I had a miscarriage, and I am ready to talk about it…
This post has been wearing away at my insides to be written, but it has taken a long time bring myself to do it. I hope that now I can write about it without falling apart, but we’ll see how it goes… I had a miscarriage, and I’m ready to talk about it. We should all talk about it! I think that I need to write this for me, but I also want to write it to help break down the stigma that seems to surround it. Almost a shame that hovers over us that we shouldn’t talk about it. Sure, a lot is that we can’t talk about it- can’t say the words out loud without instantly break down in tears. But we need to share our stories, share our sadness, share our grief; in doing so we can help each other heal. If I can help just one other person process their loss then it was worth writing.
Having a baby is truly miraculous. It is the best gift you could ever imagine. And so after you have hoped for it, when you see that positive pregnancy test, you are filled with such joy! You know you are carrying a life inside you which is a love like no other. Then you wait hopelessly for your first doctor’s appointment to see if everything is okay. That heartbeat, that tiny little flicker on the ultrasound screen, allows you to finally breathe that sigh of relief that has been trapped in your chest.
My first pregnancy was honestly easy (as easy as being pregnant can be that is). And I had no problem getting pregnant. No problems during the pregnancy. It was boringly normal. I didn’t imagine it could go any other way. I never knew what it was like to try for months on end with no good news. We got pregnant the first month we tried. And yes, I know how unbelievably lucky we were. And yes, I can’t even imagine the heartbreak of struggling with infertility; my heart breaks just thinking about it. So, it never occurred to me that when we tried to get pregnant the second time that we would experience the heartbreak of a miscarriage. Naïve, I know…
We went to that first check up, and there it was, the flicker- the heartbeat. We had a 9 week old baby. Looking back, I’m not sure the doctor was convinced how healthy it was, because she asked us to come back in a week to get another ultrasound to verify the due date because she said the baby was measuring small for what we thought the due date should be. Right there should have been a clue that something was off for the doctor. But I brushed it away with logic, explaining to myself that since we didn’t know if my period was regular (since I had just gotten my period back) it was possible that we could be off a week or so with my cycle and so it made since the baby was measuring a week behind.
I showed up to that second ultrasound excited to see the baby again, and find out my exact due date. But when the tech started asking me questions I never heard with my first pregnancy, I knew in my gut something was wrong. She asked me if I had been cramping, or spotting which is NOT good. I asked her if something was wrong and she said “sorry, I have to let the doctor talk to you.” RED ALERT! That was not good. The pit in my stomach was coming up to my throat. I asked her if she at least could see if the heartbeat was okay. She starred at me blankly. I asked her again, was there a heartbeat. And she looked at me with sadness in her eyes and said…
*Okay, pulling out the tissues, I broke down here*
She said “No, I don’t see a heartbeat, I’m so sorry. I’m not supposed to say anything, the doctor will talk to you”
Everything after that was a bit fuzzy, I didn’t really pay attention. That lump in my stomach made its way out of my chest and I managed to wait until the tech left to cry. You start wondering if it was something you did, was it something you could have prevented, was it something you could have avoided? How could it happen to you? How could you have a heartbeat one week and then nothing the next?
My husband had been in the waiting room with our then 14 month old son, so they came back and I met them in the doctor’s office. It wasn’t even my doctor since we went to another facility for the ultrasound. My husband didn’t know what happened but saw me crying. I had to tell him the baby didn’t have a heartbeat. It took him a minute to realize we lost the baby, that I had a miscarriage. The doctor tried to reassure us that nothing was our fault, that it was nature’s way, that it happens because the baby was not developing properly, and that we shouldn’t feel bad. That’s hard enough to process, but then they tell you what options you have and I didn’t know how we could possibly decide what to do in that moment. Do we have a procedure to remove the baby? Do we wait it out for it to happen naturally? Both have risks, how do you decide in that moment of sorrow? I just hugged my son tight and kept wiping my tears. I could tell he was confused and knew mommy crying was bad. But he took a tissue and wiped away my tears. It was the sweetest gesture.
*Don’t mind me, just crying again *
We went home to think through our options, in a haze. I realized that we needed to tell everyone what happened. We had told our families, and like fools we had posted to our friends on facebook after the first ultrasound showed a healthy baby. I didn’t know how I was going to tell anyone we lost the baby. I had barely processed it myself and was still in disbelief. I didn’t know how I would even manage to get the words out of me to tell someone what happened. We got home and I called my mom to tell her and I started crying as it rang; I barely got the words out as she answered, I am pretty sure I had to say it a few times for her to understand me through the tears. I left it to her to tell our immediate family because there was no way I was about to call everyone and go through that again.
The next few days were frazzled. I remember thinking that I still felt pregnant. If not for the ultrasound I never would have known what happened. I would just get a wave of emotion over the smallest thought. Most thoughts brought on a sadness, a numbness, a sense of profound grief and loss. There were many tissues and very puffy eyes for those first few days (weeks really). It was also the strangest feeling to know that you had lost a baby but that the baby was still there inside you. How could it be lost when it was right there?
We decided to try and let my body do what it needed to naturally. I trusted my body to process this how it needed to and actually miscarry. But it never did. Two weeks and nothing happened. It was like waiting for a firework to go off; you know you lit the fuse, but it hasn’t gone off yet and you’re holding your breath for it to explode at any second. Two weeks knowing that my body was harboring a body inside it that needed to come out.
My doctor scheduled a procedure for the following week to give my body a little more time to do something. But my procedure date came and still nothing happened so I found myself being admitted to the hospital. It was a bit of a relief to know that it would be taken care of for me so that my body, and my heart, could begin to heal. I chose to be put out for the procedure even though I guess most women do it under light sedation in the doctor’s office. I knew I did not want to be awake for it though, as I had already had enough suffering and didn’t want to endure any more than I had to.
*Okay, brief moment of tears and moving on…*
I woke up and it was over. I mean, not really. It will never be okay, and it will never be forgotten, but physically, it was done and that did bring some sense of relief.
All through this process, family and friends want to be there to be supportive. And that in and of itself is wonderful, but it doesn’t really help ease your grief. It is comforting to know they are there for you, but it still hurts to talk about it with anyone. And it is like reopening a wound every time someone asks how you are. Or worse is when someone doesn’t know what happened and you have to keep it together to tell someone else all over again. Would you believe that I had talked to one of my husband’s cousins a few days ago (who we don’t talk with often) and she hadn’t heard the news even though it has been five months or so. She thought I was calling to say the baby came early. I was holding back tears to tell her that we lost the baby a while ago.
I think that one reason women don’t talk about having a miscarriage (in the beginning anyway) is that it is just too painful to talk about! But there is still a feeling that maybe you shouldn’t talk about it, because you don’t hear people talking about it. The funny thing is that it does help to talk about it when you are ready. And when you share your story, you would be amazed at how many women tell you their story. Most women have experienced the same thing you have. Someone else knows exactly how you feel! And the odds are that many people close to you have been in your shoes! Realizing that makes you feel not quite so alone in it all. So, if you read through this having suffered a loss, know that you are not alone. Don’t be afraid to share your story. There is nothing to hide, and nothing to feel ashamed about.
If you are reading this knowing someone close to you had suffered a loss, know that just being there for that person is enough. You don’t have to do anything special to help; just show your love for them and know that they are hurting and will hurt for a while (and that’s okay). Let them talk if they want to talk, let them go about their day like nothing happened if that’s what they need to make it through another day without crying.
It has been about five months since we lost our second baby. It still hurts. I’m sure that it will always hurt. But it hurts less and less as time goes by. And there will always be a memory of the child that would have been. And there are still triggers that bring sadder days than others (missed due dates, finding the big brother shirt you bought in the dresser, getting a hospital bill for your visits). But hopefully, those sad days will become fewer and far between. No matter how okay I become with it, it will never erase what happened though. The baby we lost will always be my baby.
Let’s start talking about miscarriage. Let’s start talking about ALL our babies; the ones we can tuck in at night, and the ones we never held.