Something happens in you the moment the second line appears on a pregnancy test. Something changes.
You start dreaming. Planning. Imagining a nursery, names, and a life that involves your new forming family.
Everything changes with one trip to the bathroom.
Planned or unplanned, pregnancy changes everything. When you’ve been trying for a while, pregnancy is the happiest news you can receive and plan to share.
But life isn’t always that simple. Many women wait up to a full twelve weeks to tell others they are pregnant for fear of a miscarriage. Miscarriage affects one in every four women and if it is going to happen, it will most likely happen in the first twelve weeks. That is why some women choose to wait. Now, I got pregnant with our son, Cooper, very quickly and got sick consequently very quickly. That is really hard to hide for twelve weeks. My husband and I made the decision to tell people the first trimester because honestly, the way I saw it if I did miscarry, I would’ve wanted people to know that too. To many people, miscarriage is a private thing. I respect that because everyone is different. However, have you ever heard the quote that everyone is privately fighting a battle you don’t know about? It tries to teach you to be kind because of what you DON’T know about people’s lives. But why can’t you know? What if someone were willing to share? Would it change things for you or just make you uncomfortable because “people don’t talk about miscarriages”? I will tell you that it has become incredibly obvious to me this past week that people don’t like to talk about miscarriage because I just had one.
I got my positive pregnancy tests on November 1 and believe me we were ecstatic! We had been trying for four months. I had given up all my usual medications and done so many tests on myself to understand my cycles I swear I’m becoming an expert on my own body. We were so excited we told our parents within a week. Seems soon to some but they knew we were trying, and like with Cooper, we don’t like to wait to share good news! I had told a few people at work because if I did get sick or have a doctor’s appointment I wanted people to know what was going on. I didn’t think twice about it because why would I? I got pregnant easily with Cooper and relatively easily a second time. But somehow, the news never sat as well with me. My mom seemed less excited than I expected and as I later found out, she had her own suspicions all along too. I never got sick. I got some low back pain and sore breasts, but I was never nauseous. That seemed odd to me because I was ALWAYS sick with Cooper. Silly me though, I tried to logic through it. “Maybe that just means it is a girl,” or, “they say every pregnancy is different right?” Finally after two weeks, I scheduled my first doctor’s appointment. I was so excited to finally see a picture and get a due date. We had been trying to plan it so I would deliver a baby early summer like we did with Cooper and if my calculations were right, we had been successful. My mom went with me to the appointment, and the doctor walked in with a kind congratulations. Smiling I was just so ready for that ultrasound. So we start and he is quiet. He keeps looking, and looking, but he is quiet. Now anyone who knows me, knows this won’t sit well for long. Finally I get him to break the silence and he tells me that he sees a mass in my uterus but no fetal pole (i.e. early stage of baby). He tells me not to worry that I could just be really early on but that we should do some bloodwork and schedule a fancier ultrasound for Friday. Okay no problem. Don’t like missing work but no problem. Of course they don’t let you see the ultrasound pictures easily when you do those so you really don’t know what is going on so I wait at home unknowing. The doctor called me. That night. At home. That can’t be good. He tells me that they still just see a mass and no baby. That I could potentially have what is called a molar pregnancy where a mass develops instead of a fetus. He wants me to go in Monday for a final ultrasound but if they see the same thing, we would have a D&C surgery Tuesday to empty my uterus. My heart sank. I could not believe it. How could this be? How could I go through weeks of thinking I was pregnant only to have a mass instead?
Needless to say, that was a rough weekend. I prayed like I had never prayed before. I fasted from secular music (as if that would change anything). And when my mom and I went in Monday for that ultrasound, I prayed through the entire thing. I begged God for a fetal pole. I needed to know that there was a baby in there. Throughout the ultrasound, three techs had to examine me. That seemed unusual but what part of any of this seemed normal? My mom told me after that she thought she saw a beating fetal pole and it seemed like the techs did too (of course they aren’t allowed to tell you anything). The doctor calls me that night. They saw a fetal pole with heartbeat! No surgery for Tuesday! However, my hormone levels were very high. He didn’t want me to get my hopes up because my levels were very abnormal. He said we would hold off for a few days, keep testing my blood, but if my levels rose over 100k, he would be concerned about miscarriage.
Monday I went in for one more doctor’s appointment. My levels had hit 160k that weekend. Not good. Not good at all. And the mass was growing. He said he didn’t expect the fetal pole to still have a heartbeat anymore. And sure enough, it didn’t. I had miscarried. I was scheduled for surgery the next day.
All week I have been trying to process what has happened this November. I have tried to be patient and know that we don’t always get to know why. I have continually praised God through my questioning and healing. I have asked for answers when I don’t even have all my questions together. I have had to tell the people who were excited for my baby that I miscarried and tell people who didn’t know I was pregnant that I miscarried. I have had the same awkward conversation hundreds of times as I tell my story and something has become very clear to me. People are uncomfortable talking about it. And if I had to guess, it is because they have NO CLUE what to say. I’ve heard kind things, helpful things, hurtful things, and seen every uncomfortable look there is. I don’t tell people because I want them to be uncomfortable but to share my story and help people know what my family is going through. Private battles are only private if you don’t share. Things are only uncomfortable as long as society says the topic is too uncomfortable to discuss. People want to be there for you but have no idea how.
And it has been a year of loss for me to top it all off. At the beginning of the year, I lost a dear friend who didn’t want to be close with me any more. In May, my best friend moved to another state. In May, my father passed away. In early November, my mother had a small fire. And in late November, I miscarried my second child. I’m not a fan of 2018 and all it had to offer. Not that I can’t see the good God did, but because the pains aren’t something I particularly want to hold onto. I’ve never been good with loss as someone who struggles with borderline personality disorder. It always feels far more intense for me than it does for most people. Loss feels like I lose myself. This year I have truly had to live in my Christ identity because it is truly the only thing that is constant and true. I’ve clung to God and chosen to praise Him in every loss. But it’s a lot easier said than done isn’t it? I don’t have all the answers and I am certainly no expert. But after a year of painful loss, I will say I am learning a few things about how to cope with it.
1. Stay off social media
People mean well, and it is a great tool to keep people informed. But during extreme loss, keeping up with the Jones is the last thing you need to be doing. Give yourself permission to take a few days or weeks off. Even just scan less. It still helps. You can always post and then log off. Social media is everyone’s highlight reel. Very few people get real on social media. I chose to be real during this time and keep people updated but I also chose to spend about half as much time on social media because it is hard to be happy for everyone while you are trying to heal and it is hard to heal when you are seeing all you can’t or don’t have.
2. Talk or don’t talk- it is YOUR choice
People seem to be naturally uncomfortable talking about it. Loss isn’t anyone’s favorite. However, healing is an individual process with no recipe or instruction book. If you don’t want to talk about it, then don’t. Give yourself time to heal however you need to. If that is at home with your family and pets, do that. BUT, if you are like me and need people, don’t not talk about it because of how it makes other people feel. YOU are suffering. YOU are struggling. And YOU need what you need. If you know you need people, be honest about that and LET people be there for you. The best thing you can do for yourself is to give yourself what you need. You can’t take care of everyone’s feelings when you are dealing with your own. You are also not responsible for other people’s feelings. If they don’t want to talk about it, they will let you know but don’t let fear keep you silent. Say what you need to say.
3. Give yourself what you need
Sometimes you won’t know what you need because you will just cry and cry and not know how to feel better. That is okay. It is okay to cry and grieve. Because more than likely, that is what you need. You need to spend some time figuring out what you need. Be honest with yourself and those around you. If you need to cry, do that. If you need to watch a funny movie to get your mind off it, do that. Do what makes you feel better. Better looks different for everyone. It could mean feeling the emotions deeply by crying intensely or it could mean pushing them aside till you are ready to process them. (The therapist in me needs to tell you that you do eventually NEED to process them but do so when and how you are ready to). But use the experience to get to know yourself and learn how to let God and yourself meet your needs.
I could and probably will do an entirely separate post on all the spiritual lessons I am learning through loss, but I don’t feel quite ready for that. What I needed to do was tell my story. Tell everyone what happened and tell everyone that I am not afraid to talk about it. And that while I will probably cry while I talk about it, I am not ashamed of that. I lost a child, a beloved child that I desperately wanted. This week I will get the tissue results to know the exact why and how but I am grieving and mourning that loss. And I love people. I have always been a people person. And I overshare because it helps me feel connected to people. So don’t be afraid to ask me about it and don’t be freaked out if I cry. Just give me a hug and we can all get through this because deep down I believe that people can be good and want to be there for others. They just don’t always know how. Long winded and I’ve said a lot but hopefully someone out there needed to hear my story. God gives us a story and I believe we need to share it because He is glorified through it all.