I walked on the beach full of sorrow yet hope and peace after my second miscarriage within a year. Only two days prior, I was driving across the Cascade Mountains with trepidation to spend the day with family. Would I be able to hide my pregnancy? I was not ready to tell anyone, even my partner. A year ago I had experienced a missed miscarriage. That experience had been crushing to not only myself, but to those around me who had to experience the aftermath. The aftermath of which I am not sure any woman every truly recovers from. I know that I have not and that only time is allowing me to find ways to cope.
The term “missed” is misleading. I knew I was going to miscarry. Oh sure, I had hope that the flickering heart beat on the ultrasound monitor was going to become stronger and faster. The reality as a nurse sitting in that room with my boyfriend, who is a paramedic, was that a heart beat fluctuating downwards to 60 beats per minute would not be sustainable to a life this young. This was my first ultrasound at 8 weeks pregnant. It would almost be another month before I underwent a D&C after 2 separate ultrasounds confirmed the pregnancy was nonviable. What I remember most clearly is looking over at my partner after listening to the doctor say that it could go either way: the baby would live or die. My partner was actually the one who found the heart beat on the ultrasound. At first, the doctor could not even find it. I remember the silence as we were all straining to see it on the screen, and then my partner pointing it out to the doctor. My moment of relief was short lived when we realized the rate was not high enough to sustain life for a fetus. I looked over at my partner, and I knew right away that he could not give me the hope I was looking for. His eyes were already sympathetic, I could sense him already trying to figure out how to explain to me that this baby would likely not make it, but he didn’t have to. One look at his face, and back at the doctor, and I knew.
My nurturing, protective instinct was already in full gear. Despite knowing the situation was dire, I wanted to cling to hope. Mostly, I wanted to cling to my baby for as long as physically possible. I chose to change care to a different doctor to get a second opinion. I knew the baby was not going to make it so the main reason for finding another doctor was to find someone with more compassion. The first doctor I saw joked during the first ultrasound that maybe the baby had a slow heart beat like myself. I did not see the humor in it, and actually felt it was beyond hurtful and inappropriate given the circumstance.
I chose to wait a week and see if my body would soon discover that it no longer needed to grow a life. My body did not. My breasts continued to grow, a slight bump began to protrude, and the all day nausea persisted. My new doctor was a breath of fresh air full of compassion and kindness.
After a lengthy discussion, I opted to take Cytotec to induce contractions. That produced minimal bleeding and horrific cramps, and still no fetus passed.
So almost a month after I saw no heart beat on the ultrasound, I scheduled a D&C. If I have to be honest, I did not want the procedure. My doctor told me that it was time. That if I waited longer that my risk for infection was markedly increased. My family said it was time. They were worried that I was prolonging the inevitable and causing myself undue harm emotionally and physically.
The reality is that I was not ready to say good bye. I sat on the floor of the shower with water streaming down my face to wash away the tears, and I talked to my baby as if it were still alive and thriving within me.
Mostly, I told my baby I was sorry and that I loved him so much. I felt I had failed before I even got a chance to show I could succeed as a mom. I promised my baby that I would never forget him. I am pretty sure it would have been a boy. I wanted to name him, but not a name I would have given him if he had made it to birth. I named him Wave. He came crashing into my life, and receded out of it just as quickly. Despite the pain, I will forever be grateful to have had that short experience.
I felt that my world had come to an end in the weeks that followed the D&C. After the numbness had worn off, the anger came with a vengeance. The sadness was always there under the surface, but at the surface was anger. I was angry at my partner who seemingly went on with life as normal. I was angry at other moms, especially those who did not want children or who had accidentally gotten pregnant and then “had to deal with it” as one woman told me. I would burst into tears at the site of other pregnant women. I wanted to raise my own child, and I felt robbed of the experience.
This time around, which I refer to as round two, the miscarriage happened quickly over the course of a few days of extreme cramping and bleeding. I felt shame and guilt. Round two had begun, and it was not even close to what round one had dealt. This time the miscarriage happened very quickly over the course of a few days.
Within a week the bleeding came to a halt, and I acted normal. Only my partner and immediate family knew about this miscarriage.
I laughed, smiled, went to work, and made plans with friends. Work was a safe place because this time around I didn’t have 10 women checking on me every minute to make sure I was okay. I could almost pretend it did not happen. I should have known better. This time around it hit me like a freight train at 4 am one morning. Two weeks after this miscarriage, my breasts became very tender and swollen. I had intermittent nausea, and got carsick more often than usual. I had this feeling that I had quickly become pregnant again. Then, one night 5 weeks after my miscarriage, my partner mentioned how big my breasts were getting, and even said out loud that he thought I could be pregnant again. He confirmed what I had been thinking myself. I wondered if my body was playing tricks on me. That very next morning at 4 am my period started with a vengeance. Severe stomach and back cramps lasting over 48 hours. I passed multiple clots. It was as though it was another miscarriage, but I think it was just an incredibly bad period. Maybe worse due to hormones that were still trying to regain balance. I am not sure. What I do know is that it set me into a downward spiral. Crying turned into fury within a day. I felt myself slipping back into despair.
This time I did what I knew all along would help more than talking. I wrote about it. Writing is healing. Words are healing. I know when I am most resistant to writing that means I need to do it the most. The mental relief allows my mind to be cleared and focused on the present. Sometimes the sentences are not grammatically correct or properly structured, but that does not diminish the power of the words.
I hope that my story can resonate with someone else. If another woman can relate and find solace, then that gives these life experience of mine a purpose. I know I am not alone, and part of my healing has been knowing that I am not by reading the stories of other womEn who have experienced miscarriages. This story is as much for me as it is for another woman out there who might be grasping for comfort and acknowledgement that she is not alone as she navigates through her own personal experience of miscarriage.
There is no comparison of my experience to that of another woman. There are similarities though that can minimize the burden of carrying the grief and mixed emotions solo.
My message to any woman would be to be kind to yourself and others. There is no “right” way to grieve, and allowing yourself to feel your emotions will bring you back to balance quicker than holding them inside. My heart goes out to the women who love so deep that their grief is equally as deep. We are all stronger than we think. Whether you are going through round one, round two, or round 10, I hope you are able to find the strength to stand back up after each knockdown, and continue the fight. Your life is worth it, and I truly believe the baby or babies that you have lost would want you to live life fully.
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