TW: Pregnancy Loss; miscarriage
No one wants to write a blog post about miscarriage.
I have been putting off writing this post for quite some time; constantly being torn between wanting to share my story, yet at the same time, not being quite ready to share it with the world. My de facto response to trauma is to pretend that it did not happen; that feels easier than acknowledging it.
But as my journey continues, and I have more time to reflect, I can’t shake the whisper in the back of my head that I need to share my story. I need to confront the reality that I silently carry with me every day and I need to open up in the hopes of helping support another woman who is going through the same thing.
The biggest thing that I have learned during this whole process, is that nearly every woman I know has personally experienced at least one miscarriage – yet no one is ever talking about it. I understand, we, as humans, are not eager to share sad experiences. But if I had known how many women understood, if I had known that from a scientific perspective, it is actually very common, I may have experienced the losses differently – the pain would have been the same, but I would have had a better framework of what could happen.
And, each time that I am privileged to hear the story of someone who had suffered miscarriage(s), and I can talk freely to someone who innately understands an experience that cannot be described, I feel a little less lonely and a little less devastated.
So for all the women who have had, or will have, pregnancy loss, here is my story:
The Decision to Start a Family
The decision to start a family is made differently in each household. For my husband and myself it was something we knew that we wanted very early on in our relationship, but for various reasons, we waited about 2 years into our marriage to start trying. It is what made sense for us and it was when we felt “prepared” enough.
When we made that decision, we decided when we officially wanted to start trying, I talked with my doctors to make sure that my medications and autoimmune diseases did not pose any perceived risks, and then we just jumped in.
Finding Out You Are Pregnant For the First Time
If you have read my post talking about my chronic illnesses, you probably have a sense that I am used to my body just “existing” differently, so I knew almost immediately that I was pregnant. Actively trying + perfectly regular periods = taking a test as soon as you are late.
With the first pregnancy, I found out at barely 4 weeks and I was so excited. We immediately told everyone within 24 hours. It is such an indescribable feeling. As a woman, even knowing that the fertilization process was barely finished, I immediately felt connected to my child.
Figuring out you are miscarrying for the first time
Over the next three days, I went through an emotional rollercoaster and Googled the hell out of the internet.
The evening after getting my positive test, I had very light spotting. I was at first confused, but I quickly brushed it off, thinking that it could be implantation bleeding, since everything I looked up seemed to correspond with that. I also experienced over the next 24 hours very mild cramping in my lower back, once again I tried not to be an overly anxious first time mom, and assumed it was implantation.
And then the bleeding continued to increase.
I continued to feel more nervous, I was super distracted, and I looked up information online and talked to friends – while less common, there are women who can experience bleeding, or early bleeding in pregnancy. I clung to these as hope that I was just another exception to the rule, like they were. But when the bleeding was increasing and not slowing down, I called my OBGYN to get some guidance and make sure that everything was okay.
I made the call and my OBGYN ordered bloodwork for me. I was told to go the hospital she is connected with, instead of her office, so that if my HCG levels were low, I could immediately receive a RGBN shot. I immediately went, called a good friend who fortunately was available and able to keep me company, because it was a scary thing to go through alone.
I had the blood drawn, waited an hour, and then my OBGYN called with the results.
My HCG levels were almost 0. I was not pregnant.
My initial reaction was immense shock. I had two positive pregnancy tests, which are ridiculously accurate, and sometimes can be positive before it shows up in the blood. After some research and talking it out, the best guess is that I likely had a chemical pregnancy, where the egg was fertilized but it failed to implant properly. It was so early in the process that I feel that I both was, and was not, pregnant.
I did take the rest of the day off work to process, but my husband and I were able to accept the news easily enough. We were super disappointed, but because it was likely a chemical pregnancy, it didn’t feel like the same type of loss to us, as it would have with a later one.
Finding Out You Are Pregnant Again, After a Miscarriage
So, since there was no reason not to, we jumped right back in. My OBGYN just told me to wait a longer time before testing, and then when I had a positive test, she would order new bloodwork to make sure my HCG levels were increasing properly.
I got pregnant the next month!
And this time, I knew it was for sure. I impatiently waited longer after my missed cycle to test, I got the bloodwork, and all was looking good. I felt content and safe, positive that the bloodwork proved that everything would be okay.
Do Not Announce Your Pregnancy on Mother’s Day
This is the part where it starts getting really hard to talk about my story. On Mother’s Day this year, I was nearly 6 weeks, and we made the decision to announce to my mom and grandmother.
But the bleeding started again. The night before I had very light spotting, which I didn’t worry about, but as Mother’s Day went on, the bleeding increased, it was much like a period, but it did not match what my period’s looked like. And as the day went on, there was more clotting.
Bleeding from a miscarriage is often described as looking like coffee grounds, these were not normal clots that you might experience during your normal menstruation (or at least nothing that was normal to my menstrual experience), but they were clearly shredded and broken tissue.
I didn’t want to believe it, so I asked my friend to look. (True friend’s will look at your bloody urine in the toilet to make sure you are okay) and she, gentle as can be, told me to go the hospital.
The team in the ER was so beautifully gentle and kind through the whole process. I had bloodwork done and a vaginal ultrasound. At the end of it all, they confirmed that I was actively miscarrying and their were no signs of an embryo. It was, possibly, the most painful experience that my husband and I shared together, and I prefer to try to forget about that night.
As of today, we are still not pregnant. I have, thankfully, not had any more miscarriages, and have ruled out some possible contributing factors, but we don’t know if I have another underlying issue or just unfortunate statistics. This month we have an appointment with a Reproductive & Fertility Specialist, and there, will hopefully get our answers that, I am praying, are nothing serious.
Going through this journey, my husband and I have been brought closer together, but we have also been pushed to new limits and carry the impact of this trauma in very different ways. But, our commitment and desire to having a child pushes us forward to keep looking for answers and to try until we are told we cannot try anymore. We lift up everything to God, for it is in his plan, and we continue.
Most days feel normal, but I have been triggered more than once when surrounded by typical conversations about sex, being pregnant, or having children. I would never allow my experience to rob joy from someone else’s positive experience, but there is always a pang of sadness in my heart when I see a woman becoming a mother, when I have had that taken away twice and I don’t know when it will be my turn. Yet, we carry on.