Trigger Warning: Miscarriage
As many of you know, shortly after announcing we were expecting in a recent YouTube video, 4 days later we got the worst news we could have never imagined: an ultrasound showing that the baby no longer had a heartbeat and stopped growing at 8 weeks. Also known as a Missed Miscarriage.
The following few days were something like I had never experienced, and never thought that I would for that matter. While everything is a safe distance behind me, but still fresh in my mind and heart, I wanted to share my personal experience in order to hopefully help another woman that is going through what could be a very isolating experience, and provide them with comfort and a friend.
Before we go any further, I did want to say three things. The first is: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. 1 in less than 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage. You are in good company with some of the best women I know. The second thing is: IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. Miscarriage is not your fault. You didn’t DO anything wrong. In most cases there is no way to know what happened, regardless it is not something you can predict, or reverse, it just happens…to a lot of us. And lastly, I am in no way a medical professional, neither is this blog post medical advice. It is a personal account of what happened in my personal situation, and should only be consulted as that. If you are experiencing a miscarriage, please contact your healthcare professional.
Much like I put together a birth story after I had my 2 children, I’d like to share my personal miscarriage story with you.
There’s a few things I learned from my miscarriage:
1: You can expect to feel all the FEELS. Extreme Grief. Denial. Anger. Embarrassment. Sadness. You’ll feel like it was your fault. You’ll run through the gamut of what you could have done differently, and all of the what-ifs. You might even crack a smile, and then feel guilty about having a glimpse of joy. You may feel relief. Just know that you will feel ALL THE FEELS.
2: You can expect the miscarriage process to be physically painful. What nobody really tells you is that if you do have a natural miscarriage, your body will labor. Meaning you will experience contractions because your cervix must open some to pass large tissue being shed from the uterus. No one told me this, and as I tried to find relief in the bathtub, I knew that what I was feeling were labor pains. It is FAR more than ‘uncomfortable’ and can be very scary if you’ve never experienced birth before.
3: You can expect A LOT of blood. I mean A LOT. More than you probably think is humanly possible to lose and still be standing upright. Your body had been preparing a soft cushiony place for the baby, and that has to be shed and passed. I was stuck on the toilet for over an hour passing all sorts of things, and I couldn’t even get up because each time I did more would come out. Some sites I looked at said you should be concerned if you are soaking through a pad an hour. Well, listen honey, I needed a DIAPER to function! Wearing an adult diaper, much like I did after birthing my children, was the ONLY way I could find any comfort or be able to lay in my bed. One follower commented on one of my posts “I always knew I would be shopping for diapers, I just never thought they would be for me” cue all the tears! (Suggestion: If you have other kids at home, consider sending them with grandparents or friends for a couple nights to allow you time to go through the shedding process.)
4: You can expect to want to be completely isolated. As soon as she said the big M word, all I wanted to do was hole up in my house and not see a single person. And I did that for 5 days. When I finally got out of the doctor’s office, I stayed inside my house for the next few days, only seeing the faces of my hubby, kiddos, mom/mil, and the actors of Hallmark movies (ha!) I knew that as soon as I saw someone else, I would have to potentially face TELLING them what had happened. Or seeing a baby or pregnant person. I was afraid how I would react in those moments, and so we ordered in, and I sent my husband out for errands to avoid it until I couldn’t any more.
5: You can expect to have to tell everyone you are no longer expecting if you already announced the pregnancy (like we did to hundreds of thousands of people online and in our community). You can even expect that you’ll still be getting ‘Congratulations!’ and ‘I heard the great news!’ WEEKS after you’ve miscarried. When we announced, I had said that no matter what happens, this baby deserves to be celebrated. While it would have been easier to have waited a couple more weeks until we were out of that first trimester and not had to tell everyone, I don’t regret for a moment celebrating the life of the little one we lost. It forced me to be vulnerable and in that, I found a new community of sisters…which leads me to my next point.
6: You can expect to be surprised by how many women begin to tell you they have experienced a miscarriage after you have shared about yours. It’s one of those unspoken, taboo topics. Pregnancy and child bearing is one of epitome of womanhood, struggling with this “basic” function isn’t something most women are willing to talk about openly. Until they meet someone that has gone through it, too. I’ve met THOUSANDS of women in the last month that share this experience with me, and there will be THOUSANDS more. You are not alone. This is not your fault. The best thing you can do is talk about it to work through the trauma instead of trying to hide it.
7: You can expect to be triggered. From watching HGTV to finding actual baby items, you probably won’t even be able to predict it half the time…but there will be things that make you want to sob uncontrollably. Just a few days after miscarrying I found the first ultrasound picture: cue the waterworks. I envied all the pregnant bellies I saw on tv or at the grocery store, I felt jealousy when I saw another announcement on Instagram, and had to work pretty hard to keep a smile on my face for a baby shower I attended just a couple weeks after. It was maybe 10 days after the miscarriage and I was at Graham’s practice, there was a baby there, sweet as could be…and despite my initial reaction to RUN, I decided to ask to hold her. It was healing..and come to find out, she was a rainbow baby after 4 miscarriages!
8: You should expect to need to take care of YOU. Your body is going through a lot. Your mind and spirit is going through lot. Have grace for yourself, and find some healthy outlets to keep you in touch with your body, and activities that make you feel like you. I got back into yoga to make sure I stayed reliant on my body instead of disassociating with it. I prayed a lot. I made many many many gratitude lists. And I talked about it to everyone I could.
9: You can expect to be unsure about when/if to start trying again. This is a big one. And I feel like you can kind of go one way or the other. My immediate reaction, like the DAY OF, I thought to myself ‘I don’t think I could ever do this again.’ As the sting of the news lessened a little, I knew in my heart that I wasn’t done trying. My physical recovery was quite fast, and my mental recovery was a close second. I started to feel ready to try after about 3 weeks. However, my husband was not. And that was not something I had taken into consideration…how does our entire family unit feel about tryin again. It wasn’t just heartbreaking for me, but it was for Ted, and Graham and Cambelle also. We had to decide together, and talk through some of our fears, before we got on the same page. The thing is, the joy of bringing into this world another child, a gift from God, far outweighs the heartache of losing one, and for now, we will keep trying.
10: Most importantly, you can expect to be STRONGER than ever, and to find joy in the little things that you used to overlook. If you had asked me a year ago if this would happen to me, I would have said of course not…I already have 2 kids, why would this happen to me? Come to find out, it can happen to anyone. Even in the early weeks of pregnancy I never really entertained the idea of not carrying the baby full term…but this experience has made me feel like I have a wisdom, and a grace that I would not have been able to find otherwise. Not only that, but with loss, everything else comes into perspective, and the things that used to bother you, now bring you a smile…the annoying things, now you can’t go a day without hoping for them..the things that you took for granted, they are now what fill your heart with gratitude.
I hope that this video and these words will help someone else going through a similar situation feel like they have a friend walking alongside them. This can be a very isolating experience if you let it, but it can also be an experience that allows you to feel part of a sisterhood. If you know someone going through a hard time, please share this with them.
Just do you babes!