*This blog post was written by a very courageous, strong, honest mom. She chose to be anonymous when submitting this to me for the Mommy Stories because her husband's family does not know they are expecting again, not because she is ashamed of her experience. She wanted that to be clear to moms, especially those who have experienced a miscarriage before - it's nothing to be ashamed of, it IS something to TALK about. Her hope is that this helps another mom out there struggling with the emotions that come with a miscarriage. It is a very raw and heartbreaking account... I definitely needed tissues. I am grateful to this momma for sharing her story.
If you or someone you know has experienced miscarriage and is willing to share her story, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I would love to publish more of your experiences on this blog, as I think it is such an important topic to talk about. Holding in those emotions is harmful, and it could help sharing with other moms. *
Journey Through Miscarriage
My sister and I are 15 months apart. I love being that close in age. When thinking about my own family planning I couldn't imagine having things any different. When my daughter was 8 months old my husband and I started trying. When I found out I was pregnant 2 months later the timing was perfect, my children would be 19 months apart. I was also going to be due only 6 weeks after my sister so I had the added excitement of sharing our pregnancies.
My second pregnancy was very similar to my first. I had the dreaded morning sickness and persistent heartburn. All somewhat controlled with a familiar cocktail of pills. I started thinking of names, organizing my maternity clothes, planning the room, and even started a private Amazon wish list of new things I might want for a new baby. At my 8 week consult (I was 7 weeks 6 days along) I joked with the nurse that this pregnancy was eerily familiar to my last. In both pregnancies my symptoms disappeared on the day of my 8 week consult. With my daughter they scheduled me for an ultrasound to make sure everything was okay. This time around when my symptoms disappeared I wasn't as worried, however I did note it.
The next day I had lunch with my sister and she questioned me on my second day of no symptoms. For me, no symptoms is very dramatic because I can barely function without medication when pregnant. I now was on day 2 of no medication. She convinced me to call my doctor. I had blood taken the day before so I inquired about the labs, hoping one of them would indicate I was pregnant. The nurse told me that a home pregnancy test is very accurate so if I had gotten a positive result I could trust it. I knew this. I wanted to know if I was STILL pregnant. Apparently the labs did not include a pregnancy test or measure hCG levels. I explained my situation and I was told a nurse would call me back. A half hour later I started bleeding and noticed some mild cramping. I called the doctor again, this time I was put straight through to a nurse. I was told to come in as soon as I could for an ultrasound.
I was trying to stay hopeful, somewhat, because I had stopped bleeding by the time I had gotten to the ultrasound appointment and because I had lost my symptoms before. I saw the ultrasound screen. The black and white blob did not resemble the gummy bear shaped baby I had seen in the ultrasound with my daughter. The tech asked me to hold my breath. Nothing. She didn't need to tell me, I knew, the hollowness in my chest and tears came before she even said a word. Her words, “I'm sorry, there is no heartbeat” still sting like fresh ink tattooed on my brain.
I was sent to see an OB right away. I cried through the whole appointment.
It was hard to process what was happening. In the back of my mind I always knew that was a possibility, but I hoped and wished so hard that it wouldn't happen. I couldn't just undo all the time spent thinking about my baby.
The OB I saw was great. He told me it wasn't my fault, I knew this. He told me that OB's love boring pregnant people like me, but I carried the same risk as an alcoholic crack addict. I was told about my options. I was in a gray area where I could have a D&C or either take medication to induce the miscarriage or let my body do it on its own. My first question was, “Which of these methods will allow me to get pregnant again the quickest?” All were the same, I would have to wait 2 cycles to start trying again. The next factor in my decision making process, and surely the most important to consider, was my little girl at home. She was scheduled to have her first birthday party in 2 days. I decided in order to deal with myself, I wanted the D&C, and scheduled it to be done the next day. I couldn't risk my body naturally miscarrying (which could take up to 2 weeks) and having it further impact my availability for my daughter. The medication wasn't a guarantee, about 20% of people need to go on to have a D&C anyway. I already was in the 20% of people who miscarry. I didn't want to take my chances. I needed to be present for my daughter.
That night I held my daughter in my arms as she fell asleep. Silent tears streamed down my cheeks as I sang her my favorite bedtime song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” She very rarely let me hold her to sleep. I was grateful for what I had. But I was devastated for what I lost.
I was lucky in a sense. Recovering from a D&C can be painful. I only had very mild cramping. I was also lucky that I have the best family in the world who took control of my daughter's party. The ONLY thing I wanted was my family to be together to celebrate her. I needed that. I didn't want to forget or put the miscarriage in the back of my mind. But my daughter deserved to be celebrated. And let's face it, I was a mess so I needed my family to help. It was enough dealing with the loss of a baby - I quickly let go of the guilt of not throwing my daughter's first birthday. I was there, my family was there, she had a BLAST, and that's what counted. Time didn't stop to let me heal. Sadness or not, I couldn't curl up in bed and sob. Well, I did that. But I had to be present for the child that I still had and grief was on my own time, not hers.
People don't know what to say when you have a miscarriage. I was only 8 weeks along but all my family, close friends, husband's family, co-workers, and even our realtor knew we were pregnant. It's a lot of uncomfortable back tracking. I relied on close friends and family to do the bulk of it. Most people were kind, they didn't have to say big things. “I'm sorry” is enough. Acknowledging the loss is enough. The worst thing is knowing that someone knew and the topic was totally ignored. Bringing up my miscarriage didn't make me sad or remind me about it. All I did was think about it. Six months later I still think about it everyday. I am still grateful when someone asks how I doing, acknowledging the loss and grief my family struggled with, the loss of a baby.
I replay the sad moments. I remember laying on the surgical table, strapped down, tears falling, thinking to myself, I hate this life right now. I remember leaving work because I couldn't deal with my sadness, laying in bed googling how long I would have to be sad for. I remember continuing to count the weeks even though I wasn't pregnant anymore, for some reason acknowledging when I would have entered my second trimester was important...even though I didn't make it.
People can say things that I interpreted as being mean. “You can't plan your family.” “You can't always have what you want.” I never really understood these words. I did plan my family, I got pregnant. I did have what I wanted, I was pregnant. Words like those were not helpful. I was told months later by a family member who knew I had a miscarriage, “Aren't you glad you waited to get pregnant?” I didn't wait to get pregnant, I had a miscarriage. It's okay to say it, to acknowledge it. I remember it happening. It's okay to talk about it, to mention it happened.
For me, not talking about it is like pretending it didn't happen. And I feel that the life who grew inside me deserves to be remembered. I am still that baby's mother and have fierce protection of the memory.
In a sense that family member was right. I see my daughter growing up and I am grateful for the time we have together. She seems even more needy now than she did 6 months ago. Maybe the extra time was a gift, a gift I didn't want, but a gift nonetheless.
The what if's are like nothing I've ever experienced. I am plagued by what if's. I wonder all the time if the baby was a girl or boy. I wonder how I would feel being pregnant and having a toddler to chase around. I wonder how my daughter would react to a baby. I wonder what life would be like if I didn't miscarry.
At my 2 week follow up, post-D&C I was hoping my doctor would tell me different family planning instructions than the doctor who I saw for my miscarriage. I cried through this entire appointment as well. She also told me that my body would be ready to start after 2 cycles, and that it may take up to 8 weeks for my period to come back. All not good news. Even worst news, she told me even when my body was ready, I needed to evaluate my mental status (I guess the constant flow of tears gave away my fragile emotional state). She recommended I be in a better mental state, because having a miscarriage did not give me a free pass on the next pregnancy. I had the same risk of miscarriage when I got pregnant again. She was reassuring though. She said I had proof at home that I could have a baby. I already had one successful pregnancy.
I considered going to a support group. A friend of mine who had lost a baby at 24 weeks helped me decide that maybe it wasn't a great idea for me. I didn't need to experience other people's pain. As it was, I felt ashamed for being so sad when I was “only” 8 weeks along. But I was sad. Before my miscarriage, I was having a baby. That 8 week pregnancy was a baby to me.
I wish I would have asked for the ultrasound image, then I would at least have a picture. I have nothing. I have memories of ideas and dreams. I have 3 weeks worth of belly shots and 2 pages of journal entries of notes to the baby for each week I was pregnant. I don't know what to do with this stuff now as none of it is proof that a baby existed.
I am grateful for my family and friends, and especially my husband for helping me through the weeks and months after my miscarriage. I am prone to depression, but I did not get deeply depressed. I was sad, I was grieving. I also think my daughter was a huge life saver. I could't wallow. I had to keep my attention focused on her.
I got my period relatively quickly, in 3 weeks 6 days (but who is counting?). I started ovulation testing for the following 2 cycles so I would be prepared to start trying to conceive. I didn't care what my doctor said, I was trying again. I didn't want another miscarriage. But no one wants a miscarriage.
When I got the first positive ovulation result after my obligatory wait time I was a wreck. I was overwhelmed with guilt. No matter how I looked at it, it felt like I was trying to replace my lost baby. How could it not feel that way. All I wanted since I lost that baby was to be pregnant again. I wanted a baby. I wanted the baby I lost.
I felt like I deserved to be pregnant after one try. After the loss and pain I'd been through I didn't want the desperation of waiting months and months to conceive. Unfortunately the world doesn't work that way.
I did not get pregnant on my first try. When I got my period, and every time after that when I got my period I was heartbroken. I grieved for the loss of the baby I had wanted again each time. The disappointment was overwhelming. I just HAD to get pregnant before my due date. I didn't know how I would cope if I didn't. Even though the doctor said I had proof that I could do this, I still questioned my fertility and ability to get pregnant, however irrational that may have been.
On our fourth month trying I didn't get my period. I made myself not take a pregnancy test until I was 2 days late. I had been convinced a few months before that I was pregnant (cramping a week after ovulation, then nausea for days and days); I took 5 pregnancy tests, the digital kind. I didn't want to admit to my husband how much money I'd spent on those tests...they were all negative. After that I had one test left. I wanted to be sure I was pregnant before I used it.
When I saw the word “pregnant” flash on the test my thoughts were, “that's right.” I remember the joy and elation I felt when I got my first positive pregnancy test with my daughter. I was clearly a novice, clearly innocent and naïve of the pains of miscarriage. This time around, I was happy. My husband, my mother, and my sister who was now 37 weeks pregnant were happy. All my co-workers were happy. However, all these people were way happier than me. It may seem odd that I've told so many people so early on again.
I figure that if I have another miscarriage I don't want to suffer and grieve in silence. I need people.
Some things with this pregnancy are the same. I still think about baby names. Although some things I've decided to do differently. I haven't pulled out my maternity clothes. I haven't called my doctor. My 8 week appointment is bad luck. I'll call after 8 weeks. I think about room décor or new baby gear but haven't researched anything online. Maybe if the internet doesn't know I'm pregnant I'll be safe.
I am trying to be patient, hopeful. I am anxious. I am fearful of what might happen. One website said that only 5% of people who miscarry, miscarry again on their next pregnancy. I feel somewhat cheated. Like my happiness for this baby has been put somewhere I can't quite reach yet. What if I can't do this again? Yes, I know I've had one successful pregnancy, but what if that is it for me?
I'm still early on in my pregnancy, only 6 weeks along. My standard set of symptoms that are a constant reminder of a pregnancy have not started yet. I sometimes have to remind myself that I actually am pregnant. It's definitely on my mind, but I keep it at a distance. I am hyperaware of the symptoms I have, every cramp, every twinge. I worry every time I go to the bathroom...I worry about seeing signs that things are awry.
I hold onto hope that on the date I enter my 13th week I'll find peace, and hope I will be able to celebrate. The irony is, it is the same date my lost baby was due.