One of the main reasons I write is because it is incredibly therapeutic for me. And as I wrote this, I was unsure of what I would do with it – keep it in a private just-for-me file, share with family, post to the blog? And if I posted it to my blog, when? Tomorrow, next week, next month when the pain was a little more dull? Ultimately, I decided to go ahead and put it out there. Because for me, this process has been about dealing with it all head on. Grieving, praying, trying to understand – and putting one foot in front of another. But I will warn you that it may include too many hard-to-read details. But this is for me. So, here goes nothing…
I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, granddaughter, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, friend…
And I am a miscarriage survivor.
I had hoped to escape my lifetime without ever having to say those words. And even typing them out still feels so surreal, so raw.
But, these are the colors I’ve been given. And we can only paint our lives with the palette God provides.
This Thanksgiving, T and I found out we were expecting number two. We were shocked at how quickly it had happened for us this time, but absolutely thrilled at the prospect of having another little one, especially one so close in age to our sweet Cameron Kate. She was going to be a big sister!
We immediately told family and a few very close friends, thanked God for our new blessing, and included the nugget in our nightly prayers with CK.
The pregnancy was immediately completely different than it had been the first time around – while it made me nervous that I wasn’t being debilitated by nausea, everyone assured me that every pregnancy is different.
Around 6 weeks I started having some concerning symptoms, so they brought me in for an early ultrasound. Though the gestational sac was there, the fetal pole was not… which led to them rescheduling another ultrasound in 48 hours to check for progress.
It was a long two days.
But, two days later, the ultrasound showed our tiny nugget of a baby with a tiny heart flickering away. We even got to hear it! We were thrilled, and relieved. They decided to keep my 8-week ultrasound scheduled, just to check on progress.
I tried to maintain a positive attitude that all was well in there with our new growing family member, but truth be told, I couldn’t get that nagging something-is-off feeling out of the back of my head. But I’m such a worry-filled mama, I couldn’t decide if that nagging feeling was just me worrying, or my mother’s intuition letting me know that something was wrong.
Unfortunately, it was my intuition, and it was right.
Before I knew it, I was at the 8-week mark and we were back in doctor’s office. As soon as she started the ultrasound, I could tell something was wrong, as I could barely see the flicker of the heart that I knew at this point should have been strong and obvious. When she measured the size of our nugget, it was only 7 weeks. She didn’t have to say it. I already knew.
We were losing the baby.
There were lots of tears and lots of quiet moments, T and me squeezing each other’s hands as we waited for the doctor. He came in and confirmed the news with another scan. He did a lot of talking that I only vaguely remember, because all I could hear was my heart breaking into a million tiny pieces. All of my dreams came tumbling down, dreams for my tiny nugget of a baby and his/her big sister, being so close in age, growing up as best buddies, how fun the summer would have been…
The doctor said things like, “Miscarriage happens in 20% of pregnancies,” and “It’s nothing you did,” and “There’s always still hope, I’ve see stranger things…” – At which point I asked him to please not give me false hope. It was very obvious what was going on, and I didn’t want false hope.
Unfortunately, my body had not started the miscarriage process on its own. Also unfortunately, since the baby’s heart was still beating, there was nothing we could do, but wait. They decided to bring me back in on Thursday for another scan, and if it showed that the baby’s heart had stopped completely, they would proceed with a D&C.
They led us out of a side door, straight to the parking lot so we didn’t have to walk through the waiting room and pass other couples who had the same anxious/excited gleam in their eyes we’d had only an hour earlier.
As soon as we walked out of the doors, we embraced each other. Apologized to each other. Squeezed each other tight, both so incredibly sad, so empty.
I’m sure that any woman who has experienced this can tell you that it takes you to a dark place, a place where you blame yourself, wonder what you did wrong, what you could’ve done differently to save the life that was growing inside of you. Because a doctor can tell you repeatedly that it was totally out of your control – except that when you’ve been carrying the baby around, and all of a sudden it loses its life, who else is there to blame? And I know deep in my heart that the truth is that it WAS totally out of my control. But it still feels like I’ve failed as a mother. Like my body failed us… me and my little nugget. And to my nugget, and my husband, and my daughter who would’ve been such a wonderful big sister this summer – my fault or not, I am so, so sorry.
The days passed with lots of tears, lots of conversations, lots of heartache, lots of prayers and well wishes from our friends and family members who knew about the tough road we were traveling on. And those days were horrible for me. Knowing what was inevitably going on inside of me… Trying to put on a brave face, go to work, put one foot in front of another. Trying not to hold on to any false hope, even praying that Thursday’s ultrasound would be conclusive so that we could finish grieving and move forward.
And the ultrasound was conclusive. We’d officially lost our baby.
There were obviously more tears, but also moments of thanking God for letting us experience finality, rather than having to continue to wait.
We had a long talk with my incredible doctor – the same doctor who came in on his day off to deliver Cameron. He put me at ease as much as he could in the situation I was in, and got us into the hospital right away for a D&E, which is a little more invasive than a D&C.
Without going into the details and dramatics of the rest of that day, the worst part of it all was the anticipation. But I was incredibly blessed to be surrounded by the love and strength of my amazing husband, a man who never showed a chink in his armor, a man who never let me see him worried. A man who made it all about me, when it was really all about us.
My older sister also jumped in the car and immediately came to be by my side. As soon as she walked up to my hospital bed, I lost it. There’s just something about having someone by your side who’s connected to the depths of your soul.
The best part of the whole day was when I got home, and my little girl walked in the door.
They say the best medicine is laughter. And I agree, except that I’d add the best medicine is the laughter of a child. My sweet, wild, full-of-life Cameron Kate has allowed me to grieve in only short spurts, because she’s a toddler who demands attention and wants to be thrown around upside down so she can giggle ferociously.
However, my mind is still full of what-ifs. What if I’d done something differently? What if this happens again? What if it keeps happening, and we aren’t ever able to give Cameron a sibling? And other questions, like how am I EVER going to keep calm during a pregnancy again? When is the right time for us to even try to get pregnant again?
Even moreso, WHY did this happen?
But, it’s not up to me to know the answers to these questions right now, or why this baby wasn’t meant to come home with us. It’s up to me to grab a paintbrush, and today’s palette of colors, and keep painting.