WARNING: Very intimate and personal topic to follow. Please proceed with kindness and refrain from any negative comments. Feel free to share your story in the comments. The best way to heal at times, is just knowing that you’re not alone.
From the moment you see those double lines, or any positive symbol on a pregnancy test, you have two options; either have a baby, or lose a baby. Your options are permanent. You don’t simply become “un-pregnant.”
If you google “miscarriage and loss” you will find that the topic is way more common online than anything else you’ve never really talked about in real life, but have often heard about. In fact, it’s so popular a topic, you’d think miscarriages are somewhat normal. Well, unfortunately, they are way more normal than you might think, and everyone who writes about them does so from personal experience.
I’m no exception.
However, instead of taking your valuable time to mourn with me in the loss of our second miscarried baby, I want to share the things no one talks about, when it comes to miscarriages, like how they feel, what happens during one (both natural and medical), and after one (recovery and hospital bills).
These aren’t pleasant things, and I totally understand that, but my hope is that there is a hopeful mom out there wondering what’s next, after going to her OB and not hearing the heartbeat she so desperately wanted to hear. You see, many, many of us have been there and the value in understanding this particular trial is important. I understand that every instance can vary, but this is my story and how it was for me.
Miscarriage #1: February 8, 2012
Our fist miscarriage came barely 3 months after we were married. I was on the pill for what seemed like 1,000 years prior to the year we were engaged. We knew we wanted a family and because I’m older than the average first-time-bride, we wanted to be ready to conceive as soon as possible. I was off of the pill for almost a full year prior to our wedding. We conceived within a couple of months (which was pretty hard to do, being that we lived 2,000 miles apart). Grant came to visit me (I was still living in Arkansas), and it happened to be on a day when I should have been on my period, but was not. On our way home from the airport, we went to CVS and picked up a test. It was positive and we were elated! I’d never had any “accidents” before, and at 36, I wondered if I was actually fertile. Those little pink lines said I was. We bought/took about 40 more tests, just to be sure. The next day, appointments were set for a new OBGYN in AR, and we were on our way to being parents. The first OB appointment we had confirmed that a baby was in fact in my body, in the correct place.
The day after my husband flew back to La, I started spotting. Everything online said it was normal. Everything said that spotting could start at 6 weeks, as the baby started to nestle itself into the womb.
“Don’t worry. Don’t panic. You’re going to be ok. Just call the OB to make sure.”
I went in and they said “We can’t hear a heartbeat, but you’re only 6.5 weeks along, so that’s kind of normal.”
They ran my labs and found that I had the right amount of HCG in my blood for a 6 week pregnancy, so they wanted to re-test in 48 hours.
I just felt weird. In my heart, I think I knew the baby wasn’t going to make it, but I wanted it to, SO BADLY, I pressed on. The spotting wasn’t bad at all. In fact, it stopped. I called my brother to come for a visit with his wife, just in case I needed them, because my husband just couldn’t be in AR again so soon without losing his job, and my brother and his wife lived a short 90 minute drive away in Oklahoma.
The labs came back after 48 hours and were inconclusive. My levels went up, but not as much as they’d wanted them to… “Hold on, just be patient and don’t stress out. You could still be in the clear.”
Cue my mom flying out from CA to be with me.
My mom was with me in Arkansas for one week. We continued with doctor appointments, lying to my boss about why I was in and out so much, eating ice cream and spending time together, until it looked like the baby and I were in the clear. No more spotting, levels on the incline… 2 weeks of chaos, and things seemed to be settling down.
My mom flew back home to La.
The day after she left, I was sitting in a 4:00PM meeting (seriously, who schedules those anyway?), I felt something I didn’t like. There was a slight gush and I knew I was no longer in the clear. I went home.
That night was one of the worst in my life. After 2 weeks on the “possible miscarriage roller coaster of emotions”, I was at the top of the ride, starting my quick decent downhill. My husband was still in La, I was still alone in Arkansas, and I had a bad feeling. Everyone said “just relax, be still, don’t do anything stressful, hopefully it will pass.” It didn’t. At 11:30PM, I was in pain. The cramps were unlike anything I’d every experienced. I went to the bathroom and there I passed a very small round bag. It was my baby. My heart. The product of my new marriage. I couldn’t flush the toilet. I just couldn’t do it.
My husband was in band practice, so he didn’t hear me calling until about 11:30PM in CA (1:30AM in AR). When he finally checked his phone, the call back was panicked. We cried together, sobbed, didn’t speak, couldn’t speak, mourned. With him on the phone, we flushed the little baby together. There was no going back.
The next day I went to work, for an 8:30AM meeting (again, who schedules those???), but I couldn’t tell my boss (she wouldn’t understand!), so I went anyway. As I sat in the conference room, waiting for everyone to come in, my friend Kyle said “you don’t look so good” and I lost it. He was only maybe 26 and didn’t really know what to do, but he opened his arms and I caved into them. He helped me tell HR and I went home. My 3 closest Arkansan friends kept me alive (figuratively) for the next several days.
And just like that, it was over… kind of.
See, with a natural miscarriage, the healing is very different than when a pregnancy is medically removed. I bled for 6 weeks, and immediately started my period, which was weird, and landed me back at the hospital (because of course, I thought I was dying), it was so painful. It was a terrible and very long-winded recovery, but I made it and got my ass back to California to be with my husband, where I belonged. Because after all, you’re supposed to live with your husband/wife, when you’re newly married… ok, always.
We ended up pregnant again, just a few months later, and as you can probably tell by literally every thing I ever post online, I’m obsessed with my healthy, amazing, smart, beautiful and funny, baby boy.
Miscarriage #2: August 19, 2014
On our trip to Hawaii back in July, we realized that once again, I wasn’t on my period when I thought I would be, so we bought 300 pregnancy tests. Once again, those little pink lines were in a pair and that meant we were having another baby!! Hooray!! But if it’s such a happy moment, why was I bawling my eyes out like a baby?! (I’ll save that for another time.)
As soon as we realized we were pregnant, we called our GP. I had been SICK. I’d been on antibiotics, Tylenol Cold and Sinus (the Severe formula), eye drops for pink eye, nasal spray, and pina coladas (cuz duh, Hawaii). I stopped everything immediately. People do FAR WORSE things than taking cold medication when pregnant, right? We weren’t going to chance it.
We also set up an OB appointment right away, for the 6 week mark. I needed to hear a heartbeat before getting too excited. Plus, the first miscarriage was an egg from my “damaged” ovary (where I have a small benign tumor) and Remy came from an egg on my “healthy” ovary on my left (technology!!!), so I wanted to know where this one came from before painting our guest room pink. Our 5w5d appointment said “healthy ovary, pregnant in the uterus (not ectopic), no heartbeat YET”. We were still so early, it’s normal not to find a heartbeat yet, so we would come back in 2 weeks.
Two weeks later, still no heartbeat, and what was visible in the 6w appointment, was no longer visible in my 8w appointment. The baby was gone. But I was still pregnant, complete with morning sickness, light headedness, exhaustion and a bursting-out-of-my-pants-must-wear-maternity-jeans new belly. How could there be no baby growing with all of my pregnancy symptoms? I guess it just happens. The worst, was that I didn’t know if my body would jump in and complete what it started on it’s own, or if I would have to have surgery to have it removed. Why didn’t my body warn me??? Why didn’t I have any symptoms of loss, before the ultrasound tech just couldn’t find a heartbeat, or even a baby?
My OB couldn’t get me in for the D&C for 5 days. FFIIIIVVVEEEE DAAAAAYYS. For 5 days, I knew I was pregnant-not-pregnant. No baby, no relief. Just sad. The only thing that could make me feel better (besides wine), was my living, breathing, 18 month old. He made me smile. He got me through it… He was my distraction. My magical “get through it” button.
On Tuesday, August 19th at 2:00PM, I was scheduled for surgery.
When you have a D&C for a miscarriage, it’s not what you expect.
You are having surgery. It’s a big deal. You have to fast for 12 hours prior to the procedure, you go in to the hospital, you see your OB and a bunch of nurses, and you have an anesthesiologist. This is real life surgery. Operating table. Bright lights. Grief. Doubt. “Am I doing this to myself? Am I killing my baby? Is this real?” I had to ask my OB prior to the procedure, if he was 100% SURE that my baby wasn’t alive. He looked at me and said, “Not a chance kiddo. I’m sorry, but there’s not a chance it’s alive, or we wouldn’t be here.” I’ll never forget that. I’ll also never forget the way he held my hand as I drifted off to sleep, while humming a song. I asked him to sing until it was over, and he did. There’s payoff in having the same doctor for 19 years, I guess.
I woke up some time later in a different room with a nurse by my side. The same nurse that helped my husband though a hernia repair surgery just 2 weeks prior. She remembered us and remembered that we loved music. Shortly thereafter, my husband came into my recovery room, they made sure I could walk, hold down liquids, and sent me home.
The recovery time for the D&C was only a week. After a week, I felt like myself again, bleeding had stopped and 14 days after the surgery, ovulation was back again. It was so different than the first one. So incredibly different.
Another difference came today in the mail, which is what made me decide to open the door to this whole topic tonight. My bill.
I HAVE INSURANCE, AND I STILL HAVE TO PAY THIS?!
My out of pocket maximum has not been reached, and thanks to my body shutting down on my baby, I have to pay an incredible amount of money to the hospital, doctors, surgeon, nurses, anesthesiologists, and valet (because in LA, hospitals have valet, duh). All of those things that made the experience less painful, found a way to be painful in the end, just in a different way. We have to finance this miscarriage to avoid collections.
This is the truth about miscarriage.
You will hurt, you will mourn, you will get through it, but you will never forget it. It will change you, it may even charge you, and in the end, you will be one of “us”. One of the many, many women who know how you feel, even though you are convinced that you are 100% alone in the world.
You have support. You have love. You will be ok, but you will be changed.
Loving and losing is brutal no matter what your circumstance. And, for any 1st time mamas who lose their very first pregnancy, I know you’ll hear “natural selection you know” or “just be glad you didn’t have a genetically mutated baby” or “it just wasn’t supposed to be” or “don’t worry, it will happen” and I know it will not feel good to hear from people who just don’t get it. Know this though; This is just the beginning of your story. You know what it feels like to love something in an instant, and you know what it means to want to protect that little growing creature inside of you, so you are a mom too, and nothing will ever change that. Don’t be afraid to go forward. Be strong when other people seem insensitive. They don’t mean it, they just don’t know what else to say. You are allowed to hurt. You are allowed to mourn. You are allowed to feel every emotion in your body and take as long as you need to recover, but know that you will recover physically and mentally as well. It will just take time.
For any mamas going through this unfortunate part of life, please know that you can email me for support, love, friendship, guidance, anything. I get it. And hopefully, you’ll be able to turn the tables one day and look into your healthy and wonderful baby, while being there for someone else, who’s still in the process of finding future hope.
Every living baby is a miracle and I hope everyone who wants their own miracle finds a way to get it.
NOTE: After pouring this all out, I realized that Pregnancy and Infant Loss day for 2014 is on Wednesday of this week (October 15th). That means that thousands and thousands of people who’ve lost either a pregnancy or an infant to any cause, will be lighting candles at 7:00PM in memory of the little ones they never got to hold, or only held briefly. This is an event I find solace in… I hope you join in and light a candle for any little baby that was too here for too little time, as well.