Trigger warning: Miscarriage.
When I went through miscarriage I remember one thing very clearly; I remember that discussing the true details of miscarriage was taboo. I remember that I could not find any real life stories online. I remember that not until I opened up about my experience did I learn that many people I knew had endured miscarriage as well. I remember having so many questions and no answers.
As I began to recover from my loss I decided that one day I would openly write about it. I promised that I would attempt to make it easier, and more “normal” for atleast one woman in the future by being raw and honest about what really happens when you lose a baby in early pregnancy.
What I didn’t anticipate was that it would take me a full five years before I was ready to allow myself to be this vulnerable. I also didn’t realize just how therapeutic it would be for me to tell my story.
Yesterday, was April 17th.
As I curled up on the couch late last night with my husband after another busy day, he asked what the date was. I glanced down at my phone, and got choked up.
“It’s April 17th” I said.
He hugged me close.
“How did I forget? It’s the first April 17th that I missed in five years… it’s officially been FIVE years!”
But I can tell you why I “forgot”. Forgot is not the right word- because as soon as I noticed the calendar I did remember… but it didn’t weigh on my heart all day long.. I didn’t stay in bed most of the day in tears… Because I have recovered. I am okay now. Five years later and I am finally able to look back without hurting so much. It will always be a part of my journey, my heart will always feel a little heavier on April 17th. I will never be the same person I once was, But I have finally come out the other side and I’m okay.
5 years ago, I woke up 10 weeks pregnant.
But that night, I went to sleep knowing that the baby we had waited years for, would never make it to birth. His little heartbeat had stopped, and “early miscarriage” was the only diagnosis I was given.
People have this simple idea that a woman who is in her first trimester and loses a baby, wakes up one morning, learns she has miscarried her baby, and resumes previously normal life… This is simply not the case. Not mentally, but also not physically.
In recent years I am enlightened to see the recognition and understanding that some women are finally starting to receive for miscarriage. Slowly, the world is starting to realize that miscarriage is heartbreaking. That some women are affected by miscarriage for the rest of their lives. That miscarriage happens far too often, and that every person grieves this loss differently, and is entitled to do so in their own way.
You see, on April 17th I woke up and immediately felt like something was not right. I proceeded with my day, and went to work… about two hours into my day I used the washroom… and that’s when, (I’ll spare the gory details) I immediately knew that I wasn’t going to give birth to my baby that following December anymore … But this was only the beginning.
For the next 3 months I had to endure the physical loss of my baby all while trying to understand and recognize the emotional pain I thought I would never recover from.
I went to the hospital. While I was there for about 6 hours I had blood work, ultrasound etc… I was inconsiderately placed and travelled through the hospital with two other women, who also believed they were miscarrying their babies.
After some tests and a few hours, both other women were sent home. Their babies had heart beats. It was just a scare. Finally the Dr came to me and said “don’t worry! It’s very likely you just have your dates mixed up! There is no heartbeat, but we do see something; we believe that your baby is only at about 5 weeks gestation”. My mom was with me. My husband was on route to us. She grabbed my hand and smiled. But they were wrong. I knew 100% they were wrong.
I went to the bathroom again, and sure enough, there he was. He looked just like the pregnancy apps on my phone showed me. I emerged from the bathroom in a emotional state that scared hospital staff. Weak in the knees I collapsed and screamed out for my mother “please take me home!”
... I will never forgive myself for leaving him there. I will forever wish I brought him home, buried him, and planted a beautiful tree to grow forever in his memory…
The next part is a little blurry, though I do remember the hospital chaplain was sent to me- I told her I didn’t want to see her.. The Dr came to me again in an attempt to reassure me- my blood work looked normal for that of a 4-5week fetus. I knew that meant I had lost my baby 5+ weeks earlier.
The hospital sent me home. They told me time would tell, but because I was so certain I would get a call from the early miscarriage clinic within the next week. It’s been 5 years now and I’ve still never been called.
I went home and slept. In the pitch black, for what felt like an eternity. I cried so hard that I ran out of tears. My head started hurting so badly that I thought I was dying; Sudden massive hormone drops will do that. The next evening, my husband came home to realize I hadn’t gotten out of bed, it had been more than 24hours, he held me, he cried with me, and he took the next day off work with me…
The following day I was dizzy and not well. We went back to the hospital where they determined I was losing too much blood. They hooked me up to an IV and brought a Dr in. The Dr told me it was time to prep for a D&C.
Confusion is an understatement. It was less than 48hours earlier the same hospital insisted I was still pregnant. Today they didn’t do any tests to check the status of the pregnancy and instead insist I proceed with an invasive surgical procedure to remove anything remaining in my uterus. Suddenly I didn’t feel so confident in my beliefs that my baby was for sure gone.
What if they were right two days earlier? What if I was only 5 weeks pregnant with a healthy baby?
I begged them to give me another ultrasound, and they told me over and over again that instead I needed to just move forward with the D&C.
I explained to them that even with 100% reassurance that my baby was gone I did not want to risk a D&C. Sometimes this can cause scaring on your uterus and make pregnancy in the future next to impossible. They told me of another option: a pill that would essentially put me into labour. I opted for the pill.
I left the hospital and called my Dr. As requested he sent me for an ultrasound to confirm my heartbreak. The next day, under constant supervision of my sister and husband I would start the pill process, which would progress over the course of two days.
Those two days were challenging, painful emotionally and physically, but somewhat healing. I knew I was allowing my body to work more naturally this way, surrounded by people who loved me.
Following the two days I was sent for another ultrasound, at which time I was told I needed to do another round of the pills.
Two more days of forced “labour/delivery” and a fourth ultrasound confirmed that my miscarriage was almost complete. I could now go home for two weeks before I returned for what would be my last ultrasound confirming a completely vacant uterus.
I don’t know how to end this story, because although I am in a much better place today, for some women Miscarriage is not something they are able to fully move on from. It’s not always a story that has an ending.
For me I did move on to get pregnant the following July. My son, my rainbow baby and my second earthside baby was born 3 months later than the baby I lost was meant to be born. I feared the entire pregnancy that when he was born I would struggle all over again with the loss, but instead it brought me quickly to the realization that without the loss I never would have met my Rainbow-Boy. And I need this boy in my life more than anything I can explain.
Stay strong Mamas. If you are or have experienced a miscarriage remember that you are not alone.
And please, if you are supporting a mother who is dealing with loss, don’t say the overused line “everything happens for a reason”, because sometimes it takes a lifetime to find the reason, and sometimes we never know the reason.