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I experienced my first and only miscarriage nearly five years ago. It was Valentine's Day. My husband's birthday, too. I was 10 weeks pregnant with my third child, and I was expecting to greet the day with celebration and (I hoped) a little less of the first trimester nausea that had been plaguing me.
The day defied those expectations. In the morning, I found pink streak of blood on my toilet paper after I used the bathroom. Hours later, I was curled into a fetal position on my bedroom floor, my body wracked with pain and with grief.
I was losing the pregnancy. I was losing my baby—or at least the hope and dream of a baby whom I had planned on cradling in my arms in about seven months' time.
According to the March of Dimes, approximately 10 to 15 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. Nearly 1 in 4 women have had miscarriages, too. Thus, miscarriage is common enough that if a woman hasn't experienced it herself, she likely knows someone who has.
And many of us can remember those losses with exacting detail.
I can remember the almost animal noise I made when I realized that I was actually losing the baby—when I knew that I wasn't "just spotting" or "merely cramping." I remember my midwife's voice on the phone as she asked me to take my temperature and monitor my blood loss. She told me that the experience would feel like a mini-labor. She offered to come and hold my hand, if I needed her to. I remember the way I arched my body into the side of the couch as my abdomen cramped and tensed. I remember the feeling of my 5-year-old son's head against my stomach as he hugged me and told me that my belly didn't feel "so big with the baby anymore."
I still remember it, every single year.
I've asked other women I know about what they remember about their miscarriages. A friend of mine still remembers the due date of a pregnancy she lost many decades ago, when she was unexpectedly pregnant as a teenager. My mother remembers exactly where she was, the details of the room and the ensuing conversations, each time she lost a pregnancy. My grandmother can recall her visits to her doctor, the way that some of her miscarriages resulted in tiny, barely-formed babies.
Just as women tend to remember the smallest details of days we gave birth to our babies, we also often remember the smallest details of the days we lost our babies.
My body eventually healed after my miscarriage. In fact, I got pregnant again only a couple months later. I gave birth to a healthy "rainbow baby"—a baby born after pregnancy loss—the next January. But the joy and love I felt for that new baby didn't erase the pain or the memory of the miscarriage.
I still remember it, every single year. Sometimes I light a candle. Sometimes I close my eyes and simply think back on those moments: the pain I felt, and the people who helped me through it.
And every so often, I smile, my heart swelling with appreciation, when a friend or family member calls or texts or stops to give me a hug and say, "Just wanted to let you know that I'm thinking about you today."
I'll always remember my miscarriage. When the people I love remember it too, it makes the sadness a little lighter, and my joy and gratitude a whole lot stronger.