Before I start this blog entry I want to warn you that I’m going to be brutally honest about my miscarriage experience. That means I’m going to be talking about blood, a lot of it. I’m going to be talking about female body parts and a fetus. If this is too much for you, or you feel it’s in bad taste, quit reading here. When I lost Nash and began writing, I had more women write me about their miscarriages than anything else. They usually said something along the lines of, “I know it’s not what you went through,” or “I know I can’t understand you, but.” I feel I owe it to these women to tell this story with as much transparency as I can.
Let me just start by saying I’m appalled and embarrassed to be a 37 year old female who knew very little about miscarriages. I think most of my embarrassment is becasue half the women I know have had them and that includes my sisters and best friends. Not until I found out my babies’ heart stopped beating did they tell me their stories. Stories they consider the worst time of their life. So, if this was the worst time of their life and these people are close to me, how am I just hearing these stories now? I’ll tell you why. As a society, we are told miscarriages happen and they happen often. This is a fetus, not a baby; therefore, it shouldn’t be sad. Oh, and if it’s in the first trimester, it doesn’t even count. To a lot of people it’s like the equivalent of a hangnail. We are even told not to share our pregnancy news until we are in our second trimester. Why? Because our chances of losing them are high, so why tell people and go through telling them you lost the “fetus”. I’ll tell you why!! The minute those pink lines appear on a pregnancy stick, you are a mother. The excitement, the planning, and everything that goes into the joy of knowing you will bring a baby into this world is palpable at this time more than any other. A lot of woman who have miscarriages never carry one child to term, but have miscarried on several occasions. I can’t think of a woman more deserving of the title mother than one who has put her health and fear on the back burner just to have the chance to have a baby of their own.
When I thought of a miscarriage, I thought of a cramping and some bleeding. Yep, that’s what I thought. I think like all women, the fear of finding blood in your underwear was an ongoing fear until you reach that pivotal second trimester. I remember looking frequently and breathing a sigh of relief that nothing was there. Yes men, us women do that. If your wife is pregnant, ask her. She will tell you she has checked her underwear for blood on more than one occasion. So, imagine if one day she finds it….alone. Women do this at home all the time. They go from being excited at the thought of becoming a mother, to blood in their underwear. What’s worse is that they are told not to talk about it. That although it’s sad, they can try again. Or, at least it’s early. Are these things true? Absolutely. Does it make their loss less heartbreaking? No! They have the right to go through the grieving process. We should be embarrassed as a society that we don’t let them have that. That we make them feel like it’s nothing and a weird thing to even grieve.
I had my miscarriage at 15 weeks. That means I was in my second trimester. What this means to me now, is there is no safe zone. I did what most women do and shared my news once I got past that pivotal mark. I held my excitement in for twelve excruciating weeks before I shared. In the end, it didn’t matter anyway. Did it hurt more to tell people I lost the baby? No, it helped to have support. It helped to know people knew we were experiencing a loss.
For a week, I walked around knowing my baby was gone, but still carrying it. It’s a strange and emotional time. Every time I would take my shirt off, Crue would point to my belly and yell baby. I tried hard to quit rubbing my belly, but couldn’t. I drank caffeine and took medicine I wouldn’t normally, knowing the baby was gone. It was hard to tell my mind something my body hadn’t gone through yet. Emotionally, I was in a good place compared to most I think. I’ve been through the worst tragedy of my life. Once you have lost a child, it’s hard to trump that. If I had an overwhelming emotion, it was anger. To be frank, I was pissed off we were going through this. I grieved the loss of the pregnancy more than the baby, if that makes sense.
The morning I woke to be induced, I was irritable, moody, angry and quiet. I could barely look at Todd. For some reason that morning, more than any other time, Crue could not quit talking about the baby. Even Todd thought it was strange because we hadn’t talked about it in front of him. When we pulled into my in-laws to drop Crue off, he gave me a hug and I started crying. He calls me baby since I have been pregnant and as I handed him off to his dad, he said, “bye bye baby”. I broke down in tears.
Arriving in the labor and delivery ward was emotional. You can hear newborns crying and most people are walking through the hallways happy, with flowers and balloons. The room we had was like any other delivery room, equipped with a bed for baby. I looked at the erase board in front of me. It had my name, followed by Todd’s under support person. Boy did that have a whole new meaning today. The objective/goal was pain control. My bed was lined with those paper pads and as I put my gown on in the bathroom, they had it fully stocked with pads, washcloths, towels, and those beautiful mesh underwear. To say I was freaked out was the understatement of the century. It was like in those mafia movies where they have the room lined with tarps right before they shoot someone, you know to make the cleanup easier.
Our nurse’s name was Amy and she was a complete godsend for us that day. I asked her every question I could think of. Knowledge was power and I wanted to know exactly what to expect. First question, “am I going to bleed a lot?” Second question, “what will you do with the baby?” Third question, “is this going to be like labor?” Fourth question, “when will I know it’s time to push?” This would be my first vaginal birth. I had contracted with both boys so I knew what labor felt like, but I had never actually pushed a baby out. She said the bleeding would be like a heavy period and would mostly follow the babies arrival. She explained because I was a week out, that my body may have already started taking care of the fetus and she wasn’t sure what to tell me to expect. She said it would feel like labor,but because the baby was small, I would only have to dilate so much. I explained that we didn’t want our baby to go to medical waste. It’s weird because I felt embarrassed, like all those cliches tell you that you should. I felt embarrassed calling it a baby. I felt embarrassed caring where it went. I felt wrong asking if we could see it. The luxury of going through a tragedy like we did with Nash , if there is one, is that I have learned screw what everyone else thinks. We have to do what’s going to help us most. We have to live with our choices. I explained we wanted to see the baby, but if for some reason she felt we may not want to, I would have her describe it before she let us look so I could make a better decision.
A resident came in and gave me medication orally and vaginally. She said you will most likely feel something in the next hour and in three hours we will check your dilation. I was told if I felt pressure before then, to ring for the nurse. To me, taking the medication felt like having a forced abortion. I wanted this baby, so willing myself to take medication to get it out of me was emotional and scary. Hours went by and nothing. I was preparing myself that this may take a while. Right before they were to come in and give me more medication, (so about three hours later), I started to cramp. At first it wasn’t bad, nothing I couldn’t handle. It was quickly getting worse and although I could handle it, I remembered what many women who had went through this told me. Take the meds! Don’t make yourself go through anything unnecessary. I looked at Amy and said I wanted something for pain. So glad I asked, because in those ten minutes everything happened so fast. I was having full on contractions and I felt a pop. The doctor checked and informed me my water broke. All I could do was cry. Todd was there holding my hand the whole time and kissing my forehead. The nurse put some pain meds through my IV and this is where I became loopy and found out that pain meds make me completely inappropriate. I felt water come out in a rush. It’s a scary feeling to know your about to give birth to your baby five months too early. I didn’t want this to happen and part of your mind wants you to try and stop it. I was absolutely afraid to push. Without doing anything, I felt more water rush out of me, not knowing at the time it wasn’t water anymore, but a great deal of blood. The room started to spin and I got sweaty and felt like I was going to pass out. I figured it was the pain meds. I needed to focus on something else. I looked at Todd and asked him how he was doing. He looked worried, but answered, ‘fine’ and asked how I was. This is where the drugged me started talking. I said, ” you know, just over here rockin this miscarriage.” It was then I heard a lot of laughing and Amy letting me know I was her favorite patient. When I looked around the room it was then I realized every nurse on that hall appeared to be in my room. I heard them call my doctor over the loud speaker and thought to myself she was coming to deliver the baby. I mean, that’s what the doctor usually comes in for. Meanwhile, Amy was changing out my pad and every time I rolled over for her to put a new one under me, I felt more “water” pouring out of me. That’s what it felt like, water. There was a ten minute period where they could not keep the pad under me for more than two seconds. Than Dr. Hardas walked in and I saw what I thought was a concerned look. Dr. Hardas is a very sweet, soft spoken, petite woman, who also has this motherly nature about her. She had a way of delivering bad news where you were almost confused if she actually said what she said. I remember with Nash, my biggest fear being a c-section. She walked in after 28 hours of labor and with almost a childlike chuckle in her voice, but also a motherly tone. She said, “Shelly it’s time for a c-section.” Almost like, lets quit playing around honey. In my current situation, my biggest fear was surgery. I had never been put under for anything and I was anxious to say the least. She walked in and said we are taking her for a D&C. She than did an exam and I felt her pull the baby out. The nurses were working frantically and Amy looked at me and said, “Shelly the baby looks like a baby…would you like to see it?” She than put a blanket over my chest and laid the baby on top. Looking at the baby, so small it could fit in the palm of my hand, I was instantly brought to tears. The baby had arms, legs,a mouth, a nose, eyes, and feet. It was different than my feelings with Nash. With Nash, I was not just devastated for him. I was devastated for my loss. I was completely grief stricken and could barely breathe. I can barely put feelings into words. With this baby I couldn’t help but feel anything but bad for it. I felt badly I couldn’t carry it to term. I felt bad that my body failed it. I felt bad that it will never take one breath on this earth. They started taking pictures and the nurse asked Todd if he wanted to hold the baby and he quickly answered no. She then went on to explain he would never have this chance again. I stopped her right away. When Nash died it felt so good to hold him that all I wanted was for Todd to have that feeling. I practically forced him to hold Nash and it’s my one regret. It did not help him. It made it worse. He didn’t want to remember him that way. He didn’t want to hold him after he was gone. I told the nurse he has been through this and knows what he needs. It was then I felt the room start spinning again. I felt Amy strap on the blood pressure cuff and soon after I felt the head of my bed being put down and nurses talking in the background. I then heard Dr. Hardas say, “lets go now! Are they ready for us?!” Previously, working at a hospital is a blessing and a curse. I know the head of your bed being put down means low blood pressure. Although Amie was being very reassuring, I could here the whispering of others in the background. Words like a lot of blood, loss of consciousness.Todd kept switching wash cloths on and off my face and feeding me ice chips. I could no longer keep my eyes open. I heard Amy kneel down beside me. She had promised to be honest and she was. She said, “Shelly, we are concerned about the amount of blood you are losing. I’m going to put some medication in your IV to try and stop it.” She saw me start to panic and told me to take a deep breath in and let it out. She then commended Todd on being an amazing support person for me. I felt the urge to push, but at this point was afraid to. Dr. Hardas said, “if you think you can try.” She was doing an exam during and I saw her glove covered in blood and more “water” rush out of me. She said, “No. We are taking you to surgery.” I’m an anxious person. So, at this point I know they are worried about the bleeding, giving me drugs to stop it, and there seems to be an urgency to getting me to surgery. With my string of bad luck and my anxious mind, I was truly worried this was it. This is how I was going to go. I looked at Dr. Hardas who I trust whole heartedly and and said, “you look worrried.” She replied, “no”. I than said, “I’m nervous about surgery. Am I going to wake up?” She said, “yes” and I said “ok let’s go.”
I was confused becasue I was told the blood was more of a concern once the baby was out and you deliver the placenta. Dr hardas said that is correct but you have bled so much before that point we can’t risk it. Before I knew it I was being wheeled down the hall and to the surgery center. The anesthesiologist said I’m sorry today is not going as planned. I said, ” with everything that has happened today, you actually scare me the most.” I could tell the nurses and doctors were more calm now that I was almost in surgery. At this point I was feeling pain, the urge to push and fighting to stay awake. I felt todd kiss my forehead and tell me goodbye and I didn’t even have the energy to reply. I felt them move me to the bed and I felt one arm being strapped down and a nurse putting an oxygen mask on me. The anesthesiologist whispered in my ear, your about to fall aslee….that was that. I woke up three hours later so ecstatic to be alive I started yelling, “margaritas for everybody!”
As they wheeled me into recovery I kept looking for todd. It’s funny becasue I know he can do nothing medically for me, yet I feel safer with him in the room. I asked the nurse if someone had talked to him, I knew he would be worried. She said, “yes.” Then I heard her say one unit of blood, donor W607. I looked up and saw I was getting blood and all I could think was, ‘thank you W1607’.My temp was quite low, so they kept putting warm blankets on me and after what seemed like forever, they wheeled me in the hall. I was hoping to see Todd, but no. Then I was wheeled in my room where I knew he would be, but he still wasn’t. I found out later Dr. Hardas could not find him in the waiting room. My poor husband sat for three hours with no updates on my condition. Dr. Hardas ended up calling me she felt so bad she didn’t get a chance to speak to either of us. Thankfully, my sister-in-law, Caroline came up to the hospital and sat with Todd. I can only imagine what he was going through.
Amy was very doting, helpful and attentive. My night nurse was what I like to call a short cut nurse. Most people don’t appreciate a short cut nurse, but at night time they are a blessing. What I mean by short cut is, they bring you three full glasses of water at once to get you through the night. They turn your IV down so you don’t have to pee every ten seconds. They also unplug your IV and give you a short tutorial on how to get your own ass to the bathroom and back without ringing. I saw her once the entire shift and slept the best I ever have in a hospital.
I can honestly say Todd and I are doing extremely well emotionally. We have had our big loss and everything fails in comparison. I will say this, had I not been through what I have,this would have been the most traumatic experience of my life. To know women do this all the time is heartbreaking. I think people would be surprised how many women they know that have not only been through this, but have done it multiple times. I for one think it’s time to break the silence and stigmas that go with having a miscarriage. If you share this post and want to break the silence regarding your own angels, let us know how many you are a mother to. I am a proud momma of three❤