I had a miscarriage. And like most miscarriages in the world, it sucked. Something common and often times inevitable. A natural process, for sure. But regardless of how common or natural miscarriage can be, still less than ideal. My first miscarriage was nothing like this. And while many may not like the fact, my first miscarriage brought a sigh of relief to my life. In a place where I knew a second baby would be impossibly challenging given my situation, I felt solace in my undecided and unchosen future. I walked into the clinic, had an ultrasound with an “empty sac” report, went into another room for a quick D+C and walked out of there: pain free, morning sickness gone, and ready to eat my first big meal that month.
This experience was nothing like that.
This time we decided we would want this pregnancy, that we could handle this (emotionally for sure, physically was another question for me), and that this might maybe be a good idea– despite all the previous “no no no, one child is more than enough” feelings. But with this pregnancy, one that seemed to pop up out of nowhere (even for us– you know, the ‘it only takes one time’ saying’ increasing true), I knew better than to get my hopes too high. While we were and were not surprised that I could and would get pregnant so fast, I knew to not hold my breath, to not feel too secure until there was a healthy baby in my arms. The beginning of life is too fragile for anything else. And with my health over the past three years? Well, I don’t know. I don’t want to say that I hate my body, I certainly don’t. I feel grateful that my body has (and all bodies have) the ability to overcome and heal. But the reality is that I’ve been let down time and time again by my health after c. diff, all the dormant viruses and everything else that came along with it. ‘Expect the worst, hope for the best’ has been my outlook on life since I was a child and there was no exception with this pregnancy.
From one week to another my belly emerged into an undeniable ball. And from one day to another, it was gone. Gone. From the outside, an appearance that nothing was ever there. On the inside, pain. Physical mostly, but emotional too. From one week to another my body let me down again. Previously filling with possibilities and potential life and then poof, nothing. And all I could do was accept another shift and accept it again.
I think one of the most difficult realities is my fear and pessimism to try again. One try and I’m out. I’m not sure if I should feel pathetic or noble. My step mom says to give it time. And who knows, maybe time will change my mind and lessen my fear. But even without the fear, I really didn’t have much hope in me to begin with. This felt like my one try. My last-ditch effort to see if my body could even move forward in the process. And while I’m fully aware that healthy women go on to have miscarriages everyday, I don’t know if I have it in me to see if this was a one time fluke or if it was in fact me and my body. My rational side knows that it could have been anything. It could have been me and my broken post c.diff hormones, Alex, all the dental work I had done in the first few critical weeks of pregnancy, or just a general and vague diagnosis of “nature”. Anything.
I think some of the hardest truths to this experience have been physical. Physically shifting and changing through the experience. And the physical miscarriage? It was without a doubt the most painful experience I’ve gone through. Even with my massive health problems, and even with a natural labor with Marlowe, this was it: the most painful thing my body has handled. For many moments of a 48 hour time period, I could hardly speak. All I could was moan, a deep and primal moan to release the pain.
At a bit past ten and a half weeks pregnant, I started spotting. Not much, but enough for me to notice and wonder, “is this normal? is this common? is this okay?” and trying to remember back,”was this part of my pregnancy experience last time?” I feel like, yes. But I’m not sure. And each day that passed, the amount of blood was ever so slightly more noticeable. And part of me knew for certain that this was the beginning of the end of this pregnancy. But part of me wondered, “but is it?” But no amount of time spent on google or asking friends who have undergone similar experiences could have ever fully answered my concerns and questions. I knew only time would tell.
And at some point, the cramps came. And I ignored them. Or I tried to. And then they got worse. And the pain was inevitable, unavoidable. Ignoring them was no longer an option. And with each pain, my stomach and uterus tightened. On and off, my stomach was hard as rock and would loosen again. And as each hour passed, the pain grew to intolerable amounts. And the blood came. I was no longer spotting, but rather gushing blood with each visit to the toilet. And I came out of the bathroom and confirmed to Alex,”this is it.” and he asked, “are you sure?” and I knew, “yeah, there’s no way this pregnancy is happening. This is the end. The blood won’t stop.” And for the next 12 or 15 hours or so, from the evening and through the night into the morning: I was in the dark, contracting, breathing, and questioning everything…
The next morning the three of us arrived back into the states, picked up our car, and made our way to planned parenthood. About 30 minutes and one quick ultrasound later, what I already knew was confirmed. No baby, just a mess of jumbled tissue. And so I went in, opting for for the D+C. Explaining to each nurse I met with that I didn’t need birth control, we chose to get pregnant. We chose to move forward in a pregnancy and I was here, because I had no choice. I lost the baby. And I didnt have time to wait days or weeks to naturally birth, expel it out.
We made a plan, then found out I was pregnant, had an ultra sound in some random center in a village in Guatemala where we confirmed growth, nota blighted ovum, had to change the plan back to the states, was now in the current early stages of expelling a mass of tissue from my body and I needed to be somewhere else the next day. Or rather than needing to be some place, I couldn’t be: home. I wanted to explain that we had rented out our place, had people moving in, and I need to get myself home, to rearrange my life again, pack up a car, get my house order for someone else and leave. And at some point in all my explanations, I would give up, with the physical pain still being too much to bear, and exclaim, “my life is just really complicated right now.”
And it is. And I’m an idiot and I made my life more complicated that day. I, accidentally, chose to worsen by pain. For whatever reason, lets blame it unclear thinking and painful distractions, thought that I skipped all painkillers in my last D+C. To tell you the truth, I’m still not sure what pain management options and medications I chose the first time around. But I opted to skip everything this time, thinking “it can’t get worse than the current state of pain I’m in.” I was wrong, so wrong. And if I knew or if I could go back, I would have changed it. I would have taken off my brave face and told them to give me the numbing drugs. But I didn’t know and I can’t go back. And it hurt. It hurt so bad. And the nightmares have followed me for days after. If I could go back, I’d still deny the prescription strength ibuprofen and the only “somewhat preventative” antibiotic, but not the anesthesia. I would have taken the anesthesia.
After, the nurses told me that given the fact that I skipped everything, they were surprised at the state I was in. They said I was in better shape than they would expect given the fact that I just had my cervix opened and my uterus cleaned out without drugs. But I didn’t feel like I was in good shape. I felt hot. I couldn’t stop shaking. I wanted to throw up. And with the exception of a mumbled, “stupid” I couldn’t speak when spoken too. A few minutes into the recovery process and the doctor came through saying he was surprised by my knowledge of antibiotics and that I made a good choice to have the D+C now. He told me, “There was a lot of tissue in there, it would have been a long and hard process to wait it out.” And we were on our way.
About an hour or two later, I was almost able to speak again. The pain was lessening. And we were on the road again. South to pick up Jerry. Then north to pack up our house.
We’re lucky to have had options though. We could have opted to stay with family before heading north. Or in my moms empty apartment. Time to recover. But I Just wanted to leave. To distract the physical and the emotional pain. Alex joked, “for your next trick you should try to extract a tooth with nothing but a blunt stick.” The dental procedures without painkillers to try to protect a baby. The D+C to try to protect myself. But no matter how many people told me that day that I am incredibly strong and can handle an insane amount of pain, I didn’t feel that way. I felt defeated. I felt stupid. And I felt sad.
I’m not good, but I’m okay now. The haze is lifting. About a week and a half later and the physical pain is fading. We drove from Florida to Asheville, to Washington DC, to Massachusetts over the past week. A distraction and not. It turns out that 7-10 hours the car each day is not the best way to occupy hurting thoughts and a bruised heart. But I got through it. And I’m still getting through it.
I still wonder where in the process I lost the baby. I wonder why my stomach and breasts grew so big when the life inside me was dying. And I wonder when my body will stop feeling like it’s pregnant. According to the tests, my body is still pregnant. A dark pink line, confirming nothing except a reminder. My ligaments hurt. The thought of pizza is still nauseating. I’ll be happy when my hormones regulate, when my body returns to what it was. But right now: I live in complete and overwhelming exhaustion.
I guess one of the hardest things about this experience is the constant change. I’ve always lived by the understanding that change is inevitable, but I guess I didn’t expect this much change this year. Especially not change out of my control. It felt likeI was finally regaining control only life after years of recovering and uncertain health.
We changed everything and more in our lives. We packed upper personal belongings and moved to Guatemala. And a few weeks later we decided to move again due to my pregnancy. And we again, started planning a new life: a future with a baby and what that would look like. But then within two weeks of packing up our lives and leaving Guatemala, I was miscarrying. Again, an unexpected change. And now, I really have no idea whats next. But what I do know is that I’m tired of the shift. I’ve shifted enough. At some point I want to be able to make a plan and not readjust my life due to unexpected events.
And I’m sad for Marlowe. I’ve said it over and over, I never felt like I needed another kid, I still don’t. But I’m sad because the idea of another kid in our lives, someone for her to grow old with and complain about her parents with sounded nice. And the thoughtofthat, and their seven year age gap soundednmcer with each passing day. I’m sad because I know she wanted this. And as time passed we thought she would have this. And now it’s gone.
And I’m sad for Alex and myself. While both know that this pregnancy and a baby cant and wont change the past, it was something to look forward to, together. Those weeks of being pregnant with Alex were so good. Better than I could have imagined. It was the pregnancy I wanted. Something positive. Something we both were looking forward to. His chance at experiencing this too. And now it’s gone. Maybe an enjoyable pregnancy together just wasn’t and isn’t in the cards for us this lifetime. And there is nothing I can do about it except accept it.
I have to accept all of it. I’ve shifted. And will continue to shift. And like before: not because I want to, but because I have to.
I’m not sure what else to write from here. My life and this post both feel the same: incomplete. Not that I’ll never be whole again or that I needed a baby or pregnancy to become whole, because that is not the case. But just because right now: I just don’t know what life will be. Life will continue to change and I will feel good again, I’m certain of this. Just now, in this very moment, not many things feel completely whole or certain in my life. But they will. One day, soon.
Thanks for being here guys. Thanks for your emails and messages and more. While I know I don’t have to share everything, I don’t like the idea of hiding miscarriages. The idea that we have to wait X amount of time to share our exciting news of pregnancy… so that can then grieve in silence, without others knowing. I hate that thought. Miscarriages are possible for all women, it is a part of life for many. Though often difficult, (and I’m reminding myself too) we shouldn’t feel alone in them. Miscarriages are certainly a part of my own life, and inevitably shaping and changing my future some way. Thanks for allowing me to ignore my pain, then to grieve, and now to share. I’m hoping get back on track soon. Thank you.