"Darkest of times."
Infertility and miscarriage are very common - 1 in every 8 married couples struggle to get pregnant and 1 in every 4 women miscarry. Despite its commonness, miscarriages and infertility remain a taboo in our society.
To fight this taboo, many women are completely opening up on social media and personal blogs about their own experiences, including Christine, Fowler and Lewis. Their stories are real and raw and full of comfort for anyone else who's gone through similar experiences.
"This was a day my husband and I had been waiting for, for over a year."
Christine shared intimate details of what's perhaps the most private, emotional moment of her life: the heartbreaking hospital trip where she learned her baby wasn't making it out alive.
My ultrasound tech was quiet and I just knew. She left the room and my husband quickly assured me that 'everything is fine.' But don't tell that to a girl who has seen hundreds of ultrasound photos, who has searched Instagram for the hashtag '8weeks' to see what her baby now looked like.
"I knew it wasn't right and it wasn't.
"I remember being afraid to cry. I didn't feel as if I deserved to cry because 'I wasn't that far along,' and 'this happens all the time.'
"I remember holding back the tears with every ounce of my being and not being able to look my husband in the face because I knew his pain would break me.
"I was sent home to let my body naturally run its course and it did. I felt everything but had nothing to show for it. My doctor didn't let me leave without warning and she was right about everything. But what she didn't warn me about was everything that would happen after the initial heartbreak and pain_"_
Tens of thousands of people have been touched by Christine and her bravery for sharing such an intimate, hard story. The strong woman ended her post with positive encouragement for other women, because she knows so many other struggle through the same things.
"I hope that you won't feel alone.
I hope that you let yourself cry.
I hope that you will see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I hope that though your faith will be tested, you will be strong.
I hope you find peace.
I hope you won't be afraid to try again.
I hope that you don't blame yourself.
I hope that your friends hug you a little tighter.
I hope that you give someone else hope through your hardship
I hope that you are a light in the darkest of time(s).
…and I hope that you celebrate that baby's life as much as you celebrate the next because no matter how short a life, all life deserves to be celebrated and all loss should be mourned."
Fowler writes openly on both her Instagram account and personal blog about her first miscarriage. After trying for a year to get pregnant and even taking a maternity photo shoot, things took a turn for the worst.
"The words, 'I'm not seeing any heart tones' shattered mine. It just stopped growing at six weeks and one day. My baby's heart is no longer beating, and today it feels like mine isn't either.
The doctor is having us wait until next week to confirm these results. He says that the pregnancy looks too normal to just give it up and take measures to rid my body of our baby. There's a 95% chance that it is gone and that we will miscarry, but if there is even the 5% chance that it's heart starts beating and we were just off on our days, we will take it.
I, we, are so heart broken. I don't know how long it'll take for me to stop crying and see the meaning of this. There is nothing I want more than to be a mother, and I feel as though I have somehow failed our baby. I can only hope that it will happen for us again_"_
Despite that 5 percent chance of survival, Fowler ended up losing her baby.
Through the heartache and hopelessness, she still found a way to be glad for the short time she carried her baby.
"I've never felt more beautiful, more accepting, more myself than those few weeks I knew that our baby was growing inside of me. A sweet friend reached out to us, and although I didn't need any photos of us, I'm grateful to have these. They tell the story of how happy we were to finally be pregnant. They show my small, yet growing bump. They show the pride that I had to be this baby's mother. I can only hope that one day, hopefully soon, we will feel the joy of a growing and healthy baby again."
In her personal blog that focuses on pregnancy loss and infertility, Lewis admits that before she started having her own infertility problems, she used to think about miscarriages as just a 'bump in the road.'
"Looking back, there were some things I JUST DIDN'T GET:
"That getting pregnant again does not heal the hurt from losing a baby. One baby does not replace another. Even if you get pregnant right away, there is still grief because there was still loss.
"That bereaved friends do not need answers from me at all. Not one. I looked back on an email I sent to a friend after I heard about her loss, and while I said some appropriate things, I also said, "I know God's in control." When I re-read that email after going through our own loss, I winced. She knew God was in control. She didn't need me to have an answer. She just needed to hear, 'I'm so sorry. I'm crying with you. I will miss knowing your baby. I'm praying for you. If you need to talk, I'm here.'
"That the hurt lasts so long. Five years has passed since my first loss. And I'll never quite be the same again. I just wish that I had realized my friends were still dealing with grief for months, and for some, years ... not just days
To help other struggling women through the pain of infertility, Lewis started a viral campaign called 'I am 1 in 4.' The series of stories and pictures from many other women's infertility experiences serves as a comforting reminder that women are not alone in their struggles.
Lewis, Fowler, Christine and every other woman courageous enough to share their incredible stories are fighting against the taboo of infertility and miscarriages. Hopefully, these heartbreaking experiences will be shared more and more. To all the women out there going through similar things — remember, you are not alone, and there is hope.