These past 2 weeks have been the hardest of my life. I keep praying that the pain in my heart will lessen as the days go on, but it still hasn’t. I’ve just felt lonelier. I had another breakdown last night. The kind that just when you think you’re done, another wave begins. I pulled myself out of the bathroom and grabbed my laptop to search for hope.
coping with miscarriage
Something I never in my life thought I’d have to Google. It’s painful just seeing that word, miscarriage. I sat in bed and read a bunch of meaningless articles about “steps of grieving” or even better, “tips for how to get through a miscarriage.” Everything felt so mechanical, like I was preparing for a SAT exam. I felt nothing. But buried in another unemotional article was a sentence that I couldn't stop rereading. “Everyone wants to talk about it, but no one wants to be the one to bring it up.” It’s the truth. It shouldn’t be, but it is. So I’ve decided to take a leap and share my personal, un-sugar-coated story. To bring it up.
2 weeks ago today I found out I lost my baby. Everyone kept telling me I was experiencing normal pregnancy symptoms. Normal. Nothing in the past 2 weeks has felt remotely normal. I keep replaying my ultra sound over and over again in my head hoping for a different ending. Like this moment of time still isn’t real.
I waited for James to get to the appointment because I was worried something was wrong. He almost couldn’t go. He almost wasn’t there. I couldn’t imagine him not being there. I was shaking and my mind kept wandering. But I never thought it would happen to me. I just didn’t. I had Joe and my pregnancy and delivery were text book. I’m a baby maker. I was supposed to be a baby maker. The moment it started I knew. The technician was quiet. Getting her measurements in before I became hysterical. I asked if there was a heartbeat, praying that I was imagining everything that was happening around me. She said she needed a few more measurements before she looked. She knew too. She knew she was going to have to deliver the worst news to complete strangers in the next 60 seconds. I squeezed James’ hand as we watched our lifeless baby on screen. It wasn’t moving. I knew. She didn’t even have to tell me but she had to say it out loud for me to register it all. “I’m sorry, there isn’t a heartbeat.” It wakes me up in a sweat every night, those words. It still isn’t real. Then as my entire heart was ripped open and laying there exposed on that table, she says, “Take all the time you need.” Take the time you need. I didn’t need more time I needed her to rewind time. Just 5 minutes before, when I was still pregnant and daydreaming about another baby at Christmas. And thinking about what kind of stroller I was going to buy to carry around my 2 beautiful babies. I didn’t need time. I needed it all to stop.
We had to drive straight to our doctor’s office. I don’t know how James drove. I was in such shock, I could barely open my eyes the sunlight was so painful. I was still nauseous. I was still having migraines and craving Blueberry Ego waffles. I was still pregnant. I had just gone through the hardest 2 1/2 months dealing with the horrible side effects of the 1st trimester while chasing around a toddler. I was almost to the 2nd trimester and in the clear. I was ready to shout our pregnancy to the world and begin to feel those tiny movements inside my belly again. I was almost there. We sat in the waiting room waiting to get called back. Pregnant, glowing women were all around me. Blissfully happy. I watched them, one by one, come out from behind the door with their husbands. Happy. It was like taking the knife in my heart and twisting it over and over again.
It took a half hour to get called back because we didn’t have an appointment. James and I kept squeezing each other’s hands harder and harder. He would lose it. Then me. Nobody wanted to make eye contact with us, not even the receptionists. The nurse came to get us and took us back into a room. As protocol she had to weigh me. I was sobbing as I took off my shoes. The last time I was on that scale I was 42 weeks pregnant with Joe. Another twist of the knife. Our doctor had to run to a delivery so we sat in the room for an hour, waiting. I just wanted to curl up in fetal position and lay on the floor. The nurses kept telling us it wouldn’t be much longer. Much longer until what? I kept replaying the ultra sound in my head. A nightmare that wouldn’t end. It still won’t end.
I had 3 options. Pass it naturally, take Cytotech to move it along quicker, or a D&C. I was still in shock as the doctor explained all of our options. All I remember is thinking that natural was best. Let my body do what it’s supposed to do. It was like giving it a second chance to redeem itself after failing me so miserably.
The next morning I woke up sweating and confused. I had to remind myself out loud that it really happened. I had to relive the pain all over again. I took Joe to daycare to feel like I still had a purpose. He was so obliviously happy. I didn’t want to leave him but I knew I couldn’t take care of him all day. I couldn’t even take care of myself. The second I got back into the empty car the knife twisted again. Silence was so painful. No distractions. Just me alone with my horrible thoughts. I drove straight to Home Depot. I don’t know why but I felt like I needed to buy flowers for my flower pots. Like life had to go on. I came home, unloaded the car, and lost it in the driveway as I stared at my impulse purchases.
The crying has been a different kind of cry than I’ve ever experienced. It’s like physical pain is releasing from my body and I can’t catch my breath. It comes on so fast that I can’t even prepare for it. And when I’m done, I just feel emptier. As if I have nothing left inside me.
I laid down and slept for 3 hours. That night James and I talked about waiting for the physical part to happen naturally. My doctor said it could take weeks for my body to realize I’m no longer pregnant. I couldn’t imagine starting to heal emotionally then have to reopen the wounds to heal physically. I remember James saying “Let’s just take the pill to get it all over with.” I don’t know why but those words took my breath away. I understood what he was saying. It made sense. But I wasn’t ready for it to “all be over with”. I was still carrying my baby. I was still her mother. We called the doctor for the pills and we were going to start the process on Friday to deal with it over the weekend.
I woke up Friday with cramps. My body was already starting on its own. Maybe deep down I had to accept it for my body to begin. By 11:30am I was having full blown contractions. The same contractions that brought me my beautiful son. But this time I didn’t get to hold my baby at the end of it and forget about all the pain. This was real, horrible pain that left me feeling completely empty.
Nobody tells you how hard the physical part is. It lasted 4 days. Nonstop pain. Everything that happened in that bathroom was so traumatizing that I think it’s been burned into my brain forever. I couldn’t even catch my breath long enough to mourn the loss of my baby because my body was in pure hell. I couldn’t stand without everything blacking out. I couldn’t eat and the dizziness was unbearable. The Hydrocodon helped numb the pain for the time being. Feeling high actually helped. I got to escape from my nightmare for a few hours at a time.
I found out last Monday that I was extremely anemic, which is probably why I was so lightheaded. My blood work revealed that my pregnancy hormones were still really high, suggesting that my body hadn’t done what it needed to. The doctor called and wanted to schedule an ultra sound to check if everything had passed. I still had my original ultra sound scheduled for April 15th. I remember the nerves and excitement I felt as I made that appointment months ago. I was supposed to meet my baby for the first time. With everything that’d happened I forgot to cancel it. The nurse said, “Great, we can use the appointment you already have scheduled.” It was like pouring salt into my open wound. Instead of seeing my baby jumping around, hearing her heartbeat, feeling closer than ever to her, I had to sit through an ultra sound in a room of people hoping to see emptiness. And I had to watch that emptiness on a huge screen on the wall. My baby was gone. Like a blip that never happened. It’s not the way this was supposed to happen.
On top of my body failing to carry my baby, it can’t even miscarry right. There was tissue still left so I had to take more Cytotech to help move it along. More contractions. More pain.
I had to take a week off of work to deal with this nightmare and finally went back last Thursday. And since this is something you’re supposed to deal with privately, I told my coworkers that I was out “sick”. It’s what I thought I was supposed to do. But I regret it 100%. Why did I have to lie about losing my baby? When my Grandpa died and I had to be out, I told everyone my Grandpa died. I wasn’t ashamed or felt like I had to hide it. I was dealing with grief. The same grief I’m feeling for the loss of my baby. Except this grief I have to deal with privately. I had to maintain a fake smile as every person on my team came to my desk to ask how I was feeling. “Wow, you must have been pretty sick.” “Oh my son had that same stomach bug, it was awful”. I had to sit there and nod and act like I’m “feeling better”. But I’m not. I’m feeling completely broken and more alone than if I would have just told everyone the truth. It’s like lying about it dishonors her existence. She was a life and she did exist. And I loved her very much. And the saddest part is I did it to myself.
I keep thinking God picked the wrong baby to take. Like this was all some big misunderstanding. Or maybe I deserved it. I needed to be brought back to reality. I was so naive. I know everyone keeps telling me that it’s not my fault but how can I actually believe that. I was supposed to keep her safe but instead I had to flush her down the toilet. It still doesn't feel real.
I know the unspoken rule is to not tell people you’re pregnant until 13 weeks, in case this happens. It's taboo. But I don’t understand how people go through this alone. Silenced. Not talking about how horrible it all is. Without my family and friends I don’t think I would be able to wake up every morning and live my day. I wish it was different. I wish we talked about the hard things so people felt more connected with one another, instead of only sharing the happy pictures on Facebook. It’s all fake. We pick and choose what we want to share with the world to make it seem like everything is perfect and everyone is happy. But it’s not always happy. And people need to share the hard times, too. Because that’s what some of us need to get from one day to the next.
I keep thinking that maybe if I shared my story, other people going through this can feel like they can reach out to me to talk about it. To ask those questions that I want to ask. Like when will I stop having these horrible nightmares? When will I get through a day without crying? If 30-40% of women have gone through this, why doesn’t anyone talk about it? Maybe I started City to South for a reason I didn’t know at the time.
I hate that this experience has left me feeling terrified. Terrified something is going to happen to Joe. Terrified to get pregnant again. Terrified that I would have to relive this nightmare again. Terrified that I will never really feel full-hearted happy again. I’ve never lived in fear before and it’s a horrible feeling. I feel like I’ve used up all my good Karma and this is what’s left. Thankfully James has been my rock through all of this. If I’ve already used up all my good Karma then I’m glad he’s already in my life. He is the only person that I could get through this with. He’s trying to be so strong for me and for Joe, but I know he’s grieving too. I hope nobody has to go through this. I hope that it gets better, as people say it will. It just seems so far away. Until then I will pray for my Angel Baby to watch over us.