too and he gingerly held me as I cried.  WHY?  That’s always what we ask when we don’t understand exactly what happens in our lives.  WHY?  But I decided that there must have been a reason – look at the statistics of miscarriage…it’s a miracle that so many babies are actually born with the statistics so high.

I did try again within the year and soon after we were blessed with a bouncing baby boy …and 16 months later, another bouncing baby boy!  I was still on active duty in the Air Force and we were living in Germany at the time.  Life was good with a nanny, two terrific children, great jobs, family and friends all over the world and I was so grateful for the opportunity to rear and teach my children in a loving home.  Sounds perfect, right?

We headed home from Germany in the November of 1989, just after the Berlin Wall went down.  The world was changing and now we were making the Northern Virginia area our new home.  I found out I was pregnant again and was thrilled as my hope was to have four children by the time we were done!  I was right on schedule…month one, two, and three were without incident.  I kept the news of being pregnant quiet until after the 3 month period as I knew if I could get past 9 weeks or so that things would work out.

Second Time:  One of my best friends from Germany was flying into DC to spend the weekend with us and before we went off shopping or playing for the day, I had a doctor’s appointment and she agreed to go with me.  My sweet friend had delivered a baby in Germany and had chosen to place her beautiful baby girl up for adoption with a loving family and I knew the OB appointment might be hard for her, but she was so enthusiastic when I told her where we were going!  My appointments usually took about 20 minutes so we’d be in and out zippy quick!

I was 19 weeks along at this appointment and as usual I had the cold gel squeezed onto my belly so they could hear the baby’s heart beat.  I was anticipating the thump, thump, thump that came along with the test and I did hear a beat, constant and strong, and thought “Yippee…things are moving along!”  Then the technician backed away from the table and stood up…”Am I done?” I asked.  She looked down a bit and said that she just wanted to get the doctor to come in for a minute to verify things were on track.  Hmmm, that hadn’t happened before so I looked at Patti and she looked back at me and a chill ran through my bones. I called Lou.

Four hours and a gallon of water later we were waiting for an ultrasound to be read by the radiologist.  The technician wouldn’t say a thing…she hardly even looked at me through the test, then my worst nightmare occurred when the doctor came in and told me that they couldn’t find the baby’s heartbeat and that he (oh my goodness, another boy) had died…for no apparent reason but they wouldn’t be able to tell that until they heard from the pathologist.  I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest…again WHY?  WHY was this happening?  I had gotten past the first 9 weeks…I was almost at 5 months.  I was supposed to have had a quick appointment and then Patti and I were going out for lunch.

Lou, Patti and I just hugged each other and cried…sobbed…gut wrenching tears fell from all of us, and now I had to go into surgery…right away because it was a Friday afternoon and they didn’t want me to hold on to the baby over the weekend.  I wanted to hold on to him forever, but that physically wasn’t going to happen. Lost another and up came my mask and my smile.

Miscarriage or Stillborn?  No one talks about having a miscarriage so far into a pregnancy.  If I had held on another week it would have been called a “stillborn” and I would have had to deliver the baby.  But because I was at 19 weeks, I underwent a D&C (a “slightly uncomfortable procedure to remove tissue from inside your uterus.”)  I also had to spend the next few days in the hospital – so much for a wonderful weekend with my dear friend from Germany.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miscarriage

We ended up naming that little boy, John Henry Montgomery, after our fathers (John Garrett Butz and Robert Henry Montgomery) and that little boy will forever be a part of our family.

“Try, Try Again” was our mantra as I felt like I was to have a daughter…perhaps John Henry was paving the way for his little sister.  I so hoped that to be true.  A year later Jennifer Marie was born with no complications and our little family was proving to be a joy for us all.  I left the Air Force before Jenny was born…I even heard the words, “Captain Montgomery, the President of the United States would like…” to which I said “STOP…don’t finish that sentence…I need to talk to the Commander!”  Fortunately he stopped and I later found out that if he had finished the sentence, “The President of the United States would like to call you back to active duty”, that I would have been obligated to go back from Reserve status to Active.  Lou was serving in Saudi Arabia and I was NOT going to have my 3rd baby on active duty with him overseas and my boys under the age of 4.

Third Time: I wish that miscarriage was the last that I would ever have, but I did have one more a year before I had Matthew Franklin.  The miscarriage happened before the 9 week period and the feeling of “gone again”, turned to I’ll try once more and then “I’m done” and I was grateful to have my lovely family.  Over the years I have spoken about my experiences with miscarriage – there is always a reason and I have faith to believe that I’ll know the reason one day – but only if asked.  From now on, I hope to have the courage to reach out to others with a hug and a kind word as one kindred spirit to other…shared experiences will hold us together always.

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