While I am still processing the last two and a half months and all that has happened, I know it’s time to share my story. I first want to state that while I am sharing many details which could be emotionally triggering if you’ve experienced a miscarriage, my goal is to help educate and share resources for those that need it. If you have suffered from a miscarriage, I am sending you so much love, respect, support, and a HUGE hug.
The week leading up to June 13, the day I found out I was pregnant, I had no idea what lied ahead of me and I wish I would have been more prepared. Occasionally, my dog decides he wants to go outside in the middle of the night; as I’m walking to our back door to let him out with one eye still closed, I suddenly felt sick and barely made it to the kitchen sink where I proceeded to projectile vomit. I went back to bed and thought it was strange. I was getting ready for work the next morning and began throwing up again, but in my attempt to make sense of this, I was convinced it must be food poisoning. I called my Supervisor at work and told her I was going to take a sick day. I returned the next day, still not feeling the greatest, but better than I had been. We had planned a homemade pizza night that weekend with our friends, but all day that Saturday, I felt off. I was nauseous, I had strange cramping, frequent bowel movements, and still thought “maybe I have a little stomach bug.” Bryan made a quick trip to the store and came home with a pack of pregnancy tests. I decided to wait until the next morning to take them. When I took the first test it was positive instantly. I didn’t believe it. I walked out to the living room where Bryan was and walked back to the bathroom because I was not ready to make this our reality. We called my sister to ask her if there could be a mistake. I have PCOS and have been told that I would never get pregnant naturally. So how was this possible? We took the second pregnancy test that afternoon and it was positive as well.
The next day I called to make an appointment with my OB/GYN and was unable to get in for another two weeks. I was so nervous and wanted to be seen that week, so I was able to find an OB that scheduled me to come in on Wednesday. She confirmed the pregnancy with a urine test, ran labs, and scheduled an Ultrasound. I was so anxious – all of this was completely new for me. Luckily, my cousin works for a medical device company and is a Sonographer, so I went to her house that weekend and she scanned me. There was our tiny little baby, with its little heart beating and looking like a peanut. It was WILD to experience that and special to share that moment with my cousin. I still couldn’t believe this was happening though. Bryan and I went to the hospital the following week for the next ultrasound at the Hospital. The baby had grown a little and its heartbeat was strong! In that moment it became real to me. We are having a baby! I am growing a child and will soon be a mother. A MOM TO A BABY… Something I have honestly never been sure that I’ve wanted. The thought of pregnancy, and child birth especially, have always terrified me. Would I be a good mother? Would I be able to manage my lifestyle with a child? Would those maternal instincts kick in? Am I ready? All of these questions were constantly running through my head, hindering me from being excited in the way that I felt like I should be.
During that week the nausea set in. Morning sickness is common, but apparently there is a condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarum. I developed this quickly and I have never felt more ill in my entire life. Each morning I would wake up, throw up, dry heave, throw up again, try to sip some water and eat some crackers, maybe some oatmeal, repeat. Meals were nonexistent. The bloodwork results came back and my Progesterone levels were lower than they should be, so I had to begin vaginally inserting a Progesterone capsule which also increases nausea and vomiting. By week 8, I could hardly keep water down. My OB prescribed Diclegis and Zofran. I was merely surviving on GinGins, Ginger drops, Saltines, Ginger Ale, diluted Pedialyte, and wore Sea Band bracelets 24/7. After a few days of constant vomiting and not being able to keep food or fluids down, it really began to take a toll on me mentally. I was worried that I wasn’t providing enough nutrition for my baby. I was worried that I was going to have to go to the hospital for fluids and monitoring. In addition to all of this, I have a heart condition and my heart was hurting each day and the palpitations were exhausting. I had to eliminate coffee and caffeine very early on because my heart would race wildly. The exhaustion, dehydration, constipation, and fear were setting in majorly. I somehow continued to try to push through each day and get to work. This lasted a short time before I finally told my Supervisor and we created a telework schedule.
By week 9, I was able to keep fluids down. I was able to eat crackers with chicken salad, bananas, oatmeal, and Pedialyte popsicles. I was making strides! The vomiting continued, but at this point I always had a trashcan, water and crackers or nuts by my side. I would wake up, work, go home and go straight to my couch or bed. I had no energy to do anything and I was losing weight. As we gradually told our family and friends, everyone was SO excited and happy for us, yet I still could not feel that level of excitement that I “should” be. My mom continued to reassure me that I was so sick and that it’s okay – that feeling would come once I became healthier. We were all praying that the HG would only last for the first trimester. That following weekend, I suddenly started to feel better. The vomiting was slowly tapering off so I thought maybe the medications and my routine were finally helping. The exhaustion was still very present, but I was so happy to have some relief.
On August 11, we went for our 10 week ultrasound and finally HEAR the heartbeat. For some reason, Bryan and I were both excited, but a little anxious. The Ultrasound Tech decided to start with an abdominal ultrasound and as soon as she started scanning, I could tell the baby had grown. But, we couldn’t see the flicker of the heart. I was nervously watching the screen, but Bryan was watching her face and knew immediately what she was going to say. She told us she was sorry and that there’s no longer a heartbeat. She continued scanning for a little and said the baby was scrunched up, but there was no longer a heartbeat. I’ve never experienced shock like this before. How was there not a heartbeat? I saw the heartbeat at 6 weeks, at 7.5 weeks, and I had been SO sick – everyone said that’s a “great sign of a healthy pregnancy” so how was this happening? She asked if I wanted to see a doctor then or the next day and I chose the next day. I broke down in the office, I couldn’t believe this was what we were suddenly facing.
We went home and laid in bed all night, feeling like we were in the twilight zone. It didn’t seem real. It didn’t seem right.
The next morning, we went to see a different OB because my regular OB was out of the office. I have never seen a male OB before and although I know amazing male OB/GYN’s exist, this was not one that I was impressed with. He very vaguely and briefly explained my “options” and instantly pushed scheduling a d&c because he was going to be leaving for vacation the next day and didn’t want there to be any lack of communication. While I can appreciate this, I was still in shock and wanted further testing so that we could be 100% sure that the baby had died. It was too soon for me to make a decision, but the next thing I knew, I was receiving phone calls and messages on my online health chart that they had scheduled the surgery for that Saturday morning. I thought about it and prayed about it for the remainder of the day and called to cancel the next day. If you know me, you know I prefer a Holistic approach to medicine. I don’t take medication, I rarely even use Ibuprofen for a headache. I’m lucky in that I’ve never had surgery before, so that was a big concern for me as well. The following week was so hard. The waiting for “it to happen” and the overthinking of everything was once again taking a toll on me mentally and emotionally. I still want to understand – I want there to be a reason why this happened. During my pregnancy, I felt like something was off and there was a reason I couldn’t attach to that excitement. I think my intuition knew this was going to happen, but my mind didn’t. There’s no answer as to why my baby died. It happens. In fact, 1 in 3 women have miscarriages in their first trimester. It can be caused from a chromosomal issue and the baby just can’t develop properly, and other unknown factors. It could have been the stress my body was under – even though I know I cannot carry that guilt. But, previously I didn’t know any of this. I have felt completely unprepared and ignorant to what pregnancy requires, the odds of miscarriage happening, etc. I didn’t know and I didn’t do the research because I didn’t think I would be experiencing any of this.
I met with my OB (whom I absolutely love) and she reassured me that she doesn’t schedule anything within the first week of finding out that there’s been a miscarriage. That gave me peace in making my decision to cancel the d&c. While she was explaining the actual d&c process and the natural process, I began to have a panic attack and lose consciousness. With my heart condition, I have a history of fainting and I was reaching a physical limitation with all that I have been through. She scheduled a follow up ultrasound for the following day, to see if there was any progress. There was not. My body wasn’t recognizing that the baby had died, so there was no movement, my cervix wasn’t opening, and I was still experiencing all of the pregnancy symptoms that I had before. This is when the stress and the mental struggle really set in. I’m not a very patient person, yet, I made the decision to allow my body to pass the baby naturally. This could take days, it could take weeks, and I didn’t want to wait for much longer. The waiting was the hardest part. I had no cramping, no bleeding, and still felt pregnant. But, knowing the baby was no longer alive was a constant reminder that began really weighing on me. I finally asked for the prescription, Cytotec, which helps speed the natural process along.
On Friday, August 20, I took the Cytotec and an Ibuprofen 800. Cytotec is normally prescribed in a small dose (200 micrograms) during child birth and before a d&c to help soften and open the cervix. For a natural miscarriage, they prescribe 800 micrograms – 4 pills that are inserted vaginally up to the cervix. The dread I had doing this – knowing this is the beginning of the end – was overwhelming. Everything up until this point had been so overwhelming, but I continued to pray for peace and strength. We went to bed that evening and I woke up around 1:15am with cramping. The cramping intensified quickly and turned into contractions. I could not lay down, I couldn’t sit up in bed, I couldn’t stand up – I could not find a comfortable position. We were timing the contractions, they were about 3 minutes apart, but I still had not started bleeding. I was in severe pain, in and out of consciousness, nauseous and sure I was going to throw up. This lasted for almost two hours before I was able to take a Vicodin. I should have taken the Vicodin before bed, but I didn’t plan to use that prescription. I am VERY thankful they prescribed it, because within 20 minutes I finally had relief. This solidified my prior decision to never have a natural birth, but I have the upmost respect for women that have and can. It was 4:00am before I started to fall asleep, but woke up again around 5:45am with more cramping. I contemplated taking another Ibuprofen, but before I could do so, I felt this strange feeling – almost as if something popped inside of me and blood began rushing out. I ran to the bathroom and within the next 60 seconds I passed our baby. The sac was in the toilet and I’ve never felt a surge of emotion like I did in that moment. Anger. Sadness. Relief. Confusion. Awe. Denial. All of the stages of grief seemed to hit at once. It was truly gruesome and terrifying and amazing that my body was capable of all of this.
I still cannot imagine what a full pregnancy and child birth must be like, but I now have an idea. The hormonal imbalance that has followed has been extremely challenging. I’m still recovering, I am still bleeding and cramping, fatigued, sad, relieved, and lost. My heart goes out to to all of the women that have experienced an early miscarriage, a miscarriage at any point in their pregnancy, or have unfortunately delivered a stillborn. I cannot imagine that pain. This sort of grief is unlike anything I’ve experienced before. To grieve the loss of someone that you didn’t know, but carried inside of you and pictured in your future – it is devastating. I’ve felt the weight of watching Bryan experience this heartache and grief, wishing I could change the outcome. I love him more now than I could have ever thought – he has been right beside me through every single step. I have never felt more emotionally raw than I do now and it makes me feel extremely vulnerable, but grateful to have a new perspective on life. I do worry about what I will feel on our expected due date, March 10. I think about what the baby would look like. We were going to find out last week if it was a boy or girl. I’m glad that we didn’t learn the gender, but it still doesn’t make it easier.
This has been the worst experience of my life. For something that is supposed to be so amazing and wonderful, it has been the complete opposite for me. It is unfortunate, but it has provided a newfound personal strength and level of respect for myself and my body. I have never wanted to nurture and care for my body and my mind more than I do now. I know it’s way too soon to decide if I want to go through this again. Apparently it is very easy to become pregnant again after a miscarriage, but they advise to use protection for the first 3 months to let your body heal. Maybe next time will be successful and less heartbreaking. But, one thing I am sure of is how fortunate and blessed I am to have the most amazing partner by my side, never-ending love and support from my family and my friends. It hurts my heart to think about the women that have experienced this alone. Whether it is an early or missed-miscarriage, or a situation like mine, it is extremely difficult. I have felt so ignorant and uneducated with all of this. It seems that the majority of the women I’ve known personally have had fairly easy and successful pregnancies. This was all completely foreign to me and I hope that by sharing my experience, I can help someone else, too.
Thank you to my cousin, Darrah, who made this beautiful flower pressed necklace using Baby’s Breath. She’s been extremely supportive throughout every stage of my life and although it’s unfortunate that we have bonded over our shared miscarriage experiences, I am thankful for her understanding and the sweet gift she’s given me to honor my baby. She is currently not selling this exact necklace because she is donating them to local miscarriage and infant loss support groups. Her heart is pure gold and her creative skillset matches. You can shop her store on Etsy – Second Bloom Studio
Women are warriors. We are powerful, amazing, strong and courageous. If there is anything I can do to help support you or someone you may know, please reach out to me.