by Kirsten Hopfensperger
Before the Miscarriage
My husband and I have a long history, so it makes sense that our path to becoming parents would be long too. He had a crush on me since grade school, and we began dating in high school. I was engaged at eighteen and married at twenty-two. We were the stereotypical high school sweethearts. Our dreams, lives, and how we planned them to be as parents one day, began when we were just kids ourselves. We weren’t the people who planned and dreamed up all the details of our wedding, we instead dreamed of settling down and starting a family together.
Bliss – Discovering I Was Pregnant
With some luck, prayer, and a cashed-in result of all the cringey comments about rain on our wedding day and fertility, I became pregnant with our first child in 2017. We were ecstatic. My brother and his wife were also expecting, so it was this euphoric time in our lives of being the firsts to bring grandchildren into the family, while also plotting out the friendship the kids would have in each other. With each family member we shared our treasured news with, we felt more and more hope and excitement build, and began dreaming up the life of a child we hadn’t met yet. One of the most special moments was when my husband and I toured and put an offer in on a home that we had walked through and envisioned all the ways we could create a nursery in. It was the first time we walked through a house and it no longer felt like we were “playing house,” but rather creating a
With each family member we shared our treasured news with, we felt more and more hope and excitement build, and began dreaming up the life of a child we hadn’t met yet.
Loss – Miscarriage at 6 Weeks, 5 Days
And then, that next morning, I woke up to spotting. After making a phone call to my doctor’s office, we were asked to go into the ER for a check just to be safe. I have a blood type with a negative RH factor, which requires a shot of RhoGAM in the case of blood. The purpose of this was to add protection in the case that the child’s blood type would be positive RH and would mix with my own. I was 6 weeks and 5 days pregnant—a brief almost two months to the outside world was my entire life’s dream in a single beating heartbeat. In the midst of spending hours at the ER with blood tests and exams, we received a voicemail from our realtor that they’d accepted our offer on the house—the one we walked through the previous day, imagining bubble gum pink or baby blue walls and a nursery in! It was this mixture of so many emotions—excitement, confusion, anger, and sadness. But, as the doctor sent us home with nothing more than a hope for good news if the cramping or bleeding didn’t progress, a print out for a brief summary of our visit, and the suicide hotline listed at the bottom of the paper, we were in an emotional state of decay, disagreement, and detachment. My husband wanted to trust the doctor’s implications that it was nothing to be concerned about just yet, and to not give up on the pregnancy until we had more knowledge of what was going on. I was a hot mess of tears and fear. But, since my cramps and bleeding were still very mild, I chose to stifle my thoughts and mother’s intuition, and continue into the weekend with a fake-it-til-you-make-it hope as well. It would be that evening, though, that the inevitable would unfold— after our return home from a family reunion at my grandparents’ cabin.
The bleeding, cramping, and pain increased dramatically, and my body experienced contractions and disbelief. By morning, after an entire night of denial, I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t pretend it wasn’t happening anymore. In going to the bathroom, I passed a large clot, and realized very quickly that the expelling from my body was finally over. In a panic and frenzy, my husband and I decided to flush the baby—a decision that haunts me still to this day.
I remember feeling this insurmountable amount of embarrassment when we had to share with our loved ones what had happened. Embarrassment. What an unjust feeling to experience for having acknowledged and loved another life from the start of its journey until the end. I was mourning, and yet somehow, it felt like it was my fault for going through it. I felt like I had shared the news with others too early, as if sharing it had somehow caused me to lose it.
As it always does, life continued to go on for the world around us, and as my husband and I were both standing up in two weddings in the months following the miscarriage, we again chose to mask our sadness and push forward into celebrating the best days for those around us. With the new house and all the paperwork, details, and moving, as well as wedding party commitments, we became very good at smiling on the outside and grieving behind closed doors.
I remember feeling this insurmountable amount of embarrassment when we had to share with our loved ones what had happened.
Embarrassment. What an unjust feeling to experience for having acknowledged and loved another life from the start of its journey until the end.
Infertility After Miscarriage
My story didn’t stop after the miscarriage, it had just gotten started. I experienced thirteen months after of infertility. In those months, my body stopped menstruating on its own, which also became an inability to ovulate on its own without medical intervention. I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which would pose many more obstacles for trying to conceive a baby, and do so safely. It also posed more risks for cancer development one day if my body didn’t shed its uterine lining regularly.
Those months held so much doubt, blood tests, pregnancy tests, ovulation tests, turmoil, judgment, pain, and sadness for my husband and me. We were suffering, and doing so in what was expected by society to be done in silence. We were told things like “at least it happened early in the pregnancy,” “at least you can get pregnant,” “it’s God’s plan,” “stop worrying and it’ll happen”… all things that were meant to offer acknowledgment, but only made us feel a higher wall of isolation and judgment. We became very frustrated with each other, as the pressures to start a family, and failed attempts, began to build. We were scraped bare of energy, hope, and support. It felt like any time we needed to talk about it, it was unchartered territory that made people feel uncomfortable, and other times, if
someone we loved did bring it up and offer support, we pushed it away in attempts to guard our hearts… Nothing felt right, and every emotion felt suffocating. In that suffering, we somehow managed to keep our faith, despite feeling alone, desperate, depressed and broken.
In the thirteen months we tried to get pregnant again, we were presented with rainbows at every low point that kept offering us hope. Song lyrics that played on a radio in the exact moment of emotional struggle, rainbows in the sky, reflected on the wall or floor, and even artwork at a store or in a yard… it felt every time we had a pull of sadness that a rainbow would turn up to comfort us. And then, after over a year of specialists, labwork, ultrasounds to monitor follicle growth for ovulation, and what should have been a stock in pregnancy and ovulation tests, we finally received a light after the darkness in August of 2018— our little rainbow’s positive pregnancy test.
We were scraped bare of energy, hope, and support.
It felt like any time we needed to talk about it, it was unchartered territory that made people feel uncomfortable, and other times, if someone we loved did bring it up and offer support, we pushed it away in attempts to guard our hearts… Nothing felt right, and every emotion felt suffocating.
Parenting After Loss
Years later, I was a young mother of two children, and experiencing some postpartum depression and anxiety that became a turning point for getting help. I went to therapy, started medication for my anxiety and depression, and began the process of finally healing from something that was bigger than just an event in my life—the miscarriage and infertility were some heavy moments when I felt that I was not enough. I wasn’t strong enough to offer my husband the emotional support he needed while we went through it. I wasn’t brave enough to admit that help was not weakness. Therapy led to writing, and writing led to wholeness. And just when I was finally finding grace, I was invited by a neighboring parish to join a cemetery project being built for families going through pregnancy and child loss. I began a new chapter of healing, as I pictured how very different my experience could have been if this support group and project existed when I went through my loss, and it lit a passion in my heart to make sure the isolation stopped here. People needed to know they didn’t have to be alone in their loss. Bringing light, hope, and comfort to my community is something I still find so fulfilling.
Reflections, Healing and Growth
I can’t explain why we went through this journey, but I can say years later, that I don’t believe in my heart that the actual miscarriage and infertility were “part of God’s Plan”, or because we worried too much, or because we were being punished for sharing the news too early. I believe my faith holds mercy. I believe it was not the plan to have that level of suffering, but rather to be surrounded with love, support, and help while we endured it. The “plan” was to be embraced, wrapped in grace, and shown light while we waited and followed the path of perseverance. The “plan” was to bring a voice to our experience and allow me to write it out to be shared with other people going through it too. The “plan” was for us to find the joy of two more children after surviving the pain of losing our first. To this day, I still notice the beauty of a rainbow. The “plan” indeed, was not to suffer, it was not to have a child taken from us, it was not to go through suicidal depression. When someone says that it is all part of God’s Plan, it can make that person feel undeserving of happiness. The “plan” was to experience the love that came with healing.
I hope that in whatever part of this lonely, difficult, and painful journey you are on, you are finding slivers of light. Even as it eats at your relationship with your partner, your identity, your self-worth, I hope it also fills you with ceaseless hope. I hope you can feel the strength that you are being wrapped in. I hope you feel the call to find help if you need it, and that you feel the urge to open up to someone else you know that is experiencing infertility, loss, or struggles as well. In that chapter of our lives, we were shells of ourselves.
I can’t explain why we endured it, or why we were tested so extensively, and I don’t think it is something I am meant to fully understand. I think it was meant to bring a deeper level of empathy into my life to share with others. I think it was meant to bring me a different level of appreciation for the children I was able to bring into my life Earth-side. I think it was meant to bring knowledge of what suffering was so that one day, when my children go through something difficult—something so dark or heavy that they feel like giving up, or that no one understands their suffering, difficult choices, or pain they are enduring, that I can step forward and say, with a loving heart, that I can truly, deeply, see their pain, and encourage them to keep going. To never give up on themselves, that they are capable and that they are enough and they are loved. That I can be a parent who says I have broken, and after the cracks that shattered my soul, I was able to find healing, and so can they. Pain binds people together, no matter how difficult it was to go through, it brings a closeness that we never knew was possible. Feeling the emotions, the heaviness, and the grave reality of what you are going through is not weakness. It is suffering, and it is the closest we can be to our faith—to question everything and to choose to keep growing.
If I can leave you with one thing from my experience, I hope that it is a resounding feeling of never being alone. I hope it is grace for finding healing in yourself and patience while you wait for what’s next. I hope it is a universal knowledge that you are not broken. You belong right here, amidst this pain, and you deserve to give yourself the permission you need to feel it. Allow yourself the grace to do this on your terms, no matter if it’s a journey you suffered recently or years ago. And then you deserve the compassion and mercy to feel the light from letting go of that pain. Coexist with it and feel the beauty of hope that comes after.
I hope that in whatever part of this lonely, difficult, and painful journey you are on, you are finding slivers of light.
Publishing to Instill Hope
In 2022, I wrote, illustrated, and published my first book, rearranged. It is an award-winning poetry collection on the healing grace of rebuilding after loss. It has been a tool of strength to so many people suffering after devastation. It has been a source of comfort for people parenting after heartbreak. It has been a vulnerable story of facing adversity head-on, and coming out stronger.
In 2023, I wrote, illustrated, and published my second book, a children’s book, about angel babies and kids in Heaven. I Love You From Heaven is a powerful tool for reflecting on loss, as well as finding peace from the laughter that our children fill Heaven with. It offers an opportunity to teach other kids about loss, as well as find beauty in the little signs angel children leave their families back on Earth. It is uplifting, healing, and filled with artwork that speaks in a way words cannot.
Both of these books have given me the opportunity to find full-circle wholeness after loss. They are my soul. They are my heart. They are a beacon of light to you.
Both of these books have given me the opportunity to find full-circle wholeness after loss.
Q & A with Allison, Founder Miscarriage Hope Desk
How many miscarriages & how many live births?
I had a miscarriage at the age of 25. After 13 months of infertility and medication to induce ovulation and periods, I went on to have a live birth naturally at age 27. I had one more live birth naturally at the age of 28 without any medicinal interventions for ovulation or period induction.
Looking back, what, if anything, do you wish you would have done differently?
I would have let people see me exactly how I was—vulnerable emotions and all. I would have allowed myself the ability to “just be”— sad, numb, happy. I would have sought help so much sooner for my anxiety and depression. I would have forgiven myself sooner for not getting the help that I needed. I would have been more honest with my doctor and with my family and friends. I would have been more supportive to my husband who was going through it too. Most importantly, I would have been there for myself. I spent so much time hating myself, hating my body, and hating who I had become. When I was consumed by it all, it was easy to forget that pain is part of the growth. Looking back now, I wish I would have known how to have grace for myself on the hard days, and allowed myself to feel joy when I needed to.
What were you told was the cause of your miscarriage?
They really didn’t believe there was any reason; they said it just happens sometimes. My doctor was so empathetic and kind. I remember her consoling and telling me I did nothing wrong. Now that we know I have PCOS, I think that always can be a possibility for the cause, but there’s no way to prove it.
What do you truly believe was the cause of your miscarriages?
I believe it was my PCOS and progesterone levels. With every pregnancy after my miscarriage, my progesterone levels would be extremely high at the beginning of my pregnancy and then quickly decline around week six or seven. They placed me on progesterone suppositories and had close monitoring for my pregnancies after loss. I wonder if I had been on progesterone for the first pregnancy if my body wouldn’t have triggered itself to shed its lining. I will never know the answer to this, but I do encourage others who are newly pregnant to have their progesterone levels monitored. I find peace with the thought that my miscarriage brought me to the two beautiful children I hold in my arms today.
What advice would you give to someone going through miscarriage?
You need to be your own advocate. Some doctors push for lab work right away, some wait and have your first office visit be two-three months into pregnancy already. Every person is different, but if you feel strongly about having your levels for hormones or pregnancy monitored, then request it. It can bring peace of mind to know your medical team is doing everything they can to assist a safe pregnancy. If you are going through recurrent miscarriage, it’s so important to believe this: you are not broken. No matter what is going on, you are in the wait for becoming a parent to a child here on Earth. That does not mean that you are not already a parent to a child you had to give back. Loss is loss, and no matter what label society tries to make you believe, you know in your heart the beauty of
holding a child inside of you. With great love comes great pain from loss. Your body is the perfect home for every child you are blessed to harbor inside of it. I will be lifting you in my thoughts and prayers that you can find answers for encouraging safe pregnancies and that you find healing for the child(ren) you have lost. I am so sorry for your loss(es). If you feel like you are “stuck” in your grief, you are not failing to seek therapy or medication. These tools can bring so much healing, and help you to coexist with the pain of what you went through, while also feeling happiness. You do not need to move on, you need to heal. I hope you know that even though your last memory of that child is of pain and sadness from loss, you do not have to live in those emotions to feel close to that child. You can honor them in the joy you felt when they were tucked safely inside of you. You can also
honor them in the sorrow you feel on difficult dates, and you can honor them in the love you hold for the people you know suffering in silence around you. This is coexisting, and feeling what you need to feel when you need to feel it. You are not alone.
Connect with Kirsten
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