It’s been a month since my miscarriage.
Actually, yesterday was the one month mark but I felt a little too raw to write about it. It’s strange… I sometimes get in these moods where I feel deeply like I need to write to process and sort out my feelings, but at the same time I just… can’t.
I feel like I’ve been in a weird head space these past few days. Sometimes it feels like what happened to me was just this awful dream. I know it happened, but it all just feels so surreal. I can’t even begin to describe how strange it is to be pregnant and planning a course for your life, and then having everything forever altered in an instant. Sometimes I can’t quite wrap my head around it.
It’s been a month, and I feel like the physical symptoms are finally subsiding. Again, I felt so unprepared for what was happening with my body these past few weeks. Sorry if this is TMI, but my doctors and all the “official” websites I searched out looking for what happens after a miscarriage told me to expect bleeding for roughly 1-2 weeks before things settled down.
Well, when I passed the third week and eased into the fourth with no end in sight, it seriously began feeling like my body was broken or cursed. I spent nearly 18 months fighting through my lopsided hips after P was born, and then I had this horrific miscarriage that just. won’t. end. It’s hard to try to move forward when you’re still dealing with the physical effects every single day. Last weekend I finally reached out in desperation and made a post in an online mom resource group I’m in. I briefly explained my situation, hoping that someone might also have experienced something close to what I was going through.
Multiple women commented or messaged me to let me know that they too bled so much longer than the “1-2 weeks” that they were told they would. The average answers spanned from 4-6 weeks, with some lasting as long as 8-10. It was so sad to read all their experiences with miscarriages, but also so relieving to feel that maybe I wasn’t as broken as I felt I was.
Today is the first day that I can say -with hope- that it might actually be finished. It is with me all the time, but it would honestly just be so nice to not feel it for just a minute. I just need my body to cut me some slack… I would love to feel normal again, even just for a second.
I was finally able to go see my osteopath about my tailbone last week, and he helped a little. It was really the first time I think I could have let him touch it without me screaming in pain, and he worked his magic and took some of the pressure off. He thinks I probably did fracture it when I fell and passed out in my bathroom, and there’s nothing I can really do now but wait and give it time. It’s world’s better than it was a month ago–I can sit without pain for longish periods of time on hard chairs, and I can go from sitting to standing in almost one fluid motion if I launch myself off the chair a certain way. Couches are still hard (I can’t sit straight yet) but if I roll my knees and kind of sit on my side I can sit for a while and then switch positions before it gets too painful.
I’m trying hard to keep things in perspective: five years ago, when I hurt my shoulder so badly that I couldn’t lift my arm over my head, I was convinced it would never heal. (Remember that time that I got stuck in a shirt I was trying on at Target?) It took 18 months to heal, but I barely notice it now. Two years ago I didn’t think I’d ever live without hip and back pain… and now that’s mostly gone too. I know that “this too shall pass”, but I just wish it would all pass a little more quickly.
Emotionally, I’m up and down. People ask me all the time how I am, or how I’m doing, and I never really know how to answer that. I completely overthink it every time. I worry that if I say that I’m “good” then it looks like I’m unfeeling or ignoring what happened, or if I say I’m having a hard day, then I worry that it looks like I’m dwelling too long in what happened and not moving forward.
I told you. I overthink things.
Most of the time I just say that I’m doing okay. Which I mostly am. Really, I feel like I’m searching for a word that doesn’t exist to describe how I’m doing. I feel… different. Still me, but less me somehow… if that makes sense. I know that that will fade a little with time too, but I feel like this experience has fundamentally shifted something inside me. Not necessarily in a bad way, it’s just… different.
I think the hardest part in all of this is reconciling the fact that time keeps marching on, and sometimes I feel like I’m standing still. There are little reminders that pop up occasionally–a midwife appointment in my calendar or their card stuck behind H’s artwork on the side of my fridge. A stray maternity top that was lost in the wash. The Costco pack of Tums I bought anticipating heartburn sitting on my food storage shelf. The remainder of the adult diapers I bought to get me through the worst during the early days of the miscarriage.
I threw those out today. It felt good.
Last week someone we hadn’t seen in a while congratulated us on our good news, not knowing we’d lost the baby. He was so thrilled for us, and M had to gently tell him that we’d lost the baby a few weeks ago. He felt horrible for bringing it up, and I found myself consoling him while I fought to keep my eyes dry and my smile bright. Thankfully it was the first time that that happened, and I’m grateful for that.
I’m also grateful for all the people who are still checking in on me, I appreciate that more than you know.
I feel like this post is so disjointed and mish mashed, but I’m tired and my thoughts are all over the place. I know I need sleep, but I also felt like I couldn’t sleep until I had let some of these emotions out. This past month has just been so full–the miscarriage, the recovery, the side effects, going back to work to dive into midterm marking and report cards… I’m tired. I’m ready to say goodbye to April and dive into May.
I’m also very ready for bed.
We went to church this morning for the first time since we lost the baby. I couldn’t have tolerated it physically at first, and last week as a special weekend where we hold a world wide general conference, so there were no regular services at our building.
Emotionally, I’ve had a good week. I feel like I’m getting stronger and aside from feeling a little sad or misty-eyed, I hadn’t cried in a few days. Work has been a good distraction, despite feeling like I am completely buried in marking. Physically, it’s been slow and steady. I am so beyond ready to put this behind me, but I’m on day 18 and while “things” are slowing down, it’s still not finished. My doctor knows I’m still bleeding and since I’m still within the realm of “normal” and my iron levels are increasing, there’s no big concern and all I can do is wait it out.
(…but I’m so tired of waiting. I just want it to be done.)
We actually made it to church on time this morning, and I brought my trusty tailbone pillow to try and survive the hour of sitting on the pews in the chapel. It felt good to be there… I know church and/or religion isn’t for everyone, but I’ve always felt like my faith grounds me. The music alone is like a reset button for my heart and soul and I almost always leave feeling lifted.
As Sacrament meeting drew to a close, I suddenly felt this wave of anxiety. I know that most people were aware that we’d lost the baby, but the idea of talking about it felt very overwhelming today. I was already feeling a little emotional when I heard the music of the closing hymn begin to play. I recognized it immediately, it has long been one of my absolutely favourite hymns. Today, I made it through about 2 bars before I began weeping and quickly left the chapel before anyone saw me.
I ran out in the hallway searching for kleenex and a quiet place to cry. I felt so silly that a song could make me weep like that, but I’m slowly learning that grief is an absolutely bizarre non-linear journey. I ended up in the mother’s lounge of all places, but it was quiet and I could be alone with my thoughts. I have spent so many hours in that little room with my babies… and somehow being in there brought me some peace. That little room is filled with so many happy memories for me, and I was able to (sort of) pull myself together.
I made it back to the chapel to help M organize the kids, and we decided to call it a day instead of staying for the second hour. As he was getting their coats, a friend came and told me that he had read my blog post, and just wrapped his arms around me in a big hug. I was so touched by his kindness and felt the tears come spilling over again. Another came right behind with another hug, and I could just see the sadness in his eyes. It’s hard… on one hand I need those connections with people, on the other, today was a day when everything just felt a little raw and was sitting too close to the surface and I just… couldn’t.
…feeling a little overwhelmed and tired after staying up until 1:30am to mark unit tests probably didn’t help things either.
We came home, and M quietly herded the kids into the basement so that I could have some quiet to gather myself. I needed to distract myself, so I started folding the mountain of laundry waiting in baskets in our bedroom. There was something very calming about taking piles of laundry and putting them in order, and it helped somehow.
It was better than drowning my sorrows in chocolate, which I’ve done far too much lately.
So, today has been a hard day. I know it probably won’t be the last, so I’m hanging on to the fact that this week, there were more good days than bad…. and hopefully next week will be even better.
I think the hardest part of having a miscarriage is not being able to know why it happened. I’m doing my best to stay out of my head and not feel weighted by guilt, but it’s hard. Having a concrete reason for why this happened–why the baby stopped growing–would provide so much closure for me.
But those answers just aren’t there.
When I first found out that there was no heartbeat, they told me the gestational age of the fetus, which gave me an approximate time range for when the baby had actually died. I did what I think most people do: I began raking through my brain for every. single. activity I did that week. I had a lot of time laying in that horribly uncomfortable hospital bed in the middle of the night, so I went through my phone calendar with a fine tooth comb trying to figure out what I could have done wrong that week. Was it the stress from work? Was it from shoveling my driveway? Was it from carrying P back to bed? Was it from my Osteopath appointment? Was it from lack of sleep? Did I worry too much about keeping up with the house and not rest enough? Did I not eat well enough?
The rational part of my brain knows it’s not my fault, but the emotional part can’t help but wonder if there’s something I could have done (or not done) that might have made a difference. I eventually had to try and shut off my brain and stop wondering as really… there are no answers to be had.
After I got first got home and the hormones hit me like a truck, I had a moment where all these questions came flooding back. But this time, a memory came with them that has since brought me so much peace.
I have always been a vivid dreamer. More so when I’m pregnant, but I dream about people and things and can usually remember dreams in detail when I wake the next morning. Last summer my uncle passed away quite suddenly. It was unexpected and quite a shock, and it was like the world suddenly felt a little dimmer without his laugh and wonderful, kind spirit in it.
The night after I learned of his death, I had a dream that was so vivid I can still close my eyes and see it. For years and years until her death, my Grandmother’s home was our gathering place. It was where our family–immediate and extended–came together, and there was so much love there. Some of my most treasured memories are from her dining room, where we would all sit and visit for hours (once the chores were done, of course). If I close my eyes I can still see Uncle J watching soccer on his laptop at the table while poking fun at my Grammy with a twinkle in his eye… and I can almost hear her laugh and say, “Oh isn’t this fun!”.
To me, being with my family around that dining room table was about as close to heaven as you can get.
After my uncle passed, I dreamed that I was back in her house (which has since been remodeled and sold). Everything was exactly as it was–the clock chiming on the wall with the decorative plates all around it, the china cabinet in the background full of her dishes, plates of tomato slices, pickles and cheese on the table and the glow of the chandelier warming the room. I was there, but not there. It was like I could see in, but no one could see me. At the table were family members who have all passed on–my grandmother, Uncle F, my Gumpo… and that night, Uncle J was there too. They were all sitting around the table talking and laughing–like old friends who hadn’t seen each other in far too long. They were all sitting in their regular seats, and I could just feel the love radiating everywhere in the room. It just brought me so much peace. I remember waking up crying, but just knowing that this is what heaven will be like.
As I was at a low point last week, the memory of this dream came back and flooded my mind… and as I despaired not having an answer to why this happened to us, I just suddenly felt so sure that even though this little baby is not in our arms… she is in theirs. I can just imagine her at that table… ready to earn brownie badges and go for french fries with Uncle F, hearing stories and adventures from Uncle J, and just completely wrapped in love in my grandparent’s arms.
I’ve been clinging to that through my low points these past two weeks, and it’s helped somehow. I know I’ll never really have a reason for why it happened, but it’s helped me stay in a better place.
I’m going back to work on Monday.
Part of me is nervous that physically, I’m not ready yet. I think I am. I hope I am. My iron levels and blood pressure are still really low, but I can finally move around and walk without pain. I can also be on my feet for decent chunks of time without feeling woozy, and I can almost move from sitting to standing in a fluid motion. I still need my special tailbone pillow, and it might be the fluid motion of an 80 year old with arthritis, but I can stand up without too much pain. That’s a win.
The bigger part of me just really, really needs the normalcy of regular life and routine of our weekly chaos. It’s insanely busy and exhausting, but I love my job. I also love my hilarious, kind and often slightly inappropriate coworkers who keep me laughing on a daily basis. I also want to reassure my students that I’m not dying– my lovely friend who was in covering my classes for me told me that my students had hypothesized that I must have some type of terrible disease like Malaria to need to be away for so long.
In preparation for going back, I finally did the thing I’ve been dreading and putting off for days: I put my maternity clothes away. They’ve been there staring at me from my open-concept closet and shelves for days, and I just couldn’t look at them anymore. So, while I waited for P to settle for his nap today (which, for the record, never happened) I started making piles on my bed. I usually love this chore–putting my maternity clothes away usually signals that I’ve lost my baby weight and I get to pull out and see the clothes I haven’t seen in months and months.
Today I put them away not because I’ve lost the weight, but because I lost our baby.
I slowly pulled out all my “regular” clothes I had just put away a few weeks ago. I’m sure that almost none of them will fit yet, but I don’t care. It’s better than staring at my shirts meant to cover a growing belly that I no longer have.
While my heart was heavy packing them away, it helped somehow. Folding them all and tucking them carefully away in my tote provided me with a small sense of closure. I know that probably sounds silly, but the idea of packing those clothes away was like this small mountain I couldn’t bear to face before today. Now that it’s finally done I feel a little lighter. It’s good.
So, I may have to wear the same two pairs of pants for a while, but it’s better than the alternative. Thankfully it’s almost skirt and dress weather so I’ll sort it out somehow.
I promise I won’t talk about this forever… I feel a bit like I’ve been in hiding and I’m looking forward to inching back into the world a bit.
And when I say inching, I promise I mean inching. My doctor and family have been (lovingly) watching me like a hawk, so if I can’t handle work (yet) physically, I won’t be an idiot about it.
But I do want to try.
So, that’s sort of where I’m at. I also ate three microwave s’mores today which helped with the clothing sadness immensely. It’s not going to help my old clothes fit any better, but in the words of Scarlett O’Hara:
“I’ll think about that tomorrow. “
The calendar tells me it’s been a week since everything happened, though most of it feels like a blur. Even now just writing that I still find I struggle to say the actual words: I had a miscarriage. Honestly, all the descriptors for miscarriages are awful: spontaneous abortion, fetal demise, losing a baby… no wonder no one wants to talk about it.
It’s been seven days and I finally feel like I am recovering physically. I’ve had two follow-ups with my doctor in the past week, one on Friday and one yesterday. I learned that my hemoglobin levels are still extremely low, but they are stable for now. A regular, healthy person my age should be sitting between 120-125 (or so I’m told). My levels as of the weekend are sitting at 84, and my blood pressure is still way on the low side of normal. My skin colour is apparently rocking a lovely grey hue, making me seem even more Caucasian than I normally do. In truth, it just makes me feel really tired. I have another 10 days to see if things start improving, but if my levels haven’t improved by next week I still might need to have a transfusion. My doctor basically insisted that I take another week off of work to heal, so I’ll hopefully be able to return by next Monday if all goes well.
They have me on these high dose iron supplements that basically taste like I’m swallowing metal the second they are in my mouth. They come with their own set of separate side effects that have just been… peachy.
My tailbone injury is slowly healing. I still haven’t been able to drive anywhere yet, but I’m now showering on my own without a spotter and can move around with much less pain. It’s still agony to sit directly on it, or adjust from a sitting to a standing position, but the pain is duller now… less like I’m being stabbed in the bum when I move.
Emotionally I’m… okay. My hormones hit like a wave on the weekend, and I go from feeling fine, to a bit of a mess with no rhyme or reason. Last night I was feeling pretty good, then P asked me to sing Baby Mine (from Dumbo) before going to bed. This has been the song I’ve sung to each of our children as babies, and as soon as I got the first line out I was sobbing and could barely finish. I’m trying to be gentle with myself and feel things as they come… but at the same time I feel like I’m desperate to just feel normal again.
I’m trying to ease back into the world a little bit and get back to feeling like “me”. I did my hair yesterday for the first time in days, and I put a little bit of make-up on today because I always feel better when I have it on. I’m still wearing sweats, but to be honest, it’s not just as a result of my injury. I looked at my closet today and all I could see were my maternity clothes. Even though I was only 13 weeks pregnant, since this is baby #4 I’ve been showing since about six weeks… and wearing maternity clothes since week #8. I still look a little pregnant and my regular clothes don’t quite fit, but it feels really unfair to have to wear maternity pants when I’m no longer pregnant. I just can’t make myself do it yet… in truth, I’m sort of hoping the weight just falls of quickly so that I won’t have to. I’ve even debated going out and just buying new pants in a bigger size for now so that I can just pack my maternity clothes away and not have to put them back on.
I just started bawling as I wrote that last paragraph… I wasn’t kidding when I said my emotions are all over the place.
I’ve spent the last few days scouring the internet reading everything I possibly could about miscarriage experiences like the one I had, and what happened after. I feel like I’m so desperate for a timeline for when I’ll stop bleeding, when the hormones will pass, when your belly shrinks, when the phantom baby kicks stop… the entire process is so cruel. It feels wholly unfair that even though you’ve lost the baby, your body still “thinks” it’s pregnant until the hormone levels drop off. In my head I guess I always imagined that once you lost the baby everything stopped, but it’s so much more of a process than I ever imagined. Really, I’m learning that there is no timeline, that every person’s experience is so absolutely individual and there’s nothing I can really do… but wait.
I was so nervous to write and share my last post. However, I can honestly say that writing it has been the most cathartic part of my healing so far. Writing out everything that happened has helped me work through the physical trauma of what happened in ways I can’t even express. I think the entire experience scared me more than I realized, and writing it out and reading it over and over and over has helped me come to grips with what happened that night. There were moments when I really was scared for my life… lifting the blankets and seeing and feeling blood seeping out, feeling so lightheaded and out of control with my body as I kept passing out, seeing the concern on my doctor’s face as he was talking to me about blood transfusions… it was pretty traumatic for me. I can’t imagine what it would have been like for M, or for my Mom and Dad who had to sit there and just watch it happen. I asked my doctor yesterday if the kind of miscarriage I had was abnormal, and she hesitated to use that word. Instead, she described my experience as “intense”. It was more that when my body decided to begin the process of the miscarriage, it took off like a freight train. What may women experience over the course of a few days, my body went into overdrive and did in a few scary hours and then it didn’t quite know how to stop.
Since sharing my experience, I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the messages and responses to it. I’m slowing wading through and I am trying to respond to them all, but just know that they have helped me more than anything else. Family, old friends, close friends, new friends–so many people have reached out to offer condolences or share their stories. Emotionally, Saturday was probably the hardest day for me. I could feel myself shutting off and I just needed some space to feel and process. Once I shared the post and the messages started coming in, I curled up in a ball on the couch with my phone and just wept as I read each one. So many people I care about have also quietly suffered through this and I just had absolutely no idea. Those messages and comments were like a lifeline for me, and they have been my light at the end of one of the hardest weeks of my life. I don’t really know how else to express my gratitude than to say “Thank you”. It feels so inadequate in the face of what you’ve all done to help me… but there it is. Thank you. You’ve done more to help me than you could ever possibly know
I want to keep writing and sharing as I go through this, as that was the most common theme in all of the messages I received–for everyone who went through this themselves or with a loved one, so many felt like they couldn’t talk about it, or had no one to talk about it with. If there’s anything I’ve learned about myself over the years, it’s that I need to talk (or write) to process. If sharing my experience helps even one person in a small way, then it’s been worth it… even if these posts have been some of the hardest posts I’ve ever had to write.
I’m going to leave it there for now… in the spirit of full transparency, I’ve been sitting on my special bum cushion in the kitchen writing for the last hour, and my tailbone has reached it’s max. I need to go lay down for a bit.. but today was better than yesterday, and hopefully tomorrow will be better than today. <3