Miscarriages weren't something I knew a great deal about before experiencing it for myself.
I knew other women who'd been affected, even those close to me, but to say I was naive about the depth of trauma that accompanies this type of loss would be an understatement. I can recall even minimizing the emotional impact of a miscarriage back in my younger years, ignorantly thinking it could be remedied by having another baby. I guess it's true what they say---self-experience is one of life's greatest teachers.
My husband and I already have one child, a charismatic 10-year-old son who "surprised" us early in our relationship. With that being said, making a decision to have another was a long time coming for us, and we finally felt like the time was right.
We had only been trying to conceive for a few months before I saw those two pink lines that sent me running up the stairs to tell my husband we were having a baby! We felt a sense of relief that our journey hadn't been met with any challenges and instantly became immersed in planning for the new addition to our family. While awaiting our first prenatal appointment, we wrestled with the idea of sharing the news so soon but eventually came to a decision to tell our closest family and friends.
I never imagined just three weeks later, we'd be telling those same people we were no longer pregnant.
I was helping my son with his homework on the afternoon the bleeding started. Although it wasn't heavy, it persisted as the evening went on, and I was instructed by an on-call doctor to monitor my pain levels and to go to the nearest hospital if things progressed. He told me there was a chance that it could be a miscarriage and only time would tell. I remember playing this beautiful rendition of Aretha Franklin's "Say A Little Prayer" on my phone and placing it against my stomach while praying that everything was going to be okay. The bleeding seemed to stabilize overnight, and we tried to remain hopeful as we walked into our doctor's office the next morning.
I should have been exactly 6 weeks and 2 days along, and my doctor warned us not to be alarmed if we couldn't hear a heartbeat since it was still early in the baby's developmental stage. She opted to do an ultrasound first, and that's when things began spiraling downward. As we looked up at the ultrasound screen, we literally saw nothing. Blood tests from two weeks earlier had confirmed the presence of the pregnancy hormone, and I had almost all of the early pregnancy symptoms, but there was not a visible embryo or even a gestational sac in my uterus. Concerned it might be an ectopic pregnancy, a life-threatening condition where the fertilized egg grows outside of the uterus, she immediately sent us to the emergency room.
There, a more extensive ultrasound and additional blood test confirmed that it wasn't an ectopic pregnancy but rather an early miscarriage. The doctors believed our pregnancy had ended around week three, almost immediately after we conceived and was likely due to chromosonal abnormalities. But because the pregnancy hormone was still present in my blood, although rapidly decreasing, my physical body had still been in a pregnant state the past few weeks, causing symptoms like bloating, frequent urination and sore breasts. Hearing I was no longer pregnant, and hadn't been for some time, was a huge slap in the face for me.
It felt like I had gotten tricked in the most devastating way, and it broke my heart to know that everything that I thought was, actually wasn't.
We left the hospital that afternoon with plans for our growing family behind us and completely unprepared for the grief that lay ahead of us. The clinical term for an early miscarriage is a chemical pregnancy. I've become somewhat of an expert on this subject after spending weeks looking for any piece of information that would help answer the questions: who, what, why and how. I knew it was nothing that I did or that I could have done to prevent this, but taking the time to educate myself on this thing that has been so relentlessly painful to me and many other women has been a part of my grieving process. Even more surprising than the statistics surrounding chemical pregnancies was learning that most women never know they've had one.
To understand this type of miscarriage, you need to first understand the pregnancy hormone known as hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). hCG can only be detected through your urineor through a blood test, so you really have to be looking for it to know it's there--not uncommon for women who are actively trying to conceive. Many women, however, will only test their urine after realizing their period is late, which in the case of a chemical pregnancy, the level of hCG has already begun to decline enough to likely give a negative test result. Women who were unaware they were pregnant to begin with often attribute the heavy bleeding from the miscarriage to an unusual cycle caused by stress or other reasons.
I often wonder if I had waited just a few days to take a pregnancy test, would I have ever known that I was pregnant? Would I have been better off not knowing at all like so many other women who experience chemical pregnancies?
It's easy to answer "yes" to that question when I think of all the heartache I could have avoided, which brings me to the biggest lesson I learned out of all of this.
Happiness can exist in the midst of heartbreak.
I cried for days. I shut down and did not want anyone to attempt to power me back on. This is undeniably the most painful thing I've ever faced in my life. At some point though, while deep in the trenches of sadness, I started thinking about how much love and joy my family had felt in the weeks prior to our loss. I thought about how happy our loved ones were when we told them the news. I thought about how instantly more in love I felt with my husband for what we had accomplished together. I thought about how my son was so excited to finally be a big brother. All those moments counted for something and were such a gift.
I think in life we sometimes dwell so much on how an experience, relationship, etc. didn't turn out the way we wanted, we let that overshadow the parts that once brought us joy. For me, sadness doesn't cancel out the happiness I felt, and that's what I'll remember most when I think of my pregnancy.
So to answer the question I posed earlier: No, I wouldn't have been better off not knowing I was pregnant because it gave my family one more thing to smile about, one more thing to be thankful for, and for that, we'll be forever grateful.
Featured image by Getty Images
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Many have wondered if one time is ever enough to see Queen Bey. Some argue yes. However, many of us on the opposite end of the spectrum, including myself, would disagree. Beyoncé's "Renaissance World Tour" is a universal yet varying experience for everyone who attends. In the words of Oprah Winfrey, the concert is "transcendent." For millennials, we have over two decades of her catalog that has served as the soundtrack for many of our lives and painted a personal portrait of our most coveted thoughts. Her music provides mental clarity and self-expression by serving as a universal language that has united fans from all walks of life through community, fashion, self-acceptance, and healing.
With a multi-layered approach to her artistry, just as she did on that winter day in December 2013 with the infamous digital drop of her self-titled album, she changed the game again on February 1, 2023, when she announced her world tour in support of Renaissance, her seventh studio album. Her cultural impact set the internet ablaze, with everyone trying to gather their coins, barter for presale codes, and figure out which cities to attend. The group chats were lit, and the Beyhive was stressed trying to get their hands on tickets.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
Unfortunately, I was in that number. As the concert dates passed by and the one in my city drawing near all roads led to disappointment. With time ticking on the day of the Miami show and less than two hours to spare, my wallet bit the bullet, and I purchased three last-minute tickets, costing roughly $700.00 a piece (including fees) for me, my 9-year-old and 16-year-old nieces in Section 121 at the Hard Rock Stadium. With 10 minutes before showtime, we eagerly awaited the Queen to take the stage. A sea of metallic fringes, cowboy hats, disco fans, and western boots were in full effect and filled the entire stadium.
As the lights dimmed, a flood of emotions instantly overtook my body. It continued with each note she belted, along with nearly 50,000 roaring fans. The reverberating sound of the music through the stadium transported me from one era of my life to the next. As a teen girl in her bedroom daydreaming about her first love to blossoming into an unapologetic Black woman who is still on a road of self-discovery while learning to lean into the power anthem of "You won't break my soul." For over two hours, and with each set, I felt joy, love, peace, and a commanderie with fellow concertgoers. It was therapeutic as I danced like no one was watching and sang as if I were alone in my bathroom mirror.
There were no bars held, and I realized at that moment, "Nobody can judge me but me." The "Renaissance World Tour" proved to be so vast, and my Black girl joy was re-invigorated. It was magnetic and liberating, and I had to attend again, but this time, I needed to be up close and personal; I needed to be on the floor. In the days that passed, I watched more social media clips in different cities and asked myself if I would really splurge again to attend another Renaissance show.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
After all, this would be my thirteenth time (maybe more because I lost count) seeing Beyoncé live, whether she was on tour with Destiny's Child, as a solo artist, or doing a live appearance. I contemplated for a while, but it worked itself out on its own. I was gifted two tickets and the next thing I knew, I was off to LA to attend another Renaissance show with floor seats at SoFi Stadium during Beyonce's 42nd birthday weekend! This time, things were different: no kids were allowed. It was adults only this go round.
Although the energy at the Miami and Los Angeles shows was empowering, infectious, and a celebration of life, happiness, and identity, they each provided their own unique experience. However, both concerts were what I needed for my well-being, leaving me with sore feet from dancing the night away, on vocal rest for the next few days from screaming at the top of my lungs, and on an indefinite high on life.
My introduction and love for Beyoncé began in 1996, while my older sister lived in Houston, TX, right before Bey hit the scene in 1998 with "No, No, No" as a budding R&B member. Her evolution twenty-seven years later as an international superstar and into womanhood has been an incredible journey to witness. As Mrs. Carter reminds each of us in the audience every night before the curtain closes, "I want you to remember this moment, where you're standing, who you came with, and take it with you. I hope you feel inspired."
I truly felt inspired, so thank you, Queen Bey. You awakened my inner child, and I will definitely remember these moments and take them with me.
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Feature image by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood