It has been 5 months since the loss of our baby. I am not sure I feel ready to talk about it, as much as I still need to talk about it. I was 13 weeks along – we had just seen the doctor and everything seemed to be going in a similar direction as my first pregnancy with Wallis.
I get severe morning sickness when I am pregnant and it is the kind that lasts 9 months, and is awful, but I had always heard that it was also a good indicator that your baby was healthy. The day I lost our baby I woke up with no symptoms. I felt great and since we were nearing the second trimester I thought, “maybe this pregnancy is going to be different, maybe I won’t be sick the whole time” but I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling something was wrong…I am a worrier anyways, so it is very easy for me to instantly panic.
But I went about my day, until the evening when my lower back started to ache. When I used the bathroom, I had a very faint smudge of light pink blood. It continued to be faint the rest of the night and my back also continued ached through the night. At around midnight I phoned the OBGYN on call and told her what was happening, she assured me that everything I was going through sounded normal, but that she would put in a call first thing in the morning for me to go in.
In the morning, everything was still faint and I felt a bit better about it all. I called and they told me to go ahead and come in. I started getting ready when I felt my water break. I yelled to Andrew who had stayed home that my water had just broken and before I could even grasp what that meant, I began to bleed heavily.
I called the nurse right back and told her what had happened and she said as long as I wasn’t filling a thick pad in less than an hour – I should still come to see them…but my bleeding just continued to get so bad so fast that I was soaking not only pads but through pads and everywhere. We quickly packed Wallis in the car and headed to our local ER.
Upon arrival Andrew looked and saw that I was now sitting in a pool of blood, it had soaked through everything and was pooling in the front seat of the car – he rushed to get a nurse. Wallis was very quiet and my heart ached for her as my mind raced that none of this seemed normal, surely this much blood wasn’t normal.
My parents were away on vacation and so we had no one. Andrew checked me into the ER as they rushed me back to a room, and then he had to leave me there. I didn’t want Wallis to see me in such distress, and I didn’t want her hanging around an ER all day, so I urged them to go.
For the next 10 hours I didn’t stop bleeding. I bled so heavily that they were constantly changing my sheets, and wiping me down. My blood pressure was very low and I had to be on a constant IV or I would pass out from all the blood loss. The ER doctor was a disaster and if it wasn’t for the nurses that took good care of me, I am not sure I would have kept my wits together. I didn’t have any choice but to lean heavily on them and pray that I wasn’t dying.
They had clearly never seen a miscarriage with this much blood and they tried to reassure me while simultaneously scaring the shit out of me with comments like, “that is so much blood, I only bled like I was on my period when I had a miscarriage” and even the nurse that told me she had seen some girls bleed a lot left her shift saying, “you really are bleeding so much honey.”
Towards the end of the 10 hours the ER doctor finally reached out to my OB and they prescribed me pills to take to get my cervix to close, so that the bleeding would lessen. I hadn’t had any water the entire time I was there incase I had to go in for emergency surgery and my mouth was so so dry. They handed me 6 pills and told me I would have to chew them, it was like trying to chew cotton balls – I worked on those 6 pills for what felt like an hour, which was one of those painfully humorous moments. They told me I’d feel a little cramping but once those pills hit, I was in excruciating pain. This coming from someone who labored naturally for nearly 3 days and yes, with PIT. This pain was different – it was clearly forcing my body to do something it didn’t want to do and was not ready to do, and my body fought it with every inch it had.
I sat there for 3 hours moaning very loudly, and alone, feeling so hopeless by this point. Finally the contractions began to ease from the medication and I started to feel better – I leaned forward to try to get up and a very large puddle of blood clots just fell out of me and the ER doctor was like, “Oh great, looks like you can go home now!” At that point I decided it was better for me to just die at home then spend another minute with that doctor.
So I went home. I couldn’t stand up long without feeling horrible and lightheaded, so I went right to bed. I was as white as sheet, even my lips were white. A few days later of still not being able to get out of bed longer than to use the bathroom, I went in to see my doctor. I was so light-headed that I had to lay down most of the time but because my cheeks were rosy (they always are, especially when I am exhausted) my doctor felt my blood count was fine, but I insisted on a blood test. My ears were ringing all the time, and I could hear my heart thumping nonstop in my ears, so I knew something wasn’t right.
She also discovered my cervix had not finished closing and there was a lot of tissue still inside me that she had to remove. That’s why I was still bleeding, not as heavily now, but it hadn’t fully stopped.
The next day my doctor called a bit frantic saying that my blood test results showed me 1 point higher than an emergency blood transfusion. That she couldn’t believe that I had come to the appointment and sat through all of that. She told me because I hadn’t had the blood transfusion already at the ER which I should totally have had, that it would be a nightmare trying to get it now that I wasn’t there. She advised that I stay in bed for two weeks and prescribed me iron pills to take instead. She told me I had bled so much because the baby was already 3 months along, that the later the miscarriage, the more blood.
The lack of Empathy
If I write about this experience with little emotion it is because I didn’t have a chance to catch my breath the entire time it was happening, and I really did believe I was going to die. I was alone and confused, I was angry and scared. Even during the two weeks I was in bed, my mind was in shock. I was still worried that something was going to go wrong with me and I was going to leave Wallis. Wallis was really all I thought about the entire time.
All I wanted to do was show her I was okay, was to make that furrowed with concern 21-month-old brow lift again. Every time she came to see me in bed, I put on a bit of a show but she saw right through it, and would tell anyone that would listen, “mama sad.”
And she was right, I was so deeply sad. So deeply shattered by all that had taken place. I still am. Our baby was a complete surprise. We thought he was God sent with how I got pregnant. It all felt too surreal to be real, I mean I did struggle with it – I wasn’t ready to be pregnant again but when I stepped back I thought, “this timing couldn’t be better, God knows better than me” and I started to relax into all of it. I was so close to the second trimester that I believed it was here to stay and then, in a day – all of that was instantly gone.
When I walked back into our house – everything around me had become “before the loss, after the loss” before I was getting out all my old maternity clothes feeling giddy about the months ahead…after, I was packing them back up wondering if I should just give them away. That packed box is still sitting on the floor of my closet…I step over it now, I move around it now, I pretend it doesn’t hurt to see it, and that is basically how it has been since.
I pretend everything doesn’t hurt. I feel guilty for how much it still hurts. I feel like I am not supposed to feel this hurt because this specific kind of loss doesn’t count. I didn’t realize how much it didn’t until it happened to me. We told our family, and I shared on social media because our babies life mattered, our babies life STILL matters.
I received wonderful messages from women that had gone through what I had gone through, many of them were private messages because I think for them, it is still something to protect, to keep close and I understand this, because as women we know this isn’t something we’re suppose to talk about, but I did. I wanted to say to those in my life, here is what happened to us – here is what we lost.
But after those first two weeks, I stopped talking about it. It seemed to make everyone around me uncomfortable. I have many examples of the lack of empathy we’ve experienced but found a particular moment quite stunning in its thoughtlessness, when my husband said something that really resonated with how we were feeling – “why would I want to share in another’s joy, when they didn’t want to share in my sorrow” and I thought, yes, yes this is how walls are built. This is how we form our shadows, where we place all our experiences that everyone else around us decided didn’t measure up to what they believed we were experiencing.
Empathy is something so deeply important to give to another human being, and it is often the last thing a human feels in loss – no matter what that loss encompasses. Those around us fall silent or they say things that are hurtful meant to be helpful, or they decide how we should feel and how long we should feel it.
Our loss, our emotions do not belong to them or anyone. They belong to us, to the heart beating against the chest that feels like it has no relief left.
I still had weight to lose from my first pregnancy when I got pregnant again. I gained some weight during that brief pregnancy too, and I have had a terrible time losing it. I realized the other day while I was still brushing my teeth with the same toothbrush I had while pregnant 5 months earlier…that I was still holding on. I was still holding on to the weight because it felt like hope to me. I can’t explain it, but there was relief for me in the little things I had kept after the loss.
The yellow blanket with blood stains I hadn’t washed pushed in a corner of our closet, the toothbrush I hadn’t thrown away, and the weight I kept self-sabotaging to keep. There were other things, but even though I had to move forward, I had to pick myself up and hold myself up and be the mom I was before and get the work done I did before and take care of my family like I did before – those things stayed, comforting me that our baby mattered – that he wasn’t being forgotten.
I have spent these last months rereading statistics, and other stories of loss and falling apart in my mind that I might not be able to have another child. What if I lose again, what if I am not supposed to have anymore kids, what if I die this time…what if all that blood was a warning sign to not try again.
I know so many others have been here too, so many others haven’t even gotten to experience the elation of keeping their child. The pain we walk with, the pain we survive in, the pain we keep pushed in corners to remind us it had to be for a reason, this has to be more than just something that happens to a percentage of women. This sorrow will stay with me (with us) for the rest of my life (our life) and I will think of it in joy, and I will think of it in sadness.
From here, I have made a promise to myself and I am going to start living it again. I washed the yellow blanket, I am buying a new toothbrush, and I am starting to care for myself again. The failure I have felt through this all has grown too heavy now, and as I watch the winter melt into spring, I know it’s time to let go of the anger, the resentment, and the fear.
Thank you to those that have loved me through this. Thank you most importantly to my husband, your love for me and our little family continues to keep my words whole and my heart safe.