Saying Goodbye

Saying Goodbye

It was a dark and stormy night. It’s a cliché to introduce a story that way, but the night of November 18, 2013, was truly one of the darkest and stormiest nights of my life. I sat in the emergency room bed, clutching Luke’s hand in a viselike grip and staring up at the ticking clock, willing it to move backwards—just a few minutes—to a time before the doctor had delivered the news I’d been terrified to hear: “What you are experiencing is a miscarriage. I am so sorry for your loss.”

Our road to becoming parents had been an arduous one. We were married in 2008, and although we knew we wanted children, I was deep in the throes of my eating disorder and needed to get healthy before starting a family. In the fall of 2013, after years of therapy and treatment, my body and mind were in a much healthier place and we knew we were ready.

I expected it might take us a while to get pregnant, so I was shocked when I started experiencing pregnancy symptoms just two months after we’d officially started trying. I took a home test that confirmed what my body was telling me—I was pregnant!

Despite the evidence of those two pink lines, I wanted to be absolutely sure I was carrying a baby before saying anything to Luke. I made an appointment later that day with my doctor, but the in-office tests were inconclusive (my first hint that the pregnancy wasn’t a healthy one, though I didn’t realize it at the time). I left my doctor’s office feeling sad, but not devastated, and I was eager to try again the following month.

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I was sitting in my gym’s locker room the next day when I got an unexpected phone call from my doctor. “We received the results from yesterday’s bloodwork, and I have some good news. Congratulations on your pregnancy, Mrs. Jernejcic.”

I couldn’t stop shaking with excitement as I walked out of the gym and drove to the nearest store. I wandered the aisles, seeking inspiration for some creative way to share the news. I settled on a Baby Ruth candy bar and drove to Luke’s work, where I was meeting him for lunch.

Not wanting to rouse his suspicions, I tried to act casual as we drove to the park where we had planned to have a picnic. As soon as we sat down, I pulled the Baby Ruth out of my purse and put it on the table. It took Luke a moment to understand what I was telling him, but realization soon crossed his face, and he stood to hug me and rejoice with me over our good news.

The next few days were a wonderful haze of early-pregnancy bliss. I downloaded every pregnancy app I could find, started a pregnancy journal, lined up my OB appointments for the next several months, and began making plans for how we would share the news with family and friends. But I never got the chance.

Just a week after my pregnancy had been confirmed, I began experiencing severe cramps. I told myself that this was a normal sign of pregnancy, nothing to worry about. Then the bleeding started: just some spotting at first, but as night approached, the trickle turned into a heavy stream and my worry grew. I went to bed hoping—praying—that I would wake up and it would all have been a bad dream, but sleep didn’t come, and as the cramps and the bleeding intensified, I began to panic. I woke Luke and we debated what we should do. Not wanting to wait until morning to visit my OB, we shuffled to the car and drove to the emergency room.

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The mood in the ER was eerily calm. I couldn’t help but feel frustrated that the nurses did not share in my panic. Didn’t they know there was a life at stake? We filled out the requisite paperwork and then an emotionless tech led me into a dark room and wordlessly conducted an ultrasound—my first. She didn’t turn the screen to show me what she was seeing, so I assumed it wasn’t good.

After the ultrasound, she drew my blood, asked me to give a urine sample, and guided us to a sterile bed where we waited to meet with the doctor on call. The meeting would be a perfunctory one. I didn’t need his words to confirm what I knew in my heart: the life that had been growing inside of me had faded away. My baby was gone. I was no longer a mother.

We drove home in silence; there were no words to express our anguish and despair. Even tears were stubborn in coming, and for once I was grateful for the rain pounding down on our car: my own emotions were paralyzed by grief, but the earth was mourning on my behalf, manifesting my sadness when my own soul was numb.

Even before becoming pregnant, I knew that miscarriage was a strong possibility, but I prayed that this pregnancy would not be one of the 20% that ended too soon. Now, I was experiencing every woman’s worst nightmare. For one brief week I had known I would be a mother. Now the fragile life of my child had been extinguished, taking with it my hopes, my dreams, my faith.

It’s amazing how a life so short can be so transformative. Such a minuscule impact on the world, but the center of my own. I was tempted to write off my miscarriage as a blip on my journey, just a bump along the road to one day becoming a parent. But there was no denying that I had been changed.

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The weeks and months following my miscarriage were the darkest of my life. I slumped into a deep depression, going through the motions but inwardly wanting to end my life, just as the life of my child had been so prematurely ended. I questioned my future and even my faith. Never before had God seemed so far.

I temporarily abandoned God, but He never left me. With patience and compassion, He pulled me from the depths of my despair, and while my sadness didn’t fade, a glimmer of hope returned. We started trying again for a baby, and six months later, those two pink lines made another appearance. It was a rocky pregnancy and an even rockier delivery, but fourteen months after saying goodbye to my first child, I welcomed another one into the world.

I rarely talk about my miscarriage. It feels petty to still be grieving when the pregnancy was so short, and when I now have been blessed with a remarkable little boy. But I will never forget that week with my unborn baby, or that rainy November night when we said goodbye.

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  • Sarah L Smith

    Beautifully written. I’ve been through miscarriage as well and it is truly a unique and difficult grief. So glad you have a beautiful baby boy. ❤️❤️❤️

    • Thank you so much Sarah. And I’m sorry for your loss as well. ? It is so hard, but so helpful to know other women have had the same experience.

      • Sarah L Smith

        Yes, and so good to hear each other’s journeys! Thanks for sharing your story!

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