The other day I found some old poetry I had written while in high school and through college. The poetry was somber and full of angst, but It was my way of putting to words the heartache I felt during those years. Reading through the poems, I was reminded that writing has always been cathartic for me. I thought that writing about this experience would be helpful for processing and healing.
In the past 13 months I have experienced not one, but two miscarriages. I have decided to share this experience because I think it is valuable. I want to put it out there that this happens, it hurts, it sucks, and that it is survivable. I want to be a resource and if at all possible an encouragement to those who experience this heartache.
It has been a hard season for Team O, but with the bitter there is also the sweet.
In November 2011, after prayerful consideration Paul and I decided to start trying for a family. We knew I had funny biology working against us and assumed it would take some time to get pregnant. I have wanted to be a mother for as long as I can remember. The idea that this could become a reality was so exciting.
January 2012. Positive pregnancy test? I knew it was positive before I took the test and yet was so shocked. I lost it. I was so excited and overwhelmed and... excited. I called Paul and basically just distracted him for the rest of the day. How can you focus with news like this? We went out to dinner to celebrate and started planning for the future. It felt like a miracle to have gotten pregnant so quickly.
A week after the pregnancy test we were in for our first ultrasound. It was eerily quiet during the ultrasound. I kept waiting for something to appear on the screen that resembled a baby. That didn't happen. The technician left the room and sent in the doctor. Blighted Ovum. It is very deceiving. Your body is pumping out hormones as if pregnant. A sac is growing in your body as if you're pregnant. But there is no baby growing. I didn't even know this was a possibility.
This was heartbreaking. I couldn't even pretend to hold it together as we left the office. I was a mess. I cried so hard I struggled to breathe. We drove straight home and Paul just held me for hours while I cried my heart out. I didn't know what to think. Just as quickly as we knew we were going to be parents. It was gone. Joy turned to sorrow so quickly it was hard to fully understand.
February 2012. After talking through my options for having a miscarriage with my midwife, I decided to let things happen naturally. Exactly one month after that heartbreaking ultrasound, the miscarriage began to start. I was told this would be similar to a heavy period. It was not. It was the most excruciatingly painful experience. I had hours of painful contractions. The whole time I kept thinking this must be like giving birth, except when I'm done I will have nothing to show for this struggle. The blood loss was scary. The pain was overwhelming. Paul held my hand all night and I would just squeeze it throughout the night.
I thought once I had the miscarriage I would be ready to move forward and heal. But soon came the depression. I didn't realize at the time that my hormones were out of whack. I just thought I was grieving this loss (and without antidepressants). February through June I suffered complications that kept me from moving on in my healing in so many ways.
The depression was debilitating. I could get myself out of bed in the morning and through 8 hours of work. But often that was all I could do. I felt no joy. I felt unsure of how to relate to God. I felt loss of connection to my husband. I felt so alone, so disconnected from friends and community. People said kind words that felt empty and hollow to me. I turned to food as a comfort and before I knew it had gained 20 pounds. I felt like a failure. I desired two things my whole life: to be a wife and mother. I felt like I failed at being a mother. Would I fail again? I felt like I was letting Paul down in so many ways.
June 2012. I sought medical attention. It seems silly in retrospect. I thought everyday that was the day that everything would be better. How four months passed I am not sure. So in June the Dr. prescribed an "estrogen reboot". Basically my body was flooded with estrogen and then we tapered it down. It was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I felt normal again. I didn't realize how out of balance my hormones were and how it affected every aspect of my life. Shortly after seeing a doctor I began to see a counselor. It was breaking my heart all over again to know that Paul felt that I had checked out. I didn't want to be that person. I wanted to be me again.
Summer 2012. In order to work on reconnecting, Paul and I decided to make 2012 the Summer of Fun. This was the summer to reclaim our marriage. The highlight of our Summer of Fun was a camping trip at Lake Wenatchee. It was a few days to unplug, talk, share meals, take long walks, and enjoying one another. We also started reading through a marriage book together that we were going to use for a small group. Each chapter had questions that were challenging to go through together but fruitful.
We had so much fun together during our Summer of Fun (mission accomplished). Enjoying each other's company. Growing together and strengthening our marriage. We grew in a way that you can only grow in suffering. That is the sweet of this bittersweet experience.
During this time we also learned that I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). This basically means what we already suspected was true - getting pregnant will be difficult for us. The hunch was that I got pregnant so quickly the first time because I had just gotten off birth control. During the fall I began to work with a naturopath to help alleviate the PCOS and help us get pregnant.
January 2013. Another positive pregnancy test. Reserved excitement. We were cautiously optimistic. Things progressed into February and all seemed well. At 8 weeks we went in for our first ultrasound. We wanted to wait as long as possible (but not too long) so we could ensure seeing a heartbeat. Seeing the heartbeat was a beautiful thing. Knowing that there was a life growing inside was comforting. I didn't think to ask any questions. I was just happy. The ultrasound doctor was concerned because the baby was measuring two weeks behind where it should be. When I talked to the midwife my hope came crashing down. Yes there was a heartbeat, but it wasn't measuring where it should be. A week later and a follow up ultrasound confirmed that the baby had not grown and there was no longer a heartbeat.
March 2013. So here we are. At a loss, literally. Again Paul and I talked through the options. We have an international trip planned in April and felt that we could not let my body wait to catch up like we did last year. We decided to do the next closest thing to a natural miscarriage. This involved having medication (Misoprostol) given to me to help "induce" the miscarriage. After the experience last year, I was feeling terrified to do this again, but not terrified enough to have the D&C procedure done. Thankfully this experience has gone much smoother and
without complications. The pain was more bearable. The healing has been speedy.
In a 13-month period I have now experienced the joy of being pregnant twice and the heartache of two miscarriages. Medically, I am still statistically average. That was odd to learn but reassuring in the sense that this is not my fault. There is nothing I could have done differently to sustain either pregnancy. This does not make me any less of a person. Or any less of a woman.
And though the physical piece has passed, there is still the emotional (and hormonal) piece to deal with. There is hope to be found again. I do know that I will not drown like I did last year. I will not lose faith. I will not be disconnected from my husband. I will grieve but I will not let the grief overwhelm me.
These days I try to focus on the sweet. I have an incredible husband. He pursues me and loves me so well. I have wonderful friends who support me and pray for me. I have a great medical team from doctors to counselors. I am thankful to have the opportunity to go travel with my husband and to enjoy a break.
I wanted to share this because it is too easy to want to hide this experience. To pretend it didn't happen. To not talk about it. I have to remind myself that three strong women in my life did share with me their experiences of loss. If those three women were not in my life, I am not sure I would have known what to expect from the physical pain to the emotional pain. I would have been blindsided. Instead I had a support system who I could ask questions and ask for advice. If I can share my experience and be a help at all, then there is further value to be found in this heart breaking experience.