Miscarriage and the 12-Week-Rule
By: Tiffany Elder (originally published on Tiffany’s blog, Digging Deep)
The 12-week rule. Every parent out there knows what the 12-week rule is. It means that you shouldn’t tell anyone that you’re pregnant within the first 12 weeks “in case something happens.” Because, if anything does happen, it will most likely happen during those 12 weeks.
On the 24th of October, I took a pregnancy test and was elated to see the two lines that told me I was pregnant with our second child. It was a glimmer of joy during a week of bad news. I was so excited to tell my husband. He really needed good news that week. We told immediate family and a couple of close friends. Other than that, we stuck to the 12-week rule.
On the 28th of November, I had an ultrasound. The baby was almost five weeks behind on growth. No heartbeat. We were devastated.
What was meant to bring the joy of life instead brought the sorrow of loss.
It’s called a “missed” miscarriage. My baby had died, but my body didn’t know it. I continued to have regular pregnancy symptoms as my mind and heart were grappling with reality.
As I was being wheeled down to an operating room a few days later, I couldn’t wait for them to put me under anesthesia. I had a mild panic attack (first ever) the day before just thinking about the procedure. All I wanted was a moment to be numb to it all. After the procedure, the anesthesiologist woke me by saying, “Tiffany, wake up. Everything went well.” To me, nothing about this went well. Tears began to flow instantly. I refused to open my eyes until my husband could be with me.
It officially felt final. My body was catching up to what my mind and heart had already been told. It was heartbreaking all over again. People say that having children is like having your heart walk on the outside of your body. Having a miscarriage feels like having a part of your heart die. The physical effects alone last weeks. They give you a prescription for the pain, so it is manageable. The emotional pain is excruciating.
Within less than 12 weeks, my life changed. Twice.
I love that the 12-week rule allows you to mourn in private. I don’t like that the 12-week rule implies that you have to keep it private.
Everyone is different. For me, keeping it private would have perpetuated the feeling of shame that tried to rear its ugly head at me. It’s both isolating and lonely, but life isn’t meant to be lived alone. Life is meant to be lived in relationship with God and with one another.
When someone offered to create a meal train for us, we said yes even though it meant everyone would be aware of our current struggle. I’m so glad we did. It allowed the church the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus to our little family. This has been an enormous blessing for this momma that had no vacation time left at work (shout out to Christian employers: if you have an employee that miscarries, fight for her to have time off. She has experienced a death in the family that the world doesn’t recognize as a death. She’s not in her right mind, so she may not even ask, but I can tell you that even a couple of days off would have meant the world to me).
Being open about it also opened the door for women who had been through the same thing to reach out to me. That has meant more to me than anything!
The situation sucks. I’ve never been an emotional person, but everything becomes an emotional experience after a miscarriage. Taking a shower, getting ready, using the restroom, your commute to work. Everything becomes an emotional experience. But, it will get better. So many women out there can testify to that. Suffering silently won’t allow you to see that, though.
It can be awkward at first.
There will be people that don’t know what to say, so they try to avoid conversations at all costs. That’s ok. It may make situations feel lonely, but I wouldn’t have known what to say either, so I understand.
There will be people that say some of the dumbest things. That’s ok too, even if I spend the next 30 minutes in the bathroom crying. They didn’t understand, so I’ll show them grace.
As lonely as it can feel to experience both of those types of people, it doesn’t outweigh the benefits of those that have gone out of their way to care for you.
Every text. Every hug. Every card. Every meal. Each one has meant the world to us. Even if I don’t respond to your text right away, it was a helpful reminder that we aren’t in this alone, and for that, we are so grateful.
I’m thankful that being open about our journey has given people the opportunity to love on us. Because, trust me, we need it.
I also hope that being open about our journey opens the door for young women who may experience this in the future to reach out to us. At the beginning, it’s hard to know who you can talk to that will understand. Going forward, that person can be me. I get it. I understand. I’m here to be your sounding board. I will cry with you. I’ll let you shout, scream, punch a wall, or whatever you have to do with no judgment. I pray it doesn’t happen to you. If it does, I’m here for you. You don’t have to suffer silently if you don’t want to.
Leading into October, I felt as though I should take the last three months of the year off from blogging. Now I know why. It’s almost poetic that my last post was about memorizing the Bible so that God can speak to you through it even when you are too weary to pick it up for yourself. I’ve needed that now more than ever, and He has been faithful to use those scriptures to speak to me.
I wasn’t able to intricately weave those passages into this blog post at all. Instead, I will leave you with a few of those passages that spoke to me during this time. They aren’t for everyone going through this, but these are the ones God chose for me.
“And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
Matthew 11:6 (ESV) (unanswered prayers)
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6 (ESV)
He did not forsake my baby or me. My baby is with Him and He remains with me.
“This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain.”
Hebrews 12:27 (NLT)
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it.”
James 1:2-5 (MSG)
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
Romans 8:26 (ESV)
About Tiffany Elder
Tiffany is a speaker and writer whose desire is to help women discover and fulfill who they were created to be. This passion flows from her and is evident on both the stage and the page. Tiffany is the wife of Joseph, who is one of their church’s Student Ministry Directors. They currently live in the Dallas, Texas area with their three-year-old son, Jackson.
Read more from Tiffany on Sharing Magazine or her blog, Digging Deep.
I’m so sorry for your loss, and commend you for this excellent post and for your courage in being vulnerable. You truly can be an instrument for healing in others, and knowing you have this mission can make the pain more meaningful, and therefore more bearable, too. I’ve met so many amazing women since losing my baby girl in labour, and have been honoured to journey with others in their experience of loss and grief as well. Together, we are stronger! God bless you!
Hugs, Sister. Thank you for sharing your story.
Thank you so much for your sharing your story. I am currently going through a miscarriage now and came across this just looking for some encouragement. Thank you for making me not feel so alone right now.
I came across your blog this morning and your dates hit me hard. I’m not sure of the exact day we found out I was pregnant but it was that same week of October 24. November 15th I had my first ultrasound assuming I was 8 weeks pregnant. The heartbeat was faint and not as strong as they would have liked and it was measuring 2 weeks behind. I had no idea that I should expect to miscarry. I wish the doctor would have told me it was a strong possibility. Instead I just assumed I had my dates wrong and it was too early. We told our immediate friends and family at Thanksgiving and were so excited. November 28th I also miscarried, it was able to happen naturally because of how early it was. But it was the worst thing I have ever been through. I had 2 ultrasounds afterwards to check to see if everything cleared out, those were the worst, knowing I wouldn’t see anything there anymore. In January I decided to share my story on Facebook. I had several people reach out to me privately that needed someone to talk to. Everything happens for a reason and I think God’s reason for this was so I could relate to other women and help them get through some of their darkest days.
And now I am excited to say that I am 15 weeks pregnant. I still have anxiety and worry that something could still happen but I try to remain calm and trust that God has a plan.
Thanks for sharing your story
I’m so thankful you’re willing to share your pain. So many people deal with this, including me. Most of us stay silent, but so many women need to know they’re not alone.
This is so true what you said, “I love that the 12-week rule allows you to mourn in private. I don’t like that the 12-week rule implies that you have to keep it private.” Thanks for sharing your story. A lot of people do keep it private and cannot open up, or they don’t have a church community to uplift and encourage them. Thankful for an awesome church community who takes the verse to heart, “Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12:15.
I just had my sixth miscarriage (seventh pregnancy) late December 2018. After my 3rd miscarriage, they discovered why and we thought we had the solution (as long as we caught the pregnancy soon enough which is difficult since I am irregular). Finally, my fifth pregnancy, I was able to carry to term (with lots of complications). In May 2018, a week after I found out I was pregnant again, I miscarried. In November 2018, we found out again that I was pregnant. I remained on my blood thinner since my miscarriage in May, so when we had our first ultrasound at 9 weeks, the baby looked healthy with a strong heart beat. I had another ultrasound 2 weeks later and again everything was good. I went back for my 12 week checkup one week later and no heartbeat. I was so torn! I waited until I was 12 weeks to tell everyone (that would have been 3 days before my appointment). I made it the latest I ever did with this last one (most my miscarriages occurred between 5-7 weeks), and with the strong ultrasounds and being on the blood thinner, I was feeling excited finally! Then, a slap in my face – the look on the ultrasound tech’s face and the dreaded words “I have to go get your doctor”. My whole world crashed! The following day I had a D& C and it was the worse day of my life. It has only been 2 weeks, but I am dying inside and can’t stop crying. We have told our families and some close friends, but I can’t bring myself to tell everyone else. I am taken this loss the hardest and feel I don’t know how to grieve. With saying that, the verses above have brought me some peace, and I thank you for that.
We went to our 12 week checkup yesterday to find there was no heartbeat. It’s strange and shocking because we just had an ultrasound last week and it was confirmed that baby was fine, moving around a lot and strong heartbeat. I have to go in for a D&C today in just a couple of hours. Reading this gave me some peace. I know God is with us through this hard time, and have not blamed him for this at all. Wanting to know why, but really just wanting to hurry and get to the healing part. We found out eight weeks ago after trying for almost a year, and we have been so excited. Haven’t told any family, we were waiting to get past the twelve week mark, and yesterday would’ve been that. We thought we were out of the woods. Definitely was not expecting that, we had our seven year old Daughter with us, we wanted her to hear the heartbeat with us, because we were sure everything was ok we’ve had a total of for ultrasounds all with strong heartbeats and everything in it’s place. I can’t imagine what went won’t but we will opt got testing to find out. We want to begin trying again soon as we’ve read that there are good statistics for a successful Pregnancy after a miscarriage and D&C. I just don’t know if I can go through these emotions over and over. The high of finding out and planning to the low low of realizing your baby is gone.
Anyway, thank you for writing this, it’s helped me today.
I am having a d&c this morning i had my scan on 25th july and it confirmed the devastating news that there was no heartbeat. I opted for the home management but its been three weeks and i am still getting the positive pregnancy test. They booked me in for the d & v this morning i feel exhausted from sleepless nights of crying and an empitiness you could not imagine
I just knew today that , the baby has no more fetal heart beat (at 12 week). I couldn’t say a lot. My tears just rolling down non-stop. Reading this post, just make me feel that I’m not alone. And i guess, mourning for the lost is normal. And its normal to cry it out in earlier phase. Hope we’re strong to face the lost.
We understand that couples need to assess their own comfort point around announcing their pregnancy. If the outcome is not as expected, women should feel comfortable about sharing their experience and seeking support. We know that there is more support and understanding when a miscarriage occurs if a couple have told people around them that they are pregnant.
Reading what you wrote really touched my heart. I too have had a missed miscarriage. I found out March 15th going for a prenatal visit. While doctor listens and can’t hear my baby’s heartbeat. She sends me for an ultrasound, and my baby has died:( I would have been 17 weeks but baby died at 13 weeks and 2 days. My heart just dropped and cried like a baby. Without knowing I was carrying my dead baby for a month. Couple of days later I too had the procedure done, it went well but an hour later I hemorrhaged really bad. I lost more than half my blood supply, 2L and a half. I had a blood transfusion, received plasma and a lot of antibiotics. Every day I think of my baby, but I know that he or she is safe in heaven with god.