I have gone back and forth in my head trying to decide if I was going to write this. And how the hell I was going to write this.
So here it goes, vulnerability and brutally honest truth…
On February 1st my world was flipped upside down and shaken vigorously. I first was just in denial, then sad then angry then grateful.
We had a miscarriage. We never got to see my belly grow. I never got to feel the kicks. I never will get to hold that sweet little thing in my arms.
For something so incredibly and unfortunately common, a lot of people just don’t want to talk about it! I know so many women who have had failed pregnancies yet it felt like something I was supposed to be “hush hush” about. I even had someone close to me say I was looking for an “emotional handout” because I wanted to talk about it .
Let me start off with a little backstory… Nathan and I had our son Liam jJanuary 2013. We were young and we were BROKE and alone out here in Colorado, but it was the best thing to ever happen to us. Now Liam just turned five and I can’t imagine not having a five year old! Here is the truth- I wanted to have another child about two years after Liam was born. And I prayed HARD you guys. Nathan was just not there yet. He likes to take his time, and I am the opposite. Like a miracle, he tells me he is ready for our family to grow and I am SO incredibly excited I call my mother and my two best friends that day. I am overjoyed and in a little bit of shock that this is finally happening!
After just a couple of months of trying, while in Jackson, WY on vacation, I see that glorious + sign on the pregnancy test. I immediately dove right in to planning, like I always do. I started moving the craft room around to make room for Nate’s office furniture so that his office could be the nursery. I started following every maternity and baby small shop on Instagram I could find. At just 7 weeks we called and told our parents and my grandmother. I was bursting with excitement. I wanted the whole universe to know I was pregnant because I had wanted this SO incredibly much. We told our son Liam and got his reaction on video. He was so excited and it was perfection. I started reaching out to brands to collaborate on an adorable baby announcement that I had planned on doing next week.
I felt different with this pregnancy, MUCH different. (NO morning sickness!) With Liam every smell made me gag. It was awful. But the largest difference was that this time I wasn’t scared. With Liam I just had no idea what to expect! As a first time mom you can read all the baby books you want but still never really know what you are doing. I was terrified of labor with Liam, and ended up having a pretty awful experience. We had lived in this tiny apartment downtown Denver that barely had enough room for two people, yet alone a little baby and all the gear that comes with him. I never got to nest or pick out cute baby clothes or do research on which swing I wanted… we were BROKE. Everything we had was second hand or thrifted. We couldn’t afford maternity clothes so I lived in leggings for a year. Everything was so HARD last time. From the pregnancy until his first birthday, we struggled emotionally, physically, and financially.
This time was going to be so different ! So much easier ! We live in a house with extra rooms, Nathan has a great job, better insurance, I work from home, and Liam is at a age to help with the baby. Nate and I had been closer and stronger than ever before. Everything was lining up perfectly and I was just so incredibly excited for each and every step. I couldn’t wait to see my belly grow and feel those kicks again. Instead of fearing labor I was excited! I knew what to expect and knew that my body was strong this time and that my birthing plan wouldn’t be thrown out the window. I had everything set up to give birth at a Birthing Center (because I will never go to a hospital again) and I even started buying gender neutral baby clothes. I was excited for the maternity dresses I could actually buy this time. I was excited to have a child born in warmer months. I was just so incredibly happy and couldn’t help but have this awkward giant smile on my face all day every day. Our family was growing !
Nathan kept saying I was moving too fast. He wanted to wait to tell everyone and I just could not understand why. Losing the baby was not even a thought in my mind because why would I? I was healthy, I was taking my prenatals weeks before we got pregnant… I was doing things right!
On a wednesday I started spotting and got this feeling deep down that something was wrong. I texted my sister who is a nurse with three children of her own if she had experienced this spotting. According to her and all my research online, it was very normal. So I pretended it was not there, even though my instincts were telling me otherwise. I went to a bloggers event that evening and could feel more blood in my underwear. I ignored it and started telling women I didnt even know there that I was expecting. I thought that if I started saying it outloud to the unirrvse it made it more real and that the bleeding would somehow stop.
The next morning I woke up to a lot of blood. I was terrified. My hands were shaking as I called Nathan at work to tell him. He came home right away but the children I watch were already at the house. I knew I should call their parents right away and go to the hospital but I didn’t want it to be real. I knew something was wrong but just didnt want to know. I started to feel very weak and physically sick. I thought maybe I was just sick with the flu and thats why I was bleeding?! I don’t know. I just wanted it to be anything but losing the baby. I thought that if I kept positive and kept telling myself it was fine, it would be.
When I started to get dizzy and the tears unvolintarily came rolling down my face, I had the parents come pick up their kiddos. After a friend of mine being an angel came to pick up Liam, Nate drove me to the ER.
I don’t think I even made sense when the man at the desk asked why I was there. It all just felt like a bad dream. I knew what was happening but everyone around me seemed to be blurred walking by. After blood being taken and several nurses were gathered around me to talk to me about what was happening…my body went cold. Like I was standing in the snow with a bathing suit on. I couldnt stop shaking and I didn’t know if this was a physical reaction to what my body was going through or if it was in my head.
The woman taking my ultrasound says she can’t tell me what she sees. That the doctor will give me the results. But I can already see on her face that she can’t find the baby. I hate crying in front of people. I mean, really really hate it. I want to seem strong and brave not a blubbering mess to strangers. It took every ounce of me to not just run out of that room screaming.
WHYYYYYY the hell was this happening to us?!?!
Is this what I get for poor choices I have made in the past?! Was this karma? Did I do something wrong?
The doctor could not officially tell me I had a miscarriage. Just that she believed I did and that they couldn’t see any cardiovascular activity on the ultrasound. My hormone levels were extremely low. She gave me a slight glimmer of hope that maybe the baby was still there and that it was just so small they couldnt find it. But I already knew.
The next day I went to the birthing center to talk to a nurse midwife. She comforted me and gave me some advice. I was so exhausted and had cried so hard the previous day I spoke to her calmly and quietly without showing much emotion.
Next came the calls. I had to call all of my family and friends and tell them what happened. I wanted to. I needed to talk to someone. My entire support sysytem lives a thousand miles away in Illinois and all I wanted was a damn hug.
Nate has his own way with dealing with things. And to put it shortly, it is not my way. I need touch, I need to talk it out. Or I feel like I might explode. I spent hours on the phone with my mom and sister and girlfriends.
Saturday I became very, very sick. I am not sure if I got a bug from the hospital or if my body was just starting to shut down from the stress. I slept ALL day. I was too weak to get out of bed, I had the chills and aches of the flu and couldnt eat or drink anything without it almost immediately coming right back out. My head was pounding and I just wanted to cry but that just took too much energy. The cramps were terrible and I just wanted to sleep. I had really messed up dreams about babies and would wake up sweaty and out of breath.
Each day has gotten easier and easier. On that Monday I had to dive right back in to the normal routine of life. I knew that if I just stayed in bed like I wanted to, it would just make things worse. Liam was confused. He didnt understand what was happening. After a few days I explained the baby was in heaven now and he didn’t seem to care much. But then he started to act angry. Very angry. Five is a tough age. He won’t forget what happened but really won’t understand anything until he is much older. He kept saying his “baby brother” would like this and do that… days after me telling him what happened. That was hard.
A lot of things were hard. Like when baby items I had ordered start showing up on my front porch and I completely lose it all over again. Or wanting to tell people and not knowing how because I know no one ever knows what to say.
Something that I didn’t know about having a miscarriage is how physically awful it is. I figured I would bleed for a couple days and that was it. NOPE. I was bleeding for about week. A WEEK of a constant physical reminder what had happened. I would go the bathroom and almost pass out from what I would find on my pad. I just wanted it to go away. I wanted to forget.
The me two years ago would have been cursing God. I would have been angry for weeks, maybe months. And numbing myself with aimless shopping and booze to forget it all. It seemed easier back then to blame someone or something for what happens. I was angry this time. But not at God. I was just angry. Only for a few days but I really wanted to punch someone in the face. Just someone- a stranger, not anyone in particular. That may be really unhealthy, and I of course would never do such a thing, but in my mind hitting something or someone makes me feel better. A week after this happens a close friend of mine has her baby and I am filled to the brim with many emotions. The photos she sends of him are beautiful. He is this perfect little thing that I just can’t wait to hold. Then I feel sad. Really really sad. The baby that I had prayed for was supposed to be here this September. I start wondering again why this happened. Was it because I ate that stupid sandwich with the cold lunch meat? Did I have a glass of wine before I knew I was pregnant?? It can be easy to blame yourself.
Then I scroll through Facebook for the first time in awhile and I see FIVE baby announcements. I start to get angry again and then find comfort in prayer and meditation.
In the beginning I said I felt grateful. And let me tell you why and how… I have heard of mothers carrying their babies until 14-20 weeks and then losing them. I cannot imagine that. I know God only gives you what you can handle and I don’t know if I could have handled that. This was hard enough for me. I can’t seem to wrap my brain around that situation. I felt grateful that I wasn’t further along in the pregnancy. It just seemed to me that it was easier this way. Then I start feeling grateful for it all. For Liam, for Nathan, for our life here in CO and for all the people who love and support me back home. I found it easier to focus on the good and beautiful things I have than what we had lost.
I know there are not really “right” things to say to someone who experiences it. And I know everyone really does mean well and is trying to comfort me. But for me personally- here are a few things you should not say or ask someone who has just experienced this tragedy:
- Why did this happen?
- Are you going to try again?
- It all happens for a reason.
- You don’t need to tell everyone what happened
- Was it something you did?
I will not even go into why these questions and comments hurt me so bad. Just think about it for a quick minute and I think you will get it. Hopefully.
I understand that everyone deals with things their own way. Some stay silent and that is OK. Some share their story and that is OK.
I have felt embarrassed, ashamed, angry, grateful, blessed, depression, jealousy all within the last month. I didn’t tell friends what had happened because they didn’t even know I was pregnant to begin with. And I felt weird about telling them. I am not sure why. I guess I am afraid of their reaction. But it happened. And it fuckin hurt. And I need all the love and support I can get. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.
Being pregnant and happy one minute and then just NOT pregnant the next can mess anyone up. I had imagined the nursery, tiny feet, Liam holding the baby and the new adventure of having a family of four. It’s not something that should be “hush hush” and kept between just you and your partner, unless you want it that way. I talk and I write to help me cope with things. So here I am . A honest, vulnerable mess that wants the universe to know that it’s OK to talk about it. Hearing other women talk about their own made me feel less alone. I felt that I could stop blaming myself because I didn’t do anything wrong.
Something that my mother said to me that brought me great comfort : “After my miscarriage I had the idea that maybe there was something physically wrong with the baby. Maybe God wanted the baby up in heaven rather than be on Earth suffering.” . Another dear friend of mine said something very similar. And it brought me comfort. Whether you believe in heaven or souls or any of it… believing your little baby is an angel is easier than not.
I still of course will always have moments of sadness here and there. But I feel OK. I feel like this year has other wonderful things in store for our family and that once again, our family becomes stronger from tragedy.
A few things that helped comfort me that first week:
- The midwife explained to me that there is no right or wrong term to describe what happened. To use the wording I felt comfortable with. “Losing the baby” felt like it was my fault- I didn’t lose anything! But the word miscarriage made me feel uncomfortable too! I didn’t know what to say to people but I felt better knowing it didn’t matter how I worded it.
- Hot baths are my go-to for anything. Headaches, a cold, depression, anxiety, sore muscles… I feel at my most natural state in the water. I fill up my tub with hot water and homemade bath salts. I will drop a couple essential oils in there, too. Lavender, Stress Away, Peace and Calming and Grateful were all oils that have been helping me heal. Candlelight, soft music and the steam coming off the water helped me both physically and emotionally in ways that I just cannot explain.
- Another dear friend of mine told me what she did to say goodbye. She wrote a letter to her unborn child explaining that they were so loved and wanted and even named her. She sent that letter off with a balloon. There are a lot of ways to “say goodbye” but I haven’t found mine yet. Writing about it makes me feel better but I am still trying to figure out my way of saying “goodbye”.
- Getting out of the house, even if you don’t want. I felt like staying in leggings and slippers and never leaving. But I knew that getting out was going to help, and it did.
- Knowing that if I needed help, it was there. The birthing center sent us a card and with their words of sympathy there was also a card for a Grief Support Group. It helped just knowing that if I needed to talk to someone, I could.
- Writing it all down. Writing helps me to see the feelings and emotions I didn’t even know I had. Write your feelings, your thoughts, your prayers.
- Go for a hike. I felt fresh crisp air in my lungs and the smell of pine trees, and it was HEALING me. I felt the beauty of God all around me and knew it was all going to be OK. Getting my heart rate up and feeling the earth and rocks under my feet as I continued to climb was exhilarating and peaceful at the same time.
- I let myself get a few things, Ok more than a few, at Target. I bought some new makeup, face masks, a hair dryer and nail polish. It didn’t really help buying these things. But the next day when I made myself do the face mask and put on some new makeup and finally fix my hair… I looked in the mirror and felt like myself again. Concealer covered up those dark under-eye circles and I still stuck with waterproof mascara because who knows when the tears would involuntarily roll down my cheeks. Something that seems to help when I am depressed is looking my best. This may not be the case with everyone but if I feel confident in how I look then I start to feel better.
You may feel everything and nothing, that is OK.
A few things that I was not expecting…
My breast grew incredibly fast and were ginamorous overnight, the first sign I knew I was pregnant before even taking a test. Over the week following that awful day in the ER, my breasts rapidly shrank back to original size. My bloated tummy shrank back. I felt the hormones leaving my body and it was again, a constant reminder of what we loss. It was just such an odd feeling of my body going back to normal and just doing what it is supposed to do.
How I would feel.
How others would react.
How many women I know have miscarried and never told me until now.
So that’s my story. If you have miscarried yourself, I hope this brought you comfort in some way and I am truly sorry for everything you have been going through. Know that you are not alone. And there is no right or wrong way to feel or cope with loss.
I will never forget and I won’t “move on” from this, but I am moving forward, as life does.
I am holding my son a little tighter, praying a little harder, and once again being grounded by all the love I already have and all the blessings from God around me.
It will hurt seeing those beautiful bellies and babies for some time I am imagining.
I have no idea where we are going from here but I am trying to learn to accept that and to just live each day, one at a time.
For resources and support:
Faces of Loss – To share your story with others