I was presented with three options and each one left me childless.
1 in 4. I get it. Miscarriage, aka the loss of a pregnancy before the 2oth week, is common. That doesn’t stop it from being devastating.
This is my story.
My husband and I decided we wanted to invite another baby into our hearts and home and so we started trying. I was doing all the healthy things to prepare for pregnancy and by the third-ish week in January, I had lower back pain, swollen breasts, and mild nausea.
I couldn’t be pregnant so soon, could I?
It had only been a few weeks/one cycle since we started trying BUT I had PMS-like symptoms and… my boobs. They were amazingly plump and tender, something was up. I suspected pregnancy and sent hubby to the Dollar Store for some pregnancy tests.
He brought back four pregnancy tests and I took three STAT. Each of the test results read negative (one line). But, I know my body. These PMS-like symptoms were way too early for it to be my period and again…the boobs??
Instead of stressing, I held off on taking the last pregnancy test. The hormone that many at-home pregnancy tests measure is HCG and it takes time to build up in our system over the first several weeks of pregnancy. Waiting to take the last test would give my body more time to produce the hormone.
After a week and a half or two, I still had the amazing boobs, mild bloating, a lower backache that was relentless, and I had just missed a cycle.
It was time to take another test.
I took the pregnancy test and it read positive (two lines) immediately. I was too excited!! But one test wasn’t enough. I had to take a few more to confirm the positive. Again, off I went to the Dollar Store. I purchased three tests and of course, the clerk had to make a comment – “Can’t ever be too sure?” – or something like that, I was too excited to care.
I took two of the three tests and each read positive. I was ready to share the news with hubby. Instead, of just showing him the tests all lined up on the bathroom counter like I did with Tot (our firstborn), I helped my daughter write him a letter on a huge piece of white cardboard paper.
“You’re going to be a dad again and I’m going to be a big sister.”
When he came into the room to see what we were doing, I just told her to pass him the card. He read it and couldn’t believe the news. He smiled a knowing smile (because he predicted it, just as he had done before). Hugs and kisses for everyone. He hung the card in his closet (so sweet).
All the conversation became about how we’d have a child before the year was over, where we’d set up a new nursing station, Tot having a sibling. We wanted this pregnancy. We wanted this baby. Our baby already had space in our hearts and our home.
“We wanted this pregnancy. We wanted this baby.”
Our first scheduled prenatal appointment confirmed we were six weeks but this was just based on the first date of my last menstrual cycle because we weren’t given an ultrasound. Our first ultrasound was scheduled for our next appointment, I’d be approximately 10 weeks pregnant.
While we waited…
I thought about how it would be to have a toddler and a newborn in the house. I thought about breastfeeding again and traveling with two kiddos instead of one. I thought about my baby daily.
On top of that, each week, my husband would rub my belly and tell me what fruit corresponded to our baby’s size. He had an app that he referenced. I loved it.
Ten weeks couldn’t come fast enough and when it finally came, I filmed a video with my daughter sharing how excited we were to finally get a chance to hear the heartbeat. That was a huge treat in my first pregnancy and I wanted to hear it for this pregnancy too.
We (hubby, Tot, and I) got to the appointment and didn’t have to wait long to get called back. The sonographer led us to the ultrasound room and I laid back on a table covered in white tissue paper. She folded a towel between the top of my pants and poured warm gel on my belly. Finally, we were ready. I watched the large screen above me on the wall in the far corner that showed everything she saw on her screen and watched as she searched for our baby.
She didn’t find anything with the belly ultrasound.
She sent me to the restroom to provide a urine sample. When I walked into the bathroom I knew something was wrong. This wasn’t how it happened last time. I came back into the room and we did a vaginal ultrasound.
This time, she found the baby. Hubby and I saw it. I smiled when I saw the baby in the frame but the sonographer was quiet. She pointed out my ovaries and my fibroid but said nothing about the baby. For the baby, she just measured and clicked and measured and clicked and measured and clicked.
Finally, she said I could get dressed and she stepped out. I knew. Last time, there were printouts; last time, there was a heartbeat.
“Last time, there was a heartbeat.”
After some time, a doctor came in the room and delivered the news “I’m so sorry.” along with statistics and options (natural completion, a drug that causes contractions, or a D&C) for how to proceed. He couldn’t help the outcome but his delivery could have been much better (a rant for another day). It didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was that my baby didn’t have a heartbeat.
I was devastated. I sat next to my husband who was holding my daughter and heard the worst news about the baby that was still inside me. She wasn’t measuring 10 weeks and there was no heartbeat.
I didn’t know what to do with that information. This wasn’t how the appointment was supposed to happen.
MISCARRIAGE AND STATISTICS
I know the statistics. The doctor reminded me of the statistics. The statistics don’t matter. Not right now when my one heart is broken.
“The statistics don’t matter. Not right now when my one heart is broken.”
Miscarriage doesn’t hurt less because it’s commonplace; it doesn’t hurt less because I have another child; it doesn’t hurt less because it happened early.
If you know this hurt, I’m sorry you had to experience this. I wouldn’t wish this hurt on anyone.
For ten whole weeks, I was a mom of two; that means something. That doesn’t go away.
LEARNING ABOUT MY MISCARRIAGE
I found out I was miscarrying at my 10-week prenatal appointment via ultrasound (missed miscarriage).
Minutes after learning that the baby I was carrying didn’t have a heartbeat, I was presented with three options to complete the miscarriage:
- Natural Completion – This option is basically doing nothing and allowing my body to complete the miscarriage naturally.
- Drug/Pill- There are drugs like Misoprostol (used for cervical ripening, dilation, and contractions) that help end a pregnancy.
- Dilation and curettage or D&C – An outpatient surgery where the baby in the uterus is manually removed.
Want to learn more about these options? Read this article by Arden Cartrette, she writes from personal experience.
As I sat in silence listening to the doctor explain my options, I felt awful and frustrated.
I was presented with three choices and each one left me childless.
I wasn’t asked or forced to make a decision at that Wednesday appointment. In fact, I was scheduled for another ultrasound appointment that following Monday.
I didn’t need it.
Three days after my appointment (Saturday), I started bleeding. The miscarriage was going to complete naturally, with or without my say-so.
Photo Credit: S O C I A L . C U T Edited by: Tiffany
HAVING THE MISCARRIAGE
First, the miscarriage bleeding was period-like flow, then it got a bit heavier, and then I started noticing a few large (quarter-size) clumps of tissue.
Along with the blood flow, I experienced mild contractions. I call them mild because in comparison to the contractions I experienced giving birth to my first-born with no pain medication – these were mild.
I used a microwavable heat pack to ease the tension and because I had read a few posts about miscarriage and bleeding from other women, I bought two packs of adult diapers in anticipation of heavy non-stop flow.
Thankfully, I didn’t experience the flow I had read about and I didn’t need the adult diapers. I wore them during the nights ‘just in case’ but I never soaked through one.
The heavier bleeding lasted a few days and the light bleeding continued for approximately six days.
|Lesson: We should be extremely thankful to every mama who is brave enough to share her miscarriage story; however, we each experience miscarriage symptoms and bleeding differently. You may have light bleeding or you could have heavy bleeding. There are several factors involved, including how far you made it in your pregnancy.|
Hormones and Getting Period Back After Miscarriage
After the miscarriage completed and the blood had stopped, I continued to visit my prenatal provider for blood checks to confirm the quant of the pregnancy hormones were declining.
This is important to ensure that no leftover pregnancy tissues remain in the uterus and the pregnancy hormones disappear.
I went to about three of these appointments and I was also still taking at-home pregnancy tests sporadically. They mostly read positive but after my first negative pregnancy test, I canceled my subsequent lab appointment.
That was it. I was pregnant and then I wasn’t.
Although I wasn’t eager to get my period back, it would indicate things in my body were normalizing. I read sources that mention it takes many women 4-6 weeks to get a period back after a miscarriage. Many women who have shared personal accounts report that it took them much longer to get their periods back. It took me approximately 7 weeks.
Below is an outline of my miscarriage timeline.
- Day 1 Learned of miscarriage from the provider via ultrasound
- Day 3 Began bleeding (start of natural completion miscarriage)
- Day 12 Stopped bleeding
- Continued prenatal care for pregnancy hormone monitoring
- Started period back at approximately 7 weeks after miscarriage
Honestly, getting through the physical part of miscarriage is the easy part. What I wasn’t prepared for were the bills and the emotions of it all.
THE FINANCIAL COST OF MISCARRIAGE
My husband and I are planners. When we learned we were pregnant again, we started putting together a plan for how we would manage the pregnancy and birth expenses. I even planned to do a post similar to a post I wrote sharing each expense involved with having my daughter – with and without insurance.
It feels unfair that the expenses we incurred, in this case, weren’t to bring life into the world.
Paying these expenses were bitter with no sweet; however, I’m thankful that we had insurance to make the expenses manageable.
|Lesson: US healthcare costs are consistently high no matter your experience (pregnancy or miscarriage). I’d recommed having the best quality care you can afford.|
THE EMOTIONAL DEVASTATION OF PREGNANCY LOSS
I began this post with the physical pain of miscarriage and the financial inconvenience of pregnancy loss because dealing with these things go away.
We stop bleeding. The bills stop coming.
What doesn’t go away is the emotional devastation that follows losing a child.
Hearing that the baby I was still carrying inside me had no heartbeat was a sucker punch to my soul. I desperately wanted my prenatal care providers to be wrong. But…they weren’t.
I desperately wanted my prenatal care providers to be wrong about my baby’s non-existent heartbeat.
I had dreams for my unborn child, I had already committed to my new family of four. Then, it all vanished. My baby was gone. A piece of my heart was gone.
Some may wonder how we can love an unborn child as much as we do and I can’t explain it. We just do.
|Lesson: It doesn’t matter where you were in your pregnancy when you experienced your loss… it matters. Never let anyone belittle your feeling about your pregnancy loss. If you were pregnant – you deserve to mourn and heal – like any other mother!|
Healing After Miscarriage
I’m not sure if moms who lose their children ever heal. I think we learn to cope.
Over time, we learn to soothe our heartbreaks more efficiently than we did the day before.
- In the days after my miscarriage, I cried.
- In the weeks after my miscarriage, I cried.
- Occasionally, I still cry.
Mostly, my tears are reserved to small and empty spaces when I’m alone and occasionally they slide down my cheeks involuntarily in the darkness of the night. I don’t like to cry in front of my daughter – she wouldn’t understand.
The tears may come for you too. Just know, there are other ways to cope after a loss.
Things To Help You Cope After Pregnancy Loss
1. Know you aren’t alone.
2. Feel your emotions, don’t resist them.
3. Practice self-love.
4. Reach out for support from friends and family.
5. Get a therapist if necessary.
6. Don’t feel rushed to finish grieving.
7. Admit to not being OK.
8. Let your partner in emotionally (you both experienced a loss).
9. Talk about your miscarriage (when you feel ready).
10. Join an online community.
Getting Pregnant Again After Miscarriage
I was surprised to learn that after a miscarriage many women experience increased fertility. My doctor personally wanted to see a quant of zero (no hormones) from the pregnancy loss before suggesting that my husband and I try again. Other than that, we were given the go ahead.
Although I still see my family growing, we are taking our time getting pregnant again.
If you plan to try again, I wish you a healthy pregnancy that leads to your rainbow!
I hope this information helps you!
Mama. If you are still reading this, thank you. This was long. But I truly want you to know that miscarriage doesn’t need to be a dirty little secret. Our grief during this nightmare is real and deserves its rightful place.