Two weeks ago, on a rainy Friday morning, I knew 9 weeks was as far as my pregnancy was going to go. I didn’t feel much emotionally; I was numb. Physically, the pain was starting to be intense enough that I couldn’t work, and thankfully my husband Gabe was home and able to drive me to the birth center nearby. We came in the building only to find out there were no midwives in the office on Fridays, and it would be over an hour before one could get there, so I asked Gabe to take me to the ER instead.
I guess I should back up and give a little background about how things had been up until that day. Back at the very beginning of May, I took a home pregnancy test which confirmed what I had been feeling for a few days – I was indeed pregnant. I definitely felt a mix of excitement and fear. Life as we knew it was about to be forever changed. Gabe and I didn’t plan to share the news with anyone until after I had my first pre-natal visit at the end of June. I always found women who said they loved being pregnant to be slightly annoying and I wondered how that could be realistic, but now I understand. My first weeks of pregnancy were not what I expected. Most of my friends who have been pregnant have been exhausted and suffered with a lot of morning sickness, but my experience was different.
I generally wake up with neck pain each morning, but once I discovered I was pregnant, it dawned on me that I hadn’t been having the pain I normally did. My uneducated guess is that this was due in part to the increase in hormones flooding through my system during that time. I honestly had not felt that good in at least a few years, so I was treasuring every day of feeling great and told Gabe on several occasions how nice it was to not be in pain each day! I was able to continue playing volleyball about once a week and felt like I had even more energy than usual when I played – it was a little weird but I enjoyed the extra boost. I kept waiting for the morning sickness to arrive, but it never did. The only symptoms I experienced were breast tenderness and more frequent urination.
My first inkling that anything was wrong was probably a week or two before I actually had confirmation of the loss. I had started to wake up with my normal neck pain again in the mornings and I didn’t feel the rush of energy that I had before. I had also started feeling awful each afternoon, aching and just feeling off. I tried to brush it off, hoping it was just my shifting hormones. A few days later, I noticed some light spotting and did some research into causes of this. After seeing that bleeding COULD be normal in early pregnancy, I tried not to stress about it and was hoping it would stop the next day. Sadly, it didn’t stop and was starting to get heavier, accompanied by cramping. At this point, I knew something was definitely wrong but I hadn’t accepted that it was necessarily a miscarriage yet. That night I was in fairly serious pain most of the night and our dog seemed to sense something was wrong as she cuddled up to me. At the time, it felt like gas pains to me and I was confused by that feeling and just wishing I could get to sleep. The next morning was when my husband brought me to the ER, as I mentioned at the beginning of the post.
The ER took my vitals and did blood tests to check my HCG levels, CBC, and white blood cell count. They then performed both abdominal and transvaginal ultrasounds and a pelvic exam. Things I didn’t expect – both ultrasounds were painful, especially the one on my belly. It took almost 20-30 minutes of them pressing and prodding for them to complete both ultrasounds and I was just wanting them to be done. This was not at ALL like the movies where you can see the screen and images of your child. The screen was turned away from us and the ultrasound tech said absolutely nothing to us. She said she wasn’t allowed to tell us what she saw as only the nurse could, so that was a terrible feeling just laying there in pain, bleeding, and not knowing if she saw evidence of an ectopic pregnancy or not.
After almost 2 hours of waiting on my blood tests and ultrasound results to come back, the nurse came in to talk to us. Apparently the sac in my uterus was empty, so they assumed I had a miscarriage, but because they couldn’t definitively confirm that, there was still a chance it could be an ectopic pregnancy, which caused a little fear to well up inside me. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the egg implants into the Fallopian tubes instead of into the uterus, and it can be life threatening if it ruptures. The nurse said she didn’t think it was ectopic but that I would need to return in 48 hours to have my HCG levels tested again to make sure they dropped appropriately. If they didn’t drop, that would mean it was likely an ectopic pregnancy and I would need immediate surgical intervention. At this point because of the amount of blood I had lost, I was coming to terms with the fact that I had miscarried, but still had a little fear since the tests were not conclusive.
The hospital sent me home and let me know I could take Tylenol for pain. While I was at the ER, I was having moderate pain every few minutes that felt like intense cramping, but once I got home, the pain increased quite a bit. I took a dose of Tylenol, but felt no relief at all. The pain was so intense that I was trying every position possible to make the pain better. Every 1-2 minutes it would hit me. I imagine it was similar to labor contractions as my uterus was working to pass the remnants of the baby, but I just wasn’t prepared for how painful that would be. Thankfully, my husband grabbed me some Extra Strength Tylenol along with a heating pad and the combination finally helped with the pain enough for me to sleep. The next day I was in much less pain, which was such a relief.
After 48 hours, we returned to the ER and my blood tests showed my HCG levels had dropped as expected, but they were not yet at zero, so they told me I would need to come back each week until they dropped to zero. If it didn’t hit zero, that would mean there was still fetal tissue left that did not pass on its own, and this could cause an infection. The nurse said she didn’t see evidence of anything left to pass, but unfortunately I realized that wasn’t true after we had left. Though I’m not usually a fan of medical interventions, if I had to do it over again, I would have asked them to perform a D&C (dilation and curettage) at the 48 hour visit because I believe that would have allowed for a safer healing process instead of waiting and wondering if my body had completed the process on its own. Before we left, the nurses provided me with a hand-knit heart to acknowledge my loss and also gave me resources for support after the loss, which was a sweet gesture.
Sharing & Support
We decided to let our immediate family know and were grateful to have their support and prayers in the midst of our grief. Gabe was (and still is) so supportive and loving through all of this, even cancelling a trip he was supposed to go on to stay and take care of me. I’m so grateful for his love and care for me, and the nights he allowed me to just cry. I also reached out to a close friend who I knew had gone through a miscarriage a few years back, and it was so incredibly helpful to be able to talk to her about everything I was feeling through this whole process. Though it’s incredibly common, it seems like miscarriage is something a lot of people keep to themselves (and I completely respect that), but when I hold my emotions in, they tend to consume me in a way that’s not healthy. I’m grateful for this outlet of writing to share about my feelings and experience. I debated whether or not to share this experience on here, but ultimately it feels like the right time to share. I am available to talk with anyone who has gone through this, and would love to pray for you and just talk through things with you, should you ever need a listening ear.
Emotions & Feelings
- Grief – it comes in waves. Some days I feel pretty much back to “normal”, but then others I tear up at certain things. Father’s Day last weekend was a tough one – I felt an incredible sadness at what we had hoped would be a joyful time of celebrating a new life and Gabe becoming a father.
- Anger – I felt this when finding out that my employer (and apparently many other employers) didn’t offer bereavement leave for a loss like this. I feel like this belittles the traumatic experience and pain. Even with no funeral, there should be an allowance for just a day of leave without needing to use PTO. I’m hoping to advocate for changes to policies like this in the future.
- Guilt – Even though the nurses made sure to let me know that “it’s not your fault” and that most miscarriages happen due to chromosomal incompatibility, I still have feelings of wondering if there was any way I could have prevented this from happening. What if it was something I did, didn’t do, ate, etc.
- Isolation – I haven’t wanted to be around people much the past few weeks and just wanted to be home with Gabe and Sasha (our dog). I have a good poker face and have been around a few people and tried to act normal, but inside I don’t feel like myself yet.
- Motivation & Joy – I feel like I completely lack these two things. I don’t think I would go so far as to say I’ve been depressed, but close to that. I’m having a hard time enjoying anything or looking forward to anything.
- Faith – It’s hard not knowing the cause or if it was preventable in any way, but that’s something I’m trying to work through and we’re placing our faith in God that His timing is perfect and that hopefully we will have another chance at creating a precious child together.
Moving Forward – Things I Have Learned Over The Past Few Weeks
- Don’t feel like you have to suffer in silence – find someone you trust that you can confide in, cry with, and share your thoughts and fears with them.
- Allow yourself time to rest and heal. Responsibilities and work can wait for a while.
- Once you’re feeling up to it, try to get some movement in each day – I have enjoyed just taking walks and spending more time outdoors lately. It’s helped me balance my emotions each day.
- Try to focus on any positive aspects of life, post loss. For us, we will have time to move into our new house and work on improvements which will be easier now that I’m not pregnant/limited on what activity I can do. I will also now have a chance to hopefully get into better physical shape and focus more on my nutrition before we try again.
- I’ve become a lot more sensitive about asking questions of other people about children and family, which I hadn’t thought much about in the past. Asking if and when someone is planning to have children can come from a sincere place, but can also be a hurtful and invasive question if someone has been struggling with infertility or has experienced a loss. I would generally recommend not asking these types of questions unless someone volunteers personal information.
- Hearing things like “at least you can get pregnant”, “it’s for the best” or “now you can drink again!” aren’t helpful sentiments, though well-meaning.
- Life is incredibly precious. This has really put into perspective for me that the ability to have a child is truly an amazing gift from God and I still hope we are able to experience that one day.
- There is hope. This experience has made me hesitant to want to try again and possibly experience loss again, but I’ve talked to several women who have told me they had multiple miscarriages, but went on to have several children after that.
I appreciate you taking the time to read through this very long post; it’s been so helpful for me to be able to have this outlet to help process my thoughts and feelings. The Scripture below has been an encouragement to me lately and I hope it will encourage you too.
Psalm 34:18 – “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”