Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The unexpected moments of a miscarriage

We knew we were pregnant for one week.  One wonderful, hope filled week spend dreaming of our perfect future with a tiny addition to the family.  The line we had was very, very faint at first, but clearly darker just a few days later.  We even had confirmation from the doctor: there was hCG in my system. "Congratulations you're pregnant!"  We made plans for how we'd tell our families. We told our closest friends, those who already knew we had been trying, because there was almost nothing else on our minds.  A baby!  We were having a baby.

But even at the beginning things did not seem right.  My hCG levels were very low, and did not raise properly.  I didn't FEEL pregnant.  Our doctor ordered several blood tests, and then, when I started spotting and bleeding, an ultrasound.  An ultrasound that most definitely showed I was not pregnant.  No sign of pregnancy at all, as if though our baby had never existed.  J and I were devastated.  We also had friends visiting from the lower 48 at the time, friends that spend the week seeing me go to the doctor and who knew all that was going on.  

Yesterday the news become official.  Our doctor confirmed that our little Schrodinger was no longer inside me.  Even though I knew the statistics, having become part of one was quite a shock.  Still, it wasn't the big things but the smaller moments that were most unexpected.


1. A miscarriage is not a moment

I had always thought that a miscarriage is something that happened in the blink of an eye.  One moment there was a tiny life inside you and the next that life was gone and you cried, and then you worked on dealing with the tragedy.  But for me (and from the accounts I have read for many women) it's not at all like that.  We knew something wasn't quite right from almost the moment we found out we were pregnant.  Then a few days later, the spotting started.  Then the news of the low hCG levels.  Then the bleeding and cramping.  Then more tests.  And even now, five days later, I'm still spotting.  I didn't have a miscarriage as much as I am still having a miscarriage.  The body can take days or weeks to purge after a pregnancy that unfortunately went wrong.  Many women need medical help, in the form of pills or surgery, to truly be not pregnant again.  And it takes a long time.  At first wondering if you are having a miscarriage, and then actually having it.  And then wondering if you are done, if you can move on. It's rough.  The uncertainty is really rough.  J and I labeled it "being Schrodingered."  We're still working through it.  

2. Other women (and men) know your pain

Although we have only told a few people, many of them have told us of others who have had a miscarriage.  Online, there are hundreds if not thousands of accounts of this same pain.  My doctor informs me that at least 20%-30% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, but that the real number is probably closer to 50%.  May of the miscarriages happen before the woman even knows she's pregnant.  So my story is natural.  It's normal.  Now this doesn't make it any less sad, or disappointing, or significant.  But it does make me feel that I am still WOMAN, that this is something WOMEN go through.  This is something couples go through.  And  they make it.  And they get through it.  I find that knowledge helpful and empowering.  

Here are some blogs and articles I found helped ease my mind:

I'm glad we knew about you
What I gained from having a miscarriage
What I didn't know about miscarriage until I had one
Difficult days for miscarriage survivors

3. We told exactly the right people about our pregnancy

Before even getting pregnant I read a lot about whether or not to tell people as soon as you get pregnant.  Both sides had really good points. Pro:  you get to share the joy as soon as you know it; have support if you have a miscarriage.  Cons: a private moment becomes public and you'll start to receive advice and warnings; if you miscarry, you'll have to tell people you're not pregnant anymore, whether you are ready to or not.  Now, the arguments always seemed like they were advocating one view; either tell or don't tell.  But that made no sense to me.  The people I wanted to share my joy with are the exact same people whom I'd like by my side in the event of a miscarriage.  These friends are the ones who were there when we started trying, even before, when I was agonizing over the decision of WHEN to start trying.  These are the friends I would call with all news, good and bad.  Why would I ever hide something this momentous from them?  Now, I admit, if I had shared the news on Facebook, I would have hated myself for having to tell the world about my miscarriage.  It would have felt impersonal.  And that's just not who I am.  And at the end, I'm so glad we told who we told, and we stayed silent to others.  Do what feels right.  Tell those people with whom you'd like to discuss things when they both go wrong and right.  And don't ever listen to absolutes.  We for example didn't tell our families, because we knew that they would simply stress out over the news, and it wouldn't make things easier for us.  Each of us has their own tribe, sometimes related by blood, and sometimes by friendship.  We all know who the right people to tell are.  And in the midst of it all, it felt good to have gotten something right.

4. I do not feel guilt

This one may seem odd, but I honestly thought I'd feel guilty.  Guilty for having a body that did not get this right.  Guilty for that bike ride where I did not hydrate enough.  Guilty for not being able to give J a baby right when we planned.  Guilty for drinking more than one earl gray two weeks ago. Even guilty for testing early, after all we might have never known, never gone through the pain.  
But I do not.  I know I did nothing wrong.  I know I took care of myself and the baby growing inside me, even before I knew it was there.  I know that my husband loves me and does not blame me.  I know we're going to try again.  I know the statistics and I believe in the medicine and the science.  I know that this is normal.  So tragic, so unexpected, but still normal.  I do not believe in fate, but I also know this baby was not mean to be.  My body made that choice for me, and I will trust it.  And I'm glad that we knew.  As all things that do not kill you, this has made me stronger.  It has made our marriage more resilient.  Our little family may not yet be growing, but after a bit we'll work on it again.  And it'll happen.  It's empowering to me not to blame myself for those things I do not have control of.  And it's empowering to say it here:  This miscarriage was not my fault.

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