It has been a really difficult decision to choose whether or not to share this. Please be aware when reading about our life that we are still currently living this experience. Things feel different each day and I constantly flip flop between wanting to share my thoughts and wanting to keep them held safe in the privacy of our home.
My last post touched on the loss we have been through in the last couple of months. The truth behind that post is that Tyler and I have been unlucky enough to have gone through two miscarriages in the last couple of months, the most recent occurring only about a week ago.
The reason I’ve chosen to write about and share our experience is, strangely enough, inextricably tied to the exact reason that I am nervous to talk about it publicly. Miscarriages are rarely shared by the women that experience them.
During the process of trying to understand what has happened, there’s a real sense of watching your perceived future morph and become blurry right before your eyes. This uncertainty, this unwelcome tide of massive life change can bury you and makes it truly challenging to share what you are going through at the time.
One of the truths that has really resonated with Tyler and me recently has been the idea that you really and truly cannot plan life. Trying to will always leave you upended. I’m working really hard at keeping my head above the ocean of grief and loss and truly revelling in the idea that one of the best things about life is that it happens to you, not the other way around. Any other perception is, in my opinion, a fleeting illusion
So I guess I’ll jump in and share the nitty-gritty in the shortest way possible. In the summer we made the decision to 'stop trying not to get pregnant' - as opposed to 'trying' to get pregnant ;) What that means is we didn’t make a plan, so much as we just decided to see what would happen. Tyler and I have never been much for closely following convention. We didn’t have elaborate dreams about exactly the number of kids we'd have, what our house would look like or what our jobs would be. We just had vague ideas and we knew we had the stability and love to support a growing family of our own. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t dream about what our life was moving towards, but flexibility has always served me well in life.
So yippee! I was knocked up in no time. I felt proud that my body had (seemingly) accomplished this feat of the beginning stages of creating life. I mean it wasn't exactly how you picture it - looking at the positive pregnancy test and being over the moon - but what in this life ever is? In our case it was just an overwhelming feeling of "woah", "Did we really do this?", "What have we done?" - followed by a growing sense of excitement and awe at the possibility of a burgeoning belly and a drastically different life ahead of us. We told our close friends excitedly and just basked in the feelings of change for awhile. We knew at the time that miscarriage was a very real and normal possibility. We chose to tell friends and family because for us, they would be our support system and we would need them no matter what the outcome was to be.
About 5 weeks in I had a small episode of spotting - nothing major, and it only happened the once. We were told it was normal but following that day I began to sense that something had changed in my body. Symptoms disappeared completely. I felt just like my regular, non-pregnant self. I kept mentioning it to people and (totally fairly) they all replied that I was likely just "one of those lucky people who didn't have symptoms". I have been hormonally sensitive my entire life and I knew this couldn't be the case. At about six weeks I began to bleed and we knew we had miscarried. We spent a (horrible) 8 hour night at the hospital ER and were sent home with the news that the miscarriage had indeed occurred.
The first time it was sad, but strangely it was also totally bearable (keep in mind this is my experience, it's not the same for everyone). Early miscarriages in first pregnancies are super common and I did tons of research that put my mind somewhat at ease. I'm a science person at heart- sometimes a blessing and sometimes a curse. I just wanted all the facts about what had happened to me laid out in front of me. I took a few days off work to let my brain process it all and let my body rest. We made cynical jokes and I cried a bit while my hormones bounced all over the place. Friends and family were amazing to us and made me confident that we had made the right decision by telling the closest people in our life.
So fast forward to August when my doctor gave me a clean bill of health and let me know it was ok to begin 'not-trying' again. Because this first miscarriage occurred so early it was very noninvasive. The embryo had not even implanted and the miscarriage was more of a "chemical pregnancy" than a ‘true miscarriage’. My doctor didn't believe there was any reason for us to wait.
I've been told that you're more fertile after a miscarriage and that must have been true for us because we got pregnant again that first month. It was a relief and scary all at the same time. This time we were super cautious about getting excited. We told our family and close friends again and cautiously waited to see how this whole thing would unfold. It's actually really frustrating to have to be so withheld in your reaction to such an amazing experience. You see other people who seem to just get pregnant, get excited and carry a baby no problem. (Or maybe they’ve gone through multiple miscarriages without saying anything, which is in part why I’m writing this). There’s a whole world of ridiculous terms and slang that get used on pregnancy boards online that most pregnant women will never have to learn, like a secret language that those fighting for successful pregnancies are forced to learn - HCG (pregnancy hormone), US (ultrasound), Blighted ovum, chromosomal abnormality, empty gestational sac, etc - it goes on and on and on. Turns out this whole making a life thing is pretty complicated.
The second pregnancy felt different. I felt strong backaches when the embryo implanted and I had constant pregnancy symptoms. I felt good about this but I had also learned at this point that it's never a sure thing. Long story short, at about 6 weeks I began to spot again. I had my HCG checked and though it was rising, it was not doubling the way a 'normal' pregnancy would. This time I had an early ultrasound and they spotted the baby and measured a heartbeat of 105 (on the lower side of normal). I never actually got to see that part. It was discovered by a second radiologist who reviewed the ultrasound after I had left. That may have been a good thing in the long run as it was probably the hardest part of the whole ordeal. There was confirmation of something tangible in there, something with a heartbeat. I hadn't given up fully at this point, but I wasn't feeling optimistic at all. I knew that in all likelihood I was looking at another miscarriage situation.
I miscarried over Thanksgiving weekend while away with my family at our cabin. Oh the irony, we definitely didn’t feel like we had a lot to be ‘thankful’ for that weekend. It was nice to be away though. I rested a lot. Tyler and I got to spend a lot of time together. It felt strangely natural to be be so close to the ocean and away from the buzz of the city.
So now here we are. This time around we’ve experienced a lot more anger and frustration – not a regular reaction for me. I know in my heart that the anger is just a part of the coping process. We’ve been made to feel anxious about something that should be joyous. We’ve been faced with a lot of possibilities about our future and also the small possibility that we may not be able to have something we might want. Statistically two miscarriages in a row isn’t necessarily indicative of an inherent problem. We may simply have had bad luck. But for me, considering all the options and being aware is actually therapeutic.
It is truly terrifying to share with people that your body has, in a sense, failed you at the most natural and basic task that we as humans are designed to accomplish. There’s shame that comes along with not having control over the situation.
I originally wanted to wait until we (hopefully) had a successful pregnancy before sharing our story with others. But I realized that in doing that I would be doing a disservice to myself and other women. It would have confirmed to me that my confidence was based upon carrying a successful pregnancy to term.
This is the truth of our life right now: we are not sure what the future holds. It’s something we need to embrace. Kicking and screaming doesn’t do anything in a situation like this – though sometimes it feels like just the right kind of therapy ;)
I want other women who may one day go through something like this to know that it happens to other, normal, healthy people. It’s not your fault (pardon the cliches). There is no reason to be embarrassed. You can be healthy, careful and do everything right and you are still at the mercy of the universe when creating life.
So that’s where we’re at – I have some meetings with my doctors for early testing to rule out common miscarriage issues(normal procedure and nothing to be scared of). We’re giving ourselves time to recover, mentally and physically, and just enjoying the good parts of life so we don't get swallowed by the negativity of the situation. I am recently so acutely aware that we live a very privileged life with amazing health care and an incredible support network. I'm scared of becoming the girl who people talk about with pity, the one that has had difficulty and who they're all secretly relieved not to be. I am still the same strong person I was before this happened. A person who still has all the possibilities of life laid out before her. This issue is real and big for us right now, but perspective is everything and I’m working at pulling back and seeing the big picture.
Thanks for reading my novel of a post and feel free to reach out if you have questions or want to share your story with me. It’s been a relief to read about other women going through similar situations – and I also know that many out there have been through way more than me.