Two months ago I had a miscarriage. I was 11 weeks along, just days from telling you, when I started bleeding. It was very light spotting at first—the slightest tint of pink. I was scared, but then again I’d heard that spotting can be a part of normal, healthy pregnancy, so I tried not to panic. I called my doctor and went to an appointment that day. The NP didn’t seem concerned and said light spotting in the first trimester isn’t too unusual. She wanted to give me a shot of RhoGam (crucial when you have a negative blood type like I do) and do an ultrasound to make sure, but they weren’t sure if they could fit me in and since it was Friday, I’d have to wait until Monday. The spotting seemed to stop after the appointment so I was feeling less worried. But on Sunday, it returned and was a bit heavier, more like light bleeding. On Monday, I had the ultrasound and right away the woman said the fetus looks smaller than 11 weeks and then confirmed there was no heartbeat. I was devastated. Lying there on the table as she finished the exam I just kept thinking about the future I had imagined. I loved the idea of having another baby, and so soon. I pictured James growing up with such a close sibling. I loved how it gave us some flexibility in thinking about whether we wanted to have more than two children. I was excited to do the baby stage again even though I knew it’d be tough. I was grieving for my sweet baby but also trying to make peace with a future that wouldn’t happen as I planned.
We talked about the options. The doctor felt like I probably didn’t need surgery and prescribed cytotec and sent us home. On the way out of the office, I went to the bathroom and was bleeding worse. Daniel said that it was like my body was holding onto the baby until I knew for sure it wasn’t alive. Over the next few hours the bleeding became so severe that I had to go to the emergency room. I bled through three pairs of underwear, three pairs of pants, a dozen pads, all over the stairs and the bathroom. The bathroom in our bedroom is all white—white tile, white walls—and by the time Daniel came upstairs to check on me it was like a crime scene. I was faint. We drove to the emergency room. I was bleeding constantly, through the thickest, doubled-up pads, down my legs as we checked in, releasing these massive, grapefruit-sized clots that made me woozy. As it turns out, I was hemorrhaging, so badly that I lost consciousness. The on-call OB was able to give me something through my IV that slowed the bleeding. A nurse, the kindest, most gentle angel, washed me down, changed my johnny, put a diaper on me, and I remember lying there, unable to help her at all, thanking her over and over, turning my head while I tried stifling a sob at all her grace when I had none.
Hours later, I was able to go home, with meds to finish the process.
All of it left me heartbroken, in a darker place than I ever could have imagined. I’ve had depression for decades and yet this wave of it hit me like something new, and worse. As much as I could recognize that yes, of course, it made sense that I was feeling sad—I lost my baby—I have to believe that a lot of the darkness was hormonal because it wasn’t just grief. It was joylessness and anxiety and intense fear that I’d never feel any different than I did then. I tried, over and over every day that followed, to “let myself be sad” like everyone in my life rightly told me to, but inside I was screaming, I can’t! I can’t be here with this feeling for even a second longer! It felt impossible to sit with my pain because that pain felt like fire all around me, urging me to get up, get out.
I talked to Daniel about how bad I was feeling, probably a hundred times a day. I talked to my mom, my sister-in-law, my best friend. It helped in the moment, but it’s always very hard for me to reveal whatever pain I’m in. I wish it wasn’t, but I guess to me it feels like I’m laying this massive problem before my loved one. The codependent in me can’t just leave them with it, unsolved and somehow burdened, so I work overtime trying to show them—prove to them—that I’ll be fine, that I see all the logical, rational ways I could reason my way out of it. I don’t feel this with Daniel, but with everyone else I do. And I guess the reason is, I just don’t believe that anyone can fix me when I’m broken down (a flawed belief, but still).
Maybe during the first week after my miscarriage it was easier for me to be kind to myself, understanding that I was processing a loss, but that justifiable understanding was quick to leave. I hated that I couldn’t pull myself out of this pit of despair I’d fallen into. I thought often about all the thousands—millions!—of women who’d suffered far, far more traumatic and heart-shattering losses, which was less a way of shaming myself and more an attempt to find peace in perspective.
I should mention—I don’t have a way to button up this post. I haven’t felt right since, even though there have been many, many moments of joy and fun and excitement. I still feel as though I’ve lost that baseline contentment I had before miscarrying. The only thing that has helped or healed is…time. Of course. Time is so good like that, isn’t it, buffing all the sharp sides of pain to softer nubs that you can at least hold in your hands without cutting yourself.
I don’t have a lesson or a point, really, just more compassion, understanding, and space in my heart for all the women who wish their babies were here.
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