What I Wish I’d Known

Disclaimer: This is a very honest post about a very difficult topic. While I won’t go into every detail of my experience, I will share what this miscarriage was like for my husband and I, and in sharing I will include some details regarding the physical components of what happened in our miscarriage. If you are squeamish about bodily functions, please don’t read further. It’s ok. I get it. My hope is that in sharing some of these details, I am able to help someone else who may be going through this for the first time.

Shared Grief

“Shared Grief” by KarenW

I promise not all of my posts moving forward will be about pregnancy or miscarriage, but this is my reality right now. And, from what I can tell from the 200+ texts, comments, messages, phone calls, and emails I received after my last post, it sounds like this is where a lot of other people are, or have been, in life as well.

I would not wish a miscarriage on my worst enemy. It’s horrible. I know the experience is different for each person, but I haven’t met anyone who said it wasn’t horrific for them. A miscarriage is a mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual nightmare. I have talked with people who nearly lost their marriages because of one or multiple lost pregnancies. Each person and each couple is going to experience this tragedy differently, but I am going to try to hit the overall themes of what I have learned, and what I wish I had known before it all started.

Your Healthcare Provider is Essential
When I found out I was pregnant, there was only one person I wanted to see through out the pregnancy. A friend suggested Kate as an OBGYN to me when I moved to Orlando six years ago, and for that I am so incredibly thankful. Kate has walked me through well woman exams, PCOS issues, Hashimoto’s issues, fertility questions, and now a pregnancy and miscarriage. It’s not my place to share her story here, but I will say she is one of the most caring, compassionate, and knowledgeable women I have ever met. She cried and prayed with us and for us when we found out the baby had died, and she has been an incredible support since that moment. I trust her, and know that I don’t need to become an internet troll looking for answers since I am in her care. There is no reason anyone should see a healthcare provider they don’t trust. Shop around. If you are pregnant, you are about to go through one of the most formative events in your life. Find a doctor or midwife who knows their stuff, who is kind, and who is compassionate.

Your Spouse is Essential
I could not have survived the last two weeks without my husband. Tim has been more amazing than any superhero that has ever even invented. Like he said in his post, he has never been around pregnancy or babies, so he had no idea what to expect in this process. He has cried with me, prayed with me, loved me, and lead us so well in this process. When he didn’t know what to do, he would ask for help. If he couldn’t ask me, he would ask someone else. In the middle of the worst part of the miscarriage, he called the emergency on-call doctor and texted a friend of ours who had, unfortunately, also experienced two really scary miscarriages. Tim was strong enough to stay by my side, and humble enough to get help. He witnessed me in the most unflattering state possible, short of a full childbirth. I know it was hard for him. I know he felt totally helpless. I know he may have even been a little grossed out. But he never left my side. I knew I loved and respected my husband before, but damn if I don’t find him the most amazing man in the world now. If you are going through a miscarriage, I hope your spouse is with you 110%. They don’t have to know the answers, they just have to show up and be willing to do really hard things.

Every Body is Different
Ok, here’s where things get personal. Every body is truly unique. No medical professional can tell you exactly what your experience will be like because it is truly different for everyone. I know someone who was the same age and at same stage of pregnancy as I, and she only experienced mild cramping through her miscarriage. My experience was an absolute nightmare, and no one could have prepared me for it. I was offered the options of taking medication to speed up the miscarriage process, having a dilation and curettage (D & C), or letting my body process the miscarriage naturally. Tim and I chose to let the process happen naturally.

We found out that we had lost the baby on a Tuesday. I had already started bleeding at that point. Over the next 2-3 days, I started bleeding more. I had been told to expect that. On Saturday morning, I didn’t feel well and the bleeding had increased, so I went to lie down on our bed. Tim came in to join me and just to talk. I felt a rush of something and when I got up, there was blood on me and on the bed. I went to the restroom and I was horrified. In hindsight, I now know I had passed the sac. I thought it was the baby, so I got in the tub and just started weeping. Tim came in, sat on the side of the tub, and just rubbed my back and let me cry into his lap.

I thought things would slow down after that, but I was wrong. We went to dinner that evening, and I felt a pushing-type-pressure in my lower abdomen. The next morning, we went to church and I had to sit through the service. I was having waves of pain that would come and go. I thought I just needed to lie down, so we went home and I rested for a while. We had planned to go look at an apartment and a house that afternoon, so we went to do that. While we were walking through a model home, I went to the bathroom three times, thinking I had an upset stomach. But nothing helped. The waves of pain were so bad, I could hardly stand up without holding on to something, so I told Tim we needed to go home. I had been taking Motrin as directed by my doctor, but it wasn’t helping at all.

I started having what I can only describe as contractions in the car. They were about 2-3 minutes apart, and excruciatingly painful. Tim got us home as fast as he legally could. By the time he parked the car, I felt like I was going to faint and I needed help to get up the stairs to our apartment. When we got inside I went to the restroom, the bleeding had increased. The waves of pain grew even more intense and closer together. I tried to lie down, but that made it worse. So Tim drew a hot bath (with Lavender Dr. Tiell’s in it, of course) and I remained there for about an hour. At this point, the “contractions” were 30-60 seconds apart and more painful than anything I had ever felt before. Tim called the emergency on-call doctor who said, “Yes, the cramping and bleeding is normal”. CRAMPING MY ASS! I wanted to scream at her that this was no “cramping”. I wanted to die in the tub because I didn’t think I could handle the pain. A friend had suggested I squat if possible, and that did help some. My body naturally responded with long, deep breaths to push through the pain. I screamed, I cried, I begged for it to be over.

My husband sat with me the entire time, and it was not a pretty site. I was sitting in a tub full of warm water, deflated bubbles, and my own filth. I totally lost control of my bodily functions and I felt like something was ripping my body in two. I wanted to go back to a seated position because my arms had gone numb and I was shaking so badly. After more waves of pain, I felt something pass and I knew it was over. The pain stopped immediately and the bleeding slowed significantly.

I felt empty, thirsty, hungry, exhausted, and very weak. Tim helped me clean up and get back to bed. I didn’t know if I could ever move again. He ran out and got us some food and made sure I had plenty of water.

I stayed in bed for the rest of the evening and the majority of the next day. I felt incredibly sore, weak, and just deflated. I could hardly process what had happened emotionally because I was so physically drained.

Take Time and Space to Recover
I don’t like being sick because I don’t like being unproductive. My brain told me I needed to be up and getting things done in the days following the previously described ordeal, but my body was screaming, “LIE DOWN!” I have had to cancel some things and give myself time and space to recover physically, but also mentally and emotionally. I asked a friend to come over that Monday morning so that I wouldn’t be alone all day, stewing in my thoughts and emotions. I am so glad I did because she helped me feel less crazy. She just sat on the couch and talked with me, then prayed, and that is exactly what I needed. I needed to feel somewhat “normal”, whatever that word means. I was still really thirsty and hungry so I made a good breakfast and drank tons of water. I also ended up downing some Powerade Zero because I knew I was dehydrated. I continued to take Motrin for the pain and kept reminding myself that my body needed rest. However you find rest, you must find it in this place. Work can wait. Chores can wait. After physical trauma, your body will demand rest. And you can’t outsmart the body. You may be able to trick it for a while with denial or pain killers, but ultimately the body knows what it needs and it will fight to get whatever that is. Be kind to yourself and allow a recovery process.

It’s OK to Be Afraid
I am still processing the emotional consequences of everything that has happened. What I really want is for God or a medical professional or someone to tell me that this is never going to happen again. But no one can give me that assurance. I am angry, hurt, scared, sad, and so many other things right now. If you ever have to go through this (and I hope you never do), surround yourself with a good support system. Talk to people. Journal. Cry. Scream. Go to a counselor. Do whatever you need to do to move through the scary emotions. You don’t need permission and it doesn’t have to be pretty. In fact, if you’re being honest in the process, it won’t be pretty at all. And that is perfectly acceptable. If you are afraid, it’s ok. Like Brene Brown says, “Do it afraid.”

I remember the game Bear Hunt, and it reminds me of what needs to happen in times like this. In pre-school, we played Bear Hunt by going on a scavenger hunt throughout the school while meeting different obstacles along the way. It was my favorite activity because it involved receiving Gummy Bears, which happen to be one of my most favorite treats ever. We would follow large, construction paper cut outs of bear paws that were strategically placed throughout the school and sing:

We’re goin’ on a bear hunt 
(We’re goin’ on a bear hunt) 
We’re going to catch a big one, 
(We’re going to catch a big one,)I’m not scared
(I’m not scared)
What a beautiful day!
(What a beautiful day!)
 
Uh-uh! 
Grass! 
Long wavy grass. 
We can’t go over it. 
We can’t go under it. 
Oh no! 
We’ve got to go through it! 
Swishy swashy! Swishy swashy! Swishy swashy!

And the “hunt” would continue with different obstacles such as snow storms, large rivers, you get the idea. You could never go over the obstacle. You could never go under or around the obstacle. You had to go THROUGH it to get to the bear and earn the Gummy Bears.

This is kind of the same thing. Trying to avoid something as tragic as a miscarriage won’t work over time. You can ignore it or go over it or go under it for a while, but will still be there, and the pain won’t subside until you go through it, preferably with someone or some people who are safe, trust-worthy, and empathetic and kind.

Ask for Help
I am so glad I reached out to people when the worst happen. Our friends and family were amazing. No words can take away the pain of the circumstances, and the most helpful responses we received from people were not words, but gestures or just a simple, “I don’t know what to say. I hate you are going through this. I am with you in it.” Some sweet friends sent flowers. My friend Jessi sent me a box of pickle juice popsicles (she just gets me). Maybe you need someone to run and get dinner or pick up some pads or Motrin. You may want to ask your doctor a million questions. That is OK. You don’t have to do any of this alone. In fact, you shouldn’t do it alone!

It’s Ok to Not Be Ok
And it’s ok to talk about it. If you are out and someone says, “Hey! How are things?” it is ok to say “You know, it’s actually a really hard week for me.” Personally, I believe that sometimes “Fine” is the worst four letter word in the English language. I know for me, as well as many others, there is the temptation to just smile through things and hide our pain so that we don’t make other people feel uncomfortable. But you know what? I would prefer to be honest, and I would prefer others to be honest with me. It’s ok to be uncomfortable. I would rather people be up front with me than try to make things copasetic. You don’t have to blog it or share all the details with everyone, but it’s ok to be messy.

 

I knew miscarriages were horrible before two weeks ago, but I had no idea just how horrible or how much one can invade your entire life. It makes sense to me now. If I’ve learned anything from others and from my own experience, I guess it is this: healing is a process, and no two people will walk through this process in the same way. Have compassion for others and for yourself. Don’t “should” yourself through the process and don’t compare your experiences to that of others, or vice versa. There isn’t a manual for this. Take one step at a time, and let others love you in the process.

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