This isn’t a Google search, but rather my miscarriage story.
I had a miscarriage at 15 weeks on Sept 11, 2018. It was HORRIBLE. To date, it has been the most devastating thing that has ever happened to me, ever… and I’ve been in a plane crash! (I know, you want details, right?!? It was a small Cessna. We crash landed in a vineyard around Salinas, California. I was 8 years old at the time.)
For those interested in my miscarriage story, I’ve included it at the end of this post. Following are my humble learnings and advice for others that have experienced a similar loss. Friendly disclaimer: I am not a licensed therapist or psychologist, and I strongly encourage everyone to seek out professional help if they can.
My Humble Learnings From My Miscarriage At 15 Weeks
I miscarried on a Tuesday, left the hospital on Wednesday and went to work on Friday. I didn’t go to work because “omg I need to get work done” or because I felt pressure from work. In fact, my boss and my boss’s boss were amazingly supportive and encouraged me to take as much time as I needed. Instead, I went back because I needed to get up, shower, get dressed and do something other than Google sad sh*t and look at Pinterest images with sad quotes. Just Google “miscarriage quotes” and you’ll get stuff like this. Some are beautiful, but get prepared for a cry-a-thon!
A miscarriage is not a choice, but we do choose how we react to it. I knew that I could go down the rabbit hole of despair and “why me” and feel quite comfortable there… Set up shop for a while and not budge an inch. However, it wasn’t helping and it wasn’t healthy. I have days when I curl up in the hole and wallow in my sadness, but I try to crawl out of it after a good cry, as difficult as it may be.
Talk About It
Hopefully you have family and friends with whom you can talk about the loss at any time, including the day of, the day after, months after and years after. You will never forget and the pain will never completely disappear. I lean towards face-to-face. Talking and chatting via phone and WhatsApp are helpful, but it’s hard to replace a good ole fashioned face-to-face conversation. It was a difficult for me since I live in Panama City, Panama and don’t have immediate family or a ton of friends in the area. However, I really leaned on my sister-in-law and my friends at work, who were all wonderful. In fact, the experience has brought me closer to and in contact with some people with whom I hadn’t had much interaction, including Carolina from Huellas de Angel. As I open up and share my story, it’s heartbreaking to discover that so many other women have had similar experiences, but heartwarming to connect and share our stories.
It will be a roller coaster… Some days I can talk about the baby and the loss and feel good. Other days I start bawling. I often compare the loss to a natural disaster. The event is in the headlines for a week and nobody can talk about anything else. Eventually, and normally within days or weeks, the media moves on and everyone “forgets” the flood, earthquake, fire, etc., though the afflicted will feel the damage for days, months, years to come. Similar with a loss… Family and friends move on when you may feel the wound is just as raw as on the day you lost your baby.
Ideally, you can talk and share experiences with others who have experienced a loss. I have found that sharing stories with others that have had similar experiences has been especially helpful. Though my friends are extremely supportive, I think that some are uncomfortable talking about it and may not want to talk about it as much as I do.
Believe There Is A Reason
I’m not particularly religious, but I need to believe it happened for a reason. G-d or the Universe knows best… Maybe one needed to make way for another, or I needed to grow closer to my husband, or I needed to get the freelance job that I wouldn’t have if I were pregnant, or I needed to pass though this to grow (and potentially help others in the future…). Whatever the reason, it’s comforting to know it’s there.
Life is unpredictable and and often a mystery, but I try to focus on the silver lining and trust that she didn’t go in vain.
Be Patient & Take One Day At A Time
This is WAY easier said than done. Lately, everything feels like an eternity. I felt like I was pregnant forever. I knew very early, so I was counting the days from 5 weeks to 13 weeks so that I could “feel safe” and tell people. I felt like I waited forever for my period to return, which it did after 8 weeks. I felt like I waited forever to get pregnant again, even though I’m very lucky and got pregnant quickly. Now, I’m backing to counting down the days to my second trimester!
If you focus all your energy everyday on the loss, it will drive you crazy.
I bought a bracelet where I had the baby’s last heartbeat placed upon it on one side, and the other side says “I carry you in my heart”. For some reason, this physical reminder gave me some closure. When I really miss her (I knew it was a girl), I wear the bracelet and feel closer to her. I ordered the bracelet from here.
I’ve heard other moms plant a memory garden or include a memorial stone in their garden. If you Google miscarriage remembrance or miscarriage memento, you’ll find a lot of options. I knew I wanted jewelry, and really fell in love with the bracelet.
The first image below is the baby’s last ultrasound, and the heartbeat that is on the bracelet.
I really love how GriefCounselor.org confronts the question about whether “Time heals all wounds” here. They say that
Time is not a healer. The passage of time may take the edge off of acute pain, but it does not heal pain. On the other hand, time can be used well for healing purposes. When time is used well, in terms of healing wounds, then it is because we do something specific with and within it. We take time and shape it in order to do inner work. It is inner work coupled with courage and honesty that heals all wounds.David Fireman, LCSW from GriefCounselor.org
The wound is not as raw as it was the day I lost my baby, but it still hurts. Each milestone I pass… Leaving the hospital, getting my period, tracking my ovulation, becoming pregnant again, etc., makes me feel that I’m moving forward, allowing me to focus on the future and not ruminate on the past.
As I mentioned, grief is a roller coaster. I probably felt much worse 8 weeks after the loss than I did the week after. Who knows why. I encourage everyone to seek help and support. If possible, check out a local miscarriage support group, or see a therapist with experience in this field.
This learning is a case of “do as I say and not as I do” since I never attended a group or saw a therapist. In Panama, miscarriage support groups don’t exist yet, and I never got around to seeing a therapist. Why? Because it’s a roller coaster… You feel fine one day and miserable the next. Though I never met with a group, I have talked with other women that have had miscarriages, which has helped a lot. Through the grapevine and telling my story, I hear about more and more that have also experienced a loss. I reach out to them and invite them for a coffee to work through some of what we’re feeling.
I’m now pregnant with my rainbow baby, 5w5d. I will never forget my first baby, ever. But I feel positive about the future. 🙂
My Miscarriage Story
I was in Germany for work the week of September 3rd, and felt great. The food was questionable 🙂 , but all in all I was feeling fabulous, excited to start showing. Since I was 14 weeks, and supposedly out of the weeds, I had even started telling some colleagues that I was pregnant.
I returned to Panama on Saturday, September 8th and all was well. On Sunday, September 9th I started feeling some tingling. I wasn’t cramping, but I felt something. Between Google and chatting with a friend (just Google round ligament pain), I figured that they were growing pains, especially since it was my first pregnancy.
On Monday, September 10th I kept feeling tingling, though I didn’t think much of it, especially since it wasn’t painful. Later in the day, I started having some pink discharge, but nothing too heavy. Again, according to Google, pretty normal. See here. I spoke with my Mom, a retired OB/GYN, and she suggested that I see the doctor the next day. I hardly slept that night because of the cramps. They were SO SO bad. In retrospect, they were probably contractions and I should have gone to the ER.
I went to the doctor on Tuesday, September 11th and was seen at about 10:30 a.m. I saw the baby and heard her heartbeat. The baby looked fine, but I was one centimeter dilated. At that point, I wasn’t very worried since I thought that we had caught the problem in time and that there was a solution. The doctor admitted me to the hospital and was going to put in a cervical cerclage, also know as a cervical stitch. See here. At that point, I was more worried about being on bed rest than about losing the baby.
At 12:30 p.m. I was in the hospital bed. The doctor ordered total bed rest, meaning that I couldn’t even get up to use the restroom. Awkward! After about one hour, I started having contractions. They were coming hard and fast. I called the nurses and they gave me a pill to stop them, but there was nothing much that could be done at that point. The process had begun and nothing was stopping what had started. The baby ended up coming at around 2 p.m. She came out in her sac, though the placenta did not. I did not see her or hold her since 15 weeks is too early for that. Though I was devastated, the contractions were so painful that I was partially relieved that the pain had ended. I remember I felt extremely empty and just wanted to go home.
I had a D&C later that night at about 6 p.m. I stayed the night in the hospital and went home the next day before noon.
I will always wonder if something would be different had I gone to the hospital on Monday night, or even gone into the doctor’s office on Monday. My humble advice (to you and myself!)… Don’t be a hero! I think that I wanted to “be strong” and not be one of those women that “freaks out”. Freak out!!! Freak the f*ck out! This is not the time to be noble. This is the time to listen to your body and do what’s best for you and your baby.
If willing, please share your stories. If you’re still trying, I wish you lots of sticky baby dust!