I’m an American living in West Africa. I’m 25, and moved here directly after graduating from college for a job teaching ESL. Shortly after moving here, I met the man who has now been my husband for a little over a year. He is foreign here, too, but is from Central Africa.
We had both been thinking about children since we got engaged, but kept finding excuses — we didn’t make enough money, our apartment wasn’t big enough, we didn’t know if we would move out of the country in the near future, etc etc etc. When we visited his parents one weekend, they basically asked us “so, why haven’t you had a baby yet?” They told us about the joys of having a baby young and growing up with your child (my oldest sister in law was born when her mother was 19). For us, it was exactly what we needed to hear. As soon as I next ovulated, we got to work, and nothing could have been easier – I got pregnant right away.
We told our families and everyone, (ourselves especially), was overjoyed. We came up with a little pet name for our baby, we started planning. We decided, though, to wait until the second trimester to tell friends.
Here’s where the first obstacle popped up. Medicine here isn’t what it is in the United States, so my choice of OBGYNs was very, very limited — there is only one seriously qualified female OBGYN in the city. It was important to me to see a woman, so we went to her. At 6 weeks she saw no embryo, and told us that that wasn’t normal. She warned us about the possibility of miscarriage, and told us to come back in two weeks – but all of this so FLIPPANTLY! She took about five minutes before shuffling us out of her office.
My husband and I kept hope up. One week later, a couple of good friends told us that they were going to have a baby, too. I wanted to badly to tell them that we were pregnant too, but we decided that especially since nothing was certain, we should wait. One week later we went back to the doctor – still no embryo. The doctor told us that it was a blighted ovum, and I would miscarry within two weeks. She refused eye contact when I cried in her office, and had us out of her office five minutes after telling us this.
We had plans to have friends over for dinner that night. We decided to go through with it. That, I think, was my first mistake. I got myself into this pattern of ignoring my pain, of thinking “good thing nobody knows I was pregnant — now I don’t have to talk to them about this!” when in reality, I needed someone to talk to.
My husband has been brought up in such a way that he lets things pass. He was also devastated about this loss, but after talking about it briefly, for him, it was over. He didn’t understand why I needed to keep talking about it, why I needed to cry. He did and does his best, but this is just the way he has been raised. I tried to continue our conversation, but after a while he got to the point of, “but honey, we’ve already talked about this.” As for me, I had nowhere else to turn.
It’s hard to make friends where I am. My support network is limited to my husband, his sisters (who have the same suck-it-up attitude about pain), and two close friends – one of whom is pregnant, and has no idea that I miscarried.
I miscarried naturally, but induced the miscarriage with medication. It hurt, but not as badly as I thought. My doctor vastly misinformed me (“don’t worry, it feels like period cramps”), but the internet terrified me (“it will feel like you are going to die”). My husband stayed home from work with me for three days, but once again – when it was over, it was over.
I’ve tried to talk to friends in the United States, but nobody knows what to say. I’m young. Most of my friends are still dating, still spending their weekends bar hopping. I’m married and dreaming of a family. Nobody can relate to me at all.
I feel alone and lost. My husband tries so hard to support me, but I need the support of a woman. I feel like I can’t talk to my friend who’s pregnant, because I don’t want to make her feel bad or uncomfortable. I don’t know where to turn, or how to feel better.
I never knew miscarriage was so common, and never have I been so aware of the custom of the country where I live of people being very, very private. Home feels so, so far away, and so does my baby.