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Saturday, November 7, 2015

a miscarriage story : we were supposed to share happy news

Halloween is always my favorite holiday. It's filled with dressing up (I work in a middle school so that is the BEST day all year!), goofiness, silly laughing and screeching, and of course candy! When I had kids it became my favorite. We have tons of hand-me-downs and dress up stuff that we've collected at yard sales and consignment stores, so my kids always get to wear a few different costumes. It's always so much fun pretending and having fun!

This year though, I was dreading Halloween. It was the day we'd chosen weeks earlier to be the night we announce our third pregnancy. We were so excited! I had searched Pinterest and Google Images for a few days early on, just feeling so excited. I wanted a creative, fun way to announce our last pregnancy, especially since it was our daughter's turn to be the Big Sis here!

I settled on Halloween because I'd be 10 weeks along then, feeling like that would work for us, and we'd see all of our family in one night so it'd be a cool way to tell them.

I planned to be a Mama to Bee, dressing up as a Bumble Bee (cute, right?!). I even broke my rule of ordering something related to the pregnancy before we announced. I had this rule that we couldn't get a baby onesie or anything before the first ultrasound because I felt like we'd jinx it or something. So superstitious. But I was so excited that I ordered black and yellow tights and a headband to create a costume. I had not ordered my shirt yet, because I wasn't sure how large I'd grow in those first few weeks. I wanted to wait to see the bump develop before I knew which size to order.

But then I had a miscarriage. And everything changed.
No bump developed.
No plans to announce happy news that we were supposed to share.

I threw the tights and headband far into the back of my closet. They were too painful to look at. My husband tried to encourage me, saying I should dress up anyway with the kids. I didn't want to. I knew it'd be a reminder of what was not there.

I dreaded Halloween. And this taught me that there are milestones that go along with a miscarriage, not just the day the miscarriage started. Not just the due date of when a baby was supposed to arrive. But also other moments, like when you planned to tell the people you love about this happy news you have to share. Or the ultrasounds. Or the second trimester start date.

I've realized that once the bleeding stops, once the hormones subside, once the doctors no longer need to test your HCG blood count, after the last ultrasound where you see a black hole of nothing where something was supposed to grow... there are still difficult days and moments you cannot prepare for how difficult they may be.

On Halloween morning, I knew it would be rough. I'd talked to a few friends the few days prior, including women from the Mommy Stories Facebook group who are strangers but now friends and so supportive. I told them I was having a hard time, preparing for it, needing someone to talk to. They told me to feel how I feel. That this was a big deal, it was a day that was supposed to be special, exciting, happy, and now it was filled with loss. It was normal to feel sad or not in the spirit of the holiday.

That morning I sobbed hysterically to my husband. He held me and just reassured me it was normal. This was a big day for us, and now it's a different type of day, but we'd get through it.

I picked myself up and tried really hard to focus on the positives that day. I didn't want to stay home and hide, which if people do that is TOTALLY normal. I intend to do that in May on the intended due date. But on Halloween, it's so much fun and I have obligations at my job with other students. So I dressed up like Taylor Swift and got caught up in singing her songs in the car with my daughter that morning. It was a busy and great day. Nothing about being at work upset me. I think I was able to distract myself into realizing that it was an OK day.

When I got home, it was full-on busy Mom Mode helping my kids get dressed up. But I didn't want to participate. I took off my costume and was regular mom. I just didn't want to dress up in anything else that night when I was supposed to the be Mama to Bee.

Off we went to visit the family. This went well, I took lots of pictures. I was pretty quiet, but overall focusing on how happy my kids were. That's what it's all about, right?

When I visited my in-laws, one of my sisters-in-law came up to me instantly, saying, "I haven't seen you since..." and hugged me so tight. She said she was thinking of me. It was exactly what I didn't know I needed in that moment. I wasn't sure what I needed that day. But in that moment I realized I needed someone to acknowledge it, to show they cared and knew and that I'd be OK. At the same time, it was nice for others to just talk to me normally and laugh and be in the Halloween spirit.

After that, driving home, I sobbed quietly, as my kids fell asleep in the back seat. I just imagined what it would have been like on this happy night. How people would have responded with our happy news. What they would have said, thought, did. How we'd have felt joyful and excited to talk about it.

Lots of what ifs...

Milestones like the due date and the day we were supposed to tell happy news and those weekly days when we change another pregnancy week are SO hard. 

It's important that as you go through a miscarriage, you be patient with yourself, feel however you feel, and get through however you need to. If you want, stay home and cry, preoccupy yourself, do something nice for you, take a break in the middle of your day. Cry. Let it out. Don't hold it in. Talk to someone who gets it. Open up about why this day is hard. 

What helped me on this day was crying, talking to people, staying focused on my kids' beautiful smiles, realizing how lucky I was to have 9 kids and nieces and nephews - so many babies to love! It helped me to be preoccupied. It was also helpful having friends reach out to me, acknowledging that this was a tough day, offering encouragement. My sister-in-law later texted me saying, "I thought this day may be hard for you... I've been thinking of you..." It was so simple, but it was validating. It made me feel less crazy, more normal, more OK, and like someone got it, someone understood.

My husband and I know that May when the due date would have been will be challenging for me. Just wondering what if and how things "would have been." So we've planned to take the day off together and just be, sleep in, watch movies, eat a yummy lunch, and maybe go hiking. When the  miscarriage happened, he stayed home with me a few days from work and we sent the kids to school. We laughed in one second on that day about how we had not spent an entire day together in years like that and how we should plan to. So now we're planning to do it in May.

Whatever helps you get through these ups and downs, do it. It's OK however you feel.

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