After experiencing a miscarriage, it can be difficult to know how to grieve. Many parents, like my partner and I, may even push away the pain, feeling as if it somehow shouldn’t hurt since the loss happened early on. But after two miscarriages, I learned that a loss is a loss, and it is never too late to grieve. For us, that meant honoring and naming our babies years later.
Our First Loss
We were at our second ultrasound with our reproductive endocrinologist. Hesitation and smiles filled the room.
The nurse doing the ultrasound says, “Are we sure about the dates?” Of course, we were sure about our dates, I thought. We’ve been tracking these things for months. The medical staff shuffled us around to different rooms, awkwardly avoiding eye contact.
“There’s no heartbeat,” they informed us. “It’s called a blighted ovum or missed miscarriage.”
I didn’t understand. I hadn’t been bleeding and I had pregnancy symptoms. We could still see the little bean on the ultrasound. Were they sure a heartbeat wouldn’t come later? I’ll just wait, I thought. Maybe the doctor was wrong.
The doctor wasn’t wrong. We lost our precious baby at 7 weeks on June 18, 2019.
Heartbreaking platitudes started coming at us on repeat.
“Well, at least you know you can get pregnant.” “It was still early.” “When are you going to try again?”
Our Rainbow Baby
Soon we were right back to fertility treatments. More OPKs and pregnancy tests. More tracking and medication. More, more, more. Maybe if I don’t think about it, it will hurt less, I thought. And for a time, it did.
We got pregnant just two months later and had our beautiful rainbow baby in May 2020. After months of careful consideration, we named her Lena.
Our Second Loss
In January 2022, we were thrilled to get another positive pregnancy test. Then the bleeding started. We rushed to the OB for an ultrasound and were relieved to hear a heartbeat. The bleeding continued and ultrasounds became part of our routine.
“Baby looks a bit small but there’s still a heartbeat. Baby should be okay in there.” “Are we sure about dates?” Of course, I’m sure.
Months go by. I was tired and could hardly walk. Maybe it’s just harder with a toddler, I thought. We saw the baby and there was a heartbeat—no need to panic.
Our 15-week baby arrived early in the morning on May 9, 2022.
Choosing to Grieve
All the memories came rushing back. The pain and heartache from our first miscarriage were still there, raw and powerful. I didn’t take time to grieve that first pregnancy–after all, everyone said it was so early. How could I really hurt after only a few weeks, and when I never even heard the heartbeat? But now, we had 15 weeks of ultrasounds, a heartbeat, and a growing fetus. Of course, this loss hurts. I questioned why the first one should hurt less. It didn’t hurt less.
I talked to my therapist. Why was all this coming up now after three years?
“Well, how did you honor that first baby?” they asked.
We didn’t. We buried those feelings deeply to avoid the pain and went right back to fertility treatments. Guilt and shame bubbled to the surface.
My therapist and I discussed ways that we could honor both of our babies who were gone too soon. The time to grieve had not passed just because time had passed. I could still hurt and grieve over my 7-week baby just as I would my 15-week baby. Both my losses mattered because they mattered to me.
Naming Our Babies
We decided to honor all of our babies by giving them names. We started researching names and associated meanings just as we had for our living daughter.
We named our first loss baby Nova, and our second Skyler. Now we have three babies. Nova, Lena, and Skyler.
Nova means new. It also means a star that brightens tremendously and then fades after a time. Nova is our bright star that faded too soon. We love you, Nova.
Lena means ray of light. Lena is our ray of light every single day. We love you, Lena.
Skyler means eternal life, strength, love, and little warrior. Skyler is our little warrior that we will love eternally. We love you, Skyler.
Naming our losses, even a few years later, felt right for us. It may not be right for everyone and that’s okay. For us, naming our two losses allowed them to be real and gave us permission to honor them and experience the grief that was already in our hearts.