My Story Of Miscarriage And Loss
Tomorrow’s going to be a really hard day. March 16, 2019 – this date’s been stuck in my head since last July. At that point it was filled with joy, hope and excitement. On July 5, 2018, Brad and I found out we were pregnant for the first time. I couldn’t believe it – I took three tests to be sure. We barely tried. It felt almost too good to be true – a baby before our first wedding anniversary! Those feelings still haunt me. Because about a month later on August 9, 2018 we heard words I’ll never forget, “there’s no longer a heartbeat.”
This is my miscarriage story…
I remember the moment the ultrasound technician hesitantly uttered those words so vividly. Brad was sitting to my left, she to my right. The room was big and dark. The screen was above our head and I could clearly see the makings of our baby. I remember sitting in complete shock for probably a minute after she said it. I didn’t understand. There were no physical signs of miscarriage from my body, I still felt “pregnant.” Tears eventually began streaming down my face and Brad reached for my hand. I don’t think we said a thing to each other.
Soon we learned I had experienced a missed miscarriage. There were three options: wait for my body to miscarry naturally, take medication to complete the miscarriage, or have a surgical procedure known as dilation and curettage (D&C). I hated the idea of being surprised by my body and the D&C presented possible complications, so I opted for the medication. Even though I felt this was the best decision for me, the process still pained me so much. I wasn’t even entirely convinced it was real. Like, are we sure there’s no heartbeat, or is this medicine going to kill my living, breathing fetus? I took the meds that same night knowing that sometime soon I would feel and see those physical signs I so desperately wished had come earlier, naturally instead – if they were destined to come anyway.
Those “too good to be true” feelings from July kept bubbling up. I felt an immense sense of guilt and sadness: For ten years ago, when I wasn’t even sure I wanted kids. Until my nieces were born, and my heart literally exploded with love. Until I met Brad and knew instantly I wanted a family with this man, and he’d make an amazing dad. For getting pregnant so easily when I know friends and family who have struggled or are struggling now. For having my greatest fear – I would never have kids – be diminished, but only momentarily. I felt like the miscarriage was God or the universe saying, you're right, it was “too good to be true.” This is your punishment, for something.
The next morning, I started to experience bleeding. We had begun planning – throwing around names, taking “bump” photos, creating a Pinterest board titled “Baby E” (which I still have). We had wondered how a baby would fit into our townhouse with virtually zero storage space. So, we had emptied the closet and furniture in our guest room to prepare for the nursery transformation – leaving only a basket of stuffed animals on the shelf for baby (also, still there). And worst of all, we were just about to share the news with our families. Instead of rushing to my parents the day after that second ultrasound to tell them they would be grandparents again, I peeled myself off the couch and hysterically drove to tell my mom I lost a baby.
The following day the medicine had run its course. I felt the pain of this loss like nothing before. Not the pain of a failed first marriage nor of losing loved ones – family and friends – way too soon – even came close. My heart literally hurt. I didn’t know it in that moment, but that pain wasn’t going to fade. The end of my first pregnancy was the beginning of three months of absolute hell.
At my follow-up appointment a few days later, I was given more bad news. The miscarriage was incomplete – there was some tissue left in my uterus. Still hoping to avoid surgery, the doctor suggested another round of meds. Another cycle of bleeding, another incomplete result. Options had run out and I was scheduled for a D&C on August 23, 2018 – which right on cue, resulted in an infection.
I “worked from home” the entire month of August. And by work, I mean spent the days with my mom by my side and answered a few emails. I am so grateful for my selfless mom and my job at the time affording me that luxury. Because I couldn’t bear the idea of having to go into the office, see people, and pretend I was okay. Not to mention have the desire to design or do much of anything.
I blamed the miscarriage on myself. I laid in the sun too long and used the wrong sunscreen on our family vacation. That meat I ate wasn’t thawed properly, or it must have been the beer steamed mussels. I worked out too hard, plus l shouldn’t have lifted those heavy suitcases onto the top shelf of our closet. Maybe I slept the wrong way. And then I felt guilty for being upset. After all, I was only nine weeks pregnant – this has happened to women much further along.
But it wasn't my fault. The truth is, there could have been a chromosome issue. So really, the miscarriage was a blessing. God or some higher power’s way of protecting me – us – from even greater pain (if it exists) in the long run. It took me a long time to see this point of view, but it's so much brighter.
Most of what I was feeling I kept to myself and it was a really dark time.
In September, I went back to the office. Mostly because I had to, and I was planning to resign and start a new job in October. The day before my last, I came home and suffered what I now understand as a panic attack. I had never had one before – the racing and pounding heart, uncontrollable crying, hyperventilating, vomiting. Brad couldn't help. All I could do to console myself was go to bed at 8:00pm. I was completely on edge the last day of my old job. I chalked it up to nerves of the coming change – after all, I had been in this job for almost nine years.
Never once did it cross my mind the miscarriage might be playing a part.
I had a week’s vacation between jobs. It should’ve been fun and relaxing. But I was a mess. I cried every day. I couldn’t think – not even to make a grocery list or clean our house. Two things this over-organized girl could typically do in her sleep – something I was also having trouble doing. Brad tried to cheer me up with a dinner date and a hike over the weekend. It definitely helped, but I just wasn't “me.”
If you follow me on Instagram and have been watching my stories wondering how I have time for morning yoga, afternoon walks, and making elaborate dinners, I’m finally answering your burning questions. And no, I’m not Super Woman.
I lasted two and a half days at my new job before gut-wrenchingly deciding I needed to leave. While it didn’t end up being at all what I signed up for, in an environment that just wasn't my cup of tea, it not being my “dream job” wasn’t the real problem. The panic attacks were now a daily thing. I was scared, Brad was scared. For my health and the sanity of our very new marriage, we decided I’d quit with no plan for what was next.
And no one expected what was next.
At this point, my trouble sleeping got worse. Baby-less, job-less, I just couldn’t shut my brain off. On October 4, 2018, I was taken to the hospital for my worst panic attack yet. I was released late that night, but now the lack of sleep turned into pacing – for hours, all night long. I was prescribed meds to try and ease this new heighten anxiety and get me to sleep. But I fought those, too. The pacing turned into insomnia.
Next, I was prescribed sleep meds. Those resulted in brief sleep, followed by unbelievable thirst – I’m talking four 32-ounce bottles in a matter of minutes, faster pacing, and horrible thoughts unimaginable in my right mind. Those thoughts led to two additional hospital visits before we realized I was having a very negative reaction to the medication. But now, my choices were non-existent, and I landed an extended stay in a hospital’s mental health facility from October 9-15, 2018.
I legitimately didn’t think I’d survive the month of October.
But here I am, March 15, 2019 telling you that I did. That I’m okay. That I’m better than okay. And the love and support of my incredible husband, parents, and best friend are a big reason why. As are the therapist and psychiatrist I’ve seen since being discharged. Tomorrow’s date – my original due date – is now filled with longing, sadness and loss, but I feel stronger, healthier, and more creative and at peace than ever before.
Like all things in life, I believe everything happens for a reason. And I believe this experience has made me a better wife and will eventually make me a better mom – something I pray for every day. To be clear, I didn’t share my story to make you feel sorry for me or for expressions of pity. In fact, I went back and forth about doing it. But I’m healing and writing this was a huge part of that.
What I want is to offer support for other women, like me – because there are plenty of them. I want to tell them it’s not your fault and you’re going to be okay. I want events like these to stop being something we keep to ourselves out of guilt, embarrassment or shame. So please, please, please – if you or someone you know is struggling with a pregnancy journey, miscarriage, or postpartum depression, pass on my story and this message to them…you are not alone.
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