Soooo... here we are. It's National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. This post isn't about plates and... this is uncomfortable. I don't necessarily want to write about this. I really don't. But I'm that person that googles everything right? I want to be informed, know what's coming, explore the possibilities. So when I found myself faced with miscarriage, twice... I turned to the internet for resources (AFTER turning to my doctor. Turn to your doctor people!) and honestly, got a lot of crap. A big fat load of crap. I got some heartfelt stories, stories of pain, redemption, forgiveness. That stuff wasn't crap, that's not what I mean. But I wasn't looking for that. I didn't need a beautiful story because I wasn't at my place of peace yet. I wasn't looking for how to wrap it all up neatly, I wanted to totally UNWRAP it. So that's how I'm going to give it to ya, unwrapped. It's not neat.
My husband and I got married in March of 2012. I'm not a huge fan the birth control pill due to the risk of blood clots, so we used two methods... hoping and praying. I'm going to advise this method only if you want children, k? We were about to leave for a trip to Miami that August with friends when I found out I was pregnant. My first reaction? Mad. Oh so mad. "Baby, you ruined my vacation!!" (Yes, this line of thinking did result in so much guilt later.) I knew nothing about pregnancy or children so I spent my vacation reading about it and attempting to fool our friends with mocktails. We got home I had my first appointment and we saw a sac and a yolk. Yay! I lived through the disappointment of the vacation so by this time I was totally warming up to this pregnancy idea. We came back two weeks later to hear the heartbeat and still just saw a sac and a yolk. Hmmm... that didn't seem right. Maybe our kid is a slow grower? Let's wait a week and see what we see. The next week we went back and this time used the better ultrasound instead of the one in my OB's office that I lovingly refer to as the dinosaur. No progression. We talked about options and decided to go with the pills at home. If you're interested, yes it does feel like a extreme cramps and a heavy period. We returned two weeks later to make sure the uterus had been "evacuated" and it hadn't. So, despite all that, I had to have a D&C anyways.
Our second pregnancy was just 3 short months later. We couldn't believe it! We're both over 30 and just figured with our luck we'd have a really hard time but it seemed like we were pros at becoming pregnant. Go us! Having a baby wasn't even on our radar a few short months ago and now it's all we could think about. We'd heard the chances of having another miscarriage are really low so we were excited!! It also took our mind off some serious marital issues (more on that later...) and we happily planned our "reveal" to our parents. When we heard the heartbeat at 8 weeks were felt great and decided to tell everyone at Christmas when I was 12 weeks. A week later at 13 weeks I had an ultrasound. We were back in the ultrasound lab and got it.. the face. The ultrasound tech went quiet, said she just wanted our doctor to come give things a look. My OB came in and her face immediately confirmed what I knew already from the tech's face... no heartbeat. This time I put on a brave face and went into the bathroom by myself and cried alone. How could I not have noticed? I didn'thave any bleeding, no cramping, I didn't feel off at all! It was called a missed miscarriage and it just meant for some reason my body had decided not to reject the tissue. This time we chose to skip the pills and go right to a D&C, but we had to wait a week due to insurance.
During this time I struggled with a lot of thoughts and wondered if they were normal. For one, I drank a lot of wine... a LOT. It wasn't so much the quantity as the frequency. Previously I was a wine on the weekend kind of girl, but after the miscarriages, I became a wine after work girl. A soft cheese after work girl. An uncured meat after work girl. I'm not sure if I can describe this accurately but pregnancy is a time where you have to accept that your body is not fully your own. That can be hard for some girls. When you have a miscarriage, it's just a whole other level. You're not going through this for something greater, your just going through it for nothing and it sucks. For me, turning to those "forbidden" food items was a way to... I don't know, take back control? I also worked a LOT and we did weird things like buy a $400 blender because... why not? We didn't have any kids to spend our money on.
Something else miscarriage did was steal my joy. Pregnancy is not the same after miscarriage. You don't share that special blissful time with your spouse where only the two of you know this sweet secret, but you do share this awful 13 weeks of worrying and paranoia together. And I consider myself blessed for just that, as I know late term pregnancy loss and stillbirth is immeasurably more awful. When our first son was born there was this feeling of having earned him. We went through a whole pile of crap to get this precious baby. With our second son, there were no miscarriages. We just got this beautiful new baby... for free!! No emotional price was paid. And it felt AWFUL. I was so full of anxiety I could barely sleep. I just knew something had to be wrong with him, how could we get him just like that? No struggle, no heartbreak? That didn't make sense in our world. Miscarriage is a joy thief.
Another area where I struggled was my marriage. I made the incorrect assumption that I was the only one effected by miscarriage and I did what I tend to do... fold into myself, isolate, detach. None of those things are great for marriage. I can't speak for my husband but I can tell you we both needed each other and for some reason, turned away rather than towards. It was a very dark period in our life. If I could change anything, or give another couple advice for dealing with miscarriage... whatever you do, do it together. Take a trip, get a dog, start running, whatever! But do it together. And don't make gender assumptions about how each spouse will react. I think my husband tried to reach out and wanted me to reciprocate, but I totally shrunk down into my little hole with room only for me and didn't want to come out.
Another strange thing that happened to me as a result of miscarriage is that I became a total democrat. I mean, a liberal, flag waving, champion for universal healthcare, why don't we just all become Socialists democrat. Ok, not that far... but yes, miscarriage absolutely 100% changed my politics. This really surprises people when I tell them, but we got a HUGE bill after our first D&C, and an even bigger bill after the second one because it was performed in a hospital instead of a surgery center. And do you know what the bills were for? Abortion. A D&C is an abortive procedure. The language feels shocking but that's what it is. An evacuation of the uterus. So not only did we loose our pregnancies, insult to injury was added by paying through the nose for it. We spent almost as much not having babies as we did having our boys. I think people just assume that when pregnancy ends the system takes sympathy on you and everything else is free... it isn't. Miscarriages aren't free. I was pregnant with our oldest son Harrison when Wendy Davis wore her pink sneakers and talked through the night at the Texas State Capitol. I watched the whole thing, I was glued, I was emotional, I was passionate, and I had a lot of Christian friends question me and/or unfriend me on Facebook because they thought I was Pro Abortion. Quite the opposite actually, but dealing with miscarriage did cause me to loose my faith in the purpose behind the Pro Life Movement. The system was demystified for me and the biases were exposed. They weren't trying to save lives at all. Did our miscarriage costs drain us and create strain? Absolutely. But I was able to protect my future fertility simply because I had the money to do it.
I don't think anyone would argue that the majority of the traditional Pro Life Movement is made up of religious Christians. And shame shame on us for acting so unlike Christ it's an embarrassment. After miscarriage I would now describe myself as Pro LIFETIME. If we really care about women and their health, their life and the lives they have created and will create, then we need to show it. We need to give more, love more, care more, forgive more, help more, empathize more. We would love on women in such a powerful way that the thought of abortion wouldn't even enter their mind because there would be such an outpouring of support and alternative options. That's pro LIFE.
I didn't then and I do not now refer to my miscarriages as angel babies. I don't celebrate them or talk about them and we did not give them names. Maybe it's because I don't want to think about it as a loss of a physical baby, and more as loss of what could have been. I consider myself a strong Christian, so this isn't because I don't believe that life begins at conception. We live in an imperfect and broken world. Over time I have begun to view my miscarriages as examples of God's mercy in my life rather than a result of this broken world. We do not know for sure what happened with the first, but we know for certain that chromosomal abnormalities caused the second miscarriage. It's bittersweet because I know this baby was a girl and I went on to have only boys, but I also view it as a tremendous blessing that the baby and our family were spared from the suffering that may have come.
So there it is. I hope someone found this helpful in some way. I did.