When you have an unplanned pregnancy, miscarriage is likely the last worry on your mind. But today’s writer, Dawn Perez, experienced an unplanned pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage that sent her spiraling into a world of grief. Not knowing she wanted a baby before her pregnancy, her loss took her years to overcome and made her realize how ready she was to build her family. This certainly is not everyone’s story when they have a miscarriage after an unplanned pregnancy, but it is Dawn’s.
Follow along as she takes us on her journey from a surprise pregnancy early in her marriage, to a miscarriage after unplanned pregnancy. She walks us through her grief after her loss, and ends with an update on her life now with two beautiful children.
This is not the average story of having a miscarriage after unplanned pregnancy, but it’s the story of Dawn’s heart.
A Honeymoon Surprise: An Unplanned Pregnancy
My husband and I had only just arrived home from a three-week honeymoon backpacking in Europe when I decided to take a pregnancy test. My period was eight days late.
Phil and I had been together for three years, and we dreamed of spending our summers in Italy, Japan, New Zealand. You name it; we had it on our list.
Travel and adventure had drawn us together, and we celebrated this bond as frequently as our budgets and schedules would allow. Honestly, that wasn’t much on two teachers’ salaries, but we did what we could.
We both wanted kids and dreamed of a family, but that goal was a few years off. We had time.
So when that second line showed up, I was surprised, to say the least.
A little apprehensive, I told Phil about the pregnancy hours later. Thankfully, he was absolutely thrilled!
He was surprised too, and curious, of course, as to the changes we were going to need to make. His happiness made me breathe a sigh of relief!
Ultimately, just because something, even pregnancy, happens by accident does not have to mean that it is unwanted. Unplanned, yes. But not unwanted.
This was certainly the case for us, even in our surprised state.
Preparing for a Baby
For three long weeks, we lived in bliss. I felt my body already starting to change. We researched hospitals and doctors, nurseries, and onesies.
Needing more space for a family, we got a realtor and started thinking about buying a house.
We told everyone right away. It was reason for celebration! Our family and friends sent us cards and gifts. I felt that the baby was a girl.
We couldn’t understand why people waited to share about their pregnancy when we felt such joy.
We know now.
Miscarrying Our Unplanned Pregnancy
Our bliss wasn’t meant to be. I lost the pregnancy.
One day at a conference for work, I realized what was happening, and I drove home in tears.
The details of how it happened aren’t important, just that it did, and we were devastated. (If details about the process of miscarrying will help you, find out what to expect when miscarrying here.)
I had gone from the highest of highs just weeks earlier, to the lowest I had ever been.
I had never really experienced grief before—never lost something so close or important to me.
It was an unplanned pregnancy and an unplanned miscarriage.
When life throws you that many curveballs in such a short amount of time, it’s bound to shake your foundation. The surprise, the joy and the pain all swirled together, and I felt like I was tumbling down a bottomless, dark abyss.
Learning About Another Unplanned Pregnancy
Only a week or so after the miscarriage, my brother and his wife told me they were pregnant—again, unplanned. If you’ve had a miscarriage, I don’t need to tell you how that made me feel. People talk about the difficulty of going to a baby shower after miscarriage for a reason–it can be really hard to experience joy for others amidst your own pain.
I tore up all the gifts we had received and threw them in the trash amidst burning tears. I thought about setting them on fire, but I didn’t trust myself not to burn down our apartment.
How could God, the Universe, whoever was up there . . . how could they take something so precious from me and give it so quickly to someone else?
I shouted at my mother for her lack of understanding. When my sister-in-law wanted to talk about her pregnancy, I told her I wasn’t interested in her baby.
People around me gave all those insensitive, inconsiderate remarks that you read about, and when they said them, I snapped back in return. (People really need to learn what not to say to someone who had a miscarriage.) I was pushing everyone away.
Climbing Out of the Darkness of My Unplanned Pregnancy Miscarriage
The weight of not knowing if it was my body’s fault was too great a burden, so after some extensive discussion with Phil, we planned to start trying to conceive again. If I was going to have a difficult time getting pregnant again or have more miscarriages, I wanted to have enough time to have a baby before my clock started to count down.
I went to counseling, leaned on my husband, and became obsessive about my health. I was working out, eating clean, and trying as best I could to manage my stress and anger.
Even when I got pregnant after trying to conceive for only 3 months, it didn’t help. Actually, it made my anger worse. Pregnancy anxiety after miscarriage is totally normal, and for me, so was pregnancy rage.
I was drowning in fear that it would happen again, so I lashed out more, cried, and pushed people away.
I was worried that the people around me would get excited for me, and that it would happen again. It was the only coping mechanism I had.
Those around me, even my husband to some degree, didn’t understand what I was going through. But he, and my mother, and my sister-in-law all stuck by me and waited it out.
It took me months before I convinced myself that I was going to carry the pregnancy to term and that our boy, Morgan, was likely going to be born healthy. And after Morgan was born, I finally could start to release all the anger I had been holding onto.
I’m One of the Lucky Ones
Now, we’re a family of four.
I never had another miscarriage, and I didn’t have to go through the pain of infertility.
But that miscarriage left a scar that isn’t visible to people who don’t know what I went through.
My unplanned pregnancy miscarriage is an uncelebrated anniversary that I live silently every year, while I happily cuddle my two amazing boys.
In many ways, the fact that my first pregnancy was unplanned made my grief that much worse. I’m a planner. I like to be prepared. I wasn’t prepared for my pregnancy, and I wasn’t prepared for my miscarriage.
If the pregnancy had been planned, I would have prepared my body. I wouldn’t have been drinking every night on our honeymoon, and I certainly would have taken it easier on my jet-lagged body after we returned home. Some people can do these things and be fine, but planner that I am, I could not.
Those changes would not have prevented the miscarriage, but they would’ve done something huge for my mental health. They would have lessened my guilt, provided more peace of mind, and potentially decreased my physical recovery time.
Given the chance to research, I would have learned ahead of time that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss. I could have mentally prepared for the possibility of miscarriage.
While it might not have made my grief any less, I certainly could have known how to help myself. I could’ve expressed concerns about the chance of miscarriage to those close to me so they could’ve learned how to support someone after miscarriage.
Perhaps most importantly, had I been able to prepare, I could have known that it wasn’t my fault.
Lessons I Learned from My Unplanned Pregnancy Miscarriage
In every dark moment in life, there is a glimmer of something brighter. My miscarriage ultimately brought me my two boys.
It taught me to handle grieving and the importance of talking about grief. It showed me that the important people in life would stand by my side even if they couldn’t understand what I was going through.
After unplanned pregnancy, miscarriage can cause more emotional turmoil than you can bear, but you don’t have to go through it alone.
My miscarriage taught me that my emotions are valid. If you have an unexpected pregnancy, you’re allowed to feel scared, or you’re allowed to feel joy. You’re even allowed to feel both at the same time!
If you have lost a pregnancy, you’re allowed to grieve. You’re allowed to not know how you feel. You’re allowed to be upset when someone else gets pregnant.
Have you ever thought about what you would do if, when you had an unplanned pregnancy, miscarriage followed? I hadn’t either.
And that’s alright.
It’s okay if life takes you somewhere you initially weren’t expecting to go. Sometimes, even in the face of such pain, everything turns out alright.
What’s one lesson you learned from your miscarriage? Talk to us about it in the comments.
Dawn Perez is a writer at wildsimplejoy.com. After being a public school teacher for 10 years, she made the switch to a stay-at-home mom and entrepreneur. She is passionate about learning, healthy living, and her two boys.
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Katy Huie Harrison, PhD, is an author, mom, recurrent miscarriage survivor, & owner of Undefining Motherhood. She lives in Atlanta with her husband (affectionately known on the internet as “Husband,”) son (Jack), and dog (Charlotte). She believes our society puts too many expectations on women that make womanhood and motherhood restrictive. Her goal is to shift the paradigm about what it means to be a woman and mother, giving all women a greater sense of agency over their own lives. You can find Katy and her work featured in places like CNN’s Headline News, Romper, Scary Mommy, Demeter Press’s Motherhood and Social Exclusion, & more.