By the time I deliver my son in late August, it will have felt like I’ve been pregnant for over a year. Why? I went through a first trimester miscarriage in October 2014.
I took today off from work today in anticipation that this would be a soul crushing reminder of what I was supposed to have. Overall, I’ve had a fairly pleasant day. My BFF and I went gambling and strolling down a historic part of El Dorado County. No doubt being exhausted from my zumba instructor training yesterday has also had a hand in my overall good mood today.
I did however think today be an appropriate day to write down some reflections I have had on my miscarriage. Although I won’t necessarily say I’m grateful that the miscarriage occurred, it is a bizarre thought that had the loss never happened, I wouldn’t be carrying my son now.
1. Miscarriage is common.
Before I had my miscarriage, I had never really thought about it. When I found out I was pregnant, I told a few people. I understood that miscarriage was a risk, but I just assumed it happened to those mothers, not me. After all, I worked out, followed a vegan diet, and wasn’t under a lot of stress. I never thought the woman was to blame for a miscarriage, but it was just never a possibility for me. Further, no one in my life had ever had a miscarriage, so what were the odds that I would.
It turns out quite a few people I knew had had a miscarriage. A grandparent, a coworker, an old friend. It’s something I wish I had known sooner as they were the ones that really understood what I was going through. Miscarriage isn’t something that’s talked about. It’s still filled with stigma and shame. It’s also not something that comes up in conversation. And when would it? I’m not ashamed of what happened to me, but there’s never an appropriate time to talk about it; to normalize it.
2. Miscarriage is a painful process.
Unlike the rare instances of a miscarriage you see portrayed in media, my miscarriage was not quick. I carried my dead baby inside me for nearly 4 weeks before I officially lost it.
I went in to the doctor for a 9 week check up and ultrasound 9/26/14. I had clue that anything was wrong; my morning sickness had been getting better, but everything I had read said morning sickness got better when you entered the second trimester. I assumed I was feeling better since I was nearing the 12 week mark.
When the nurse practitioner had a hard time finding the baby, I assumed it’s because I was chubby. My husband and I laughed. Silly baby! Stop hiding; we want to see you. However, once she found it, it was only an empty sac. No heartbeat; no baby. She told me that I had a blighted ovum; that the baby appeared to have died around the 7 week mark; I would have a miscarriage. I began spotting a few days later; light for the first few days, then heavier until the blood became so great I began to question how someone could bleed so much and not die. By October 6th, I assumed the worst was over. What no one told me was that I would experience contractions. I had uterine contractions for 4 hours each night for two days. Of course, this isn’t long compared to what occurs during child birth, but knowing your body is in the process of expelling your dead baby; it was absolutely horrifying. Since I was only about 11 weeks at this point, I had taken no childbirth classes, had no preparation on what to expect, and pain meds did nothing for the contractions. All I could do was cry and moan from both the physical and emotional pain as I waited for it to pass.
3. I experienced so many emotions
In addition to sadness and anger, a surprising emotion to me was embarrassment.
I was angry at the world. Seeing other pregnant women was torture. Why were these women so much better than me? Why did they get to keep their babies, while my body flushed mine away? I found myself wishing ill upon these women; it wasn’t fair they got to continue their pregnancy and I didn’t.
Thinking back to that fateful ultrasound, my husband and I must have seemed so naive and stupid to be so excited. It’s a weird emotion to have, and whenever I think about it, I’m flooded with embarrassment. Even though I know it’s not logical, I can’t help it. This feeling definitely followed me to my current ultrasounds. I never want to be excited until I’ve heard that heartbeat and seen that image. Which leads me to…
4. It ripped the joy away from my next pregnancy
It took a long time for me to find any joy during my current pregnancy. I welcomed morning sickness as it was a sign things in my body were going okay. Even though pregnancy has brought about unpleasant symptoms (morning sickness, sore breasts, backaches, indigestion), I don’t feel like I have the right to complain, because all these things mean I’m still pregnant.
Everything became the sign of a miscarriage. Not being sick enough, a slightly upset stomach. I was and still am constantly looking for signs of blood.
I had the misfortune of being diagnosed with a subchorionic hematoma during the first trimester of this pregnancy. The day before Christmas I woke up and I had started bleeding. I couldn’t believe I was going through another miscarriage. Why would my body do that to me? Well, apparently some women just bleed during pregnancy, and doctors aren’t sure why. This experience has propelled the idea that I will have another miscarriage. Even now, after the bleeding has long stopped, I still am on the lookout for blood. Each time I change, each bathroom break is tinged with anxiety.
Now that I am finally able to feel baby kick, it’s a bit of relief. If I’m feeling down, or anxious I can poke my belly and baby will respond. The ultimate relief will come when my husband can finally feel baby too. Another fear of mine was baby actually wasn’t kicking and it was all inside my mind (the 20 week ultrasound help settle my fear, but it’s still hanging out!)
5. It put things in perspective.
I’ve long struggled with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Even though the miscarriage was a horrible experience, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. In comparison, my problems just don’t seem as bad anymore. Bad day at work? Feeling unattractive? The sadness and anxiety those things used to make me is nothing in comparison to finding out I lost my child. Most of the things in my life that make me unhappy are minor and changeable. And I think about that a lot. Sure I still get down sometimes, but overall I feel as if my mind went through hell, and nothing compares to that.
Overall, I wouldn’t say I’m grateful for the miscarriage. Going through that was the worst experience of my life. It made me a member of a club no one ever wants to join. What I am grateful for is the experience of having my son grow inside me now, which wouldn’t be possible had the miscarriage not occurred. My mental health has even improved since before I had the miscarriage. I look at the miscarriage as just something that happened to me, neither positive or negative. It’s estimated 1 in 4 women will have a miscarriage in her life, and I guess I was that lucky 25%.
To help the grieving process, I got a tattoo in honor of my baby. It says Tu me manques, which means I miss you in French. Or more sweetly, you are missing from me. Which I felt was appropriate with my baby, since they will forever be missing from my life.