Dealing with a miscarriage was one of those fears that always loomed in the back of my head but I prayed I would never have to go through. Unfortunately, I did, or better put, “we” did.
That is part of the reason I had to put our blog on hold for a few months.
I turned 30 on February 22nd and found out I was 7 weeks pregnant on February 27th. I went three weeks with full-fledged pregnancy symptoms, only to find out that the babies (yes, babies–twins) didn’t make it at my first doctor’s appointment. I had to take a few days off for a D&C, then traveled to Colorado for a work trip, caught a nasty cold on my way home, and was knocked out for a whole week. Following the cold was a bladder infection and another work trip, this time to Memphis. Long story short, March hit me like a ton of bricks! I went to the doctor more times in three weeks than I had in the last five years. Managing my design business during that month was hard enough–it was all I could do, and the bare minimum at that. April came quickly, yet I still needed some time to rest up from the shit storm I call March 2019.
Anyways, back to the point: dealing with a miscarriage. I want to preface this by saying that I am in no way an expert at this–this was my first time being pregnant and my first miscarriage. After I found out I miscarried, I found comfort in reading other women’s stories, so I wanted to share our story in hopes that it can comfort other women.
My period was five days late, so I took a pregnancy test. It was negative, so I went about my life thinking my cycle must’ve gotten thrown off balance like it had in the past. Once I was 20+ days late, I made an appointment with a naturopathic doctor and my regular doctor. The day before my appointment with my general practitioner, I decided I should take another pregnancy test… it was positive, along with the four other tests I took from varied brands just be sure. Now, I don’t know if this is the practical side of my brain taking over, a premonition, or my fears from seeing my aunt struggle with fertility issues, but for some reason, I wasn’t jumping up and down with excitement. I felt very melancholy about everything; I was pregnant, that was happening. I told my best friend, then Micah and my mom. After seeing my doctor, she referred me to a OBGYN. I called and was frustrated to find out that the soonest available appointment wasn’t for three more weeks. I was already at seven weeks, so I would be 10 weeks when I finally saw an OB. I felt like after I saw the OB, I would really be able to get excited. It would finally all be real. I wanted that to happen sooner.
Between the time I found out and my OB appointment, I managed to keep the news of the pregnancy quiet, but Micah had a harder time doing that. I can’t blame him–it’s big news! He told his brother, then wanted to tell his mom and sister. When he told them, he took them to lunch and wanted me to come, but I declined, since the pregnancy made me extremely tired and on top of that, I wasn’t ready to celebrate the pregnancy and felt awkward telling people who would be overjoyed while I was so neutral about it. We avoided telling my dad–we live with my parents and my dad is obsessed with his grandkids from my brother. We knew he would be over the moon to hear the news but if something went wrong, he would be devastated. I couldn’t bear to grieve alongside his grief and disappointment.
As the days went on, I noticed my boobs were huge and sore. I am an avid runner and couldn’t manage even a short run, and jumping at the gym was tough–I felt like they were spilling out of my sports bra. I would get nauseous in the morning and had to eat crackers with my decaf coffee. The nausea got to me–I normally love big salads and veggies and steer clear of bready, starchy foods, but all of a sudden that was all that sounded good–crackers and baked potatoes! I had also developed what I called chronic narcolepsy; I was exhausted all the time! I would have to take nap breaks when working from home and often felt like I could fall asleep at the wheel when driving in slow traffic. The worst symptom was the bloating. I was up 10 pounds and was freaking out, as I know you are only supposed to gain 30 pounds during your whole pregnancy. I wasn’t even showing and had gained 10 all in my boobs and waistline. However, I welcomed these symptoms. My body was making a life. My mom told me having strong symptoms was a sign of a healthy pregnancy… lesson learned, that is a wives’ tale.
Prior to my appointment, I was told they wouldn’t do an ultrasound and it was just a “confirmation of pregnancy,” with my ultrasound appointment to follow in two weeks. I told Micah to go to work and that I would go by myself. Once I got to my appointment they told me that I would have an ultrasound after all. I was a bit relieved–finally we would know that everything was okay and I could get excited. At first, the doctor tried to do the ultrasound over my uterus but couldn’t see anything. She explained that was normal and they would go in vaginally and could see more. The moment she looked at the monitor it was quiet… I could tell she knew something was wrong. I knew from movies there should be the sound of heartbeat… but it was quiet. I immediately demanded she tell me what was wrong. She first said, there are two babies, not one, and went on to tell me that she didn’t see a heartbeat for either of them.
All of sudden, I felt like I was watching myself in the doctor’s office… it was shock and disbelief accompanied by a weird feeling of knowing. It was like I knew this would happen. Even the twin part–I had had a dream that I found out I was having twins. I was not surprised that this was all happening, yet I was still in a state of shock and devastation.
As the doctor went over my options, I was shaking and crying. She told me that some people request a second ultrasound before making a decision, and I had to ask for a few moments to call my husband. I needed to tell him the news and I needed his help making these decisions. I didn’t know there were options or how any of this worked. Basically, the doctor said I could wait to miscarry on my own (which could happen any day or in a few weeks), take the abortion pill and miscarry at home, or have a D&C (a surgical procedure that removes the fetus). She noted that even with the first two options, there was still a chance of needing a D&C, and with my work travels booked for the following two weeks, we knew we needed to do a D&C. I didn’t want to be at a design conference out of state while having a miscarriage. We decided to book the D&C and requested a second ultrasound to be done the day before the procedure so we would have peace of mind knowing that we made the right call and it wasn’t the doctor misreading or the equipment malfunctioning.
The doctor explained that it was most likely a chromosome issue–there was nothing anyone could have done about it, and it wasn’t my fault. It was just nature taking its course. I was immediately worried when she said chromosome issue–what does that mean? Are my husband and I not compatable to make healthy babies?? The doctor said it was common and there was no evidence that we wouldn’t go on to have a perfectly healthy baby in the future. Still a nerve-wracking thing to hear.
When I left the doctors office, there was a happy, very pregnant couple leaving at the same time. I couldn’t bear to get in the same elevator with them or even look at them. They were full of joy and I was full of devastation. I decided to take the stairs and managed to get locked in the stairwell… I had to call the receptionist to come open the door for me. It was a mess, I was a mess. I spent the rest of the day split between crying and throwing myself into my work. Work seemed to make life feel normal again. I was Jordie, the graphic designer with a lot of work to do, not Jordie, the girl who had two miscarried babies still inside her.
That was the worst part of it all–the moment I found out the babies were not alive, I wanted it all to go away. I wanted the symptoms gone and my body back. We had to wait four days to have the D&C. I have read stories of women having to wait two weeks, so I don’t want to complain about my four days. But, regardless of the length of time, it’s not a fun feeling. It’s a sad reminder of a life, or in our case, lives, that would never be.
Over the next few days, I would go from spells of forgetting it all happened to bursting into tears while driving, wondering why it had happened. Why me? Why us? It was all a bad dream and I was just waiting to wake up.
To pour salt on the wound, the medical industry, or at least my medical group, was not the best at organizing the procedures for me. During my appointment, the doctor said they would schedule everything for me and call with the times, but 30 minutes after my appointment, a receptionist called, giving me another number to call to make an appointment. It ended with me being on the phone for 45 minutes trying book my ultrasound, only to be told I couldn’t because the doctor’s request wasn’t in. Stuff like that. Then, the following day, someone from the billing department called to collect my payment for the ultrasound and D&C. I really wish they would have waited until I was at the hospital, or would have sent me a bill the old-fashioned way. It was just another reminder of what I was going through. I had to get my credit card out and read her the numbers over the phone like I was booking a hotel room or something.
Micah took off work the day of the second ultrasound and the D&C. I was so thankful to have him with me. The second ultrasound confirmed the pregnancy was not viable. She told us the babies measured about 7 ½ weeks, meaning they passed just a few days after I found out I was pregnant. I wished I had gone in to see the doctor sooner–having those three weeks of being pregnant only gave me more time to let my guard down. Each day that passed where everything was fine, I let myself get more and more excited.
On the morning of the procedure, we told my dad. He asked where we were going and I looked at him and the tears welled up so big my eyes felt like swimming pools. Micah had to tell him. Seconds later, my dad’s eyes looked like mine. We hugged and off we went. My whole experience the day of the procedure was just as frustrating as booking my appointments. When the male nurse asked me, “Do you have an anxiety about your surgery today?”, I was at my wit’s end and snapped back with, “Ya, I do! I am only having my cervix dilated and my two babies who died vacuumed out of my vagina, so I am a little anxiety-ridden.”
After the procedure, I was so out of it from the anesthesia that I slept the rest of the day. The next day, I was relieved to find that I didn’t have any of the symptoms the doctor told me might happen: heavy bleeding, cramps–basically, a horrible period. I had light spotting and felt okay.
It was the emotional aftermath that got me. While it was nice to feel like myself again physically, I was still overwhelmed with an empty feeling. All I wanted to do was watch movies or crappy reality TV, just anything to get my mind off my life. The Sunday after our procedure, Micah and I decided to go hiking and he surprised me by bringing along our 7-year-old nephew. That was a mistake. I started crying 10 minutes into our hike–thank god for big sunglasses. Micah asked if I was upset seeing him around a kid, and I had to explain that was not it at all. I was simply sad and grieving. I didn’t want my happy little nephew to see me like that, and I was not about to explain a miscarriage to him. We called it a quick hike and headed home so I could go back to my reality tv escape.
Micah got the number for a grievance counselor who had worked with women after miscarriages and every time I was upset, he would remind me that he had that number. I would get even more upset. It had been two days since the procedure; I told him that if in two months I was still like this, I would call. Right then I just need a few days to deal.
It’s now been just over six weeks. It’s true, time heals. It doesn’t make it go away, but it has gotten easier. Now I am just torn; the super type-A person that I am just wants to try again right away–I want to correct what didn’t work–and the other part of me is a little gun-shy. I am not sure I am ready for the hurt if this happens again. From what I have read online (and believe me, that is a lot), the chances are slim it will happen again. But having gone through it, that fact doesn’t bring you much solace. It’s like if you were in a car accident: you know the odds of you getting in another car accident right away are slim, but you are still freaked-the-fuck-out to drive. This was our first pregnancy, and it didn’t work. I don’t have the comfort of knowing this won’t happen every time.
I have been super open about what happened to us. When friends or clients ask how we have been, I tell them. For me, the more people know, the better. I say it very matter-of-factly, which I think some people mistake for coldness. That is not it at all–I grieved and I am still grieving, but I just don’t want to cry about it with everyone. Emotionally, I am very private: I like to do my crying alone in my car or at home with my husband. I want people to know what is going on mostly so they will stop asking, “When are the babies coming?” I still get asked that at least once a week and I want to yell, “I am fucking working on it, okay–round one didn’t work so well!” but I just laugh it off and say, “We are working on it.”
That is one takeaway and a valuable lesson I learned–I will NEVER ask anyone that question again. You never know what struggles they have had or are in the midst of.
A benefit to openly telling people what happened is hearing first-hand from people that they have had the same struggles. Several people have told me they have gone through the exact same thing. It’s a bit comforting hearing how common it actually is. That was why I felt compelled to write this and share our story. I feel like so many people keep it quiet and suffer through it in silence. I am not sure why it’s such a hush-hush thing. From my experience, I have learned it’s a fact of life. It’s nature, and it’s just something that happens to some of us.
If you have gone through a similar situation, I would love to hear your story, too! Please reach out!
Here is an article by Jenna Kutcher that helped me.