Editor’s Note: What follows is a powerful account about one woman’s real encounter with miscarriage. Those who feel squeamish at the mention of blood should be forewarned that this article may not be right for them.
The days, weeks, and months after my miscarriage, I kept thinking that it was such a cruel, cruel joke that should never be played on anyone. We found out we were pregnant on New Year's Day. What a bright start to our year it was. We thought the months ahead would be full of wonder, love, hope, and promise.
Before I even got pregnant, I was always skeptical whether or not I would have children. Losing my mom at a young age left me questioning myself and my maternal instincts. I kind of always worried that because I didn't have that specific example set for me, I wouldn't know how to be a mom.
But when Dave and I found out we were expecting, we immediately went into full-on preparation mode. Both of us are used to having a goal and controlling the outcome. We determine what we want, navigate the best way to accomplish it, and set forth to make it happen.
But this undertaking—being pregnant—was quite different. There was no controlling the situation. Nonetheless we tried. In a few weeks time, we had furniture picked out, had decided on day care, and agreed on names for the baby. We shared the news with friends and family, maybe a little too early by traditional standards, but it felt right. Both of my best friends were also expecting, and for those few weeks it was so fun to share stories and experience this awesome part of life together.
The Beginning of the End
But then the tenderness in my breasts went away and the bleeding started. On Valentine's Day we went to the emergency room where I was poked and prodded and felt scared in a way I never had before.
I felt like I lost all sense of dignity that day. My husband saw things that no one should. Lying in that cold bed with warm blood oozing out of me, I thought that he would never look at me the same. I felt like I had failed him and failed us.
Miscarriage isn't something that any of us are prepared for. It's not openly discussed, so until it's happening to you, you generally wouldn't know what to expect or how to deal with it. That Valentine's Day the cruelest joke happened to us, when we were told our baby had no heartbeat. I felt completely broken and scared. We had our appointment with my OB-GYN the following day, when she confirmed we were having a miscarriage.
She gave us options—all of which sounded horrible. On one hand I wanted all of it to be over like a bad dream, but on the other hand I wanted to feel it. Experiencing the pain made it real and gave me the OK to feel as bad as I did, to really process and grieve the loss.
We opted to wait it out and let my body progress with the miscarriage naturally. On some unconscious level I probably did not want the pregnancy to end. However naive it sounds, I could not go through with a D&C on the off chance they were wrong about me miscarrying. As efficient as the D&C is, I wanted to feel the pain and let my body and soul feel this loss.
And that's exactly what happened.
It is absolutely insane how much blood comes out of you when you miscarry. My husband and I set our alarms for every hour to make sure I was still conscious because we were afraid I was hemorrhaging, having gone through more than a pad an hour.
After ridiculously heavy cramping started. I learned this was my body going into labor. When my husband got home from work he found me in the bathroom—again, sobbing uncontrollably. I was holding our baby in my hands. For only being a few weeks old, it had perfectly formed little arms and legs. This was ours. It was something we had created.
It may sound strange to some people, but it was just what I needed. For all the pain I experienced, nothing could have been more priceless than that moment holding our baby. It made it real. It was the embodiment of love that Dave and I created, and it was someone we will continue to love forever.
A Process That Was Far from Over
A couple days later, I went to the grocery store to grab some soup and a couple items. As I was reaching for the peanut butter, I felt something substantial come out of me. I quickly found a bathroom and saw what I assumed was the placenta. I sat in the Whole Foods bathroom for what felt like an eternity, wondering what to do with what I had just passed. I couldn't stop crying, and I felt paralyzed. I called my dad sobbing, telling him I just wanted this to be over (the bleeding would last another two and a half weeks). Even after discussing what to expect with my doctor, I still felt like I really never knew what was lurking around the corner.
After the miscarriage ended, my husband and I tried to look for the silver linings. But as we found out, forcing it too soon can be counterproductive.
I have benefited a lot from connecting with others who understand the loss and allowing myself to grieve. What hurt me was when other people tried to encourage me to rush to feel better. They mean well, but I’ve found people rarely know what to say when you tell them you had a miscarriage unless they've had one themselves. It is not something that people like to talk about because it makes them incredibly uncomfortable. I had one friend come over a couple days after we had lost the baby, and she asked me what my husband got me for Valentine's Day. Before I could stop myself, the words came sharply out: a trip to the ER and a baby with no heartbeat.
There were others who after a couple weeks wondered why I was still upset and why I hadn't moved on just yet. “Well you got pregnant, so you can just try again," they’d say. But I couldn’t just move on because I wanted to. I needed time to accept what had happened and heal.
I sought out a couple different forms of therapy to help make sense of the situation. I started up my yoga practice again, spent some time working with a grief counselor, and regularly visited a massage therapist. I felt these helped me pace myself while I processed my grief and ultimately find a sense of homeostasis again.
A New Beginning
As for me and my husband, we have grown closer together. After all, this miscarriage didn't affect just me—this was also his baby, his hopes and dreams lost as well. After witnessing what I went through, he has a much greater respect and understanding of what the female body is capable of. He was absolutely amazing throughout this process and made me feel more loved and respected than ever. We both walked away feeling like our relationship is the strongest it has ever been, and that gave us the courage to start the process of starting a family over again.
I mentioned earlier that I questioned whether or not I would ever be a mother. Living and grieving this process has left me with no doubt that Dave and I will be parents in one way or another and that we will make an amazing team. Oddly, I feel so much stronger physically and emotionally having gone through this. I think this can be attributed to the miscarriage giving me the permission to take the time to step back for a couple months to work on fully healing rather than trying to rush it.
Hearing friends share their stories was incredibly helpful to me. It made me feel like I wasn't experiencing this alone. That’s why I am sharing this as well, in the hopes that it makes one woman out there feel less alone. To you I say this: As hard and shitty as this process is, try to remain positive. Allow yourself to grieve appropriately, and don't let others make you feel bad about how much time it takes you. We all come into pregnancy with different hopes, dreams, and ideas, and no one but you and your partner live those day in and day out, so no one but you should dictate how you handle this loss. This is your process.
Photo Credit: Regina Leah