It’s something that happens to 1 out of every 4 women during pregnancy, but it’s anything but a common experience.
When Joan Bremer, a 31-year-old accounting manager at Drum Magazine from San Jose, CA, started bleeding during her seventh week of her first pregnancy, she told herself it was something that happened to a lot of women. She told herself the bleeding was probably nothing. She turned to what she refers to her as her friend, “Dr. Google” and convinced herself that the bleeding was just a normal part of pregnancy.
Even her doctor wasn’t sure at first what was going on. It took a blood test and two excruciating days of waiting for the results of her second hCG draw, which revealed dwindling hCG levels instead of the high numbers of a healthy pregnancy, for Bremer to have her worst fears confirmed – she was indeed miscarrying.
“I was thinking to myself, ‘Of course this isn’t happening because you don’t want to think that something is wrong,'” she explains, her voice catching just slightly. “When I got the phone call I was at work, and I just ended up walking out in the middle of the day. It was just devastating because for a few days I had hope.”
Bremer took several days off of work, but didn’t tell anyone what was going on.
While at home recovering, Bremer began thinking of a special way to commemorate her loss through a tattoo. Already the proud owner of several tattoos, including one that she and her husband, Scott, had gotten done together as a way to signify their marriage, Bremer started researching the emerging trend of miscarriage tattoos, finally settling on one to remember her baby by.
“Almost immediately I started thinking about the tattoo,” says Bremer. “My tattoos have all been life experiences for me. I talked to my husband and we said we would wait a few days to make sure it wasn’t an emotional decision, so I did, but I still knew I wanted it done. I found a lot of really cool ones online, like feet and angel wings. I really liked [this one] because it was subtle.”
Today, three soft curves of a mother and child, bonded together and marked by two simple hearts, line the inside of Bremer’s right ankle. And although her loss has been made visible forever on her skin, Bremer still hadn’t talked publicly about her miscarriage.
Until one night she decided to post a picture of her tattoo to Imgur. “Full disclosure, I had a few glasses of wine before I posted,” Bremer laughs.
“I got this to remember the baby that wasn’t meant to be,” Bremer wrote in her post. The response to her photo was almost immediate as the image quickly went viral and messages from strangers and friends and people she hadn’t talked to since high school starting pouring in.
“It made it seem like we weren’t alone in this terrible thing that happened,” Bremer explains. “It was really, really cool. People I haven’t talked to you in years, like a guy I haven’t talked to since high school said how, it’s always a hard question when people ask when they are going to have kids. The amount of responses from people has been incredible, like, they are finally feeling they can feel like it’s OK to share this stuff with other people.”
Bremer explains that while initially she felt like they had to try again “immediately,” she and her husband have decided to take a step back as they heal and figure out what the future may hold for their family.
“I’m OK now,” she explains. “When it first happened, it was really easy to be angry and say, ‘Why did this happen to me,’ and then you are kind of sad to see other pregnant women. It sounds silly, but I got the tattoo and it made me feel a lot better, like I can mark this and move on. It’s still a difficult thing and we are taking a step back and see what happens. I’m sure I’ll probably still have bad days.”
If the couple does go on to have a child someday, Bremer notes that she will add a rainbow to her tattoo to signify having a “rainbow baby,” a term for a child conceived after a loss. She also plans to add a heart, should she ever have to deal with a loss again.
In the end, Bremer says she is glad that she took a step to not only help herself heal, but to show others that they are not alone in experiencing a pregnancy loss. And sharing her story has also had one unexpected effect in helping her to realize that although she may have only been pregnant for a few weeks, her bond with her baby will last forever.
“A friend texted me and told me she was so proud of me for doing this,” Bremer relates. “She said, ‘Even though your baby didn’t live, your baby still had such an impact on the world. I never thought about it that way, but it is true, isn’t it?”
h/t: TODAY Parents