…But I need to.
I am 1 in 4. 10-20% of all known instances. I’ve become a statistic. We read about it and know about it, dread the thought of it, try not to think about it or wonder what it might be like to live through it- but we typically don’t talk about it.
I told people I was pregnant before you’re “supposed” to tell people you’re pregnant. Much of it was because of how sick I was, but there was also the excitement factor. I wasn’t shy about it. Second baby makes for a family of four, and the opportunity for my sweet 2.5-year-old to become a big sister. We told her there was a baby in mom’s belly and she took to the idea immediately, rubbing my belly, asking about the baby and telling us how she would help take care of the baby and teach it things. We were so ready.
Early this week, on solely instinct and some very light spotting, I contacted my doctor and convinced her to let me have an ultrasound. She wanted to brush me off, saying some spotting was normal. But it wasn’t normal for me. Often, I chicken out when advocating for myself in health care. Oh, I’m fine? Okay. I’ll ignore it. I am glad I didn’t let it go this time.
Despite my feeling that something was off, I was in a state of shock when the tech told me she couldn’t find a heartbeat. We had seen the heartbeat already, flickering strongly inside of a little peanut that was our baby #2. To hear it was suddenly undetectable felt unreal. Because my instincts were based on what is usually my own irrational fear, my husband did not accompany me to this ultrasound appointment. After the tech left the room, I stood up alone and got dressed. Tears streamed down my face, but I dried them and walked out. At the front desk, the tech had called my doctor to find out the next steps. I was asked to come in immediately. I wish this choice had been available to me earlier in the day, instead of being told to go a 3rd party office for the ultrasound I begged for.
I got in the car and tried to call my husband, He did not answer. I made it to the first red light before I burst into tears. I felt trapped in the car, at the red light in the left-hand turn lane. I wanted to drive around everyone and get out of there.
Over the phone, I told my husband that our baby no longer had a heartbeat. He apologized to me, like it was somehow my loss alone or because of something he did. He left work to come accompany me to the OBGYN office. When I got home, I had to sit in front of my house and collect myself. My mom and daughter inside, I couldn’t bear the idea of them seeing me so distraught. Sure enough as soon as I saw my mom, I lost it again. We hugged and cried together. My bewildered little girl took care of her mama by bringing tissues and hugging me.
We went to the OB office where we saw my doctor. She explained everything one needs to know about having a miscarriage: that it’s not your fault, it was likely chromosomal, options for a “natural” miscarriage versus a D&C procedure, and subsequent support resources. I told her that I wanted visual confirmation of this news. I acknowledged it was likely the first stage of grief (denial!), but I had to see it with my own eyes. She offered to have the in-house ultrasound tech confirm the news.
The tech was so kind as she sat us down in her office. People are extra nice to you when you are dealing with a loss. She started the scan and said if I was ready, she would show us our baby. We agreed and she showed us the most precious little peanut, peacefully at rest in my belly with no heart flutter. Our baby. She asked if I wanted a photo and I wasn’t sure what to say. I said yes. The ultrasound tech we just met gave me a huge hug, like an old friend might. She left the office and I cried with my husband. When we walked out, we were met with gazes of sympathy from the staff. It’s strange to be on the receiving end of those looks, especially when you think that most patients are just there for their annual pap smear. But you are the 1 in 4.
In the car I told my husband there is nothing off limits in the next days and weeks. I told him I want to laugh still. I want to cry. I want to talk about it and I also want to talk about tv shows, sports, ice cream flavors… whatever normal things people talk about in life. We talked about the irrational thoughts of what we both did “wrong” or what we could have done differently to prevent this. We know it’s natural to feel that way. I told him that I wanted him to talk or not talk, have any feelings he needs or wants to. It is his loss, too.
The rest of the day, we laid in bed together and talked, shut our raw eyes, and played with our daughter. She forced us to both escape and become totally present, which is probably one of the greatest gifts we can have right now.
It’s Christmas- my favorite time of year. I desperately want to enjoy it with my daughter. I told my husband I am “grief-shopping,” aka don’t talk to me about budget. I know it won’t be easy and I will sometimes cry and then 10 minutes later laugh hysterically about something unimportant. I welcome all of those emotions.
I feel like I let my little one down. I was 11 weeks and 4 days pregnant; I was almost in the clear. I had such a symptomatic first trimester- which by all accounts is a “good thing!” I took my prenatals well before I even got pregnant. I know that there was a scientific reason that little heart stopped beating, yet, I cannot shake the fact that I let this baby down somehow. I wanted to protect it and nurture it and be an incredibly annoying helicopter mom to it. But now, he or she is a blessing that I had the honor of holding within me for almost three months. I am sorry my little one. I will never forget, and I’m not sure how to let go.
We don’t talk about this publicly. Many grieve quietly because they never shared their news. It’s very difficult to talk about. Maybe some people want to talk about it but feel they can’t. Maybe it’s inappropriate to talk about it. I have so many mixed feelings about it all. I am embarrassed to share something so deeply personal and difficult but it hurts to keep it locked inside. I feel selfish talking about it because miscarriage is “so common,” yet also something so devastating and traumatic. This is not something that happened only to me. This isn’t just mine. Who am I to talk about it?
I overshare. I am a writer. I write to cope. I write to make sense of things. I want to take the stigma away from talking about it. I embrace and understand another person’s desire to keep it sacred. I have been showered with the purest and kindest forms of love and support from the people I did share my news with, and I can’t imagine going through this without that gift. If it helps to talk about it- talk about it. It’s okay.
We will heal. We are thankful for the beautiful life we have and the beautiful family we share it with. We won’t be defined by this, but we will never be the same.