There is a silent dream killer among us. This killer strikes 1 in 4 women. It stops a couples dreams just as they are beginning, after two or three months of anticipation or worst yet just prior to their dreams being realized. It can happen in the blink of an eye with no hope of prevention or after months of specialized care that just isn’t enough. Its effects are felt throughout all aspects of society and most people have been touched by it at some point in their lives.
There is something mythical about the birth of a child. I was recently able to attend the birth of my niece. I remember walking into the room and my sister was in so much pain she didn’t even remember me arriving. I gave the minimal comfort I could give while they repositioned the baby and then helped to hold her legs in place when Sadie finally arrived.
It was the most beautiful, disgusting, amazing, scary experience of my life.
Later as I held her I just cried, I was so excited to have her in my life.
As I child I always just assumed I would have 3-4 kids. As time went on and I got older and older I gradually pushed this dream to the side and concentrated on my career. I wasn’t going to focus on the negatives in my life when I had so many other amazing things going for me.
After Aaron and I got married that dream made a reappearance and I began to think of having my own child. After 3 ½ years of trying I finally got pregnant. I had to take two pregnancy tests because I just didn’t believe the first one was accurate.
Even though I knew I couldn’t be more then 6 weeks along we told our family and a few close friends. Three days later I woke up in the middle of the night to bloody sheets and cramping (some of the first signs of a miscarriage). Aaron just held me as I cried that night. All those hopes and dream gone in an instant.
The worst part was the waiting for confirmation. My body felt different, the blood and cramping indicated the baby was gone, but because I was so early the doctors couldn’t run an ultrasound to confirm. I was stuck waiting an additional 48 hours for HCG level comparisons in my blood work. The doctors office gave me a 25% chance it was still viable, so rather then put my family through the same emotional rollercoaster I kept quiet.
I don’t know if it was the right decision, but it gave me a few days to synthesis my feelings. At the back of my mind, I just kept hoping that maybe everything was fine and I was just being overly dramatic.
My HCG levels had only increased 60% within a 48 hour time period. They should have doubled. However at 29,000 the doctors felt it was high enough to do an ultrasound.
I drank the required 32 oz of water one hour before the test (which is miserable) and we prayed for the best. They couldn’t see anything on the regular ultrasound so they switched to the transvaginal ultrasound (which is miserable too). When she found my baby it was such a little miracle. I was measuring 6 weeks and 1 day. However, the heart rate was only 87. It should have been between 120-180.
As Aaron and I meet with the doctor she cautioned us not to get too excited and asked us to come in the next week to make sure the heart rate had increased.
I was good at staying detached for the first couple of days, but then I started to feel pregnant. I woke up one morning and realized my stomach was pouching slightly. Aaron couldn’t see it, but I could tell, it is hard to explain, but it felt like my stomach muscles just weren’t working quite right and I couldn’t pull in my stomach.
I had nausea, nothing major but it was there and I was constantly exhausted. As I began to feel more and more pregnant I got more and more excited. Something had to be working right since I was feeling so “miserable”.
Three days ago we headed out for our next ultrasound. I knew at the back of my mind that I was still high risk and that there might be issues, but I just pushed it all to the side.
My baby was a fighter and he was going to get through this.
He wasn’t able to fight through whatever was wrong. My first hint was when the technician said that there was no growth and the baby was still measuring 6 weeks and 1 day. The grief and tears were instantaneous. As Aaron held me close he asked if there was a heart beat – kind of that last Hail Mary moment. When she told us no, I think my heart stopped for a moment as well. My baby was gone before he even got a chance at life.
I wish it ended there, but at this point I’m sitting at home taking medicines that will expel what is left of my baby from my body. This is the part no one tells you about. I know medically it is necessary, but it is emotionally devastating to be taking medicines that are essentially causing my body to abort my baby.
The doctor told me I was going to have what amounts to the worst period of my life. I’ve had some pretty bad period so I thought I was prepared. The cramping and the bleeding is definitely much worse then I expected, but when you combine the psychological aspect together it isn’t a fun experience. However, if everything goes well I won’t need to do a DNC or surgery.
It is so hard to describe what I’ve felt during the last two weeks. There was so much silent grief. I wanted to shout at the Lord – “Why is this happening to me”. I wanted to curl up in a ball and just spend the day crying (which is pretty much what I did the first day). I kept analyzing what I could have done wrong in my life that may have affected the baby, after all I was pregnant during my 6 day rafting trip down the Colorado River. Maybe it was the treated water or the fact that I took a ton of Advil and sinus medication on that trip which caused the miscarriage. I knew intellectually I was being irrational and stupid, but your mind does funny thing when you are grieving.
I spent a lot of time playing the “what if” game.
Fortunately I have a very loving husband and great friends who very quickly convinced me that playing the “what-if” game only leads to depression. So after giving myself a few days to mourn and feel sorry for myself I picked myself up and started living again.
I’m not a psychologist or a councilor or someone with any training, so I’m not qualified to give formal medical advance. What I have learned is that everyone has their own method of dealing with grief. I remember the doctor telling me that it was okay to grieve the loss even though I was only seven weeks.
So I cried – a lot.
I’m not a pretty crier and hate crying, This is one of the rare times when I gave myself permission to cry whenever I wanted to. I cried at the doctors office and the pharmacy, I cried with my husband, I cried on the phone with my family. I pretty much teared up at the drop of a hat for a couple of days. And you know what – it was okay.
I also spent a lot of time in silent contemplation and prayer, I wrote in my journal and used a portion of it for this blog post. I read stories of women online who had experienced miscarriage.
As I talked to other women about my experience, I began to realize that I wasn’t as isolated as I thought. I knew intellectually that 1 out of every 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, but hadn’t thought of what that really meant. It didn’t take me long to realize that many of my friends had struggled with miscarriage.
Yet for some reason we hesitate to share our stories. For some reason having a miscarriage is almost like a dirty little secret.
I’m assuming part of it is because most miscarriages happen before the news has been shared with the general public. At that point maybe women feel like announcing they’ve had a miscarriage is kind of like playing the sympathy card. Maybe people want to mourn in private or just don’t want to deal with all the well-wishers. Maybe they feel guilty about lifestyle choices from prior to realizing they were pregnant. In the end, it doesn’t really matter why the chose to keep it inside, what matters is the effect that keeping it silent often has.
What I can say through personal experience is that shared pain is always lessened.
Virtually every women I talked to had their own story to share. Some of them were so heart wrenching. I was constantly inspired by the strength of these women. As we shared our stories and cried together my pain eased just a little bit.
Are there still moments of grief – most definitely
Are there still moments of self doubt – most definitely,
Are there moments when I wonder if this is going to be a reoccurring issue if I get pregnant again – most definitely.
Are there moments when I wonder if I can even get pregnant again – most definitely
But I’m choosing not to live my life by the “what if” moments.
I really struggled with my decision to share my story publicly, I personally know women who have experienced multiple miscarriages and whose experiences are so much more painful then mine. I didn’t feel like I really had any great advice for dealing with the pain. I’m still dealing with my own pain.
I realized though that it isn’t about whose story is more painful, what matters is how we reach out and love those around us who are struggling. I want to thank my family and friends who reached out to me, who send me encouraging texts, notes, candy, flowers and most importantly love. My story would be entirely different without the shared love I’ve felt over the last two weeks, so thank you.
After the outpouring of support I received from this post I wrote a follow-up post for those who are trying to help a friend or spouse dealing with miscarriage.