I wrote this back in May, but I just kept it for a while. I ran across it today, and decided to post it.
It’s funny, those two little words can change everything in just a few moments. And though I am sure there are plenty of times when those words are met with unhappiness (perhaps a sixteen year old girl sobs them into the phone, while her best friend is listening agape on the other end of the line), so often these little words, this short phrase, is met with happiness. Shock, laughter, giddiness, plans, baby names. Shrieks. People make plans and imagine soft little faces, chubby faces, warm bundles, fleece blankets, rooms in pastels. Normal Rockwell images flipping through of a lifetime of family and home and hearth.
Those are two words that will change everything just as quickly, but there aren’t quite the same images. And we don’t hear the words often, because people don’t talk about miscarrying. It is almost a rule that pregnant couples don’t share the news of the pregnancy for those first few weeks in case there is a miscarriage. I suppose there is a sense in that, so the couple doesn’t have to go through the heartbreaking task of sharing such sad news.
On the other hand….we share other sad news. If we get a cancer diagnosis, or lose a job, or have to have emergency surgery, we often tell others then. It may even appear in a church bulletin, so people could pray or bring over casseroles. So why don’t we talk about miscarriage? Why is there such a taboo over this topic?
I have had several of my dear friends have children, and I am the oldest of a slew of grandchildren. Though I have yet to have any children, I know quite a bit about pregnancy, such as the gassiness, passing the mucus plug, epestiotomies. I’m not expert about pregnancy, but I know a decent amount about the things that happen to the body, even some of the grosser things.
I never knew anything about miscarriages.
That is, until I had one.
It was so bizarre to begin with. I am 31 and happily married, but we weren’t really in the groove for baby time. We work six jobs begin us,a nd are already ships passing in the night. We wanted to wait until we had better schedules, so we could actually all three be in the same room at the same time. We weren’t sure it would even happen. I was diagnosed with PCOS at the age of 17, which can not only cause infertility, but also increases the risk of miscarriage once a woman becomes pregnant. So, the chances of us having a baby weren’t good.
It was February, and with our weird work schedules we just didnt have a lot of time for romance. But I had some snow days off from work, and we were snowed in, and well, there wasn’t anything good on television. With a week of being snowed in, I lost count of the days, and became sloppy with my birth control pill. Apparently that was all it took.
Other people may have realized they were pregnant much earlier. I was almost four weeks late before it even occurred to me to take a test. I had been cramping off and on all month,and I was used to a wonky schedule with PCOS. I was cramping, so the period must be on the way, right?
Plus I just stay busy with work, and I was driving one day went it hit me a whole month had gone by and I hadnt had my visitor. I was worried something else was up, but I figured I would take the test just in case. I had a college class to teach, but I was impatient and ran to the bathroom before class. I figured, it will be negative, and that will be that. I will call the doctor and we will figure out what is wrong.
It wasn’t negative, and neither were the three other tests I took. I made an appointment to speak to the doctor, and got in quickly when I told him I was having sharp cramps.
I can’t tell you how I felt, but I was never excited about the pregnancy. For one, I was in shock. I thought we may be able to have a baby one day, but it would take a lot of trying. For the other, I always knew something was wrong. I never “felt” pregnant, and while I know I was early, I was also four weeks late. Plus, there was all that cramping.
The doctor was not very helpful. He rushed in and out very quickly, but we did the ultrasound and saw that I was indeed pregnant, but all we could see was the sac in my uterus, no embryo. It’s too early, he said, let’s let it grow two weeks and then come back. I see a cyst, that’s why you are hurting. Take Tylenol.
There were so many questions I wanted to ask, but I was in shock and nervous and out the door before I could think of them to ask. The next two weeks were not fun. I did a lot of research though, and it seemed to me I should have seen a little blip on the radar considering my conception date. I read about a blighted ovum, where a fertilized egg gets to the uterus, but disolves, and it takes a while for the uterus to realize it. That was perfect, I thought, No baby there to lose, and no pregnancy to figure out.
I went back to the doctor, and he didn’t see anything. We did a blood test, and the results came back that I miscarried early. The doctor said he didn’t think I had had the blighted ovum, but had actually miscarried.
I cried. It makes NO sense, but somehow the difference between an egg that never attached and an embryo that made it a few days seemed a big deal, and I cried for the little…thing I had never believed in. I still call it my imaginary baby.
So, my choices were to have a d and c or to do it naturally. I had read the d and c could scar the uterus, and I would like my uterus to be in tip top condition in case I ever decided to do it for real, so I asked to wait.
A week went by. I was having a lot of sharp pains that sometimes made me want to double over, but they would go away. Finally, a week after my doctors appointment, the pain got closer and closer together until it wouldn’t leave and became constant.
Now, the following piece of my story is graphic and gross. If you don’t want to read it, then by all means, skip ahead. However, my platform here is that we need to stop hiding miscarriages and the process behind shame and guilt, so I am going to tell my story.
Apparently, during a natural miscarriage, you go through a mini-labor. Your uterus contracts, so these pains that grew closer and closer were actual contractions. Though I do not pretend that they hurt as much as the contractions that come with birthing a baby, they HURT. I don’t like pain, but I don’t consider myself a wimp either. I have a tattoo, I’ve sprained my ankles a few times, I’d gotten shots into the bone of my toe. I’ve scratched my cornea, and had some really intense period cramps.
This, was the worst pain I had ever felt in my entire life, and it lasted from about eight til three in the morning. About nine, I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom, and while I was there, I felt the blood slip out in thick chunks. I decided to push a bit, and large lumps the size of marbles slid out. I got into a hot bath for a while, and bled into the tub, but the urge to go to the bathroom kept coming. Every time I pushed, large clots came out and soaked my pad. I changed pads many, many times that night. When I would stand up, the blood would run down my leg. I rotated from the bed, to the toilet, to the bathtub that night.
I did okay, until about 2am when the pain seemed to intensify instead of lessen, and I felt like I was going crazy. It wouldn’t stop, I was tired,and all I wanted to do was go to sleep. I was by myself, and I am glad, bc if someone had been at the house, I probably would have broken down and gone to the hospital. Finally, about 230, I decided to push again, and large clots came out again. The gestational sac may have been in that mess somewhere, but I was too spent and it was all too gross to investigate. Finally after the last outburst, around 3, I was exhausted and able to sleep. I texted my husband on third shift “whatever u do, do NOT come in the bedroom in the a.m.” I ruined three towels, a shirt, my sheets, four pairs of panties, and used a whole box of pads.
The next day I didn’t bleed so much, just like a heavy period. I slept most of the day, but in chunks. I obviously stayed home that day from work, and I decided to take a second day. I started to cry and be sad at the end of the second day,and into that next day. The pain wasn’t too awful, but I felt sore, and I kept feeling like I needed to go to the bathroom, but didn’t.
The fourth day I went to work, but I felt off. I am guilty of this whenever I get sick. As soon as I deem it is over,I expect to feel fine and bounce back and be done. I have things to do. But apparently this knocks you out for a while. It was a Friday, and when I got home, I realized I seemed to be hurting more than I had for a few days. I went to the bathroom yet again,and had a mini relapse of Tuesday. I had gushes of blood and clots come out,and had to have movie night with my husband sitting on a towel.
This is day six, and the bleeding and pain are minimal. But I keep crying over nothing. I just want to feel normal again. I feel like I have a scarlet M on me. I know I did nothing wrong; I never even knew I was pregnant. But somehow I feel bad.
I was talking to a friend,and she said, this is why we don’t tell people until the second trimester that we are pregnant. Because sometimes this happens and then you have to tell people. If you don’t want to talk about it, or any of your business, then I support that right to be private. But I don’t understand why we keep miscarriages so private.
If you were, as I did, to look up the symptoms of miscarriage online, you would go to several respected websites such as WebMD or the Mayo Clinic. These websites describe miscarriages as abdominal pain and bleeding. Ha. If that was the only thing you read, you would assume a miscarriage was like a period, perhaps a bad one. Instead, it is an awful soul crushing experience where you feel you are going to bleed out your organs between your legs, and your body is going to tear you apart.
On the bright side, this is not necessarily the typical experience. But it IS a possible experience, and I think it is important for us to speak out and share our stories. We lost a baby. We went through this awful experience,and are left with nothing in return. We deserve to tell our stories, and to share our experiences. We should not be silenced, but be allowed to mourn the loss and to help others who are going through the same thing.
I miscarried. That is bad enough. I am not going to be silent as well.