I couldn’t believe when I heard the news. It was the news that every expectant mother dreads the thought of hearing. “Miscarriage” was the title of the chapters in all of my pregnancy books that I skipped over. Not because I didn’t think it was a possibility, but because I didn’t even want to put it into the universe that it could happen. I wouldn’t even allow myself to consider it happening. It was my greatest fear, yet something I tricked myself into thinking would never happen to me.
I’ll never forget the shock and astonishment when I saw the double line on the first pregnancy test that I took. I wasn’t completely sure how to feel, actually I was terrified! I was in so much shock that I made my husband go out and get as many boxes of pregnancy tests (of different brands of course) because surely the one we had was a fluke! It was the beaming smile on my husband’s face that made all of my worries and fears melt away. Don’t get me wrong, I was still in utter shock for days after I found out, but he made it easy to be happy. I was almost afraid to feel excited because I couldn’t believe it could be real! See, my husband and I weren’t exactly “trying” but weren’t exactly “not trying” either — or as my doctor humorously put it; we were “in denial of trying.” Which in reality, is probably more accurate because if you say you’re trying, it allows the option of failure to enter into the picture if it doesn’t work out.
When I allowed myself to embrace the new me (and little one too), the excitement truly took over. I planned the most perfect and clever ways to tell our families and friends our news. It was over the holiday season where many family gatherings were filled with the celebration and joy of our upcoming newborn. The entire holiday season was defined by my pregnancy. I avoided my mom’s famous “antipasto” because of the cured meats and I steered clear of my beloved red wine that had accompanied many Christmas dinners before. But it was all worth it for my little cannellini bean (which is how we affectionately referred to our little one). I talked to him, I prayed with my hands on my belly and of course, planned the nursery. I daydreamed about his little face, his smell. I wondered if he would have my husband’s striking blue eyes and not my boring brown ones. I even got a “My first Christmas” bib and plenty of presents for the baby!
But it happened.
It was time for my 12 week visit, my ultrasound and screening test were also scheduled for later in the week. I could barely sleep wanting that appointment to arrive so badly so I could hear his little heartbeat! I mentioned to the doctor that I still had some occasional spotting. That urged him to do an internal exam, and he discovered my cervix was inflamed. While no heartbeat was heard on the Doppler, he didn’t seem concerned because it was too early to hear it on that type of device (but I insisted that he try because I am a worry wart!) The doctor asked me to go for an ultrasound the next night. I was concerned at first, but a little excited because that meant I got to see my little bean earlier than expected. The next day at work seemed like forever. When I was feeling worried about it, I received all of the attempts at reassurance from my co-workers like, “you are so young, don’t be silly you are not high risk”, and “you are young and healthy, you don’t have anything to worry about!”
My husband was working the evening of the ultrasound, so my mom had volunteered to come with me. At first, I was apprehensive to bring anyone with me because my mind was all over the place. Then, I thought it would be great to share the joy of seeing my little one with my mom, rather than alone. However, that was not what God hap planned for me. The drive to the office was filled with positive repetitions to myself that everything was going to be fine. As a deep rooted fear set in, I shoved it away and I told myself it could not be true. The U/S technician was searching and searching as I laid on the table in the dark room. The impending doom set in as nothing showed up on the monitor.
He eventually told me my little one had no heartbeat. I couldn’t believe it. All I can really remember is my mom holding my hand so tightly. I could barely look at her because I knew I would lose it. It felt like an eternity in that exam room. I wanted to run out but had to hold it together so the people in the waiting room wouldn’t see my overwhelming sadness. I barely made it out the door when my gut wrenching weeps took over. My mom just held me and I wept and wept in the frigid January weather.
That was the worst night ever. I sobbed and cried more than I ever had in my life. My husband came home early from work and I could not stop bawling. I don’t think he knew what to do with me. I questioned everything, how could this be? We saw a heartbeat at 5 weeks! I am a healthy 27 year old! I took my prenatal vitamins everyday! I even ate my vegetables! Then, anger set in. How could God let little brats on awful reality TV shows have babies and not me? How could my 43-year old cousin get accidentally get pregnant and have a healthy baby and not me? Did she love God more than me? If He was going to be so cruel to take it away after 12 short weeks, why even allow it to happen at all? What was so wrong with me that I couldn’t carry out what I am genetically engineered to do?
I felt all of the feelings that I now have read that so many women who have miscarriages feel. Everyone including the doctor told me it was not because of anything I did, but the shame and guilt set in anyway. Even the term, “I lost the baby” implied my own personal responsibility. Losing something means you were careless or disregarded it. Ugh. I felt so naive for ever believing that everything would have been fine.
The guilt made me feel ill.
What was I doing when his little heart stopped beating? How many people had I shared my happy news with, when all it really was was a lifeless being in there? I was so embarrassed I wanted to crawl into a dark cave and stay there forever. I had to debate how to tell people about the miscarriage. What was I supposed to say? “It didn’t work out?” “I lost it?” The thoughts nauseated me. I could just imagine people talking behind my back, “did you hear Jenna lost the baby?” I felt more sick to my stomach now than I even did during my short pregnancy. The worst of all was seeing my husband cry. How could I console him when I felt like the whole thing was my fault? Seeing him cry was unbearable.
I chose to have a D and E because the thought of losing the baby naturally made me sick. I also thought the procedure would help me to be able to “move on” more quickly. But I was wrong. My D and E was performed at the hospital where I was supposed to have delivered my baby. I cried the whole way there, remembering all of the joyous daydreams I had played over and over in my head of how the drive to the hospital to deliver my baby would feel. This was not how it was supposed to have gone.
After returning from the hospital, I thought I would be relieved that it was officially over, which was not case at all. I felt like I had just abandoned my baby and I pictured him in a jar full of formaldehyde like in some gruesome horror movie. My baby was cold and alone at the hospital when he was supposed to be safe and warm and alive in my belly. The days after, I swore I should have been feeling better. But no, it was really hard. I often forgot I was no longer pregnant. My husband would pour me a glass of wine and I would think, “I can’t drink that!” and then I would come back to reality and my stomach would drop. I would walk around and catch myself holding my belly. But there was no baby in there, just some extra pounds from enjoying too many Christmas cookies. I googled every website, blog and article on miscarriage that was ever created. It was a roller coaster of emotions for a while. All it would take was an instant, a thought, a memory, like finding a baby book around the house, or getting and e-mail telling me the nursery furniture I loved was in stock-and it would just set me off into a flood of tears.
However, as cheesy as this sounds, my faith, family and friends truly helped get me through this difficult time. My support system was incredible. My heart hurts for the women who have to go through this without one. I received letters from family members who had gone through miscarriages before that I never heard about. There is definitely an instant bond between women who have lost little ones. I have heard it described as the club that no one wants to belong to, but feeling as though there are women who are in the trenches with you does help. Or at least it did help me.
I found out that I was pregnant on November 12, 2012. I had my miscarriage on January 10, 2013. We dedicated a star to our little one and that helped our grieving process. Life does go on, however unfair that seems at the time while you are grieving. Maybe you have had a miscarriage, or know someone who has, or maybe you are reading this swearing it will never happen to you. Please don’t feel like you have to go through this by yourself or bear the loss alone. Lean on those around you, that is what they are there for. Embrace the “I’m sorry’s” you will hear and appreciate them. Do what you have to do grieve. Take time off work if you can. Drink too much wine if you want too. Don’t suppress your feelings trying to be strong. Or maybe you will be OK and bounce back to your old self quickly-that is OK too!
Everyone deals with this situation differently, but please, deal with it somehow. Acknowledge that it is a deep and true loss. It is OK to be sad. It is OK to accept hugs and to have people drop off dinner to you. It is OK that people will talk about you. It’s OK if you stay home and watch the lifetime network. Whatever your situation, you will OK in time. You are not alone. I will be praying for you, I am sure there are other women praying and hurting for you too.