I debated about writing this post. What a downer, right? And I wondered if it was something I should share or keep more private.
The more I thought about it, though, the more I thought this would be a great outlet for me to sort through and house the thoughts and feelings I’ve had over the past few weeks. Plus, since one thing I learned quickly during this process was how many people have been touched by miscarriage first hand, talking about it seems like the right thing to do (for me, at least).
Kevin and I found out I was pregnant on October 22 (a date I quickly added to my Google calendar to remember in years to come), and we couldn’t sleep that night because we were so excited (and nervous) about what awaited us. We went to the doctor in November and got to see our baby and hear its heartbeat — everything was right on track. I was feeling great (hungrier than usual, and soooo tired, but otherwise had few symptoms) and was able to keep working out, which helped keep my energy level up. We started to tell family and close friends our news, and I felt giddy with excitement about everything. It felt like this special sort-of secret, since just a few people knew about it. We got to tell our parents and most of our siblings in person, which was so much fun, and all was going great. My due date was June 29, and we were so looking forward to next summer and all it would bring. I added June 29 to my calendar with anticipation.
For me, though, that excitement changed to worry one weekend in early December when I just felt nervous about things. Our next appointment was still two weeks out — scheduled for December 18 — and I didn’t want to have to wait that long. As someone who rarely worries over health-related issues, this was an atypical feeling for me, but one I couldn’t shake. I hadn’t had many symptoms to begin with, but now I felt none. When I noticed bleeding the morning of Monday, December 7, my heart sank. Our doctors’ office was able to get us in for a 9:30 appointment that same morning (thank goodness), and we eventually were given an ultrasound confirming what I already knew in my gut. Though I should have been about 10.5 weeks pregnant by then, our baby had stopped growing at about eight weeks — not too long after our last appointment, as it turned out. (I had a new date to add to my Google calendar to remember — this one not nearly as joyful as the first two.)
We went through the steps that follow, scheduling a D&C surgery at the hospital for Wednesday and then going home to try to process what had just happened.
I keep learning each and every day following that Monday, December 7, when we learned we’d lost our baby, and I know I’ll continue to learn and experience new things. I wanted to share a few of the many things I’ve become especially aware of throughout this time in our lives:
- Showing up means the world. Kevin and I still can’t believe how much love we were shown throughout this experience. Within 10 minutes of getting home from the doctor on Monday morning, four sweet friends were at our house, showering us with hugs and crying with me. Kevin said when we first got the news, he worried that we’d told too many people about the baby, and now we had to tell them about losing it. But ultimately, we were both so glad we’d told our family and so many friends, because those people wrapped us in love, whether it was bringing meals, sending flowers, calling to talk, reaching out via card/text/Facebook/email, coming over to visit, etc., we were overwhelmed with how cared for we were. We have the BEST community of friends and family, and for that we are forever grateful. Thank you to everyone who showed up, in whatever form that took. We love you!
- This is a big club. I’d read about how common miscarriage can be, but I certainly didn’t realize it had touched so many people around me until it happened to us and we started hearing from friends and family members about their own personal experiences with this type of loss. It also wasn’t uncommon to hear people talk about having had two, three, even four or more miscarriages, which I can’t even imagine. Thank you to everyone who shared their own stories with us during our journey (and not just miscarriage stories, but tales of infertility and other types of painful situations as well). It was so helpful to be reminded that we’re most definitely not alone in this. It was also great to be reminded that so many of these couples went on to have beautiful, healthy children following their losses. That gave us so much hope for our future family! It’s a terrible “club” to belong to, but it sure does mean there are lots who can understand what we’re going through. I hope I can offer the same support and encouragement to friends and family members who might experience miscarriage in their future as well. Miscarriages tend to be a hushed topic (hence my hesitation at even sharing this story via my blog), but as Kevin and I processed things we realized we’d felt such support from the people who were “in on” what we were going through — support we can’t imagine not having during a time like this. For some, the private route might be the better way to go, but for those who would prefer to share, I wish this was something people felt more comfortable addressing. After all, it happens ALL the time.
- I have a newfound respect for my body. The phrase “listen to your body” has always been one I’ve struggled to connect with. I didn’t know what that meant, truly, or how to channel it. But after my miscarriage, rather than feeling like my body had let me down, I feel a renewed sense of appreciation for my body and its intuition — and its efforts to protect me. Here’s what I mean by that. A couple of weeks before we found out we’d lost the baby, I started feeling more distant from the idea of the baby. I realized I’d stopped thinking about being pregnant as much. I was no longer envisioning the baby as an actual being who I would get to know, who would grow up, etc. I mentioned it to Kevin at one point, even. The timing was interesting, since the doctor thought our baby died around the eight-week mark, which would have been about two weeks before that fateful Monday, December 7. I didn’t know it at the time, but my body was already helping me acclimate to that loss — even before I knew I had to. And then that feeling that something was wrong the weekend before we went to the doctor? I think it stemmed from the same thing: my body being tuned in to something preemptively.
- Not knowing what to say is totally okay. I know it was hard for lots of people to know what to say to Kevin and me after this happened, and I want y’all to know how very okay that was. I wouldn’t know what to say to me, either! Just knowing that y’all were thinking of us and in our corner was more than enough. Telling someone, “I don’t know what to say, but know that I love you and I’m thinking of you guys” is the perfect response to something like this. I’m going to remember that in the future when loved ones encounter situations I haven’t experienced or know quite how to react to.
- Life is precious, and the big deal stuff helps put things in perspective. It’s all too easy for me to feel consumed with the everyday, and to throw myself into my work, our busy schedule, my blog, working out, etc. But things like this help ground you in what’s truly important in life, and they help you realize that every day really is a gift. (I know — so cheesy — but it’s true!) Having Kevin by my side every step of the way helped us grow closer in a new way. I appreciate him even more than I did (something I didn’t think possible). It helped remind me that, though those everyday things are important in their own way, they get trumped by the “big” stuff: loss, celebration, new life, family, relationships. I feel more level-set now.
- Talking about it is hard, but I appreciate being asked about it. It’s likely I’ll tear up if you ask me about the baby/how I’m doing, but thank you for asking. I like remembering this tiny being. I find that just when I think I’m doing okay, I’ll get this wave of emotion and feel an overwhelming sense of sadness and loss. I’m sure that will lessen as more time goes by, but I wonder if it will always be there, in a small way. So, when you ask about how I’m doing, thank you for remembering. Thank you for asking.
- Trust and hope are key. After the miscarriage, I worried that the next time I get pregnant some of that pure joy we had with this first pregnancy will be gone forever. I still worry about that. I know in the back of my head will be fear, and that first trimester will include of lots of breath-holding and finger-crossing. But I also think having lost a baby will help us appreciate a healthy one that much more (if that happens for us). After all, so very much in this life is out of our control, and so the best approach I know to take is to trust that good things will happen, and to know that painful things will be part of the journey as well but that we’ll be equipped to deal with them, especially with others’ support.
- Our family is perfect the way it is right now. While Kevin and I would love the experience of being parents, we’ve always known that if for some reason parenthood doesn’t happen for us, we’ll be just fine. Our little family feels just right, and it’s full of love and fulfillment and joy. Of course, there’s no reason to think we won’t be able to have healthy babies in the future, but this experience has grounded us in the certainty that life is so good as it is, with just the two of us. I feel so thankful for that certainty.