The We Shall Overcome Series is a collection of stories from women who have faced hardship with courage.  We hope these stories inspire and encourage you as much as they have us.

Meet Karly and her life with a "missed" miscarriage.   
Karly Farmer
My husband and I always knew that we wanted to have children. We would playfully talk about it from time to time, but thought that it might be more realistic to wait. After all, I was finishing my last semester of college, my husband was starting graduate school, we had just gotten married, we had just moved into a new place, and I didn’t even have a job…we just didn’t know if the timing was right. And by “we”, I mostly mean him. Don’t get me wrong, he wanted to have children just as much as I did, but he is a realist and just wanted to make sure that we were secure financially (probably a smart idea), and somewhat grounded. And it was just a really busy season overall. I didn’t tell my husband this until months after our son was born, but I remember lying in bed each night, placing my hands on my stomach, and dreaming about the day that we would become parents. I would pray and wish to get pregnant soon. Even though we talked about waiting, I really wanted a baby, like yesterday. Much to our surprise, those two little pink lines showed up on a pregnancy test not even five months after we were married. It’s funny to look back at it now, but I knew that something was up. I would sneak off to Fresh Market several times a week, buy loads of baked goods, and eat them ALL in my car in the dark. I would then throw away the evidence in the creepy laundry room below our apartment so that my husband wouldn’t catch me and judge me. Kind of sounds like a weird horror movie about a crazy person, and I was actually starting to think that I had lost my mind, but nope – I was just pregnant!
  

"I would sneak off to Fresh Market several times a week, buy loads of baked goods, and eat them ALL in my car in the dark."

I had a fairly smooth pregnancy, besides the first half where I struggled with all day sickness (is there really even such a thing as strictly morning sickness!?).  After that, it was really wonderful…I enjoyed being pregnant. I went into labor one week early, and had a pretty easy time – I pushed several times, and my over-eight-pound, beautiful baby boy made his entrance into the world. We did learn that there was meconium, so a bunch of NICU nurses were in the room with us (kind of scary). My husband said that Wesley was pretty limp when he came out and didn’t let out a cry for a bit, but my strong boy picked up speed quickly and needed no further attention. We were so happy our hearts could have burst. We had started a family. What a precious gift. I was over the moon.
Although I had a pretty effortless pregnancy and delivery, my recovery was a whole different story. My husband was working two jobs when our son was born and we had no family around us to help. He would go to bed at around 5pm, get up at 2am, work until 8am, go to his next job by 9am, come home at 4pm…and repeat. I love him dearly, but he never knew what it meant to get up with Wesley or do some of the dirty work that is required in those early months. He’s sometimes sad that he missed out on those moments, but I told him to be grateful haha! He was busy providing for us, and I’m appreciative for the man that he is and his willingness to serve us. But, yeah, it was totally hard to kind of do it (mostly) alone for a while. Thankfully, both of our parents came to keep us company at the beginning, but then we were forced to start this adventure on our own. So, not only did I give birth to a giant (in my opinion) baby, which was hard on my body physically, but I was caring for him mostly on my own, which was hard on me emotionally. I was tired and it hurt to do even simple things…like pee. Not even kidding. I had a really difficult time! But, by golly, we made it! Weeks went by and we felt like we had been parents forever. We were killing this whole independence thing and loved making memories with our boy. Also, my husband got a promotion and didn’t have to work two jobs anymore – woohoo! So, as a reward, I graciously allowed him to be on diaper duty 100% of the time since he was sad he missed out.
When Wesley was a few months old, I remember Lucas trying to convince me that we should start for number two. After smacking him upside the head several times and giving him the big N-O, I preceded to deliver a lengthy speech to him (PowerPoint slides included) about how we were definitely NOT going to try to have a baby any time soon, unless he was prepared to give birth this time around. He would ask me again here and there, but I was just so against it. Honestly, even though the process was simple the first time, I was (for some reason) terrified about having another baby (I don’t know…maybe because my toddler is a menace? I love him, but he’s crazy as can be). It wasn’t until Wesley was about 18 months old that I even considered talking about it. But, much to my surprise, once the conversation started to happen a little bit more, I began to get more and more excited about adding to our family. Lucas was, of course, super pumped. I couldn’t figure out if he was more excited about actually having another baby or participating in the baby-making process, but either way…he was downright ecstatic.
Once we started TTC (“trying to conceive” – the fancy moms on blog posts talk in code like this, so I wanted to be cool and try it out), I quickly realized that it was a lot harder to get pregnant than I had thought. Everything was so easy with Wesley (I know I keep saying this, but it really was! Well, until he became a toddler, that is) – I wasn’t even used to actually having to “try”…Wesley sort of just happened, if you know what I mean. Each month, I kept telling my husband that I was so sure I was pregnant. After spending our life-savings on about a billion pregnancy tests, experiencing lots of let-downs, and failing time and time again, we FINALLY got our positive result – right before Wesley’s second birthday. Hallelujah! Victory! I didn’t know how I would feel, but I felt excitement, gratitude, and pure joy. More importantly, I finally felt ready and unafraid.
At that point, I was probably only about four weeks pregnant. I called my OB-GYN and set up an appointment. I did all of my initial visits – the usual, boring nurses visit, where they ask a million questions, and the draining my entire body of blood visit (okay, it was “only” like seven vials, but I swear they were trying to kill me). Wesley’s birthday party was a few weekends later and we decided to buy him a shirt that said “no buddy like a brother” and have him wear it to surprise my in-laws (how cute, am I right?). I also took pictures of him in his shirt to post online as an announcement. I thought, “Why wait?” We had actually announced my first pregnancy at about 4 weeks (on accident…I thought that I was further along…#oops), and so I didn’t think it was a huge deal. I mean, what could go wrong? Everything was fine the first time. We were thrilled to let everyone know and were so pleased by the response! Our friends and family really showered us with love and kind words.

"We had started a family. What a precious gift. I was over the moon."

Our first ultrasound appointment wouldn’t be until after Thanksgiving (at 11 weeks), and so we had a little bit of a wait. I had some nausea, but nothing major. I was actually feeling pretty darn good! I was hoping that this pregnancy would be different than the last and that I would luck out and not get sick. So far so good! I felt like I thought I should be feeling – getting up every two seconds to pee, getting a little belly, having some food aversions, and dealing with extreme fatigue. Still, I was starting to get anxious about seeing our baby for this first time. I had multiple bad dreams about something being wrong, but I didn’t really have any reason to think there was. There was just so much time between when we found out we were pregnant and when we could actually see the baby. I guess I was just a little worried, but I tried to remind myself that it was all going to be okay.
So, a few weeks went by and off we went to our ultrasound appointment to look at our sweet little baby for the first time. I was really anxious. I mean, I couldn’t stop shaking. I just wanted everything to be okay. Lucas kept reassuring me. Finally, after about a lifetime, our names were called. I got settled into the chair and the ultrasound tech was very giddy and asked us if we were excited. I could tell that she really enjoyed her job. However, feelings of excitement quickly turned to feelings of uncertainty and confusion when she didn’t show us our baby or let us hear a heartbeat. I thought to myself, “Why isn’t she saying anything? Why isn’t she showing us anything? This is nothing like Wesley’s appointment. They definitely showed us all of this. At 11 weeks, this baby should be visible and we should be able to hear their heartbeat.” The appointment only took about 10 minutes. My stomach sank. I tried to keep it cool since Wesley was with us, but I didn’t know what to do. When she left the room, visibly upset, I looked over at Lucas and said, “This doesn’t seem good. We really need to prepare ourselves for the worst.”
She brought us to see the doctor, and he comes in and kindly says that he’s sorry and it looks like the baby stopped developing at 6 weeks. Chills ran through my body. Tears welled up in my eyes. I was supposed to be 11 weeks along. That meant that our little blessing passed away 5 weeks ago. I felt sick. I literally felt like I had just been punched in the face. Feelings of anger, sadness, anxiety, and confusion rushed over me. I was having a wonderful pregnancy so far and have had no reason to think that anything could or should be wrong. I was shocked. Numb. I said to him, “I don’t understand. I’ve had no symptoms of a miscarriage. In fact, I feel great. If our baby’s heart stopped beating 5 weeks ago, how have I continued to carry them this long?” Well, it turns out that I am part of the 1-2% of people who experience a “missed miscarriage”, where my body has basically tricked itself into believing that I’m still pregnant. I even continued to experience pregnancy symptoms, had cravings and aversions, and tested positive on pregnancy tests.

“I don’t understand. I’ve had no symptoms of a miscarriage. In fact, I feel great. If our baby’s heart stopped beating 5 weeks ago, how have I continued to carry them this long?”

Talk about torture – spending the last 5 weeks carrying around our deceased baby, whose heart is no longer beating, and not even knowing. Continuing to think that everything was okay. Talking to them and singing them songs. Patting my belly and saying “hi baby” when they’re not really there. Coming up with plans of how they will fit into our family – the memories we’ll make together. Sharing our news with friends and family. Telling Wesley that he is going to be a big brother. Taking “bump” selfies. Trying to feel for movement. I’m not kidding – torture. I finally felt ready. It seemed like it was meant to be. Why was this happening? The news really hit me like a ton of bricks. My body just never accepted the fact that something was wrong. It didn’t want to let go – possibly just the natural instinct of a mother who is trying to nurture and protect her baby.
The doctor gave us some options to talk over, since one way or another (whether naturally or with aid) my body needed to follow through with this. He did let us know that there was a small chance that we could have been off on our dates, so we decided to do some blood work to know for sure.  I didn’t want to move forward with anything until we knew with 100% certainty what we were dealing with. Unfortunately, my hormone levels were rapidly declining, which is not normal for a viable pregnancy. Lucas and I walked back to the car with Wesley in our arms and just cried. We kept saying back and forth, “This just can’t be real. I never thought this would happen to us.” I said, “I’m young and healthy. What went wrong? I don’t understand. I’m so confused.”
Being the planners that we are (how ironic, right? Because literally NOTHING could have prepared us for this), we went home and spent the rest of the afternoon trying to figure out a course of action. I basically had three options and just tried to narrow it down to the one that seemed the least terrible. I finally decided to get a prescription for pills that would force my body into labor. I knew that I didn’t want a D&C because, well, it just freaked me out. And, honestly, the thought of waiting for it to happen naturally seemed just as traumatic. I thought that if it had taken this long already, when will it even happen? I didn’t want to live in the unknown. I didn’t want to wait to have a natural miscarriage – it made me feel very trapped and scared. I didn’t want to be out at the store, or driving along the interstate, or hiking up a mountain when this happened. I didn’t want to put my life on hold. I wanted to be prepared. I wanted to be at home.
At this point, we were a few weeks out from my mom and sister coming into town – we had planned to go to Washington DC for a few days and then spend Christmas in NYC. I had dreamed of it being so magical, and now, more than ever, I wanted to make sure that I would try to enjoy this time with my family – in a city where no one will know me, where no one will know what I just went through, where no one will treat me like a charity case, where I can just be me. Not to sound cold, but I really wanted to put this behind me, and I didn’t want to wait any longer. I wanted to do this now. Knowing that my baby was still inside of me, but not alive, was completely heartbreaking and made me feel ill.
I picked up my prescription on a Friday night and had plans to take it first thing on Saturday morning. I was so nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. Not only was I anxious about the physical side-effects (will it hurt?), but I was broken that this meant it would be the final goodbye to our baby. I took it early in the morning because everything I read online from Doctor Google (side note – never listen to Doctor Google) said to get the worst part out of the way during the daytime so that you can sleep at night. Well, the day went by and nothing significant was happening…besides some serious Netflix bingeing. It wasn’t until about 3am the next morning that my body decided “this is the time”…of course. I was so bitter and kept telling Lucas that my body must hate me.

"It didn’t want to let go – possibly just the natural instinct of a mother who is trying to nurture and protect her baby."

I woke up from my sleep because I was having pretty intense contractions – definitely not what I expected. I mean, I have a high pain tolerance and these were still super unbearable. I went to Doctor Google again (mental note – KARLY, STOP GOING TO DOCTOR GOOGLE. THESE ARE JUST RANDOM PEOPLE ONLINE CLAIMING THAT THEY KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT EVERYTHING WHEN THEY DO NOT. THEY THINK THAT A PAPER CUT MEANS THAT YOU’RE DYING. IT WILL NOT MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER. JUST STOP), and people were saying that the only way they made it through the pain was by using hardcore pain meds. I thought to myself, “Great. Cool. Sounds good. No problem at all. This is making me feel much better. Totally not freaking out over here now. The closest thing I have to hardcore pain medication is baby Tylenol. Does that count? Will that help?” Ugh. So, yeah, I was completely losing my mind at this point because I just psyched myself out even more. Thanks, stupid Google.
I tried to get comfortable, but things were not slowing down. My body was hurting and I was getting so angry and upset. I said out loud, “This is not fair. No one should have to go through excruciating labor pain, only to give birth to a baby that is not alive…a baby that they can’t keep. This is just not right.” I was crying, with Lucas by my side, and it wasn’t long until Wesley heard the commotion and made his way out of bed. Of course, ALL he wanted was mommy. He couldn’t understand what was happening and would not go back to sleep without me. I thought, “Well, the closest thing to mama at this point is Elsa, so let’s put that on.” So there I was, having crazy contractions in the bathtub, and there Wesley and Lucas were, having a Frozen party at 4:30am. It was what some would call a nightmare. I was begging for this night to end. I was absolutely exhausted and miserable.
I was praying, and singing, and trying to think of happier days, but I was in so much pain. I felt such grief knowing that life was about to leave my body – the life that we created, the life of the child that we were so ready to meet. We were nearing the sunrise, and finally…FINALLY…I knew that the worst was behind me. The contractions went away, the pain stopped, and I knew that it was over. I broke down and sobbed. What a night. What a traumatic experience (one that I would not wish on my WORST enemy). Pure heartbreak, but also unexplainable relief. This meant that we could finally move forward. I didn’t want to forget what happened, and I never want to forget our tiny bean, but hopefully this meant that we could start to move into the future and find the closure that we needed.

“This is not fair. No one should have to go through excruciating labor pain, only to give birth to a baby that is not alive…a baby that they can’t keep. This is just not right.”

 I’m not going to lie, the days to follow were hard, but I was more excited than ever to just get away with my family and try to have an amazing vacation. I think we accomplished that, and it really helped. I felt free. I felt happy. I felt like I could be in a place where I could just take my mind off of what was happening in my life and be thankful for the blessings that I do have. I had wonderful company by my side, and am absolutely certain that I was on God’s mind when this trip was planned. It forced me to just relax, get out of the house, feel the sun on my face, and leave my worries behind…if only for a few moments. Truly a blessing in disguise.
Going into this crazy experience, I wanted to allow myself to feel. If I was feeling sad, I wanted to let myself feel sad. If I wanted to cry, I wanted to let myself cry unashamedly. If I had moments where I was feeling happy, I didn’t want to feel guilty about it. When we got home, I had some floods of sadness return, but I had an overall peace. We are so grateful for the people in our lives who really took time to be there for us, cook us meals, hug us, and cry with us. We were completely blown away by the love we received. I don’t know where I would be without it. Even with my world upside-down and the confusion that followed, Jesus never left my side through the darkest of moments and I was reminded that His plans are still good. Time has gone by, and it definitely does still sting here and there; I know that feeling won’t go away. But, I do genuinely believe that I have more good days than bad days now. It’s been a painful process, but we are making it through.
I’ve really learned a lot through this hardship. Aside from the shock of losing our baby, I think I was particularly surprised about how little I actually knew about miscarriages and the emotional toll that it can take on a person. It makes me sad that I wasn’t a better friend to those who were going through one. Sadly, no one really talks about it. We are so conditioned to think that we just shouldn’t bring it up, or share our stories, or encourage those who have dealt with a miscarriage before. It seems like, at some point, we decided that “miscarriage” was a dirty word. What a shame. Although everyone has a different experience, I personally had absolutely no idea what to expect. How am I supposed to feel? What is normal? I think this is partly because the information out there is so limited. I craved to read about people’s experiences, because I wanted to feel like I wasn’t alone, but the resources were terribly lacking. So, I wanted to take some time and share some truths with you that I’ve learned along the way – things that people might not tell you, because I think someone should.

“It seems like, at some point, we decided that 'miscarriage' was a dirty word. What a shame. ”

  ​First, I want to talk to those who have never personally dealt with a miscarriage because, well, that had previously been me for my whole life. I have regrets looking back. Don’t make the same mistakes that I did. Please, be a friend to someone. Although it’s impossible to do, imagine how they must be feeling. Figure out a way to love them and encourage their heart. Take them a meal. Send them a handwritten letter. Pray with them or for them. Just do something thoughtful. Don’t expect anything in return. They feel your love, but they may not have the words to say right now. Don’t be offended if they don’t want to see you or talk to you. This is about them, not you. They will come around. They need time to heal. Know the difference between sharing encouraging words and giving advice – that is a dangerous boundary to cross. You don’t need to be over the top. They will remember that you reached out to them when they needed it the most. It’s not your responsibility to fix the situation, but it should be your responsibility to be compassionate, considerate, and kind. If you are pregnant, give them space for a little while and realize that it’s going to be hard for them. They love you, but they have just experienced immense loss and will feel sensitive about this subject. Don’t judge them for crying or feeling however they want to feel. Offer to be a listening ear. Do what you can, but then leave the ball in their court – they will come to you when they’re ready.  ​​

"Don’t make the same mistakes that I did. Please, be a friend to someone."

 Now, this is for those who have dealt with a miscarriage, are worried about going through a miscarriage, or are in the process of a miscarriage. I don’t want to sugar coat it – it’s agonizing and you will feel tremendous grief. After you find out or go through it, you will not stop crying for days. You will probably be moody and say mean things to your husband and maybe yell at your children. They will still love you. It’s really hard on them, too, so try to do what you can to be there for them as well – even if it means that you are not exchanging any words, but simply sitting on the ground, holding each other and sobbing together. It will be challenging when you see friends and family getting pregnant and having babies, and they will not understand why you feel the way you do, nor can you expect them to if they haven’t been in your shoes. It’ll difficult to be happy for others when you know that you’re hurting inside and missing the baby that you were supposed to have. That’s completely normal. You long to be on that journey again. Be honest with your feelings. Be honest with others. It’s okay to be sensitive and emotional. It’s okay to not be happy right now. Your heart needs time to put itself back together. It’ll feel lonely when you want to talk to someone who can relate with you, but you don’t know who to go to. It’ll be scary when talking about a miscarriage in general feels so “taboo”, and you wonder if you should just be silent (please, don’t stay silent). It will be a painful process – physically, emotionally, and mentally. It will not feel right when you can’t shed weight from a baby that you don’t even get to have the pleasure of knowing. It’ll make you upset when you have to pay hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars in medical bills to go through torture. You won’t feel the same. Ever. Your heart will break when you realize that you will never get to see who your sweet baby could have become. You will wonder who they may have looked like. You will ache to hold them, and you will weep that you cannot. You will not want to go outside or see anyone for a while. You will be sensitive for a long time. You will feel anxious about trying to have more children. People who have never gone through a miscarriage will try to give you advice and claim that they “know” how you feel, and though you are grateful for the sentiment, you may want to smack them. Just try to keep your cool and say thank you. You will always feel like something or someone is missing. You will beg for time to be reversed. You will question if it’s something you did. You may want to push this into the back of your mind, but you will never forget.
Oh, friend, there are hard days. Days that seem never-ending. Days where you do nothing but cry. Days where you feel so sad and alone. These were (are still are) some of the most difficult days of my life. But, please also remember these truths. Even though there are tough days, there are also good days with sweet moments. The pain will not feel intense forever. You will get to a place where you can be happy for others. Your heart will heal. You will be a more thankful person. You will have the strength to move forward. You will be able to make it through the day without shedding tears. Your smile will come back. Sharing your story won’t feel as painful as it once did, and you will inspire others through it. You will be excited to try to have more children again. And, although you will still have a long, rough road of healing ahead, your hope and your faith will return. Don’t lose your joy along the way. Remember that miracles do happen. Remember that there is still good in our world.  
If you have suffered through the loss of a child, first know how sorry I am. My heart breaks with you and for you. Also, please know that you’re not alone. I am with you, along with thousands of other women. Your story is not finished. This is not the end. It may be a sad chapter in your story, a chapter that you wish wasn’t ever written, or a chapter that you wish you could tear out and throw away, but it doesn’t define who you are, and you are still capable of being happy and living a joyful life. Mama, you are so strong. These moments shape us into who we are meant to be. Allow yourself to feel. It’s okay to have good days, and it’s okay to have bad days. It’s okay to have days where you are happy, and it’s okay to have days that make you question how you can go on. It’s okay to mourn and grieve, and it’s okay to dance and smile. It’s okay to laugh, and it’s okay to weep as the sun goes down and not stop until it rises again the next morning. Let yourself feel. There is no right or wrong way.

"It’s okay to mourn and grieve, and it’s okay to dance and smile. It’s okay to laugh, and it’s okay to weep as the sun goes down and not stop until it rises again the next morning."

I believe in you. I believe that you can get through this. You have the strength inside to move forward with your head held high, knowing that there is still a bright future ahead, even if it takes a while to get there. Please, don’t stop living your life. Don’t let this hold you back from creating new memories. Go outside and let the sun shine on your face. Do that thing that you’ve always wanted to do, but have been scared to do until now. Develop big dreams and push forward to accomplish them. Don’t let this stop you from trying again, even when you know that nothing is guaranteed. I know that it’s scary, but I believe in you and have no doubt that you will find your happy ending.
Let’s learn from each other and share our stories. Let’s never forget the so easily forgotten children who have made us mothers. Though they are not with us on this earth, they are still ours. They are our babies and we are their mothers. Let’s use our experiences and our voices to nurture and help other people who may be hurting. Do not be afraid to let your vulnerability show. Share your story. That’s how we grow. That’s how we can find the strength to move forward to better days. I know that we can find light in the darkness, even though it may be a painful process. We are in this together, and there is always a light at the end of a dark tunnel. Please don’t give up. Please don’t lose hope.

Karly was born and raised on the west coast of Flordia near Clearwater Beach (and Disney World), but has found herself in the valley of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the quaint little town of Lynchburg, VA.  She stays busy by working remotely for a non-profit and chasing around her wild-as-can-be toddler.  In her free time (is there such a thing) she loves to hang out with her smoking hot hubby, play with her son, travel to new places, hike, hit up the local ice cream trucks, go to the park, and NOT do the dishes..