We had a miscarriage

We had a miscarriage

My wife and I made a mutual decision: in the event of a miscarriage, we would openly talk about it, advocating for more societal dialogue on this topic. This post is our way of honoring that commitment.

This post was originally written on January 6th, 2024, published today on March 24th, 2024.

This is the timeline of events:

  • 11-26-23 (4 weeks): While I was in China, my wife sent me a message hinting at a surprise. Almost instantly, I sensed she was pregnant and guessed correctly. It wasn't something we planned, yet it turned into a delightful surprise for us both.
  • 12-11-23 (7 weeks): We shared the news with both our mothers. Their immense joy was heartwarming, the kind of reaction that perhaps I, too, should have initially had. It was a truly heart-melting moment.
  • 12-14-23 (7.5 weeks): During the first OBGYN appointment, we saw our baby for the first time. It resembled a tiny chicken wing. We heard the heartbeat. The doctor found no abnormalities; my wife was in perfect health, leaving us all in high spirits.
  • 12-25-23 (9 weeks): At our Christmas gathering, we joyfully announced our pregnancy with our extended family. My family enjoys celebrating good news instantly, so to us there was no reason not to share with them before reaching the 12-week mark.
  • 12-27-23 @ 3:30 PM: My wife attended her doctor's appointment alone for routine blood work. During the visit, the doctor looked for the baby's heartbeat, but there was none. This unexpected outcome left both the doctor and my wife in a state of shock and disbelief, struggling to process the sudden turn of events.
  • 12-27-23 @ 4 PM: In the midst of my weekly executive meetings, I received a call from my wife. It was the most frightening call I've ever experienced. Her cries were unlike anything I'd heard before. In that moment, I was deeply shaken and came to the stark realization that we had lost our baby.

I can only convey my feelings as a man, dealing with the turmoil between my logical mind and my eternal soul. My wife's experience, however, both emotionally and physically, is something I can hardly imagine. The harsh reality that she still carried our no longer living baby, which needed to be removed promptly, added another layer of trauma to an already painful situation. This experience has completely erased any doubts about my wife's immense strength and her instincts to protect our family. Her resilience, far greater than my own, is a testament to her willpower. Women are truly the pillars and life force of our world, and they deserve endless admiration and respect.

The following 48 hours ranked among the most challenging of my life. I found myself engulfed in grief, the likes of which I hadn't felt since the loss of my father. My mind was a whirlwind of thoughts, emotions, and questions, all at odds with the wisdom my soul had gathered over the years. I had been so sure that I would be unaffected by a miscarriage, yet the intensity of what I felt in those two days was overwhelming. Tears flowed ceaselessly, and words failed me as I tried to process the following thoughts:

  • My Bad Vibes: I had been cautious, often saying to close friends and family that I told, "there's still a chance of a miscarriage, so let's see," as a way to temper my own expectations and excitement. But why did I harbor and voice such thoughts? Did I unknowingly direct so much negativity towards my unborn child that it influenced this outcome? Was I truly prepared for this child, or did I even want it? These questions plagued me, leading me to the harrowing conclusion that somehow, this was all my fault. I failed.
  • Repeated Sacrifices by Others: Strikingly, this was the second instance of someone making a sacrifice for my sake. First, it was my father; now, tragically, my unborn child. This pattern led me to question why such sacrifices seem to recur in my life. What lessons have I yet to grasp? How far have I strayed from my intended path that such profound trauma becomes necessary for my learning and growth? These thoughts weighed heavily on me, seeking answers in a sea of uncertainty.
  • Shahzil, The Villain: In those 48 hours, I was overwhelmed by a sense of being the antagonist in my own story. Words like selfish, boastful, unkind, greedy, judgmental, addicted, and fragile kept surfacing in my mind, painting a picture of myself that I struggled to accept. These labels haunted me repeatedly, making me question my character and actions during this period of intense grief.
  • Self-Centered Thoughts: I found myself questioning my own egotism. This tragedy wasn't about me, yet there I was, receiving comfort from my wife. It should have been me offering her consolation and support. Why was I inadvertently making this situation about myself? Why do I make it always about me?
  • Control Freak: I grappled with feelings of helplessness and failure. As someone who sees himself as a protector and defender, I couldn't comprehend how I let this happen. Why couldn't I have prevented it? The thought that my inability to protect led to suffering for my family, and most painfully for my child, tormented me. It felt like a personal failure, a protector who couldn't shield his loved ones from harm.
  • Unforgettable Lesson: I am resolute in my commitment to ensure that my child's passing is not forgotten or in vain. I am determined to derive meaning from this loss. It took me 17 long years to comprehend the reasons behind my father's sacrifice. This time, I refuse to let so many years pass before understanding the significance of my child's brief presence in our lives and the profound lesson it imparts.

Indeed, those 48 hours were an intense mental ordeal. It felt like self-inflicted, self-sabotaging pain. Deep down, my soul understood that these thoughts weren't the truth; they were the expressions of a grieving human trying to make sense of his loss. However, my soul wisely chose not to intervene, recognizing the necessity of grieving. Grieving is an essential process, and somewhere within, I knew it would ultimately lead me to emerge stronger from the other side of this experience.

I regained a semblance of normalcy within 72 hours. My wife, in her remarkable strength, showed signs of initial recovery within a week. I'm aware that she's not entirely healed yet, and there's no rush for her to be. Our ability to bounce back stemmed from deeply held beliefs that not only facilitated our acceptance and recovery but also allowed us to extract valuable lessons from this challenging episode. Here are the truths that have been instrumental in my healing process:

  • Commonality of Miscarriages & Worse: It's a sobering reality that miscarriages or complications affect about 25% - 33% of pregnancies. From personal accounts, it feels closer to 50% or more. This isn't a new phenomenon; it spans generations, touching the lives of our parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents. For those of us in our 30s, it's likely that many couples in our circle have faced similar, if not more harrowing, experiences. The stories shared by my friends, of pregnancies ending at 5 months, of stillbirths, are heart-wrenching. In a way, we consider ourselves fortunate to have faced this grief in the first 9 weeks. Any longer would have been significantly more traumatic.
  • We Now Know We Want This: This child was unplanned, and it took losing it for me to realize that I actually wanted to be a father, that we actually wanted to be parents. We now know with certainty that are ready for our family to grow, although it was obviously not the way I would have preferred to come to this realization. Medical advice often suggests attempting another pregnancy within 3-6 months following a miscarriage, as the likelihood of a stronger subsequent pregnancy increases. This perspective brought me considerable comfort, as if our first child made a selfless sacrifice for its future siblings. To this thought, all I can express is my profound gratitude and love for it.
  • The Marvelous Human Body: The human body possesses an incredible intuition, it can discern when a fetus may not be viable, naturally ending the pregnancy to prevent future suffering. I also undeniably trust in the universe's plan for us. The interplay between our body's innate wisdom and the universe's will is nothing short of miraculous. In this journey, I fully surrender to both these natural forces. "Everything happens for a reason."
  • Baby Aspirin: Post-miscarriage, mothers are often advised to take baby aspirin to enhance blood flow to the placenta, as increased blood supply correlates with a stronger child. Our doctor says this recommendation is backed by substantial research. The advantages seem clear, with no significant drawbacks, although I need to do more research in this subject for myself. If you have any insights or differing views, I'm very much open to discussion.
    • On a related note, it leads me to ponder about the blood flow in world-class athletes like LeBron James or Michael Phelps. With humans growing physically larger and our brains expanding, could enhanced blood flow be a contributing factor?
  • The Heartbeat: Reflecting on it, I now understand the deep impact that hearing my child's heartbeat had on me. In that moment, I was more fascinated by the technology that made it possible to hear this tiny heartbeat, almost completely ignoring the significance of hearing my child's heart. Yet, unmistakably, the sound etched itself into my memory. It significantly shaped the depth of my grief; without hearing it, I am convinced that my emotional journey might have been entirely different. There was a profound significance in hearing that heartbeat which made things more real, a reason beyond my understanding at the time.
  • Soul Belief: While our baby had a heartbeat, my personal belief about the soul is that it enters at a later stage in the developmental cycle. So, in my view, the baby at this early phase hadn't yet been imbued with a soul. My hope is that this lessened any pain it might have felt in it's passing.
  • To Me: Release of Control: Shahzil, it's important to realize that not everything is within your control. This situation was beyond your ability to influence, just as many aspects of life often are. Accepting this is a part of living, and sometimes, letting go is necessary.
  • To Me: Selflessness Reminder: Shahzil, consider that this might not be about you. Perhaps it's more about being there for your wife, supporting her through this. Focus on being her pillar of strength, now and always.
  • Cultural Misconceptions: Some parents, particularly in South Asian communities, may not fully grasp the commonality of miscarriages due to differences in experiences or education levels. They might hold beliefs about factors like wearing heels or the necessity of resting in the first trimester contributing to miscarriages. These notions are not scientifically backed, but it's important to approach such conversations with kindness and understanding. They, too, are grieving out of love for you. Patiently explaining the facts and encouraging them to discuss with friends can be helpful, as personal stories often resonate more strongly and can help dispel these misconceptions.
  • To My Wife, My Lifelong Companion: Your strength astounds me. The way you've handled this situation is beyond what I could ever envision myself doing in your place. Together, we've grown immensely, and my pride in you knows no bounds. You are destined to be the most wonderful mother any child could wish for. As I write this, tears fill my eyes; my love for you is infinite.

There's a purpose behind this experience, and I vow to always remember it. This event, marked by our child's sacrifice, will mold me into a kinder, more considerate person and soul. It will fortify our family, making us stronger than ever. To our child, thank you; my love for you is endless.

P.S. To anyone navigating this journey or who has walked this path, please know you're not alone. You are not lesser then, it was not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you. This is the natural course of life. If you need someone to talk to, I urge you to first look within your circle of family and friends. I guarantee there have been many others who have had this experience that want to support you. Don't hesitate to reach out to them. Give them the blessing of sharing their experience with you as they feel and empathize with your pain. Additionally, my wife and I are open to sharing our experiences and thoughts with anyone going it. You will get through it and be stronger because of it, I promise.

P.P.S. Shahzil, get stronger. People are depending on you.