I woke up Saturday (January 22nd) and cleaned up a bit while Ian was hunting. We planned on spending the day together when he got home and while he was gone I was going to get a pedicure with my mom and do yoga with Christie. I cleaned the kitchen and decided to take a shower before heading to get my toes done. When I got out of the shower I noticed blood and immediately went straight to the internet to see if this was something serious. I've heard of people spotting while pregnant so I wasn't that concerned (this happened to friends of mine and my mom) so I wasn't sure if it was something to call the OB about. After looking it up I realized it may be serious so I called and a bit later the OB on call called back. She told me, "It is probably nothing. I would just watch it and see what happens. Or, if you want, you can head to the Emergency room to get an ultrasound." I asked her what she suggested since she's the doc and she said, "I would stay home but since this is your first baby, and for piece of mind, just go in and see the heartbeat." So, I called Ian, my mom and Christie and Christie and I headed to the hospital with Ian and my mom coming eventually too.
Christie brought along a trinket that my best friend in Oregon, basically my brother, Matt, gave to her. She brought it for good luck and I held it the whole time I was in the hospital. All the way there we laughed and giggled, I was feeling great, no cramps or anything and really just expected them to tell me to take it easy for a bit. We checked in and my mom showed up and we waited to be called back, all of us talking and laughing.
(We thought it might be lucky, turns out it wasn't.)
They put me in a room and made me wear a gown and I was a bit confused as to why because I thought I was just getting an ultrasound (my OB said she would call ahead and tell them what was going on). The nurse, Marlene (I think), came in and told me they were going to do a pelvic exam before the ultrasound just because they are the Emergency room and have to treat it like it is an emergency. We had them call my OB to make sure I needed all this stuff (hospitals are expensive!) and so we just ended up waiting - forever. They told me I needed a full bladder for the ultrasound (or they would have to put a balloon thingy in there to puff it up - thanks Christie for telling me not to pee!) so I sat there for hours just thinking about not going to the bathroom (or I would pee my pants).
After talking to my OB, the nurses came in and said I needed to have everything done. My mom suggested bringing me into the ultrasound room before the pelvic exam so I could finally go to the bathroom. After waiting another hour or so, they brought me in. But not before Christie took a picture of Ian and I. We were so confident that everything was ok, you can see it in our faces. Scared but not expecting what was coming.
They had to wheel my bed in the ultrasound room even though I could walk, something about me being in the ER and wearing an ER bracelet. The ultrasound tech was a big lady who looked kind of nervous when we came in. She put the warm jelly on my belly and asked how far along I was, 11 weeks I said. She searched around a bit and then told me to go to the bathroom, that maybe my bladder was too full. I was so thankful because even the ultrasound wand thing made me have to pee, so I got up and went. As I sat in that bathroom alone I prayed to God that everything was ok, I prayed that we would see our blueberry's heartbeat and that they would send me home on bed rest. I got back in the room and they had to do a vaginal ultrasound this time since my bladder was empty. The screen came up and there was blueberry, looking much bigger than in real life, but looking very still. You could see her arms and legs curled up by her face, but she wasn't moving. The tech said something like, "do you remember seeing the baby at 8 weeks, jumping around in there" and we said yes but this time she was just laying there. In the corner, curled up, just resting. The tech moved the wand around and around inside searching and searching for that flicker of a heartbeat, but there wasn't one. I squeezed Ian's hand and kept looking and looking at that screen, praying and praying that we would see that little flicker, but we never did. The tech said that she wasn't supposed to say anything, because she wasn't the doctor, but that she was sorry and it didn't look good. The baby only measured 8 weeks and 3 days when I thought I was 11 weeks that day. She said my uterus, ovaries and the baby looked good, no signs of deformities or anything, there was just no heartbeat. I didn't want to believe it and hoped that when the doctors saw the pictures she took they would notice the heartbeat, I convinced myself that they would, so I didn't even cry when she told us.
They wheeled us back in the room and that is when the tears started. They gave me a box of kleenex and as we came in my mom and Christie looked back so hopeful with smiles on their faces until we told them. My mom didn't want to believe it, she kept saying over and over "What do you mean? No heartbeat?" And Christie stood next to me squeezing my hand and Ian sat and cried and cried on the other side of me. I don't remember many details other than this, but I do remember how sad it was and how it was even sadder having to tell them what had happened. Seeing it on their faces made it so much worse. I felt as though I was disappointing them, as if I did something wrong. Imagine thinking that you are 11 weeks pregnant, almost in the clear for a miscarriage, looking towards the glory land of the 2nd trimester where you have energy and feel like yourself again, just to
The doctor came in and told me he was sorry and hugged me. He shared with me that his wife and he went through the same thing before they had their kids. The nurse, who we hated at first, came back in and told us the same thing, his wife had one in between having her kids. The nurse, Marlene, hugged me, took my blood pressure and leaned down close to me and whispered, "Everything will be ok." But, at that moment, I didn't think so.
I laid in that bed and let them do the pelvic exam while Ian went out to tell his parents and Christie made some phone calls to our close friends. My mom stayed with me while the nurse poked and prodded taking swabs and things. He felt both my ovaries and said that my cervix was still closed so that it wouldn't happen soon but maybe in the next couple of days.
As I write this, exactly a week later, I am eating an egg white omelet that Ian made and have to stop every few sentences to wipe the tears from my face. It seems as though I am being so "matter of fact" but this is so hard to write. Ian just came over and asked me if I felt like I was purging all of this and feeling better and I replied that instead it feels like I'm reliving it. I have to pause to cry a second, Ian is telling me to take a break.
I put this off for a week, on purpose, so that I could find it in me to share my story. But, it doesn't get easier. Talking to a friend the other day, hearing about her baby that passed away at 20 something weeks, she had tears in her eyes, even with her two boys (she had after) running around the house. You never forget and it always hurts. I think it always will.
The hospital prescribed me pain killers because they said I might need them. Until that moment I thought a couple of things about miscarriages - they only happen to older people trying to have kids, they happen to unhealthy people, something is wrong with you that makes it happen, you did something you weren't supposed to do while pregnant and that if you miscarried, it felt like bad cramps for a bit and then it was over. I thought it would be like the movies - crying, sitting on the toilet, hunched over and then it was done. Boy, was I wrong. I took my gown off and put my clothes back on in the hospital bathroom. When I came out, Ian, my mom and Christie looked at my so pitifully, it made me feel so stupid. I didn't want to talk to anyone - no friends or family, because I didn't want to hear the pity in their voices for me. I felt angry, sad and alone and didn't want to talk to anyone about it, I felt like I did something wrong, like I was a failure.
They sent me home. They told me that I could follow up with my OB on Monday but until then I would just have to wait it out. They said it could take a couple of days and that having a natural miscarriage was better than have a D&C because of scarring and being able to eventually try again (although at this point that is the furthest thing from my mind).
So, here I was. Back at home with my blueberry who didn't have a heartbeat, waiting for the worst possible thing to happen and not knowing how it was going to feel when it did. I am horrible with waiting, I make things up in my head, dread them, worry about them and drive myself nuts. If I would have known what was to come or how long I would have had to wait, I wouldn't have done it. I think that since it was the weekend, I had no other choice, but if it had been during the week, I would have opted for the D&C. Once you find out your baby is no longer alive and now you just have to wait for it to be expunged from your body, it is a horrible feeling and you feel as though you just want to get it over with and start over (at least that's how I felt at first, it is not how I feel now). So, I waited.
On Monday, January 24th I had a natural miscarriage at home in the afternoon. No one could have prepared me for that day and no amount of pain killers could have helped. It was an awful experience and makes me so scared to try again for fear I will have to do it all over again. If you are going through something similar, or know someone who is, I will spill the details here. If you are curious about what happens and want a matter-of-fact account, click that link. No one tells you what I will tell you and no one shares with you that it happens with 1 in 4 pregnancies, so you (or someone you love) has a 25% chance of going through this. If you are trying to get pregnant, are pregnant or know someone who is, I don't want to scare you and that is not my purpose. I only want to say that since this has happened to me, women that I've known my whole life have shared similar stories with me, as well as co-workers, friends and family. It happens more than we know and until you become part of this "club" it is something that no one talks about. I only post my experience and details so that someone going through something similar (themselves or with someone they love) knows, instead of not knowing like me. I wish someone would have shared this with me BEFORE so I wouldn't have felt so alone and like a failure. Before this happend to me I thought miscarriages happened to older people, people who were out of shape, people with medical problems or women who could not conceive because of something with their baby parts. I had no idea that it could just happen with no reason or explanation. Now I do, and now you do too.
If you are skipping the details, read on. Our week continued, and then it was over. No one tells you how you won't want to go back in your bathroom after this has happened, how you won't want to be in there alone, how you won't want to ever wear the clothes again that it happened in and how you won't want to do anything you did before because all you can think about is how you used to be pregnant doing it. There were so many days where I would wake up still thinking I was pregnant, or be watching a movie and have to remind myself that there wasn't a baby in there anymore, and this is just how it is. Every time I sit down to eat I look at my food and wonder if I should be eating certain things, just like I did when I was pregnant. It's hard to break those habits and its hard to realize that you have to go back to the way it was before you were pregnant, you feel like that same person but are an entirely different one too. You came out the other end without a baby in your arms, so you feel like you should be the person you were. But it turns out, you will never be that person again because you were a mommy and a daddy, even if it was for just a short time.
I am sad beyond words. I have moved through the stages of grief and now am just depressed. It's hard for me to get out of bed and when I do, I wish I was back in. I was pregnant and so happy, carefree and felt invincible and it's awful that next time we won't feel this way again. We will never get that feeling back, next time we will just worry the whole time, knowing just how fragile life is. Speaking of, isn't life amazing? I am shocked that we all made it here and are still here - living each day, breathing in and out. Considering that this happens in 25% of all pregnancies, it's pretty awesome that we all made it. I just hope, beyond hope, that our next baby makes it too.
Trying again. How do you find the strength to do that? How do you set yourself up for possibly experiencing this again? I have moved on from the 1st Trimester message boards on The Bump to the Miscarriage/Pregnancy Loss posts and have met SO many women that have gone through this multiple times. So many deserving, caring and sweet women who have befriended someone they don't even know and have given advice based on their own experiences to someone going through this for the first time - these women would be wonderful mothers, but aren't. They have found the strength to do this over and over again, to have the baby of their dreams, just to experience so much loss. How do they do it? Why do they do it? What drives them? How do you have hope after this?
Right now I feel as though I will try again, just one more time. My dad had the best advice, he said "Allison, you try to get pregnant and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Then you get pregnant and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. You just have to keep trying, it's all a part of it." This makes some sense to me I guess, it just feels as though you have been slammed against a wall and it's hard to stand up again. It is hard to want to even be intimate when you're so uncomfortable, but I'm sure that will pass. I told Ian that next time I will be laying on the couch for 3 months - no yoga, no walking on the treadmill, just laying. I will want to hear/see that heartbeat every day and will CONSTANTLY wonder if it's still flickering or beating in there. I will do everything different, even though there is nothing I could have done differently (what a dilemma, huh?). Most miscarriages happen because of chromosome abnormalities, something you can't control. Will I eat this next time or take that hot shower or got to the dentist or put my feet under the electric blanket? These are the thoughts swimming in my head every second of the day . . . "if only I did this, would blueberry still be alive?" You torture yourself with these things. Seriously.
Today, January 31st (it has taken me days to get this all out), my OB office called. They left a message so I called back. The first thing the girl asked me, very abruptly, was "Are you pregnant?" and I answered, "No." These words sting my heart. Going from signing in on the "Pregnant" clip board at the office to signing in on the "Not Pregnant" one just kills you. Hearing a women 37 weeks along talk about how she just wants her baby to come out and how tired she is, KILLS you. Seeing all the pregnant ladies (and young girls at my school) or moms with babies just breaks your heart. I decided that from this experience I have learned compassion, and will remember how it feels to be the one without, the one whose heart is broken. So if someday I am sitting in my OB office pregnant and feeling exhausted, I will remember that someone else sitting there might have just had their baby taken from them, like I once did. We are not as invincible as we thought.
I want to say thank you to my husband. The one person I feel like I can truly be myself around in the darkest of times. This past week I haven't wanted to do anything because leaving the house meant I had to pretend like I was ok. Being with Ian I don't have to pretend, he doesn't expect me to be ok. He knows I won't be ok for a long time. He is amazing and has let me watch whatever I want on TV, rubbed my back through the worst of the contractions, rubbed my feet when I felt bad, laid and cried with me when I needed it, has driven me around and gotten me things and he has been my support. Words cannot describe how much he means to me, and this has brought us so much closer. Lean on your significant other through times like this, they will amaze you. If you'd like a guy's perspective on all of this, stay tuned for Ian's thoughts. He wants to write about his experience on here too.
I also want to thank my family. You feel really embarrassed telling people you aren't pregnant anymore when you just were, and my family has been so understanding and supportive. My mom calls and texts me to check on me every day, is my personal therapist, came over to clean my house when I couldn't and hugs me whenever I need it. The rest of our family has sent her messages with their love, and even though I can't read them just yet, I appreciate it. Ian's family has been the same, so caring. Ian's mom told me it was the worst day of her life on Saturday too, losing our little friend. Remember, if you are going through this, that your baby is everyone's loss, not just yours. Your family, your friends and your in-laws all lost someone too. Support each other. Talk about it, that helps.
My friends have been great too. Even though it's hard for them to know what to say, sometimes not saying anything is all I need. They know that I am not the same as I used to be, but are there for me none-the-less. They hang with me even though I'm tired and have to go home early on a girls night (that I planned) to take my mind off things, and they are always there when I text or call. My friends have been my friends for so long they are my family, and I am so lucky to have them. Sometimes when you need to forget, go out to dinner and drinks with your girlfriends, it will help . . . even if just for a bit. (Thanks also to my friend and co-worker, Shannon, for telling everyone at work while I was gone so I didn't have to. She told everyone to leave me alone and they listened, people avoid me in the halls and I love it! I will never be able to thank her for this, it meant so much)
I decided to change my hair this weekend because after something like this you feel you need a change, something big, but sometimes you have to settle for something small. Christine came to the rescue and added some blonde to mine, and it helped me not feel so down (I also got to go tanning, REAL tanning, and that helped too). If you look at this pic you will see two ladies drinking wine and dying hair, but if you look closely at my face, you will see emptiness. This is the pretending I was talking about. You put on a smile and you have a good time, you really do, but behind that smile is sadness. Will that ever go away?
I will leave you with one last thing. I said to Ian, a couple of weeks ago, that I am so lucky. Everything I've ever prayed for or wanted, I've gotten. It took us 6 months to get pregnant and I had never tried before, and neither had he, so we weren't sure if our parts even worked. When I got pregnant I felt so lucky, I had achieved something that many women can't, and felt so special. I never took it for granted or wished it hadn't have happened, no matter how much I might have vented on here (these are just my random thoughts remember).
Now that this has happened, you feel very unlucky. Like, why did I have to be that 25%? Why did this have to happen to me? What did I do to deserve this? Is there really someone watching over us up there, and if so, why did he pick me to do this to? You have a lot of unanswered questions, emotions and feelings and the most frustrating part about all of it is that they will remain unanswered. Just like when our Lucy died I tried to make sense of it, but it didn't make sense. And it never will, and THAT is the hardest part about all of this.
I understand that the baby wasn't meant to be, that blueberry might have had some chromosome imbalance or something, but as a mother - you want to protect your baby. What could I have done differently? And as a father, you want to protect your family - Ian wonders if there's something he could have done too. That's the truly sad part, you will want someone to blame, someone to yell at, someone to question and a scientific explanation - but you won't get it. And you never will. So, if you are feeling this way, you are not alone. Leave comments here, ask questions, go on message boards - we will support you, we understand and we are here to listen when you need us. There are such strong women out there, it is incredible what they have been through, and unbelievable when you read their stories when trying to make sense of your own.
Sorry this post was so long, so many thoughts and so little room. I hope you can appreciate our honesty and frankness, I know I would have before I went through all of this. Today I sit and finish this post (9 days later), feeling not much better emotionally, but slowly recovering physically. Your mind tries to trick your body into thinking this is just normal, but it isn't and doesn't really feel like it. Everything is different, and every time you go to the bathroom, you remember why this is happening and your heart breaks even more. It's strange that this whole process took about a week, and then just like that, our little blueberry was gone . . .