The Month Long Miscarriage

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“When I experienced my first miscarriage, I believe as I went through it, the rose covered glasses I had been wearing (so to speak) slowly melted away. I saw the world of pregnancy for what it really can be for so many: Cruel, harsh and full of turmoil. With my first miscarriage, I realized with one Google search and a single conversation with the Emergency Room doctor, how common it is for women to experience a miscarriage in their journeys to have a healthy baby. I naively thought to myself ‘okay, I’ve had my miscarriage, I can get back to my regular scheduled program of having our third and last baby.’

It truly did feel that way. Whenever I would talk to my husband, family or friends, everyone agreed that it’s common to have ‘one miscarriage’ and that because I had already carried two beautiful babies to term, it was a fluke and there was no way I would have another one.

It’s funny what we as humans subconsciously do to keep those rose covered glasses on. We hear about an accident, a death, an illness in someone else’s life or family and we feel sorry for them, but at the same time a small voice in our minds thinks ‘at least it didn’t happen to me, or to my family’. It’s okay, it’s a human reaction, I think. It’s that sigh of relief that for another day, everything is okay and manageable because that terrible thing you heard about didn’t happen to you.

But then when it does happen to you, it’s almost as if you live in a perpetual state of shock and disbelief. How do you cope with a worst nightmare coming to life? How do you push those demons and monsters away who seek to drag you down to their lowest of levels and consume your happiness and zest for life? I felt all of those things. I felt the anger, the guilt, the sadness, the blame when I had my first miscarriage.

We didn’t try and get pregnant again for seven months after everything happened because I was afraid of it happening again. I didn’t want to experience the shame, the waves of guilt and blame, the feeling that I had to keep everything inside after a few weeks because no one wanted to hear about my pain anymore. I didn’t want to lose another baby.

My first miscarriage happened at six weeks and it was a very fast process from the time I found out it was happening, until it was over. It was one of the most physically and emotionally painful things I have ever gone through. It happened only a few days before my birthday, and I remember feeling disconnected from the world for a while. I felt like I had a sign above my head saying ‘my baby died, please be gentle’, that’s how fragile I felt.

I got through it with the help of my husband and a few wonderful family members and a best friend who didn’t mind hearing about my grief and fear even months later. So as I said, at the seven month mark, we decided to try again to have our third and last baby.

I struggle with how to word this, but I don’t have a problem getting pregnant. That isn’t my pain or trial. My trial is maintaining a healthy pregnancy and carrying the baby to term. With that being said, we found out we were pregnant again only two months later, at the nine month mark. Immediately, I was guarded. I was cautious. I was completely petrified, to be honest.

I am a relatively open person and I struggle with keeping a secret when it’s about myself. With my second baby that I was able to carry to term, we shared the news right away. I had the belief that every pregnancy should be celebrated, no matter how short or long it may be. With my third pregnancy and first miscarriage, I didn’t share anything about it, apart from family and a friend or two, until the miscarriage, and then I made that news public to my Facebook friends because it was easier than calling everyone individually and telling them our heartbreak.

I also admit that I wanted to feel the support of others, to let people know that there was a baby that we loved, but now it was no longer. I felt support and I felt love, but I also felt frustration. I realized I had invisible expectations of people and when they didn’t meet those expectations, I felt bitter. It was my first experience with how people handle things like miscarriage, and how most people have no idea how to react or what to do for you. I can only blame myself for not being more open with what I needed at the time.

With my fourth pregnancy, it was a different ballgame from the moment I saw those two lines. I had gone to my best friend Sam’s house to take the test because I wanted to surprise Richard (my husband) with the news if I was pregnant. I had bought a rainbow onesie that said ‘rainbow is my favorite color’ because this would be our ‘rainbow baby’, or a baby after loss if I was indeed pregnant.

I took six tests at Sam’s house. You read that correctly, six. I wanted to be thorough and sure either way. When they came back positive, I started shaking. Sam was ecstatic and tried to gauge my reaction, and I just started bawling. I told her ‘I won’t be excited or believe it’s real until I hear a heartbeat. I’m not going to tell hardly anyone until after my first appointment. I’m terrified of having another miscarriage.’

She reassured me that the chances were slim and I tried to be cautiously optimistic. I went home and shared the news with Richard and his happy reaction made me a little bit more excited. We told our immediate families and a few more friends, and then we kept the news to ourselves.

I was protecting my heart, I know that. I was trying not to get my hopes up, I also know that. I was filled with anxiety and worry. I took my prenatal vitamin every day, tried to choose my meals more carefully (sorry, Taco Bell) and cut back on things like caffeine.

I didn’t feel very many symptoms, but I tried to remind myself that every pregnancy is different. I would make comments like ‘it doesn’t feel real’. I loved my baby with my whole heart and soul, but it didn’t feel real. It was too good to be true. I wasn’t naive to the fact that not every pregnancy ends in a baby you get to take home and snuggle with forever.

I missed the bliss of being ignorant. My first appointment was scheduled and I estimated that I was between 8.5-10.5 weeks along, according to all of my last dates and those technicalities. I had tracked my cycle for the last three years, so I was completely sure of everything. But for arguments sake, I gave myself a two week ‘grace period’ in case I ovulated later than I thought.

Nervous is a massive understatement for how I felt going into my first appointment. My mother-in-law watched our two toddlers so my husband and I could go by ourselves, on the off chance that was received bad news. I was not excited for the appointment, but I was very excited to see my doctor. He was the same doctor that had delivered my oldest, Olivia, almost four years prior. He is the absolute best doctor I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and Richard and I were both elated that he had moved to a practice by where we live.

We took bets on if he would remember us or not, and it turns out that he did! I was thrilled! We caught up on how life had been the last few years and joked about the possibility of seeing triplets on the ultrasound. My blood pressure was elevated, probably from nerves, and I was dizzy, so very dizzy.

I laid down on the table and exposed my stomach as my doctor gave me a reassuring smile. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to know. I wasn’t ready for my heart to be broken again if we didn’t see what we should see. But he put the wand on my stomach and I knew instantly.

I could see a sac, but I couldn’t see a baby. My doctor was very quiet. The room was suddenly over heating and I couldn’t seem to get a full breath of air. I looked at my doctor and told him that there was nothing there. It wasn’t a question. I knew.

He looked at me, trying to keep a poker face I’m sure, and asked me how sure I was of my dates. I explained that I was completely sure and how I was sure. He told me that there was a gestational sac measuring six weeks, but he couldn’t see a fetal pole or yolk sac. He said that I could be too early, you never know with these things. He wanted me to go get my HCG levels checked that day, a Monday, and then again on that Wednesday to see if there was growth and if so, how much growth.

I felt numb. I felt instantly like I was in a dream. There was no way this could be happening to me again. Twice in a row? Yeah right. Most women have one miscarriage, but two? No way. We had a very real conversation with my wonderful doctor and he sent us on our way with the promise of a phone call on that Wednesday after we had the second blood test results.

I walked into the waiting room, trying to maintain my composure before getting to our car. But I saw so many obviously pregnant women waiting to be seen by my doctor in the waiting room and I started crying uncontrollably. Richard helped me out to the car and we sat in silence for a moment before the “ting” of my phone receiving a text message broke then moment. It was my mom, asking how the appointment had gone.

I decided to send a group message to the few people we had told. Again, it was easier to do it that way than explain the situation to everyone individually. We went to get my blood drawn and it all feels like a daze from there. I remember waiting to be called back, and hearing a lady on the phone next to me finding out that whoever was on the other line was pregnant. I felt like grabbing the phone out of her hand and slamming it on the ground. Didn’t she know my pain? How was it fair that the world kept on turning for everyone else while my worst nightmare was now my reality once again?

My first results came back that night and they were 7100. On Wednesday, they came back at 9000. They were meant to increase a lot more than that. My doctor explained to me that night that this was not good news, and he was 95% certain this was a missed miscarriage, he just couldn’t be 100% sure yet without another ultrasound.

We scheduled another ultrasound for seven days later. It was going to be the longest seven days of my life, but I told myself that seven days was all my doctor needed me to handle and then it would be over. We would know. I thought it would be that simple, but it wasn’t.

A few days later on Sunday, two days before my next ultrasound, I started feeling intense pain in my lower back and right side. I was drained, so very drained, and completely mentally and physically exhausted by this point. I was angry and done waiting for answers.

So I decided to go to the Emergency Room that night because I couldn’t take being in limbo anymore. They took my blood to test my HCG and wheeled me back for an ultrasound. Upon meeting the ultrasound technician, it was clear he didn’t want to be there. He wasn’t nice and he wasn’t welcoming, he made me feel like an inconvenience because they had to call him in for the ultrasound at three o’clock in the morning.

He kept asking me how sure I was of my dates and at this point, I was tired of explaining myself. But I did and he said ‘and they didn’t see anything last time?’ I told him no and he moved the screen to where I could see it and said, ‘there’s a baby in there measuring six weeks, one day.’

I looked at the screen in disbelief and sure enough, I could see a tiny baby. He decided to do an internal ultrasound to see if he could hear a heartbeat and this is where things got confusing. He kept telling me that he saw a heartbeat, but when I looked at the screen, I saw no flutter of movement. He also tried to hear the heartbeat, and he kept having me hold my breath because he was convinced that he heard a heartbeat of 102 BPM. But whenever he tried to show me or have me listen, there was nothing but deafening silence.

I tried to explain to him that because of a heart condition I had as a teenager, my resting heartrate is naturally always above 100 BPM. He wouldn’t listen and told me it wasn’t my heart beat he was seeing. He told me I should cancel my appointment with my OB and that everything was fine.

Nothing felt fine in my heart. I didn’t trust the technician. The dates didn’t make sense. There was no way a baby that was meant to be as much as 11.5 weeks at this point, was only 6 weeks. He suggested I might have miscarried without knowing and had gotten pregnant again, and I laughed and told him there had been no bleeding, and I had already experienced one miscarriage and it’s not something you would just “miss”.

The whole experience didn’t feel right. It felt like a cruel joke. I regret ever having gone to the ER. I expressed my concerns to the ER doctor and he shrugged and told me my levels were 13,000 and to go see my OB as planned. So on the following Tuesday, after telling Richard what happened and him not believing it either, we went in to see my actual doctor.

We told him everything that happened and he was also not convinced that what the technician saw was a heartbeat. He looked at the report from the hospital and pointed out that these ER technicians are looking at tons of different organs and issues all day and night and it would be easy for them to mess up, especially at 3 in the morning. We did another ultrasound and this time, my doctor could see that the gestational sac had grown in size, and he could now make out a fetal pole and yolk sac.

He looked for a heartbeat for a LONG time. He tried to hear one and to see one, but couldn’t find a heartbeat either way. He couldn’t hide the sadness and confusion on his face this time as he told us he was certain this was a missed miscarriage, but couldn’t make the final call because the sac had grown and my levels had gone up. He apologized for how drawn out of a process this was turning into and told me to be strong for just a while longer.

He had us schedule an appointment with his most trusted technician, who could also do an internal ultrasound. We had to wait eight more days for this appointment. There were so many days in-between these appointments because they wanted to see growth. They wanted to give my body and the baby enough time to grow and do the correct thing if it was going to. We weren’t looking to get rid of a baby that was alive, after all.

I don’t think I will ever be able to properly express what it feels like to carry around what you’re sure is a dead baby for a month. It completely messed with my heart and with my mind. I felt disgusting and constant disappointment. I felt isolated, angry and alone. I wanted to claw out of my own body and scream as loud as I possibly could.

It was that night that I had an absolute nervous breakdown to my husband. I cried and I shook and I couldn’t breathe for a long time. I kept apologizing again and again for my inability to give him another healthy baby. It just didn’t make sense in my mind that I could have two healthy babies, and now have two dead babies.

Why had my body betrayed me? What had changed? What was wrong?

I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat. I felt lost. I felt embarrassed. I felt so incredibly angry at the world and at myself.

Eight days went by and finally, we found ourselves in the waiting room for what would be the final ultrasound. I had decided to have a D&C this time, for a few reasons. The natural method, for me, was completely traumatizing and so very painful. Also, my uterus hadn’t even begun to start collapsing on itself, which I guess happens right before you miscarry. My body hadn’t done its job and figured out that the baby was gone, and it still thought it was pregnant with a living baby.

It could take another couple of weeks for it to realize what was going on, and this process had already taken a month. A month long miscarriage. I simply couldn’t mentally allow it to go on any longer. I needed it to be over.

This time around, the technician we had was wonderful. She was sweet and understanding as I was shaking. She was understanding as I started crying even before she put the wand on my stomach. She didn’t blink an eye when I messed up on a lot of my words as I tried to explain the situation. She was calm and compassionate. She was exactly what I needed that day.

She first did an abdominal ultrasound and saw a gestational sac measure six weeks, one day. I knew with a final blow to my heart, that the baby was gone and had been gone the entire time. No growth whatsoever. She did an internal ultrasound next to be completely sure and saw the same thing. No growth. No heartbeat. Nothing. Our baby had stopped growing at 6 weeks, 1 day. Static filled the room as she tried to listen for a heartbeat on her monitor and after a solid few seconds, I asked her nicely if she could turn it off. There was no heartbeat and I couldn’t handle hearing the absence of what should have been there but wasn’t anymore.

We called my doctor right then and there and the technician told him her findings. I spoke to him next and expressed my worry about now miscarrying at home, because I had started spotting very slightly. It was a Thursday and he normally performs his procedures on Wednesday’s. He told me there was no way he was going to make me wait another almost full week before having the procedure now that was had final confirmation the baby was gone.

He made an exception for us, telling me he had known us longer than any other patient at his practice, and he was done making us suffer through this waiting game. We made the necessary arrangements for the procedure to happen the very next day.

It all felt like a dream again. Dropping the girls off with my mother-in-law, hugging her goodbye. Driving to the hospital, getting out of the car and seeing the labor and delivery parking. I remember telling Richard I wanted to key each one of their cars. He laughed sadly and held my hand as we walked into the hospital.

Everyone was incredibly kind to us. They all knew why we were there. I finally didn’t have to run through the story yet again. They already had all of the information they needed other than simple questions like if I had allergies to medications or not.

The nurse getting me ready in pre-op looked at me on her way out of the room and said ‘I’ve had one too. I’m so sorry you’re going through it all again.’ I smiled at her sadly and said thank you. I appreciated her openness when I felt so vulnerable.

My doctor came in and spoke to us, and so did his whole team of people. Again, everyone was very kind and they even tried to crack a few jokes here and there to get Richard and I to smile. I was grateful to be in their care if I had to go through this again.

The procedure took place and we eventually got to go home. I slept for most of the next few days. Richard and I are incredibly blessed to have such amazing family and friends who took care of our girls a LOT and a couple even brought us meals. The last thing I wanted to do was cook. Costco meals never tasted so great.

The process of healing physically took about two weeks, on the outside. The procedure took place almost a month ago on June 22nd. It has been a whirlwind of emotions. I have good days, and I have bad days. I have happy days, and I have very angry and bitter days. I have days where I can be optimistic about our future as parents, and I have days where I never want to try to have a baby ever again.

They won’t do testing on my body to make sure everything is okay until I’ve had three miscarriages. That almost makes me laugh because I can’t imagine going through this yet again before we’re taken seriously. I still might get a second opinion about the testing.

One thing I’ve learned through this whole process is no one knows what to say or how to act after something like this happens. Someone very close to me found out that they are pregnant a few days before my D&C and she was so afraid to tell me because she didn’t want to hurt me. I am grateful for her compassion and I do admit that it is difficult and heartbreaking to see people have babies right now. To get on Facebook and see pregnancy announcements, many of them due when I should have been due, and to not feel extremely bitter and resentful.

It’s something I am working on. But in my heart of hearts, when my mind is clear, I know I would never wish this pain on anyone. I would never want someone to experience this loss, this confusion, seclusion, heartbreak and emotional torture.

Some people also say the wrong thing. Like, at least we have two healthy babies. Or, at least you can get pregnant. Or, at least the miscarriages happened early. Or my absolute favorite, at least you’ve only had two. Like two isn’t more than enough? Or, at least you’re young and can try again. Yeah, I understand that, but the emotional roadblocks aren’t so easy to forget.

Yes, I am eternally thankful for my two healthy babies. Yes, I have hugged them extra tightly since this has all happened. And yes, I am capable of getting pregnant. But what actual difference does it make if I can’t carry the baby to term?

I’m stuck wondering if my body has truly ceased to function correctly. If two healthy children is all we’ll have biologically on this Earth when in my heart, I know there is a third we are meant to have. It isn’t something I can even begin to entertain for a year or two. The wound is too real still, the fear too prominent. I am exhausted and running on emotional fumes. I can’t even fathom trying again right now.

I am grateful for what we have. I am grateful for family that listens and cares. For family that will take our girls and give us a break when we need it. I am thankful for a husband that does the same. I am grateful for a few select friends that will let me vent, get angry and be bitter when I need to be. But I wish, oh how I wish, that I could have those two sweet babies in my arms that are now in heaven.

I remind myself that I need to be gentle with myself. That I need to feel the emotions that come to my heart and work through them. That it’s okay if I struggle to be happy for other’s that are pregnant right now. That it’s okay if I can’t hear about it all the time.

This is a process. As long of a process as I need it to be. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, everyone is different.

I wasn’t going to be so candid and share my story this time. It’s a scary thing for me to vulnerable this way. But I’ve learned that miscarriage isn’t often talked about. Or if it is, it’s taboo. I understand it’s a common thing that happens to 20% of women once.

But did you know that only 2% of women experience miscarriage twice in a row? This was my second loss in 9 months. And after a single miscarriage, the chance of having another one drops to 14%.

But I am not just a number. Any woman who has experienced one, two, or seven miscarriages are more than just a number. Every loss is real. Every loss is felt.

For any of you reading this that have experienced loss, I am so sorry. You aren’t alone. You are validated and you are allowed to feel the emotions you feel. You are allowed to feel your grief in the way you need to. You are strong and it wasn’t your fault, even when it feels like it was. Even when your whole mind is trying to trick you into thinking it was.

Forgive the people who say accidental hurtful things. Forgive the people that aren’t sure how to reach out. Forgive the friends or family that don’t say they’re sorry or don’t respond the way you feel they should. Chances are, they really just don’t know what to do or say. Even saying sorry is hard for some people. Know that they love you either way.

Miscarriage is hard. Recurrent miscarriage is unbearable. Whatever struggle you have, I am certain it is hard for you. You aren’t alone. Don’t be afraid to tell people what you need. And if you want to, I will always be an open ear and I will forever have outstretched arms.

You CAN do this. I have to remind myself that every morning, or every time I see a pregnancy announcement. Be patient with yourself and know that I love you.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Krystal Dodge.You can follow her blog here. Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.

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