Warning: This post contains graphic and/or triggering material that might be difficult for some readers. Please continue with caution.
This week would have been when we announced our pregnancy. Now, it is the week we choose to share about our loss.
We have talked a lot about how we would open up about miscarrying our first baby, but finding the right words has been challenging.
Now that we are a couple months past the event and have had time to grieve with one another and communicate together about what happened, we have finally gathered some thoughts that attempt to capture what we have experienced during the first part of the new year.
2019 didn’t begin how we thought it would.
We celebrated New Year’s Eve with friends and I distinctly remember dancing with Justin to the Hawaiian version of “Over the Rainbow” in the moments after the clock struck 12.
We had spent all of 2018 trying to conceive (TTC) — exactly one year — and as defeated as I felt, I was abundantly hopeful that 2019 would be our year. I had already made an appointment with my OBGYN to begin discussing fertility testing; an appointment I was oddly looking forward to later in February.
I had reached the point in our TTC journey where I wanted answers. Why was it that we tried for a year without success? I needed to know if Justin and/or I were facing fertility barriers and if we were, I wanted to do whatever we had to, to fix it so we could move forward.
So, as we danced into the New Year, that is what we whispered about to each other — our hope for a baby in the months ahead.
Then, on the second Thursday of January, Justin and I got the surprise of our life as we found ourselves staring at a “yes +” on a home pregnancy test. To say we were excited would be an understatement.
Finally! We had spent an entire year dreaming about what this moment would be like and FINALLY here we were.
Pure bliss is the only way I can describe what I was feeling. I don’t think I have ever been that happy in my entire life.
Justin was convinced right away it was a Disney baby since we took a last minute trip to Walt Disney World in December. The fact that he was so adamant about this makes my Disney-loving heart do somersaults.
To top it off, our due date was mid September, making this little babe the ultimate wedding anniversary gift for us.
I swear, nothing makes you fall more in love for your partner than knowing that together you created such a precious miracle. And let me tell you, if you have ever tried for an extended period of time to get pregnant, then you know that conceiving is, in fact, a miracle.
I began experiencing pregnancy symptoms almost immediately. That’s actually the reason I took a test at all. I hadn’t missed my period yet but I woke up very nauseous three mornings in a row. On the third morning I threw up while brushing my teeth, so I knew something was going on.
To be honest, it was really wonderful to feel sick, have sore boobs, and experience extreme fatigue — these were my first signs that I was finally pregnant and I loved every bit of it.
The first test I took showed a very, very faint positive line (you could barely even see it). I tested again the next day and got another faint positive. Then, fed up with the faint lines, I bought a digital test, which confirmed that we were expecting.
Everything felt so right and so perfect. Until it didn’t anymore.
About a week after we got our positive pregnancy test, I started spotting.
I don’t think I will ever forget that morning, either. I was getting ready to leave the house to go to work, and I decided to use the bathroom before heading out. When I sat down on the toilet I noticed a little bit of brown blood. When I saw it, my heart felt like it dropped from my chest. It was as if time stopped and I had absolutely no idea what to do. I was so nervous that I didn’t even tell Justin right away.
Instead, I turned to Google and learned that “spotting, especially brown spotting, in early pregnancy is common.” Everything I read said that as long as it doesn’t turn bright red, get heavier, or accompany cramping, it’s probably nothing to worry about.
I tried to remain calm, but the next day my spotting did get a little heavier (but was still considered spotting).
Panicking, I called my OBGYN’s office.
The triage nurse I spoke with recommended I come in for blood work to test my HCG (the pregnancy hormone) level. I needed to go in for blood work that day and then 2 days later so they could see if my HCG was rising (HCG rises at a rapid rate in early pregnancy) or if the number was trending down (the sign that a loss is inevitable).
My husband went with me to that first blood draw, but it was such a quick, in-and-out procedure that I asked him not to go with me to the next one.
It unfortunately worked out that my second blood draw was on a Friday and my lab results didn’t come back before the weekend. I spent those next few days in a state of fear.
I just knew in my heart that something wasn’t right, and at that point, all those wonderful pregnancy symptoms I had been experiencing were gone.
Then, on Monday (MLK Day), it happened. I still hadn’t received the results of my second blood draw, but it didn’t matter. That evening my brown spotting became a bright red gush of blood — just as I had been cautioned about.
At that moment, I knew I had lost our baby, and all I kept crying out was “no, no, no.”
The cramps soon followed as I sat on our bed and sobbed for hours. I couldn’t look into Justin’s eyes without crying even harder.
I cried from the physical pain I was in but mostly from the dreams I had for this baby that would never be — a baby that was so wanted and already loved.
It is crazy how one day you are living the most wonderful high of your life and then the next it is jerked out from under you.
I never knew what happens to a woman’s body when she experiences a miscarriage, and I hoped I would never have to find out.
The pain from the contractions was unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life, and the amount of blood I lost was traumatic.
Justin told me later that, that night I even cried while I slept.
I know that what happened is not my fault but that did not stop me from repeatedly apologizing to him that night and into the next day.
I called my OBGYN’s office first thing the next morning to let them know what happened and find out what I needed to do next.
I have said this multiple times at this point, but God bless the triage nurse who took my call that morning. Trying to explain to a complete stranger over the phone that you think you had a miscarriage and why you think that is not easy, but she handled me with such care and compassion, and she got me answers as fast as possible.
After speaking with my doctor, the nurse asked me to come in for blood work as soon as I could that morning. They would put a rush on the results and compare my HCG with the results from Friday’s blood work to see if my hormone level was declining.
Unfortunately, my husband absolutely had to be in an all-day training for work (he had just started a new job) and he couldn’t take me for blood work. I felt so terrible for him that after the night we had just experienced, he had to get up and go to work as if nothing had happened. I know it took a toll on him, too.
As I drove myself to my doctor’s office that morning, I screamed out as loud as I could and beat my hands against my steering wheel in anger. I was so mad that this happened to us.
It was cruel that we spent an entire year trying to conceive this baby and then it was taken from us in an instant. It wasn’t fair.
When I arrived at my OBGYN’s office, I was in a daze. The nurse I talked to on the phone that morning came out into the waiting area, though, and put her arms around me. I didn’t know her and she didn’t know me, but it didn’t stop her from being a compassionate human. I will forever be thankful for this woman’s kind gesture because up to the point, the only other person who knew what was happening was my boss.
I needed that hug from that sweet nurse more than she will ever know.
My blood work that day compared with my blood work from Friday confirmed that I was experiencing a loss, and my OBGYN wanted me to come back later that week for more blood work and then once a week until my HCG fell below 5 (a negative pregnancy test).
After the miscarriage, I spent 3 days recovering at home and trying to process what happened.
It was so much to take in, and I was in disbelief for days.
Plus, when you have a miscarriage, your body doesn’t go back to normal overnight. It’s not as simple as, one day you’re pregnant and now you’re not; Time to move on.
My hormones especially were off balance for several weeks after. I would go into fits of rage, cry, feel euphorically happy, feel nothing at all, feel extreme loneliness, and sometimes feel completely normal, and I could not control any of it.
As I navigated the uncertainty each day, I would ask Justin to be patient with me. I knew my inconsistent mood was impacting him, too.
From the time I started spotting to the day my HCG level was confirmed as negative, it was 7 weeks. That is nearly 2 months of hell, going to my OBGYN’s office at a minimum of once a week to have a needle stuck in my arm and blood pulled out.
Those 7 weeks of blood work were probably the most painstaking part of the entire loss. It took so long for my HCG to fall below 5 — which means during those 7 weeks after I miscarried, my hormones were high enough that they would have still triggered a positive pregnancy test.
Each week I went to my doctor’s office for another blood draw, I prayed it would be the last one. It’s an OBGYN’s office so naturally most of the patients in there are pregnant.
Looking at all those women week after week with their beautiful baby bumps was crushing. I cried as I left the doctor’s office following each blood draw, and as the weeks went by, it was a constant reminder that I was not pregnant.
I couldn’t move forward and heal emotionally until I could put that awful part behind me, and I was relieved when I received a note from my doctor saying that my HCG was finally a negative after my last blood draw.
It has been a long few months for Justin and myself, but I feel like our relationship grew stronger from this entire experience; as things became tougher, we leaned into each other harder and harder. We also have had to have some really (really) difficult conversations, and I am proud of the way we have communicated with one another.
As crazy as it might sound, I want to end this post on a positive note. The last few months have been difficult, that is for sure, but there are several things I am thankful for that I keep coming back to after our miscarriage:
- I am thankful we were able to conceive at all. Even though the pregnancy ended in loss, it is still a good sign that we can get pregnant on our own. After trying for a year, this is truly a relief to know.
- I am thankful I was at home when it happened. Home is my safe space and where I am most comfortable.
- I am thankful my body took care of itself and I did not require medical intervention.
- I am thankful for an abundantly supportive and understanding supervisor at work.
- I am thankful for the love of family and friends. Telling them we miscarried was not easy since no one even knew we were pregnant.
- Finally, and most importantly, I am thankful I have the husband I do. There is absolutely no way I could face the struggles of the last several months with a lesser man by my side.
Thank you, friends, for giving me the space to share this very personal narrative. It was important to me and to my healing to get these words down.
I have been fairly open during our TTC journey over the last year, which is something that has helped me push on month after month. Being able to connect with kind souls who have experienced similar circumstances has been a blessing. I am thankful that I have this space and the capacity to open my heart to whoever wants to read, and I am thankful for those who take the time to respond with sweet words and even share their own stories. Those genuine connections are incredibly valuable when you’re in the thick of it all, and as Justin and I work to move forward with our year and desire to conceive again, my hope is that: 1. We will be blessed with a healthy, full-term pregnancy soon, and 2. I can be a comforting voice to anyone facing difficult times such as those we’ve been through, because those who have been there for us during our darkest moments have provided more comfort and hope than they will ever know.
And hope is certainly what I am clinging to at this moment.