-handling the receipt paper at my work after reading a study linking receipts to miscarriage.
-all the thoughts I had about not really being sure about wanting to be pregnant now that it had actually happened; maybe I didn't "want" this pregnancy enough.
-taking ibuprofen for a headache.
-skipping a day or two of my prenatal vitamins.
-thinking that maybe I was too fat and it somehow caused the miscarriage.
-the time I went sunbathing for two hours.
-not making a greater effort to say my prayers and be more spiritual. Maybe I didn't deserve to be pregnant.
The items on this list are silly and even downright preposterous--but at some point after my miscarriage, I seriously thought about each one of these as a plausible explanation for why I miscarried. It seems sad now to look back and see how many ways I blamed myself and my body for failing me. There was such a deep sense of helplessness; I couldn't do anything. My body had betrayed me and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
To this day, I don't like handling receipt paper more than I can help it. I still get paranoid about taking my folate and iron supplements. But I've come to recognize that nothing I consciously did had any real effect on my miscarriages, and that obsessing over any slight change that may have "caused" it is distracting at least and destructive at best.
My only regret is not knowing then what I know now about my cycles and my luteal phase. If I had understood more about my cycles then, or if I had had a doctor or fertility specialist who could have sat down with me and listened to what my body was saying, I would have saved a lot of wasted time and, more importantly, wasted worry. I probably could have saved myself from having a second miscarriage.
Instead, my doctor told me that these things happen, that it was usually a fetus that wasn't viable, that one out of four pregnancies end in miscarriage, that I should just try again.
It saddens me deeply that so many women leave their doctor's office after miscarriage none the wiser about their bodies than when they came in. I had one OB-GYN tell me, "Oh, you're nothing special until you've had at least two miscarriages." Most doctors assume it's simply a fluke and tell you to just keep trying and see what happens (as my OB did). I wish more women knew about fertility awareness, because no one should have to endure three miscarriages to get the attention of a doctor. Just think about that! Three positive pregnancy tests. Three times of telling your partner and family members. Three times of thinking, "Maybe this time, it's really happening!" And three times of that sinking feeling in your chest when you just know it's not happening this time.
Now, I'm not saying that every miscarriage can be solved by charting, or that charting can give you absolute knowledge of why these things happen. But charting can be a vital piece to the puzzle and can provide crucial, enlightening information in your search for answers.
Knowledge dispels fear and doubt; light brings clarity and peace. What I do know now about my body has helped me to feel calm in the midst of the unknown. It feels so good to be able to make actionable, informed steps forward, rather than waiting in the dark without knowing what will come next. Even though I don't know if another miscarriage is in my future, I do know that I have the tools and knowledge in place to help me move forward, and to help me understand the past.
And if you have had a miscarriage, or are struggling with getting pregnant, know this:
You don't deserve it. Stop blaming yourself. It's not your fault.
Even if you haven't been taking your vitamins.
Even if you ate deli meat one time.
Even if you spent years on birth control and wonder if your hormones will ever get back to normal.
Even if you've had an abortion and think you're being punished somehow.
Even if anything. It's time for us women to stop punishing ourselves and placing the heavy burden of blame on our shoulders. Set it down, learn about yourself, seek understanding about your struggles. Seek for truth from those who know where to get it.