Well, many of you know or have heard... I miscarried last weekend. This was just as much a shock to all of us as it may have been to you. I was (what I thought) 16 weeks pregnant. I will give all the details as a write. Some for you, some for me so that I won't every forget this experience. I will also say that this will probably be one of many posts about miscarriage, because there are too many parts of the story to fit into one post.
This is hard for me to write, and it may be hard for you to read. I have always vowed to be honest and raw about my emotions and my life so that others could learn from my experiences.
From the moment I found out we were expecting, I felt worried and unsure about the pregnancy. I'm not sure why. I was excited as we wanted this, but I had this nagging feeling that I might not keep this baby. I was not being cynical, I just couldn't shake my fear. Everyone told me that I was just nervous because I didn't have much morning sickness. I did my best to enjoy how good I felt and trust that everything was fine. I slowly started to believe it.
With my first pregnancy, we announced publicly (i.e. Facebook) at 8 weeks. I was just too excited to wait any longer. This time, I felt more cautious. Although most of our friends and family that we came into contact with regularly knew, we held back on announcing. I bugged the doctors at 10 weeks and 11 weeks to just TRY to hear the heartbeat. We finally did hear it a little after 11 weeks. The next day, we posted our announcement. Little did I know that just a few days later, our sweet baby's heart beat it's final beat.
I went about the next 4 weeks normally. My cravings went up and my slight nausea lessened even more. We went on vacation. We made plans. I started shopping for the items we would need and almost bought a few.
On Wednesday morning (my 16 week change!) I did a class at the gym that was a much harder workout than I expected. I did well and felt proud of myself afterwards. But then my lower body began to ache, and it didn't subside all day. I felt those funny aches that you get the day before your period starts. I figured I worked too hard and should rest. That night my husband was at church when I went to the bathroom and found blood. Not a lot, but not a little either. After taking a few moments to process what I was seeing, I called my husband frantically and barely blurted out through tears "I'm bleeding". He said "I'm on my way". I paced the house for a few minutes before I decided I should sit down.
When he got home, I told him about my day, the cramps and the blood. He asked to see it. We then did some research and talked a lot. I told him I think I wanted to go to the ER. He got a friend on-call for us just in case. We reached my doctor who said it wasn't uncommon, and that I could take some Tylenol for the cramps and go to bed. He could see me on Friday morning to confirm that everything was fine. I complied and went to bed.
The next day I was still spotting a bit, but it seemed less and I felt okay. I was still cramping slightly, but my muscles were also sore. I went through my day normally. Confident that it was nothing, I decided not to schedule to see my doctor on Friday and just keep my Tuesday appointment. I was fine. Then at 9pm, I started bleeding heavier. I called my husband at work and we had the same conversation we had the night before. I called a friend to see if she could watch Piper the next day while I went to the doctor, and she instead insisted that she and her husband would come over right then so she could go to the ER instead with me. Little did we both know what a night it would be, and how thankful I would be to her for forcing her way in like that.
We arrived at the ER a little before 10pm. I was checked in and seen pretty quickly. They drew my blood and left the IV needle (what IS it called?) in just in case. It took awhile, but eventually the ultrasound tech came to get us. He explained how he was not allowed to say anything or tell us any information. He simply did the ultrasound and the results would go to the radiologist who would come give me a diagnosis. I remember saying to him "oh, I'm not really worried about the baby, I just want to see if I damaged my placenta and need to rest it".
I was shaking as he put the gel on my belly. Partly from nerves and partly from feeling cold. The screen was turned towards him, so I could only see the side. I saw my baby. I saw a sweet little profile. Then he moved. There was no sound in the room. I saw it again a few more times. I saw him measuring sound, but he didn't have any speakers on. I kept looking away for some reason, nervous to be watching it. Then the tech stood up and said "excuse me for just a moment" and left the room. I didn't know what to think. When he returned a few minutes later he said "Sorry about that. Almost done". When I looked over again I caught a glimpse of the baby's face. Then I realized "wow, I don't think that baby is moving. Babies move at 16 weeks". I didn't see a little flutter of the heart where I knew it would be. Deep deep down, in that moment, I knew.
As he wheeled me back to my waiting room, it was so quiet. He gave me a warm blanket. My friend said "I think I know what you're having". We decided not to find out, so I didn't want to hear anymore. We talked and waited. It was almost midnight. My husband got off work and started towards the hospital to join us. Five minutes before he arrived, then the doctor came in.
The next moments are sort of a blur. I remember the doctor saying that my HCG level should be at 20,000 and it was at 1,000. He said the baby had stopped growing and measured only about 12 weeks. Then he said something like "the pregnancy was not viable". He didn't say I miscarried. I asked. I felt my friend jump out of her seat and grab my shoulders. I saw tears in the doctor's eyes. I said "Okay, so what's next?" trying so hard to hold it together and not explode or pass out in the Emergency Room. He said some things about not wanting to do a D & C, my body had been working on the miscarriage for 4 weeks, and that he was so sorry to have to tell me. I don't really remember, I think I dazed out. I was in shock. He left the room and closed the door. I wailed. I asked for my husband, asking my friend when he would be there, telling her I needed him.
When my husband arrived, my friend went out to get him, hoping her swollen eyes wouldn't give it away. When he walked into the room, I burst into tears and yelled "I lost the baby!". I'm not totally sure what happened next. I'm not even sure I was there. I remember screaming to get the needles out of me, the bracelets off, and let me go home. A nurse came in to take everything off. Then I felt like we waited forever to be discharged. I remember crying to Daniel "How will we tell Piper? I can't tell Piper". I would stop crying and stare, and then I lost it again. I couldn't look at anyone. I couldn't really talk. I felt either hysterical or like a zombie. The discharge nurse gave us some paperwork and some instructions that I didn't hear, and then we were asked to pay $800 for our visit since our deductible wasn't met. I ignored everyone and everything.
As we drove home. We sat in silence. For 30 minutes. I had a thousand different thoughts but no words. I wailed. I could hear my husband struggling beside me. When we got home, it was 1:30am and my husband insisted on going out to fill my prescription for pain medication. I told him I was fine and that I could do it tomorrow. I sent a text to my sister in Japan because I knew she was awake. My husband texted my other sister who had been waiting to hear. I wanted to call my mom. My husband insisted on going out, so I let him- realizing that maybe he wanted alone time, and maybe this was the only way he felt he could help.
2:30am I called my mom. I didn't expect her to answer, but she did and I needed her. We talked for a few minutes and then my husband got home, after going to two different drugstores. I didn't want to go to sleep because I was so afraid what would wake me up. And I was so afraid to awake in the morning and remember it all. I remember saying that I hated this and I just wanted it out of me. I couldn't do this. I wanted to go get the surgery and be done and have this over with. I was grieving hard. My husband finally convinced me to try to sleep, so I laid a towel down and went to bed.
After fitful sleep, I woke at about 6:30. I had slept for almost 4 hours. It hit me again. My husband had to go to work. It was a rough week at the office and he needed to be there. He helped to get Piper up and dressed and out the door with the same friend who had just comforted me in the ER hours before. She had to be exhausted too. He left and promised to be home after lunch to help with Piper when she returned.
I think I spent most of that day in bed. I did have a visit from my neighbor who brought me coffee and chocolate and promised to return with dinner. My sister came over with more gifts. I started writing messages and texts, unable to speak on the phone. We had so many plans that weekend - birthday parties, church events, leading worship, babysitting... I had to tell more people than I realized, even if I didn't feel ready. Strangely though, I wanted to tell everyone, like ripping a band-aid off. I was grieving in a whole different way than I expected I would, and it sort of scared me. A group of friends created a meal schedule for the next week. It felt strange receiving the condolences when I still felt pregnant. It felt strange to tell my friends that my baby had died when my already-showing belly was right there in between us. It was even more bizarre replying "I'm just relaxing at home, waiting for it to start". I felt out of control, not knowing when "this" would happen or what it would be like. I had so many questions. Some were answered, others were not.
Piper came home and said "Mommy are you a little sad? Because new baby went away? To heaven?" I was both amused and heartbroken. We had told her the truth. She was so excited to be a big sister.
When Daniel got home, he found us both napping (barely). Luckily he took over that night and parented alone. I couldn't function. Everyone was waiting for me to pass my baby. I felt frozen with fear.
As the evening progressed, Daniel and I tried to be as normal as possible, sitting on the couch to watch a show. You may call it intuition, I may call it God, but I knew laying there that I would pass my baby that night and that it would be in the middle of the night. I begged my husband not to go to work at 3am like he planned, because I knew it would happen when he was gone and I couldn't be alone. He agreed.
What happened next was a night of events that we will never forget. An experience that we did not expect, but we are eternally grateful for. In the next post, I will describe my miscarriage. I am not trying to be gory or offensive, I am trying to show you how real pregnancy and birth are, and how real life is. I want you to take your notion of miscarriage being taboo or "not a big deal" and change it. I want you to know what it is REALLY like. And if anyone reads this in the future who is experiencing a miscarriage, I want her to feel like she knew what to expect and wasn't afraid. That someone else has walked this road before her and came out the other side.
I will also be including pictures of our baby. We have discussed this action and decided that we are not ashamed of our baby and our experience, and we want others to see how early life forms. And how perfect it is. And get a glimpse into the "secret place" where God was working in such detail. I will include the pictures at the bottom of the post so hopefully those of you who do not want to see can avoid them. I understand that they are shocking and emotional to see. But for us, they are healing.