Pregnancy loss is a topic few people think about much less speak of, and it has laid very heavy on my heart lately. July 6th was the one year mark for my first miscarriage, and July 5th was the two month mark for my second miscarriage. So, this has been on my mind a great deal lately.
I often wonder why is miscarriage such a hush-hush topic. Why don't women feel comfortable discussing it? Why do we feel as though we need to hide it and not mourn over our loss? I lost two precious children: one at six weeks and one at eight weeks. Some argue that my baby was just a clump of cells and not yet a "real" human. Others argue that my baby was not a baby until there was a heartbeat. However, I believe that my baby was a fearfully and wonderfully made baby growing in my womb. God just had different plans for him or her; and now, they're enjoying heaven while I must wait to get there.
In broaching the subject of miscarriage, I must first answer the question: "What is a miscarriage?" A miscarriage is often defined as the loss of a baby before twenty weeks (American Pregnancy Association). According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), 10%-25% of doctor confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage, and most miscarriages occur during the first trimester. Right now, 66% of my pregnancies have ended in miscarriage and have ended during the first trimester.
During these first thirteen weeks, the baby goes from being unrecognizable as a human to having every outward feature that you and I have. What happens during the first trimester?*
Weeks 1-4: These are the fertilization and implantation weeks. Many miscarriages happen during this time because the fertilized egg fails to attach to the uterine wall. If the egg does not attach to the wall, the placenta cannot form, and nutrients cannot pass from you to the baby.
Week 5: Even though the baby is no bigger than the tip of a pen, he's already developing skin, his heart, a primitive circulatory system, and the beginnings of muscles, bones, kidneys, and his reproductive system. He's beginning to look like you and I...a tiny human gaining nourishment from his mother and being fashioned by his Creator.
Week 6: The heart begins to beat this week. While I believe in life at conception, it becomes more real to you once you see the heart beating. You can't usually hear the heartbeat over the ultrasound just yet, but you can see the flickering of the heart over the ultrasound. Little nubs that will become arms and legs can be seen protruding from his c-shaped body.
Week 7: The baby is now as big as a pencil eraser. His brain and facial features are also starting to develop. His tiny nostrils begin to take shape this week, and the arm buds that were formed last week begin to look like paddles.
Week 8: Your baby truly is becoming recognizable as a human. Fingers are taking shape while the ears are forming too. You can see the eyes and the formed upper lip and nose. At around 1/2 inch, he begins to straighten his back and have less of a c-shape. Also, you can usually start hearing the heartbeat during your ultrasounds now.
Week 9: With a 50% increase in size, your baby is now 3/4 inch. Can you fathom how quickly this baby is growing? It's so hard for me to comprehend how quickly everything is formed. In 4 weeks, your baby has gone from the size of a tip of a pen to 3/4 inch. How amazing is that!! At this time, bones in the arms start developing as does the bend in the arm for the elbow, and his cute little toes have taken shape.
Week 10: The baby's head is now becoming round instead of alien shaped:) His neck is developing while the eyelids close to protect the developing eyes.
Week 11: Your baby is a whopping 2 inches!! That's over double the size he was at week 9. This week, the external genitalia is formed. While you may not be able to see it for another four weeks or so, your baby is now distinctively male or female.
Week 12: This is usually considered the last week of the first trimester. Your baby has fingernails, and his face has a human profile now. When you look at an ultrasound, you know see a recognizable tiny baby.
*Information gathered from Mayo Clinic.
After the first trimester, chances for miscarriage greatly decrease, but the chance is still there. After twenty weeks, pregnancy loss is no longer considered miscarriage but rather falls into the category of stillbirth. Stillbirth means exactly what you would think it means. Unfortunately, the baby is born but has already passed away.
Losing your baby during pregnancy is a loss. Don't try to brush it under the rug so to speak. Allow yourself time to mourn your loss. You have lost a baby and need to heal, physically and emotionally. Too many women don't allow themselves the time to mourn because they're afraid to. They're afraid people will think they're crazy since they never actually held the baby. However, you need to remember that the baby was apart of you. He was a tiny life growing inside you, and God chose you to be his mother for the short time that he was here.