Though your gardens grey, I know all your graces someday will flower…
Oh, in the sweet sunshower.
-Chris Cornell, Sunshower
This will be the longest blog I’ve written since starting the Katspajamas site. Though long, I assure you it is necessary to share all details in every aspect and, if my goal is fulfilled, could start a conversation that encourages women to speak about the shame, guilt, and pain that I have suffered recently. This will be incredibly difficult to write. I foresee myself in tears and even wanting to give up a few times before this is over. I’ve known all along that I wanted to share this information on my blog at some point, I just never knew when I’d really be ready. I can’t even say right now that I know for sure that I’m prepared to share all of the details and force myself to come out of hiding. I understand that by sharing my story, I am removing my security blanket and exposing myself to the harsh conditions that comes with its territory, mainly just the reality of it all. To those of you reading this, please know this may be difficult to read, as some of the content can be a little brutal. To my family who has yet to hear of this story, know this is not the ideal way of me telling you, but moreso the only way I currently know how to. It’s so hard to say these words in my own head let alone out loud to the people I love most. I hope you understand.
I’m sure plenty of you that follow me on social media have seen my “Sunflower Monday” posts, showing pictures of some gorgeous sunflowers that I pick up at a local market and display in my home for a week. Then, the following Monday, the cycle begins again. Tons of people have commented and liked these posts and photos, taking in the joy of my bright and cheerful blooms. The truth is, there is a dark secret hiding behind each soft yellow petal; a secret I’ve been hiding for a few months now. I’ve felt imprisoned by this secret to the point of isolation, emptiness, and detachment. Today, I’m attempting to break free.
I had a miscarriage.
Shit. Even typing the words puts the sensation of a golf ball in my throat and butterflies in my stomach (not the good kind). Let me go back a little and get to a point of reference to begin this story. Joe and I have been married for about 3 1/2 years now. Most of that time has been spent enjoying each other’s company, soaking up as much adventure as we can, and being asked by strangers and family alike “when are you two gonna have a baby?!”. Of course we want kids. Of course the dream is to start a family of our own. After 9 years together, we certainly have names picked out, but we never felt in any rush to end the bliss of just us two and say goodbye to our freedom. Well, those feelings lasted about a year into the marriage and then Joe made it known that he was ready to start trying for a baby. I still had some hesitations…it’s a scary thought becoming a parent! What if we fail? I must say his confidence made me more confident, and in December of 2014, we decided to stop preventing and let nature take its course. Naturally, nature doesn’t care about your plans. After a year off birth control and an additional 4 months of really trying, I decided to speak to my doctor back in April about why I wasn’t pregnant yet after all this time. I told her for the last 4 months, I had been tracking my ovulation and following all of the typical guidelines, but for some reason, we still weren’t expecting. After a lengthy discussion, she said the 4 letters no woman trying to conceive ever wants to hear: PCOS a.k.a. Polycycstic Ovarian Syndrome. Instant thought: I’m fucking broken. I was overwhelmed with the fear that I had somehow made the dumb mistake of waiting too long to try and taking the pill for too many years, and now its costing me my future. My Dr said “don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you have it, it’s just a possibility…and even if you do have PCOS, we can still help you get pregnant. Let’s wait until January before we decide to test you and see if you haven’t conceived by then”. At that point, I was pretty well convinced that even though I didn’t feel or believe I was sick, I must be because hello, who tries to have a baby for this long and doesn’t get pregnant? While I knew those statistics were high, I was still feeling really down on myself. I knew how badly Joe wanted to be a father and here I am, this broken piece of junk, keeping him from his dream. For weeks I cried; it was mostly alone in the shower, but occasionally I would cry to Joe, too. He assured me it would happen someday, but it was very hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel at that time.
In June I began to feel a little funky. I didn’t feel bad by any means, but I did feel a little off. My breasts hurt so bad I couldn’t even sleep on my stomach, and my bra and work pants began to feel a little uncomfortable to wear all day long. I was also constantly exhausted, and y’all know me, I’m a night owl! But come 10:30pm I was wiped out and just wanted a nap. Joes birthday was coming up and after having all these weird feelings, I thought to myself “oh my gosh…what if?! What if I’m finally pregnant? That would be the BEST birthday present ever!”. I decided one night, two days before his birthday, to take a pregnancy test while he ran out to grab our dinner. I waited impatiently for the results. When I picked up the stick and it said pregnant 3+ weeks I did a double take, rubbed my eyes like they do in Bugs Bunny cartoons, and looked again. Sure enough, pregnant. Oh my God! I was so beyond happy! Of course I immediately told Rowdy and quickly gathered myself to not seem suspicious in any way to Joe when he got home. He didn’t sense a thing, thankfully, and my plan was in motion. The following day, Joe and I went car shopping with the help of my mom. It was SO hard keeping the big secret to myself. Joe picked out his new car and I kept thinking, am I dreaming? This is too perfect. Little does he know, he’s gonna have the best birthday ever. That night, because it was a Tuesday, Joe and I made our way in his new car to Los Angeles, to Canters, where we spend most Tuesday Yousdays. I had it all set up to tell him, with a gift box that I told him held a very special gift…so special that I had to record him opening it. Once it became midnight, I let him open the box. When he opened it, he pulled out a tiny onesie, got a very happy and shocked look on his face, and exclaimed “really?!”. I told him to keep going through the box, because at the bottom was about 5 positive pregnancy tests. He was so happy he said “I want to kiss them, but they’ve got your pee on it!”. We both laughed, he jumped up, we hugged and kissed and cried. It was perfect.
After that night, we agreed to tell the most important people our good news. Together, we told my sister, my mom, and his brother all that week. Everyone was SO happy. We were so happy. It was hard to not tell everyone because you get so excited you just want to shout it from the mountain tops, but we kept our cool. On the 4th of July, I noticed some brown discharge that was very light. I called my mom and she suggested calling a nurse and asking about it. After speaking to someone, they said it’s often quite normal for women to experience this and not to worry. I was told to keep an eye out for it to worsen or be followed by painful cramping. After reading online forums and seeing how common it was, knowing I didn’t experience any of what was described as “bad”, I wasn’t worried. That Thursday, the brown discharge became slightly heavier and a little more clotted. By Friday, mom was concerned and suggested we see a Dr right away. I left work in a quick hurry and cried as I called every doctor in the area. With none being available to see me, and urgent care not carrying an ultrasound machine, I was advised to go straight to the emergency room. Mom left work immediately and I met Joe in front of our house, jumped in his car, and we took off.
We waited about 4 hours to be seen in the ER, longer than Joe could stay as he had to be at work and I certainly didn’t want to spill the beans to my Dad just yet, so we had to act totally normal. Mom stayed with me in the ER and we kept Joe updated. Blood had been drawn and we were waiting for the lab results. When I finally got a bed in pediatrics, the ER Dr came in, did a vaginal exam, and sent me off to have an ultrasound done. He said from the vaginal exam he could see a small trickle of new blood, but that it was mostly old blood inside me. Cervix was closed, that was good news. When an ultrasound is administered in the ER, you’re not allowed to see or be told anything about the results, it’s just the policy. Only the Dr gets to know and then they tell you of their findings. In the ultrasound room, I was lying there on this dark cold table with a prod inside my vagina, terrified of what they would (or more, wouldn’t) find, and at that moment, all I could do was hold my moms hand and sing…inside my head, I sang a song I believed was my baby’s favorite. Not that I felt him kick or anything when Joe would play the song, but I felt extremely happy feelings when he’d put it on, and to me, that was the baby. As I lied there squeezing moms hand and singing to my baby, telling him to show them his cute face, I felt my mom give my hand a tug; that’s when I knew…she saw my baby. I immediately began to cry. As I waited back in the pediatrics room for the Dr to come in with the results, I was praying for the best. Mom was talking about how she could see the heartbeat. She kept saying “I don’t want to get your hopes up just in case, I could be wrong, I’m not an ultrasound tech” but mom has saracastically (kind of) told us our entire lives that we can bet one thing’s for sure: she’s never wrong. And she wasn’t. The Dr came back and said “Well, we don’t know why you’re bleeding exactly but this is definitely a live pregnancy. Baby’s heartbeat is great and you’re actually further along than we thought. You’re 6 weeks and 4 days. Congratulations!” PHEW! What a relief! We learned from the blood tests that I have the rarest blood type, O-. Only 8% of the worlds population is O-. Basically, with this blood type, any time I get pregnant a special shot has to be administered. My blood, being Rh negative could recognize my baby’s blood as a foreign body if the baby is Rh positive. My blood cells would then attack the baby as though it shouldn’t be there, thus ending the pregnancy. <side note/> The baby would only be Rh positive if Joe was Rh positive…and, ironically enough, Joe is also within the 8% of O- blood type people in the world. Yeah, I know, freaky.</> With this special shot, my blood won’t attack the baby and we would both be fine. The shot was given to me immediately out of precaution and I was sent home with strict instructions to be on bed rest for the next three days and see an OB for follow up on Monday before returning to work. I left the emergency room that night more excited and more relieved than ever. After telling Joe and my sister the great news, I called my boss to tell him of everything and asked him to keep it a secret. He congratulated me, told me to take all the time I need, and was relieved to hear I was okay.
Less than 24 hours later, my entire world was turning upside down completely out of my control.
While I relaxed on bed rest all day Saturday, per the Drs orders, I began cramping and bleeding. It started off mild and rapidly increased to excruciating pain. Chunks of massive, bloody tissue were falling out of me at an alarming rate. Joe called my mom to come over right away. I sat on the toilet, helpless and sobbing. Like a miner, I sifted with my hands through every chunk of tissue my body expelled, searching for something much more precious than gold. I knew this was it. I knew I was losing my baby. I struggled to put clothes on so they could rush me back to the ER. Mom drove me and Joe stayed behind, frantically cleaning up the bathroom covered in my blood before darting out the door to meet us. I think in that moment, he knew the outcome was grim and knew I would be even more devastated to come home to a house covered in the remnants of my traumatic experience. Looking back, him doing that for me is what I believe defines someone as a good husband and partner; when the most difficult and frightening times are staring you both in the face, can they still manage to think of you above all else? He did. And it means the world to me.
This time, we waited longer in the ER. Joe once again had to go to work in order to keep our secret under wraps, but mom assured him she’d call as soon as we knew something. I waddled to the bathroom roughly every 2 minutes to expell more tissue and sift through it to find the baby. No sign. After watching me slowly get paler and paler from the blood loss, mom very clearly explained that she wouldn’t continue to watch me bleed and not be helped anymore and someone needed to do something right away. A nurse came and walked me back, got my vitals, and put me in a temporary room near a bathroom until my room was ready. I continued to writhe in pain waiting what seemed like an eternity for a private room and a Doctor. Mom became increasingly frustrated and everyone could sense it. When they finally got me back into a room, mom called Joe and told him to come immediately. I think she, too, knew the outlook wasn’t good. Before Joe arrived, our new Dr came in and introduced himself. He very bluntly stated “well, since you were here yesterday, I’m not too sure why you’re here today…if you knew this would happen, why didn’t you just stay home?” From memory, I was in too much pain to reply. Mom said angrily “knew this was going to happen?!….what are you talking about???” He said “yes, your Dr yesterday told you that you were suffering a miscarriage.” At that moment, Mom pretty much lost it. She said “no, no he didn’t! He told us she was fine! They saw the baby!” The Dr said “I’m very sorry, I don’t know what to tell you but I’ll show you right here…on your chart. Last night when you left, he wrote acute miscarriage. Otherwise, severe miscarriage.” We were in shock. How could this happen? They quickly moved me back to the ultrasound room again to check if the baby was still present in my uterus. The same ultrasound tech from the night before entered the room, recognized us with a confused face, and mom said “she’s been bleeding today. A lot.” Joe made it up to ultrasound as we were getting started. Pads were strewn out across my bed to collect the blood that my underwear pad was no longer keeping in. Again, as I lied there on the table, holding Joes hand with mom touching my leg, I sang to my baby. Tears rolled down my cheeks and I sang on the inside hoping that somehow by the grace of God my baby would be seen. As the ultrasound tech pulled the wand from inside my intensely cramping body without the squeeze of moms reassurance, I knew my baby was gone. They wheeled me back up to my room and we awaited the final word. Many times, my sister asked my mom if she could come to the hospital. I said no. It wasn’t that I didn’t want her with me, I just know how much she hates hospitals and I didn’t want to subject her to the pain I was currently suffering. It was traumatic enough for all three of us and I didn’t want to place that on her, too. Joe frequently assisted me to the restroom to lose more tissue and blood. On one waddling trip to the toilet, I saw my sister come running up through the hallway. I instantly broke down, nearly fell to my knees and was sobbing “no!!!! No!!! Please, you’re not supposed to be here!” She grabbed my arm to hoist me to my feet asking why I didn’t want her there, but I was too distraught to answer. I went into the restroom crying and Joe showed her to my room. When I made it back to the bed, the Dr entered the room. My sister held my hand. The Dr said “I’m sorry, we didn’t see any sign of the baby. Do you have a religious preference? Sorry for your loss.” When he left the room, I remember everyone crying. I said between muddled sobs “I’ll be okay….I’ll be okay…” though I don’t know if I was trying to convince myself or my family.
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.
I don’t remember anything that occurred the remainder of that night. I don’t know if I slept or didn’t. I’m sure I cried, but it’s all just a blur. The following day, Joe left for the grocery store to get me a few things I needed to recover. Shortly after he left, my doorbell rang. I waddled to the door and opened it to see my dad and little sister standing there. My dad explained how Joe told him the night before at work that I had a bad stomach ulcer (the lie we came up with to cover our tracks) and was in the ER, and therefore why he had to leave work abruptly. My dad was coming by with some things he knew would help. As he was going through the bag and showing off his mineral water, whole grain cheerios, and explaining why they’d help my stomach, I began to cry uncontrollably. He kept asking “what?! What’s wrong??” I told him the truth. He was so apologetic and kept saying he didn’t mean to invade in my privacy. Not until he said “many women lose their pregnancies” did my baby sister say “oh” under her breath, indicating to me she finally knew what it was all about. I made him promise not to tell anyone. He apologized again and gave me a hug and kiss and left. Joe came home shortly after.
That same weekend, Mom and Elissa came over to keep me company. They made me food, ensured I ate a little at the very least, and helped pick up around the house and take care of Rowdy. I was still in a lot of pain so doing everyday things were nearly impossible. I was lucky to have them there to help out. That Monday, I went in to the OB as originally planned to be examined, ensuring the “natural” process of miscarriage was taking place as it should have. When the midwife, Christine, came in to see me, she asked about how I was feeling. She asked me if the Drs in the emergency room spoke to me about miscarriage and I answered “not really”, unsure of what she meant. She said “well, first of all, you need to understand and believe that you did absolutely nothing wrong and this was not your fault. You couldn’t have prevented this from happening in any way.” Her saying those few simple words brought so much reassurance to me, as no one in the ER ever mentioned it. From the examination, she could tell my body was handling the process as it was intended to, and I was blessed in that sense. My body was healthy enough to know something was wrong, and it was doing what nature designed it to do in order to protect me and the baby. She was shocked to hear I hadn’t taken any pain medication aside from Tylenol as women are normally prescribed Morphine. I felt a little stronger leaving that appointment than I did going into it. The following morning, I got a text from Dad that read “stuff on the porch for you.” In the bag was a bottle of sparkling mountain spring water and 2 lemons from Grandma and Grandpa Wards lemon tree they have growing in their backyard. They’re some of the best lemons I’ve ever had. He said “pour the water into a glass of ice. Slice the lemons into thin rounds. Do NOT wash your hands. Let the lemon scent stay on your skin and drink the water.” He was grounding me. He was showing me that life existed outside my four walls, even with all the turmoil I was feeling within. He was helping me in the simplest, most meaningful way I think a father could ever help his daughter when she’s experiencing a pain that deep. It was therapy.
Going back to work 6 days later felt like torture. All I wanted to do was hide away in my house, away from the world so I didn’t have to show my face. I was so ashamed and embarrassed…like I had failed in the most poetic way possible. I was given the gift of life and I lost it. Being in public was the last thing I wanted to do, but I knew I had to seek some normalcy. With every ounce of courage I could muster (and through lots of tears), I told my coworkers of what happened. I explained to them of how I unfortunately had to learn that this was a very common occurrence for so many women and it just doesn’t get discussed, and I wanted them to know that if it ever happened to them or someone they loved, they had a friend in me to reach out to. They were all so supportive and took care of me while I was there. They did more than their fair share to ensure I didn’t have to do much but rest and answer questions as needed. The way my team rallied around to help me was so touching and I could never thank them enough.
The recovery process physically was much simpler than the process you go through mentally and emotionally. Being intimate again, weeks after losing the baby, was the most intense thing I have felt in my life. I found myself in a puddle of tears, so confused and unsure of how something so beautiful and something so horrible can all take place in such a sacred part of our physical bodies. I hated myself for being overwhelmed with emotions as I was sure it only made Joe more uncomfortable, but he assured me every single day I wasn’t in this alone. I knew he was setting his own feelings and pain aside in order to care for me, though he wouldn’t admit it. For the Mother and the Father, the experience is completely different. I’ll never know what it’s been like to go through this as Joe has. What I felt as the person responsible for carrying our child could in no way be explained or shared with Joe, either. And I know how frustrating that must have been for him, because it certainly was for me. I would randomly cry for weeks following. There was a pain in my heart I think only a Mom who’s lost her baby before meeting it has ever felt. Even to this day, now 5 months later, I’m still affected by it in ways I never imagined. It has forced me to feel every emotion possible and all at the same time. I’ll admit I’ve blamed myself. I’ve told myself “this wasn’t just your baby. This was his baby, too. And it died…inside you.” There has been a ton of anger, confusion, disappointment, depression, and even in the hardest times, still a little hope. It has taught me to look at life in a whole new way. I see how precious every little baby is, for only the most divine creation of cells can become the people we are.
Perhaps I will never stop feeling the pain of losing our child, and I accept that. I never want to forget this baby or this incident, even with as hard as it has been. It helps to keep my Monday tradition of getting sunflowers for my little one and holding out hope that things will get brighter. Not too long ago, Joe said to me “how do we get through this? How do we get over it?” And I answered “Maybe we never do…but regardless, we do it together.” And I know that only in doing this together can the love we have for each other allow us to truly heal.
If you have suffered a miscarriage, I hope you can find the courage inside you to tell someone close. Remove the mask you wear everyday and allow yourself to heal. No two women experience a miscarriage the same way. Not all of us will be willing to share our stories. I hope, in sharing mine, someone finds inner peace in knowing they’re not broken, responsible, or alone. If you have any questions or need someone to talk to, I am here.
Every baby matters. To find support and to hear from others like you, visit AmericanPregnancy.org
Thank you to my Mom, Sister, Dad, and Step Mom for having an active role in helping us get through this. Thank you to my MensWe team for showing me such kindness and compassion. And a personal thank you to my husband whom, without you, I couldn’t have ever pulled through the dark days. I love you all so very much. xo