Alyssa Starr is a producer for ABC News in Los Angeles. In this personal essay, she reflects on her own experience with pregnancy loss, something that affects as many as 20% of all pregnancies, according to the March of Dimes. October is recognized in the United States as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
I've thought about writing this article hundreds of times over the past three years, hoping to find wisdom or guidance along the way, but the truth is that I'm a storyteller by trade who, for the first time in my life, found myself suffering in silence through the darkest time in my life.
Three years later, I am still navigating those feelings, but now I'm armed with the knowledge of what was on the other side of that pain.
In July of 2020, just a few days before my 29th birthday, I found out our 10 week pregnancy was actually measuring 6 weeks and had no heartbeat.
Sadly, a week later, I had to make the choice to end the pregnancy because there was still no growth and still no heartbeat.
Flash forward to October of 2020, and I am finally pregnant again, just to have a chemical pregnancy -- or another very early miscarriage at five weeks.
I was in the middle of nowhere in Idaho, producing a live shot for "World News Tonight with David Muir." It would be 24 hours before I could see my husband, and another day after that before I could see my doctor.
Both losses were traumatic in their own ways -- and I watched myself go through that pain and anxiety from what felt like a distance. I know in my heart that it was not my fault. Miscarriage is often a chromosomal issue that would have never developed into a healthy baby.
Still, I couldn't quiet the guilt I felt over not being able to do what was supposed to be "natural." My body had failed me, and I didn't know how to contend with that.
By Thanksgiving I was pregnant again, this time with our rainbow baby boy who is now 2 years old and absolutely full of life.
Throughout my pregnancy, I watched my grief and excitement coexist in harmony. I'd oscillate between crying myself to sleep to watching my belly grow with amazement, and feeling a pure, inexplicable love that comes with those baby kicks.
But even after that perfect boy was born, I frequently found myself falling asleep at night with the anxiety that something was wrong, that things were not OK, and flashbacks of our losses kept my eyes half-open at all hours. Admittedly, I still feel the anxiety and the weight of those losses today.
Here's the thing, though: I would do it all again -- 10 times over if I had to.
The journey to bring our son into this world was heartbreaking, difficult and traumatic -- but also joyous, incredible and life-changing. I know not everyone is as lucky as us, to eventually have a healthy, normal pregnancy, and our hardships along the way made us more grateful for this incredible, big life we now get to hold.
My other takeaway from what we went through is that those feelings after loss don't just go away. I wish I had known that finally bringing our son into this world did not negate what I went through.
I wish I had known that having my baby wasn't going to "fix" those holes in my heart, that I still needed to hold space for some of those feelings, and to continue to process them. I often felt isolated all over again because I thought, surely, I must be crazy for still feeling those losses even three years later.
The truth is that this is not a light switch.
It is real grief and real pain, and if you still need to feel those feelings sometimes -- if you feel triggered by other pregnancies or losses -- I am with you. I see you. I am you.
One in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage. Since being in the trenches myself, I have tried to talk about it more openly, and in doing so I have discovered a tribe of other women who have been through the same.
The more we say it out loud, the more we are willing to talk about it, the more we will realize how common this truly is -- and perhaps the less isolating we can make that experience.