Nfld. & Labrador·Point of View

The day that I was supposed to become a mom: How I've dealt with miscarriage

In a powerful guest column, contributor Dana Tucker reveals the rush of emotions that came with pregnancy, and the sorrow of learning something had gone very wrong.

First was the rush of emotions of becoming pregnant. Then, the sorrow of learning things had gone wrong

'We tried to contain our excitement,' writes contributor Dana Tucker, 'but deep down I knew that if something happened, containing my excitement now wouldn't make it any easier then.' (Maddie Mills Photography/Submitted by Dana Tucker)

There's a date — March 13, 2020 — that has held many different emotions for me since June 2019. 

Looking down at those two pink lines in disbelief, I was thankful it hadn't taken my husband and I long to conceive, a fear that I knew all too often becomes reality for many couples. 

Going to my first doctor's appointment, she quickly referenced her chart and told us a tentative due date: March 13. 

We were "cautiously optimistic," as our doctor instructed us to be.

I wasn't naive of the possibilities. We tried to contain our excitement, but deep down I knew that if something happened, containing my excitement now wouldn't make it any easier then. 

We followed "the rules," only telling my sister and a couple of close friends. We would wait until after our first scan to tell our parents and close family, and then announce to everyone else at the customary 12-week mark. 

The morning of our dating ultrasound, we sat and waited as other couples came and went, smiling and laughing, clutching their precious photos in their hands. 

A missed miscarriage

As I lay on the bed, the ultrasound tech started moving the transducer around on my stomach. Something just didn't feel right. For the next five minutes I didn't look at the screen, and I didn't look at my husband's face. I just kept my eyes locked to hers. 

I watched as she frantically searched for some piece of hope to give us. But there was none. Maybe I was earlier than I thought, she explained, and booked us in for another ultrasound a week later. 

We returned to the same room — and to the same look on the ultrasound tech's face. Eventually, the radiologist came in with the heartbreaking news that there was no growth occurring and I had had what's called a missed miscarriage. My body was still acting as though it were pregnant, even though development had stopped weeks ago. 

Our story is unfortunately not unique, but the most unfortunate fact is that these stories are not talked about far enough.

The next day we received a glossed-over prognosis of what would occur during an induced miscarriage and were sent home to deal with it completely unprepared, resulting in a 911 call and ambulance ride to the ER, just to be sent home again and told to try once more if bleeding didn't occur. 

In the next two months there would be continued bleeding and cramping, countless blood work draws, and ultimately an ultrasound to discover that there was still residual tissue due to "my body still feeding my uterus." It was devastating to me that it seemed like even my body didn't want to let this pregnancy go. 

I then underwent a D&C (dilation and curettage) procedure, which removes tissue from the uterus. Six months after finding out I was pregnant, my body returned to its normal cycle. 

Suffering in silence

The physical process of your body recovering from a miscarriage is traumatic and painful, but it will never compare with the emotional trauma and pain. It was by far the saddest and most isolating time of my life, and my husband's life as well. You feel so very powerless and hopeless. Looking back, it scares me to remember the dark places my mind had gone. 

Our story is unfortunately not unique, but the most unfortunate fact is that these stories are not talked about far enough. 

As you are forced to join this secret club of grieving women, the overwhelming shame and sadness you feel cuts you off from wanting to talk to anyone about it. By the time you're ready, society tells us we should be over it and to move on. 

You are met with people who insist you "just try again," and that you "should be lucky you can even get pregnant." Meanwhile, you are drowning in sorrow and dealing with the betrayal of your own body. 

For a province that is so wanting of us to increase the population and reproduce — where are the provisions when this dream of increasing the size of your family takes a dark turn?

You are met with people who feel it is OK to ask you personal questions about your reproductive plans. Before someone asks a woman when she is going to have a baby, they should be aware that for every three birth announcements they see on Facebook, there is likely one friend suffering in silence after a miscarriage, and a handful of women who are trying but haven't been successful yet. 

They should be prepared to hear the messy truth and they should be prepared to listen and be an ally for her and her family. 

If you type "Newfoundland miscarriage support" into Google, the results are scant.

The first link invites you to Caul's Funeral Home, while another is a group of heartbreaking videos on loss made by Eastern Health, "designed to help people at their own time and convenience," all featuring couples who had stillbirths.

As beautiful and compassionate as they were, instead of making me feel better, the videos made me feel like I had no right to be sad, as these people had lost their full-term infants. 

An ultrasound is a normal part of pregnancy. For Dana Tucker, her first would become a difficult moment. (Teresa Crawford/The Associated Press)

No supports provided

I was constantly faced with the realization that it could have been worse. There are women who can't get pregnant. There are women much further along than I was who lose their babies. There are women who give birth to stillborn angels. My loss was essentially a sac of cells and the gravity of that truth made my grief worse. 

Sure, people would ask "How are you doing?" — but telling the truth came with its own woes. I'd filter my answer to loved ones because I didn't want to make them hurt any more than they had to. 

For a province that is so wanting of us to increase the population and reproduce — where are the provisions when this dream of increasing the size of your family takes a dark turn? Where are the requirements for short-term leave given to employees going through these types of situations? 

Throughout my entire experience, there were no supports offered to me by my health-care providers. I was not told about counselling nor was it suggested to me. I was not told about any groups I could seek help from. I wasn't handed so much as a pamphlet or a number to a mental health line.

I started seeing a therapist on my own accord and I found support pages online, whose posts and stories made me feel less alone. And I finally confided in the people who I knew had gone through similar situations, something that took me months to do but probably helped me the most. 

For months now, that day — the day I was supposed to become a mom — had been hanging over my head like a dark cloud. When it was months out, I thought, if I just get to that day, and live through it, then I could finally move on. 

Now that it has come and gone, I know that won't be the case. It's something I will hold onto for the rest of my life.

Dana Tucker's hope for another woman who must go through this awful experience 'is that she doesn't feel alone.' (Submitted by Dana Tucker)

Losses can't be compared

So now I choose to not let that day go by in vain. I struggled with the idea of putting our story out there in fear of judgment. But losses cannot be compared. 

Every loss holds its own excruciating circumstances and judging them based on your own experience, or someone's you know, can be minimizing and dismissive. I truly believe change starts with awareness. 

My hope for the next woman who must go through this awful experience is that she doesn't feel alone.

I want her to feel empowered by the abundance of knowledge and resources her health-care providers have given her. I want her to know the government has acknowledged that her family will need time to grieve. I want the people around her to be informed and appropriate in offering support.

I want her to feel that these conversations are not taboo or stigmatised. I want her to realize the importance of breaking the silence and I want her to feel empowered to tell her story for the next woman. 

There's a petition before the House of Commons to help support grieving parents of pregnancy and child loss. You may want to consider signing it. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

About the Author

Dana Tucker is a mechanical technologist based in Conception Bay South.