J* and I found out we were pregnant on February 26, 2013. We had only been trying since the new year, so it happened pretty fast. That’s one really big way God has blessed us in all of this — we know we can get pregnant without too much trouble. Not everyone can say that, and I feel enormously blessed and grateful to Him that we can. (J* is my husband. I won’t use his full name on this blog.)
I took a test around 4pm, the day after my missed period. I had to wait 2 hours for J to get home, but that gave me time to put together my “guess what we’re pregnant!” gift I had tucked away for this occasion. I ironed-on a St. Louis Cardinals logo onto a newborn sized onesie (his favorite team), and put it in a gift bag along with the positive pregnancy test. He pulled it out, looked at it, and it took a minute to process! But as soon as I confirmed it, he was just as happy as I was! We went out to a new Indian restaurant to celebrate.
This was our first pregnancy. We’ve been married about 2 1/2 years and were finally ready to start a family. We didn’t really even consider the fact that something might not go well. Although, when we finally started trying and I began reading up on everything, I started to worry about the possibility of having trouble conceiving or having a miscarriage. I even got upset that we didn’t conceive on the first try. Funny, we did on the second try. Another lesson, looking back, on not making a mountain out of a molehill.
Well, everything did go well. I never really was sick, I only had that ‘pit in the stomach’ feeling as though I needed to eat pretty frequently, even though sometimes I really wasn’t even hungry. I was tired off and on in the first few weeks, and by week 6 or 7 I was tired every day in the afternoons. All in all, it wasn’t a difficult pregnancy/first trimester (although I did have a painful, clotted hemorrhoid around weeks 6-7 — thank you, tilted uterus).
We saw the baby and heard the heartbeat at 8 1/2 weeks, and the ultrasound tech called the heartbeat “perfect.” I’ll never forget that. We even got a 3-D picture, and they don’t usually give those out at their office. I think God gave me that, because it is my most treasured keepsake now. You can see the baby’s little nose, eye sockets, cheekbones, arms, elbows, and legs. You can’t see all of that in a typical ultrasound photo.
The entire time I tried to eat really well, limit my coffee drinking (that was hard!), completely avoid things like alcohol and deli meat, take my prenatal vitamins religiously, and not lift heavy things or exercise too hard. I did everything I could think of to ensure that I would not miscarry. The sad truth about that is, most of the time you just cannot control it. In fact, I think that’s one of the major things God tried to teach me through all of this — you can do everything you want in life, plan it how you think it should happen, but ultimately He is in control. You aren’t. (Prov. 16:9 — we can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.)
Just a few days after I hit 10 weeks, I began seeing my symptoms dissipate, and started to worry. My mom, J, my sister who has 2 kids, and a pregnant friend of mine told me not to worry, that it was the end of the first trimester and that was normal. Still, I had a bad feeling about it. Sometimes you just know your body. (About my friend — she’s one of my oldest childhood friends and we got pregnant around the same time, 4 weeks apart — unplanned! She had her baby on October 8, 2013.)
Then, a few days after I hit 11 weeks, I noticed brown spotting. And achy ‘period’ pain. And dull lower backache. No cramps, though, so when I called the nurse to get some peace of mind, she assured me that I would be fine and that I should just rest and prop my feet up. Again though, I knew my body and I had a feeling something was wrong.
The next day I was still spotting. And then came the next morning. April 20, the morning of my 30th birthday. I had ideas of how great this day would be in my mind… and now I feel so numb about it. Not that my birthday was at all important in the grand scheme of what happened, but still I feel as though I never even had a birthday. And 30 is kind of a milestone.
My parents came over the night before, to spend the night, for my birthday. I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, like I had done so many times before in this pregnancy. I wiped and saw a speck of bright red on the toilet paper. I felt fear wash over me. I didn’t wake J right away; I immediately went to my mom and asked her what to do. She said not to panic, just call the doctor. So I got the midwife on call, and she said to watch it over the weekend, and if it doesn’t get better to go to the ER. I went back to bed, completely rattled.
The next morning I woke up at 8am and went to the bathroom, and I felt a gush of watery stuff coming out of me. Looking back, this was my water breaking/amniotic fluid gushing; it was just so early on that I didn’t have much and didn’t know that’s what it was. My mom seemed to know, because she’s never hugged me so long or so hard in my life. J still was trying not to worry, but asked me if I wanted to go to the ER. He seemed pretty calm, which is what kept me calm in part — the other part of me was in complete shock and denial to what I thought was going on. We had to go to the ER and not the doc because it was a Saturday. I finally just decided we should go. This was 2 days before my 12 week mark, the supposed “safe zone” at the end of the first trimester, when the miscarriage rate drops to like 1%.
I got to the ER and went to bathroom again, noticing 2-3 smallish red clots, about the size of a quarter. The walk back to my hospital room felt like the twilight zone; I was completely spaced out as to what was going on. I told the doc about the clots and he said not to worry, that 90% of the time when pregnant women come in with those symptoms, it’s nothing. But I just knew I was in the 10%. Not because I was overly negative, but because I really was in tune with my body and I knew something wasn’t right. I hadn’t spotted in the slightest throughout my whole pregnancy, and this was just too weird. (Not to worry those reading who are experiencing spotting while pregnant — it happens a lot apparently and most of the time it’s normal.)
We were in the ER from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm. I had the sweetest nurse who kept checking in on us and was really sensitive to our situation. The doctors, not as much. They ran every blood test, did a pelvic exam, and did both types of ultrasounds. They waited until the very end to do the ultrasound, which kind of ticked me off because I just wanted to know if there was a heartbeat. For 5 hours I just wanted an answer to that one question. I gripped J’s hand so hard in the ultrasound room when looking at the screen. I didn’t think I saw anything on the screen, but I couldn’t see well so I tried not to think about it until they gave us answers.
We went back to our room and waited. And waited. And waited. It seemed like forever for the doc to come back in. An hour and a half later, the doc came in and said, “It looks like you might have had a miscarriage.” Seriously. He couldn’t even give us a definite answer after all of this. He explained that my hCG levels were at those of a 4 weeks-pregnant woman, and they didn’t see anything in the ultrasound. I told him that I was almost 12 weeks along, so he said well then you definitely had a miscarriage. Very helpful wasn’t he. All I needed in that moment was a straight answer from someone, and he was still digging around for one. Even though I pretty much knew I miscarried, hearing it confirmed was very hard. My heart just sank. The thing I fought so hard to prevent over the last 2 months … it just happened. And there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.
They left us alone for a few minutes, and then our sweet nurse came in, saw me crying, and handed me a box of tissues. The look on her face was one of complete compassion, and she was so sweet. I know that God hand-picked this nurse to be ours that day.
My mom went to my grandmother’s down the street while we were at the hospital. She came back over when we got home, and I don’t remember even crying. I sat at the kitchen table just staring into space, in complete shock and denial at that point. She was trying not to cry, but she wanted to hug me and J before she left. She didn’t say much that day, but I’m glad she didn’t because I don’t know that any words would have been fitting then.
The next night I began cramping a little. It was painful, but nothing I haven’t felt before with PMS — it was a tolerable level of pain/discomfort. I’m grateful for that. The worst cramp came and then I felt I had to go to the bathroom. I went, and within a few minutes of cramping and sitting there, I passed my placenta. My whole placenta, at home, in my bathroom. It was the size of a softball. It completely freaked me out. None of the doctors or nurses warned me that I would, they just sent me on my way. I was so spaced out with this whole experience that my mind had me believing that this was my baby in the toilet. I completely broke down and started hyperventilating. I ran upstairs to J and threw myself on his chest, weeping uncontrollably and not even being able to tell him what happened. I finally got the words out after a few minutes, but I never felt him hug me so tight. He told me to go lay down, so I did. I then started to feel my whole body shaking, as if it was in shock. Of course I panicked but J made me see that that was probably normal — my body is going through a trauma. It’s going to be in shock.
Looking back, knowing the hospital ultrasound showed nothing, I figured out that one of those small clots I passed that morning was my baby. It didn’t register at the time. It makes me really angry that I had to lose the baby that way, and I’m honestly mad at myself that I didn’t realize that’s what was actually happening — because I would have probably spent more time in there alone. I wish I could have really said goodbye. But I had no idea what to make of it at the time. I was so new to all of this. It’s probably for the best. I don’t know if they would have been able to tear me out of that bathroom; I probably would have stayed in there for hours if they let me.
I went to the follow-up ultrasound at my OB’s office the day after I passed the placenta, and they confirmed that there wasn’t anything left in my uterus. Nothing. The words stung, but I was still in a place of shock that I didn’t even process what that meant. It was all gone — all the evidence of life that was there just 3 days before. Not even a little bit remained.
So that’s my story. For better or for worse, this has really changed my heart. People think that if you don’t have kids, you aren’t a mother, and technically that’s how it goes. But I think I can speak for all women who have had a miscarriage — you may not necessarily be a mother by the world’s standards, but you certainly feel like one. You’ve never had more love for anything in your life. Never had more compassion, longing, and feelings of self-sacrifice for anything in your life. This sweet little child came and stole your heart, and just up and left. You would give anything to have your baby back, anything. You never got to know your child. You may have never gotten to hold your baby, never gotten to see if he/she had your eyes or your husband’s smile. You may never even have known if it was a boy or a girl (we didn’t, although we feel it was a boy). Let me say this for those reading this through streaming tears right now — you ARE a mother. And you will always be this child’s mom.
I know I am a mother. I know that I will see and get to hold my child in heaven. Because of Jesus, that’s possible. And that gives me great joy in the midst of all of this.