Miscarriage and loss
Forever our Angels
Pregnancy loss is a common problem in obstetrics, occurring in
approximately one in five pregnancies. Although most occur in
the first trimester and many likely go unrecognized, it is difficult
to anticipate the response of the individual woman (or man) experiencing
this event. The book, Forever our Angels by
author Hannah Stone represents a series of first-person vignettes
describing responses to such losses.
The introduction by psychiatrist and vignette contributor Dr.
Sara Goldman is particularly helpful in "framing" the issues at
hand before one delves into the individual cases. A key message
that runs throughout the book is that gestational age at the time
of loss is not a determining factor as to the level of loss felt.
Depending on the individual, and the circumstances surrounding
the event, the "preciousness" of that pregnancy should not be
undervalued based on how early it occurred. Only a limited number
of such publications are available to both the medical and lay
communities, making this work an important contribution. It should
be required reading for any health care professional who participates
in the care and well-being of reproductive-age women and men.
It is difficult to find easy-to-read and personalized materials
such as is contained in this book for the person experiencing
a pregnancy loss. Perinatal Loss teams should therefore make Forever
our Angels available to their patients so that they can have
the opportunity to use this resource to heal and hopefully recover
Bernard Gonik, M.D.
Professor and Fann Srere Chair of Perinatal Medicine
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Wayne State University School of Medicine
Forever our Angels validates the profound
suffering of women who have experienced pregnancy loss. This validation
is the first step towards healing.
Christiane Northrup, MD
Author of Mother-Daughter Wisdom
Forever our Angels
Excerpted from Forever
our Angels, a collection of personal stories told by the men
and women who were dealt the blow of miscarriage.
I was married to my husband for four and a half years when I
became pregnant for the first time. It took about six months of
trying before I got pregnant and we were thrilled when we saw
that first plus sign on the pregnancy test. We decided to wait
until I was 12 weeks along before we told our friends and family.
My husband and I were a bit nervous as my 12-week visit to the
OB/GYN approached. My husband had this thing about something not
being right because I was never nauseous. I figured I was lucky.
We would soon find out that something was not right and that I
certainly was not lucky.
As my doctor was preparing to do an ultrasound so that we could
see the baby's heartbeat for the first time, I confided that I
was nervous. I wasn't going to feel right until I saw my baby's
heart beating on the ultrasound. And so we waited. And we waited.
The doctor didn't let on that anything was wrong. In fact, she
told us to go down the hall to a radiologist, whose equipment
was better than her own. Within a few minutes of the radiologist's
greeting us and starting the ultrasound, we were told that our
baby had died. Our baby had grown for about eight weeks and then
stopped, never having developed a beating heart. We were left
shocked, heartbroken, and confused, and we didn't know what to
I had a D & C that afternoon, but the aftershock of my miscarriage
was felt for months. There were people who offered me hugs, and
there were even a few who admitted that they had gone through
the same thing. But no one really talked about it past the "I've
had one too." I don't think it took more than two weeks after
my D & C that I wanted to talk to someone who had been through
the same thing. Most of my friends had gone on to have healthy
babies after their miscarriages and it didn't seem right to discuss
the past. I had my husband to talk to, and we grew closer as a
result of having experienced this loss together. But I needed
a voice of experience, and all I heard was silence.
I moved on and I focused my energy on moving on and getting pregnant
again. We were thrilled when I became pregnant only four months
after my miscarriage. Our daughter was born healthy and beautiful
and worth every second of the anxiety I felt during those nine
months of carrying her.
My second miscarriage occurred nearly three years later. My daughter
was not quite two and my son was a precocious seven months. I
had only been pregnant for eight weeks when I went in for an ultrasound.
Again, my husband was by my side because he had this thing about
being with me ever since my first miscarriage. The doctor was
straightforward this time, telling me that something wasn't right
with the baby. The heart hadn't started beating yet and it seemed
as if the baby was two weeks behind in its growth. We knew what
this meant—we had lost another baby. I miscarried at home
this time. Physically, it was easier and faster. Emotionally,
it was just as devastating as the first miscarriage. I knew that
I had my children to be thankful for and believe me, I was thankful.
But I was also sad because I had wanted this baby. But I moved
on, and a month after the miscarriage, I got pregnant again. We
were thrilled when I gave birth after a problem-free pregnancy.
When I got pregnant again two years later, I admit that I wasn't
all that excited. I had three children under the age of four,
and I was exhausted from keeping up with them. I must have taken
four or five pregnancy tests, with all of them being faintly positive.
I had wondered why the plus wasn't all that clear and I even called
the pregnancy test company to ask what that meant. Their answer:
if it says positive, it's positive. I kept wondering if maybe
a faint plus sign meant a faint pregnancy. With all of the other
times I had been pregnant—even with the two pregnancies
I had lost—I had always seen a plus sign as clear as day.
Something was wrong—I just knew it.
So call it maternal instinct. Within a few days after I found
out I was pregnant, I noticed I was spotting. I was also experiencing
some back pain but I figured it could have been from lifting the
kids. We were devastated when the spotting turned into actual
bleeding and the fetal tissue came out. I had just started to
get used to the idea of being pregnant again and I even began
to think about names and how I would decorate the nursery. I had
gone from three kids to four and back to three.
As thankful as I am to have my beautiful family, I can't help
but remember what I have lost. I lost three pregnancies. They
were all wanted and expected and we were heartbroken when we lost
them. It's been well over 11 years since I suffered my first loss,
yet I can recall it as if it were yesterday. I remember how naïve
I was, assuming that everything would be fine once I heard that
heartbeat. And I remember how devastated I was when the ultrasound
technician told me there was no heartbeat. I remember feeling
alone even though I knew how common a miscarriage was. No one
wanted to talk about it more than a "I had one once." And I remember
the shame I felt for wanting to talk about it.
I wrote Forever
Our Angels because I wanted to heal. The pain of my three
losses will never go away. They get easier with each passing day,
month, and year, but it never truly goes away. I wonder about
my first baby and my second and my third that I lost. I have so
many questions: was it a boy or a girl? Did it look like me or
my husband? I will never know that child, and it still saddens
me to this very day.
I wrote Forever
Our Angels because I wanted to help others to begin the healing.
I don't want anyone out there to feel the shame I felt in wanting
to talk but not being able to. Pregnancy loss is something that
happens every single day, yet for some reason, it is considered
taboo. Our grandmothers have had it. Our mothers and sisters and
aunts have had it. But no one feels they can talk about it. We
are told to accept it and not to grieve or consider it the loss
it truly is. As a result, many women are left depressed and completely
despondent, not knowing where to turn. The purpose of my book
is to to let men and women know that it is not only okay to grieve
this very real loss, but that it is also necessary. The silence
has to end. I know that I am not alone in the grief I experienced.
And neither are any of you. Together, we can all take some comfort
and begin the healing in knowing that we do need to grieve and
we do need to mourn our angels.