Once upon a time, my husband and I abandoned various forms of birth control, and embarked on the exciting adventure that is starting a family.

We tried. And tried. And tried. I’d be lying if I said we maintained our confidence. But we persevered, and a relatively short — and relatively long — five months later, I peed on a magical stick and it proclaimed we’d be parents.

Yes, ridiculous morning sickness and exhaustion followed, but nothing out of the ordinary. We had a level II ultrasound at 20 weeks (my husband’s two sisters survived mere hours after birth, and their genetic abnormalities were never explained), and confirmed a healthy little person had taken up residence in my belly. I had sciatica and swollen feet and ate everything I saw. And 10 days before his due date, our son arrived in a fast and furious and truly awesome delivery.

It wasn’t easy, but it was textbook, and we got our baby at the end, just like we were supposed to. All we had to do now was wait two years and do it all over again. No problem!

The thought of my naiveté astounds me. Everyone should be entitled to a least one pregnancy like that. And while I feel ridiculous looking back — and yes, even a little guilty — I wish my second pregnancy had been the same.

When our son turned 2, we tried again, as planned. And when I got pregnant after only a month, I honestly thought we were being rewarded for our “patience” the first time around.

A few weeks later, I woke up in the wee hours of a Friday (Aug. 19, 2005) with horrible abdominal cramps. I was shaking and terrified in the bathroom: I was bleeding. Heavily. I called my OB, who met us in her office as soon as they opened. We saw our little bean with its heart beating on an ultrasound, although it wasn’t as big as we expected, and the heartbeat wasn’t as strong. Still, they sent us home cautiously optimistic (I still cringe at those words).

To make this long story slightly shorter, the bleeding only intensified. And by Monday, another ultrasound showed my vacant uterus, as if no one’s heart had been beating there days before. Our baby was gone.

In the throes of a grief I couldn’t have expected, I learned three things:

  1. Miscarriage, though strangely taboo, is all too common. Determined to talk about it, I found that so many women I know have experienced pregnancy loss. We’re like a secret club that feels lonely and exclusive, but our membership is booming.
  2. The logical words of solace — the ones I would have used myself — are the worst. I know it’s for the best. I know it’s nature’s way. I know it’s God’s plan. But I don’t care. I want my baby.
  3. There’s no spreadsheet to calculate how much it hurts. Miscarrying at six weeks certainly isn’t the same as a stillbirth at 36 weeks. But they’re both a loss. And it’s normal to grieve.

I’m standing on the other side of my grief now. Four months after we lost our baby, another life began and a nerve-wrecking pregnancy commenced. Of course I wouldn’t change the result, or trade our crazy little girl. But I do think of our baby, our little bean, who would have just turned 2 in April. I haven’t forgotten, and hope I never will.

When I hear of friends who have lost a baby, my heart breaks all over again. I’m so sorry you’ve joined the club. But know you’re not alone. Hugs.